How the Oren Burks Trade Defines the Middle of the Packers' 2018 Draft

A little while back we introduced the Draft Trade Tracker, which keeps tabs on every draft-related trade the Packers have made since 2008.

The most recent draft gave us a few new additions, and while each have their interesting points, let’s focus for a moment on the trade that brought the Packers Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks.

In this week’s episode of Blue 58, I described this deal as the trade that could define the middle portion of the Packers draft. In it, the Packers sent the 101st and 147th picks to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for the 88th pick, which they used on Burks.

This trade isn’t just about Oren Burks

There are several interesting takeaways from this move.

First, it’s an interesting use of the second of two 2018 picks acquired by the Packers in their trade with the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans gave the Packers pick 147 as part of the package they used to move up to select Marcus Davenport 14th overall. The Packers therefore avoided using one of their existing draft picks in the trade for Burks, spending only capital they acquired elsewhere.

Second, the 101st pick also has some backstory. It’s one of the selections acquired by the Packers in the Damarious Randall/DeShone Kizer deal. In that trade, the Packers swapped positions with the Browns in the fourth and fifth rounds. If they hadn’t, the cost to move up for Burks may have been higher, perhaps requiring an additional fifth round pick.

Third, this trade may only have been necessary because of the Packers trading up to pick Jaire Alexander with the 18th pick. The Packers sent the 76th pick to the Seahawks as part of the package of three picks they used to move up in the first round. Had they stayed at 27, it’s possible they may have been able to select Alexander while keeping pick 76.

It’s hard to say if that’s true or not, but there’s a second part to that particular element of the trade. Had the Packers not traded up for Alexander, it’s possible they could have accomplished the exact same things in the draft while also filling up some other roster holes with the picks they used to go up to get Burks.

Not trading for Oren Burks could have yielded a similar — or better — result

In our preview to the 2018 NFL Draft, we named both Ian Thomas and Micah Kiser as good athletic fits for the Packers. They also happen to fit in nicely with what the Packers seemed to need heading into the draft: a blocking oriented #2 tight end and help at inside linebacker.

Had the Packers stood pat in the first or even decided not to trade back into the third, their overall haul in the draft may have been equal to or greater than what they ended up with.

For instance, had they not traded up for Alexander and gotten him at 27 (a potentially big if, but stay with me), their draft could have looked something like this:

  • 27 - CB Jaire Alexander
  • 45 - CB Josh Jackson
  • 76 - EDGE Rusher or LB Oren Burks
  • 101 - TE Ian Thomas
  • 147 - EDGE Rusher or LB Micah Kiser

The Packers could have taken Burks at 76 or opted for an EDGE rusher while still picking up Kiser at 147, or vice versa.

It should be noted that Burks is probably a higher upside prospect than both Thomas and Kiser. Thomas, while large and fairly athletic, was not productive in college. And Kiser, though productive in college, is not particularly large or athletic. Burks has prototypical size for a modern inside linebacker as well as the athleticism of a much smaller man. It’s possible that this deal could someday look like a no-brainer.

In any case, this trade will merit watching for years to come. Keep referring back to our trade tracker as we keep an eye on the players the Packers got (and the ones they could have gotten) over the next few seasons.