It’s draft season and time to look at what’s in store for the Packers in 2019, where they have more draft capital than perhaps they ever have.
Pro Football Focus recently released the PFF 2018 All Pro Team and it had some interesting insights that we can apply to draft strategy.
If we look at the top players from each position (per PFF, which I admit isn’t perfect – heck, they admit it – but is one of the best tools we have) and which selection was used to draft them, we might be able to learn a few things.
POS – PLAYER (OVERALL DRAFT POSITION)
QB – Patrick Mahomes (10)
RB – Saquon Barkley (2)
WR – DeAndre Hopkins (10)
WR – Michael Thomas (47)
WR(Slot) – Tyreek Hill (165)
TE – George Kittle (146)
LT – David Bakhtiari (109)
LG – Joel Bitonio (35)
C – Jason Kelce (191)
RG – Shaq Mason (131)
RT – Mitchell Schwartz (37)
POS – PLAYER (OVERALL DRAFT POSITION)
EG – JJ Watt (11)
EG – Khalil Mack (5)
ILB – Bobby Wagner (47)
ILB – Luke Keuchly (9)
DL – Aaron Donald (13)
DL – Fletcher Cox (12)
CB – Stephon Gilmore (10)
CB – Byron Jones (27)
CB(Slot) – Desmond King (151)
S – Jamal Adams (6)
S – Eddie Jackson (112)
So what do we take away from this? It confirms a lot of draft opinions things I’ve felt to be true:
- Pass Rushers are perhaps the easiest position to scout and the always get drafted early (usually before the Packers pick)
- Quarterbacks and Cornerbacks are also premium positions that get taken early
- Left Tackle is the other premium position along with QB, CB, and Pass Rushers, but David Bakhtiari is a freakish anomaly – guys like him usually go top 5
- All other positions on the offensive line, particularly the interior, are found in plentiful supply in the middle rounds, which makes guys like Quenton Nelson a luxury pick
- Elite Backs and Receivers may go early, but they can also be found late (even undrafted, in the case of Phillip Lindsay)
- Premier Safeties and Tight Ends can be found late, too
What does this mean for the Packers?
- First and foremost, it means if they can get a top pass rusher (be it an edge guy like Josh Allen or Jachai Polite or a defensive lineman like Ed Oliver or Quinnen Williams), they should pounce all over it – if they can build off what the defense started this year and find a new HC to re-ignite the offense, they won’t have a chance to pick this high and get a premier pass rushing prospect for a while.
- If a top corner like Greedy Williams is there, he could be worth taking, while a safety should only be taken at 12 if they are a game changer (Deionte Thompson may be this year’s Derwin James in terms of impact safeties)
- Guys like Jonah Williams and Greg Little will probably be great LTs, so we don’t need to spend a premium pick to use them at RT – but if they somehow fall all the way to 32, the value may be too much to pass up
- This draft class looks heavy on defense, so if the skill guys slip (some boards have no WR or RB in the top 11), we need to tread carefully, which could actually mean trading down if some team with an idiot owner really wants that shiny toy
- Interior line is a desperate need for the Packers, but if they can’t patch it in free agency, they should lay off drafting one until the 3rd or 4th round and maybe even take on a tackle conversion project
This draft actually works out pretty well for the Packers. Much like last year, where a deep crop of corners lined up with the Packers need at the position, the 2019 class has a lot of pass rushers, just what the team needs.
Pass rusher is a premium position and the Packers have premium picks. Hopefully, they can bolster this weakness and address safety and interior offensive line later on. This would follow the blueprint that the rest of the league set in terms of how positions are values in the draft.