Packers Draft Grades
If you're at all in tune with ESPN or any of its dozens of affiliates, you've probably seen some sort of special "grading" of a team's draft picks from last weekend. Obviously, since this is The Packer Perspective, you're here to get the unique view we Green and Gold fans have on the draft.
Here's the thing, though...none of the guys the Packers picked last weekend have played a down in the NFL. They haven't even signed their contracts yet. To attempt to grade, then, the impact they're going to have on the team seems rather silly. But I do think we should issue some grades to someone, don't you?
With that in mind, let's take a trip down memory lane to a group of players that we can actually evaluate effectively...the 2007 class.
Ted Thompson made 11 selections in 2007, including six offensive players, four defensive players, and one kicker. You can click each individual player's name and see his career stats so far.
- Justin Harrell - DT - Tennessee (1st round, 16th overall)
- Brandon Jackson - RB - Nebraska (2nd round, 63rd overall)
- James Jones - WR - San Jose State (3rd round, 78th overall)
- Aaron Rouse - S - Virginia Tech (3rd round, 89th overall)
- Allen Barbre - G - Missouri Southern State (4th round, 119th overall)
- David Clowney - WR - Virginia Tech (5th round, 157th overall)
- Korey Hall - FB - Boise State (6th round, 191st overall)
- Desmond Bishop - LB - California (6th round, 192nd overall)
- Mason Crosby - K - Colorado (6th round, 193rd overall)
- DeShawn Wynn - RB - Florida (7th round, 228th overall)
- Clark Harris - TE - Rutgers (7th round, 243 overall)
Obviously, like every draft, this was a pretty hit-or-miss year for the Packers. Justin Harrell immediately jumps out as the colossal failure of this group. As much as I dislike the label "injury prone," he certainly was. Harrell only suited up for 14 games in four years with the Packers. Yikes. Even beyond Harrell, though, the top half of the 2007 draft wasn't an overly good one. Of their first five picks, only Brandon Jackson and James Jones played in the NFL last year. Jackson was the "feature back" by default during the Packers' Super Bowl run two years ago, but he never really lived up to the high pick invested in him. Although, to be fair, he's a rousing success compared to the guy taken ahead of him.
James Jones is still a bit of a mystery to me. He plays on a receiver-heavy team, so his opportunities to shine are limited, making it hard to get a good read on what he's really capable of doing. He'd probably be one of the biggest benefactors if Donald Driver chose to hang it up. Jones has been pretty productive in recent seasons, scoring 17 touchdowns in the last three years, but a part of me wonders if that's because of his skill or because the Packers just throw it all the time.
Rounding out the top five are Aaron Rouse and Allen Barbre, two guys who never really put it together in Green Bay. Rouse seemed to get plenty of opportunities (at least as far as I can remember) but he was never solid enough to stay on the field. Barbre never really got on the field all that much, although he did start seven games in 2009.
David Clowney was picked just because he was freakishly fast, and he must have been pretty quick because he ran out of Green Bay before he could even play one game for the Packers.
The back five picks make things a little bit more interesting. Had things broken down a little differently, we might currently be talking about Korey Hall as the folk-hero fullback for the Packers instead of John Kuhn. For a few years they were used together, but Hall wasn't quite the runner Kuhn is, although he did contribute big time on special teams. Hall was followed by the the two real winners of the '07 class: Desmond Bishop and Mason Crosby. Bishop's work speaks for itself: he stuck around for a few years based solely on limited playing time and potential, then dominated when he finally got extended playing time two years ago. Mason Crosby has been up and down throughout his career, but he's got a big leg and was 24 of 28 on field goal tries last year.
Rounding out the class are a guy who ate himself off the field (Wynn) and a really tall tight end who was pretty much only a really tall guy in a football helmet (Harris). A fun fact about Wynn: more than 20% of his career rushing total of 332 yards came on one carry, a 73 yard scamper against Detroit in 2008. A fun fact about Harris...yeah, I got nothing.
Anyway, five years later, the 2007 draft class features one starter (Bishop), two big contributing non-starters (Crosby, Bishop), and virtually nothing else. Given that the average NFL career is about two years, this shouldn't be terribly surprising. But even with that taken into consideration, I don't think this was a particularly good year for Green Bay, especially in the top three rounds. However, even with this terrible class on the roster, the Packers managed to get to the playoffs four times, go to the NFC Championship game twice, and win a Super Bowl, so evidently it's possible to suffer through a stinker now and then.