Green Bay Packers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
June 11, 2013

Solid Starter

Datone Jones, DE, UCLA – Round 1
The Packers wanted to use the 2013 NFL Draft to become more physical on both sides of the ball, and they certainly accomplished that with the selection of Jones. He was in the discussion as the most physical in the draft class. Perhaps only Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (Carolina’s first-rounder) plays more physical than Jones, but the two are probably actually tied. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Jones was definitely the most physical defensive end prospect.

Green Bay’s defense has missed that kind of presence up front since losing Cullen Jenkins in free agency a few years ago. Jones is immediately going to bring a power element to the defensive line for fights at the point of attack. Jones had 62 tackles with 5.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss in 2012. UCLA also played the senior out of position at defensive tackle.

Jones had a dominant week at the Senior Bowl. He showed that he is dedicated to the weight room and has put in a lot of time in developing a serious NFL body. Following the weigh-in, the powerful defensive end had a superb week of practice. Jones showed off a great skill set with which he can defeat offensive linemen with either strength or agility. Jones has the power to move offensive linemen to the side and the speed to close in a hurry.

If B.J. Raji is re-signed, the Packers could have a tough three-man defensive line for years to come with Jones, Raji and 2012 second-round pick Jerel Worthy. Immediately, Jones improves the physicality of Green Bay’s defensive line, and he looks very likely to become a good starter for the team.

Most Likely To Bust

David Bakhtiari, OT/G, Colorado – Round 3
I really struggled to pick a player for this category because there wasn’t one who really looks like he has serious bust potential. Of the Packers’ picks in the top half of the 2013 NFL Draft, I think Bakhtiari may not translate as well to the league.

Considering Bakhtiari wasn’t going to be a first- or second-round pick, he probably should’ve gone back to school for his senior year. The junior probably thought he accomplished everything he could in college starting three consecutive seasons. Bakhtiari started 33 games in his career and was an All-Pac-12 selection. He played tackle in college, but there is a good chance that he will have to slide inside in the NFL. The 6-foot-4, 299-pounder is simply undersized for an offensive lineman and doesn’t look like he has the length to play tackle.

Bakhtiari is quick, mobile and a good athlete for an offensive lineman. Thus, he makes sense for the Packers’ zone blocking scheme. Green Bay’s offensive line had a rough season in 2012, so Bakhtiari could provide nice depth as a rookie. I’m not sure he has the size and strength to be an effective starter in the NFL, so that is why I have him as the most likely to bust. However, I think it is more likely that Bakhtiari will become at least a quality backup, if not develop into a solid starter.

Potential Boom Pick

Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama – Round 2
The Packers trading down and landing Lacy in the second round was one of the best picks of the 2013 NFL Draft. If Green Bay took Eddie Lacy in the first round, that would have been understandable, but to trade down in Round 2 and still land Lacy is pure theft. The Packers needed a feature back to help take the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers and they landed a work horse. Lacy is a physical back and will add a needed dimension to Green Bay’s offense. He will help the team in short-yardage and in closing out games.

Lacy totaled 1,322 yards (6.4 average) and 17 touchdowns on only 204 carries last year. The junior was a power runner for Alabama and lost touches to standout freshman T.J. Yeldon. Lacy caught 22 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns, too. He had massive performances against Georgia (20-181) in the SEC Championship and Notre Dame (20-140) in the National Championship. Lacy was the backup to super star Trent Richardson in 2011. Lacy made the most of of his carries running for 631 yards on 84 carries with seven touchdowns.

Scouts have told that Lacy played like a first-round pick in college and has the skill set of a first-rounder. They loved his running ability with his power, quickness and elusiveness. They additionally thought he would eventually be an effective three-down running back and a real bruiser in the fourth quarter.

Scouts said he fell in the draft because of multiple injury concerns. The biggest issue was a turf toe injury. They said that he had surgery on the toe, but the issue is expected to linger and there is nothing more that can be done about it. Multiple teams medical evaluations felt that Lacy would be playing with the toe injury for his entire career.

If Lacy can stay on the field, he has the skill set to be a boom pick and a potential pro bowler. The 5-foot-11, 230-pounder has the combination of size and speed to be a devastating back. The Packers’ offense needed to acquire some more physicality and Lacy brings a smashmouth element to Green Bay. If Lacy can stay healthy, it wouldn’t be surprising if he emerges as one of the better running backs in the NFC. Being able to slide down and still land Lacy was some masterful drafting by Ted Thompson.

Future Depth Player

Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA – Round 4
Franklin has the potential to be the boom pick and or a solid starter. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound back is extremely well-rounded. He is a quick, decisive runner who has surprising toughness. Franklin looks like an ideal back to serve as a No. 2 behind Lacy.

Even with the addition of Lacy, the Packers’ offense is still going to be an aerial attack led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Franklin will be an ideal back for the passing game after some developmental time to learn the NFL. He was very impressive in blitz protection during the Senior Bowl. Franklin was also a functional receiver for UCLA. Green Bay will have a versatile asset as Franklin can contribute as a blocker or receiver.

Franklin shouldn’t be sold short as a runner since he was a force in the Pac-12 last year. Franklin averaged 6.2 yards per carry while churning his way to 1,734 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 33 balls for 323 yards and two touchdowns.

The Packers have had a lack of talent in the backfield for years, so adding a couple of backs makes a lot of sense to fix the position. Franklin isn’t the biggest of backs, but he looks like a perfect fit for Green Bay as a situational backup and great depth in case Lacy has more injury issues.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

26. Datone Jones, DE/DT, UCLA: A- Grade
Datone Jones has been discussed as high as No. 19 to the Giants, so the Packers are getting good value with Datone Jones. They’re also getting a tremendous upgrade on the defensive line. Green Bay was completely obliterated by Colin Kaepernick, so the team needed to find players to help them stop the read option. Jones is a great fit, as Ted Thompson continues to be one of the better drafters in the NFL.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

61. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama: A+ Grade
Ted Thompson makes this looks so easy. Not only did he sit and wait for the top running back in the 2013 NFL Draft; he also moved down and still managed to maintain him. Eddie Lacy would have been a first-round pick if it weren’t for an injury that he’ll quickly recover from. He’ll be a tremendous upgrade in the backfield.

109. David Bakhtiari, OT/G, Colorado: A Grade
Ted Thompson loves versatile linemen, and David Bakhtiari definitely fits the bill. He can play both tackle and guard positions, so he’ll definitely help somewhere on an offensive line that needed to be upgraded. Baktiari was an early third-round projection, so the value is good.

122. J.C. Tretter, G/OT, Cornell: B- Grade
Another versatile offensive lineman, though J.C. Tretter is more of a guard whereas David Bakhtiari should be at tackle. I’m not as crazy about this pick because I feel like Tretter could have been taken a round later.

125. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA: A+ Grade
Wow, what a steal! Johnathan Franklin was viewed as the top running back in this class by some, so it’s inexplicable that he fell all the way to the bottom of Round 4. Projected as a player similar to Warrick Dunn, Franklin will form a tremendous one-two punch with Eddie Lacy out of the backfield.

159. Micah Hyde, CB/S, Iowa: B Grade
Micah Hyde played cornerback at Iowa, but he may have to move to safety in the NFL because of speed concerns. Ted Thompson could be fine with that. He likes versatile players and needed help at the safety position. I thought Hyde would go in the middle of the fifth round, so this is the right range for him.

167. Josh Boyd, DE/DT, Mississippi State: B Grade
It’s no surprise that the Packers spent two selections on the defensive line because they have some expiring contracts coming up soon. Josh Boyd is a solid selection who fits the range as a fifth-round prospect.

193. Nate Palmer, DE/OLB, Illinois State: C Grade
Nate Palmer wasn’t a draftable prospect, but that’s not a big deal at the end of the sixth round. What’s more surprising is that the Packers waited this long to take a pass-rusher.

216. Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley State: B Grade
Wide receiver is another position I thought the Packers would address earlier. Charles Johnson is a seventh-round prospect, so he makes sense at this spot. He might be able to make the team.

224. Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland: C Grade
This is a much more questionable receiver pick. It’s the seventh round, but I don’t think many would have considered Kevin Dorsey in the old 12-round format.

232. Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida: B Grade
Considered a seventh-round prospect, Sam Barrington should be able to contribute on special teams and provide solid depth.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: A+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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