Jon Meerdink: Why the 2017 Draft Class is Sneaky Important

The esteemed Matt Miller of Bleacher Report dropped an interesting nugget in a recent column: the Packers really, really love their draft class.

That may not sound like much at first blush. Every team will walk to the podium after each of its picks and announce that they got exactly the player they wanted and wax eloquent about how lucky they were that he was still on the board.

But Miller offers an inside account from a scout who says the Packers think this could be the best in his run with the team:

There’s a lot of reasons to be excited about this year’s draft class. The Packers managed to acquire some extra picks and pick up serious depth and athleticism at some positions of need while loading up at some offensive positions with diversely skilled players.

As Miller’s anonymous scout points out, it’s completely reasonable to expect each of the first seven players the Packers picked to be major contributors this year.

Expanding the scope a little bit, the Packers seem to have collected some very important contributors over the past couple seasons.

Looking at their last two drafts, as many as 13 Packers draft picks could be starters or major contributors this season alone, with bigger roles in the future for each of them.

This is hugely important for one reason: these are the players the Packers are going to need most for the last ride of Aaron Rodgers.

Looking to the future while helping the present

If it’s true that it takes three years to evaluate a draft class as players grow and adjust to the pro game, these two classes should just be hitting their prime as Aaron Rodgers hits his late 30s.

The Packers’ championship window may not be closing now, but I don’t think that anyone disagrees that Rodgers is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. In three years, that will only be more true, and the chances to maximize Rodgers’ time in Green Bay will be dwindling by then even if he does play into his 40s.

The Packers have worked this sort of draft strategy well before. Between 2006 and 2007, the Packers took ten players that either started or had major roles on the 2010 Super Bowl team.

Every player was expected to contribute early, but their long term success helped bring the Packers a Super Bowl win. This year’s class should be viewed no differently.

Each of the Packers’ picks over the last two years will surely contribute in the short term. They must if the Packers are going to be competitive this season. But looking to the future never hurts either, and if they’ve loaded up as the anonymous scout believes, they’re going to be in good shape both now and in the future.