The start of the Matt LaFleur era in Green Bay culminated in a deep playoff run, though the disheartening loss in the NFC Championship bout with the San Francisco 49ers revealed several deficiencies on both sides of the football, namely wide receiver, offensive line, and linebacker. With the window of opportunity shrinking for Aaron Rodgers with each passing year, it is paramount that the Packers identify young building blocks in the NFL Draft to invigorate a talented roster with Super Bowl aspirations. Do the Packers’ 2020 draft grades reflect this necessity?
Who did the Green Bay Packers draft?
Round 1, Pick 26: Jordan Love, QB Utah State
Round 2, Pick 62: A.J. Dillon, RB Boston College
Round 3, Pick 94: Josiah Deguara, TE Cincinnati
Round 5, Pick 175: Kamal Martin, LB Minnesota
Round 6, Pick 192: Jon Runyan, G Michigan
Round 6, Pick 208: Jake Hanson, C Oregon
Round 6, Pick 209: Simon Stepaniak, G Indiana
Round 7, Pick 236: Vernon Scott, S TCU
Round 7, Pick 242: Jonathan Garvin, EDGE Miami
Best Player: Jordan Love
Love the player, question the fit.
Aaron Rodgers likely has at least three years of quality football left in him before turning things over to his successor. In a perfect world, Jordan Love won’t see the field for a few seasons, sans preseason play and blowouts, essentially rendering this pick a non-entity for the foreseeable future.
Love has the intangibles to evolve into an upper-echelon signal caller. The former Aggie possesses the awareness and athleticism to improvise on broken plays, his arm is strong enough to make every throw at the next level, and he’s demonstrated the pocket presence to stand tall and deliver the football, while also maintaining a keen sense of when to use his legs to pick up yardage.
In order for Love to realize his tantalizing upside at the next level, however, he will need to continue to improve his footwork, pocket presence, and decision making.
Best Value: Kamal Martin
If it weren’t for an injury-plagued 2019 campaign in which a knee injury limited him to eight games and robbed him of a chance to perform at the NFL Scouting Combine, Martin likely isn’t available in the fifth round. In fact, he probably warrants Day 2 consideration.
Martin, 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, adds some much-needed athleticism to Green Bay’s linebacking corps. His sideline-to-sideline speed and range, coupled with his staggering 81-inch wingspan, figures to translate well in covering hybrid tight ends and running backs in space, and his innate ability to diagnose plays should make him a favorite of the coaching staff.
If he returns from injury without setback, Martin will instantly contend for playing time for the Packers this summer, with his chief competition coming from veteran Oren Burks.
Biggest Reach: A.J. Dillon
The Packers have struggled mightily to find a competent second option opposite Davante Adams. Whether it was Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison, or Allen Lazard miscast in the role in recent years, the loaded 2020 crop of pass catchers presented an opportunity for the Packers to rectify their receiver conundrum.
Instead, the Packers selected running back A.J. Dillon — in the second round.
Besides the fact that I gave Dillon a fourth-round grade, running back was one of the few positions that wasn’t in dire need of an upgrade, as Aaron Jones is widely considered to be an ascending talent with his best football ahead.
Simply put, a power running back of Dillon’s mold can typically be had in the later rounds. While he sports a chiseled build and will serve as the Packers’ resident battering ram to grind out short yardage, Dillon caught just 21 passes in his three seasons at Boston College. Dillon’s physical tools are enticing, and he’s shown promise as a receiver out of the backfield, but not enough upside to justify his draft slot.
Biggest Sleeper: Josiah Deguara
I’ll be the first to admit, I had Deguara pegged as a fourth round pick.
The Cincinnati tight end doesn’t boast prototypical size for the position at 6-foot-2, 242 pounds, but he left school as the Bearcats’ all-time leader in receptions by a tight end and made an impact at multiple positions. Deguara posted impressive testing numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine, recording a 4.72 40-yard dash, 25 reps on the bench press, a 35.5-inch vertical, and a 115-inch broad jump.
Though many view this pick as a reach, Deguara should thrive as a move tight end at the next level, and could see time as an H-back or fullback in the running game. Think John Kuhn, Packers fans.
For what it’s worth, Deguara was my second-ranked tight end in this class, and before long, I anticipate Green Bay fans warming up to the pick.
Green Bay Packers 2020 Draft Grade: D
The Green Bay Packers traded up in the first round for a quarterback expected to be on the shelf for the foreseeable future, failing to capitalize on the plethora of wide receivers dispersed throughout the draft.
Though I do like the Deguara selection, Dillon and Deguara were unanimously considered Day 2 reaches, as far more enticing options remained on the board.
I like what Green Bay did on Day 3, aggressively addressing to the interior of their offensive line. Most of the picks are deemed to be project players, however, so it is unclear how immediate of an impact they can make in a shortened offseason. That negatively factors into the Packers’ 2020 draft grades.
There were many questionable selections in the Packers’ draft haul, but none more than their first-round pick — to which the Packers’ long-term future solely hinges on.