Since the draft excitement has died down, all we can do now is wait a few years to see how the picks will eventually pan out (unless you’re ready to grade everyone based on a couple OTAs in shorts – which seems like the cool thing to do given all the Josh Jones love I’m seeing lately). I always like going back and seeing who they could have taken with perfect hindsight.
Since players take time to develop, it usually makes sense to wait about four years before evaluating players – about the duration of their first contract.
When I do this, I try to only select a players that were between their current pick and a round or so later, otherwise it’s unrealistic. I know Sam Shields would have been a first rounder, but since he went undrafted, it would be unrealistic to take him any higher than late in the 6th round.
With that in mind, here is the dream draft the Packers could have had in 2013.
Round 1 – Kawaan Short – An All-Rookie selection, Short forced 5 fumbles in his first three seasons then broke out with 11 sacks in year 3, when he earned his first Pro Bowl berth. This would have been more productive than Datone Jones and is a pick we may have made (given Ted’s love of big men) if we weren’t so jumpy about the read option at the time.
Round 2 – Eddie Lacy – You know his story: Offensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl running back, unreal moves for a guy his size. He dominated when he was healthy and carried the team when Rodgers was hurt. Fantastic pick.
Round 4 (trade) – David Bakhtiari – You know his story, too: Took over left tackle his rookie year when Bulaga was hurt and hasn’t looked back. Last year, Pro Football Focus names him the best pass blocker in the NFL. Not bad.
Round 4 (trade) – JC Tretter – Another guy whose story you know: Solid center while taking turns being healthy with Core Linsley. Left on a big free agent deal and will now net a comp pick.
Round 4 (trade) – Kenny Stills – The Packers took Johnathan Franklin with this pick and it might have ended up the best option here if he hadn’t broken his neck. There was pretty slim pickins at this part of the draft, but Stills is a speed receiver who led the league in yards per catch (20.0) as a rookie and has developed into a full time starter after being traded to the Dolphins, who recently rewarded him with a 4 year, $32 million contract extension.
Round 5 – Micah Hyde – Yet another guy whose story you know: Played all over the defense, was a very good returner, and was the primary reason the Packers dumpster fire corners didn’t prevent them from going to the NFCC last year. He signed a top deal and will also net a nice comp pick.
Round 5 (comp) – Latavius Murray – At 6’3″ 223 with a 4.38 40, Murray has all the size and speed needed. He spent his rookie year on IR. In his second year, he pushed to become a starter by the end of the year, passing Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew on the depth chart. He had 1,000 yards in his third season as a full time starter, earning a Pro Bowl berth, and put up 12 touchdowns last season. (Packers took Josh Boyd)
Round 6 – Paul Worrilow – Starting middle linebacker for the Falcons led the team in tackles over his first three years – would have been a welcome addition to the Packers over that stretch. Packers took Nate Palmer – right position, wrong pick.
Round 7 216 (trade) – Charles Johnson – Another familiar name. The Packers took him and, despite his great size and athleticism, he couldn’t crack a stacked wide receiver unit. He hung out on the practice squad and eventually made his way to Minnesota, where he played WR1 for a stint.
Round 7 224 (trade) – AJ Bouye – Was the darling of free agency this year, especially in the eyes of fans of a team with a corner group that performed terribly. I certainly didn’t want to spend big on him, but he was easily the best possible value at this spot. (Packers took Kevin Dorsey… whoops)
Round 7 232 – Sam Barrington – Still another guy we know: He looked like he was going to be a thumper in the middle for a long time, but just as he started to peak, a foot injury pretty much ended his career.
What I always find when I do things like this is that, no matter where you pick, you can get a whole bunch of studs in any given draft (but not necessarily pass rushers), but what really interested me on this one was how many of the Packers picks I would have stuck with. Over half the selections ended up being the (subjectively) right choice. With hundreds of players drafted each year and thousands available, that’s a pretty good clip.
Datone Jones was always miscast with the Packers and guys like Josh Boyd (who I had high hopes for) and Nate Palmer didn’t pay off handsomely, but they can’t all be winners. The Packers got the Rookie of the Year and the best pass blocker in the NFL to go with some part time starters that will give comp picks in return. All things considered, I think Ted did a damn fine job with this one.