Green Bay Packers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – Round 1
The Packers had too many busted coverages in the middle of the field in 2013 and needed to get faster on the defensive side of the ball. Clinton-Dix is a perfect fit to come in and improve the team’s speed while also defending the deep part of the field. Clinton-Dix was a superb center fielder for Alabama the past two seasons and should be ready to step in immediately for Green Bay.

Clinton-Dix totaled 50 tackles, two interceptions and four passes broken up in 2013. He kept a lot of points off the board for Alabama and made a lot of tackles as the last line of defense. In his first season as a starter, Clinton-Dix totaled 37 tackles with five interceptions, four passes broken up and a forced fumble.

Clinton-Dix is superb at taking away long pass plays downfield and also can match up on tight ends. Clinton-Dix has the size and length to be used in a variety of ways. With the big, fast receivers in the NFC North that Green Bay has to contend with, Clinton-Dix should be a quick asset to defending those wide outs.

Landing the best free safety in the draft at pick No. 21 was an excellent value for the Packers. Clinton-Dix could form a potent duo with Morgan Burnett and get Green Bay back to the quality safety play the team had before Nick Collins was injured.

Most Likely To Bust

Khyri Thornton, DL, Southern Miss – Round 3
The Packers have a tendency to like 4-3-defensive tackle types to play the five-technique defensive end in their 3-4 set. It worked out well with Cullen Jenkins, but it hasn’t paid off with Jerel Worthy – among others. Perhaps Thornton will outplay Worthy, Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion and Josh Boyd, but it wouldn’t surprise if Thornton underwhelms like those defenders.

The 6-foot-3, 304-pound Thornton has the body type to play inside of a 4-3 defense. He has some quickness and strength, but also comes with some off-the-field issues. Thornton may not have the length to set the edge in a 3-4 defense. This was the only pick of Green Bay’s 2014 draft class that felt like a reach.

The Packers had a strong draft class that should help them immediately and in the long term. Thornton is the one early-round pick who looks like he has bust potential.

Potential Boom Pick

Carl Bradford, ILB, Arizona State – Round 4 knows that Green Bay loved Ryan Shazier, but the Packers saw him snatched off the board before they had a shot at him. While the organization lost out on Shazier, the team landed a steal and an upgrade at inside linebacker in the fourth round with Bradford. For Green Bay’s defense, Bradford is a flexible chess piece who can help the team in a variety of ways.

The 6-foot-1, 243-pounder has good speed off the edge and makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. In his final season, Bradford totaled 61 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes broken up, one interception and three forced fumbles in 2013. He broke out in 2012 with 81 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 20.5 tackles for a loss, five passes defended, three forced fumbles and one interception. Bradford was strong against the run and showed real blitzing ability as a pass-rusher.

Bradford will do a lot for the Packers’ defense and improve their team speed. A.J. Hawk is aging and has been overrated in his career. He also doesn’t bring much speed to the middle of the defense. Green Bay could also do better than Brad Jones, who is 28. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bradford replaces one them as a starter in the near future.

Bradford is a great fit in Dom Capers’ defense as an inside linebacker who also will help the team’s edge rush. Having Bradford provides some pass-rushing depth if Clay Matthews gets injured or Nick Perry continues to disappoint. Don’t be surprised if Bradford, an instinctive play-maker, ends up being a great pick by Green Bay and causes a lot of teams to regret passing on him.

Future Depth Player

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin – Round 5
The Packers got a steal in Abbrederis. He easily could have gone on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft. Over the past three seasons, Abbrederis was a steady source of big plays for Wisconsin. 2013 saw the senior produce his biggest numbers despite inconsistent quarterback play. He recorded 78 catches for 1,081 yards with seven touchdowns, including torching Bradley Roby for over 200 yards.

Abbrederis is a phenomenal route-runner with quickness and great hands. He also is a good kick and punt returner. With Green Bay’s good veterans, Abbrederis (6-1, 195) may never develop into a starting receiver, but he could produce as part of a rotation and also contribute on special teams.

Walt’s 2014 NFL Draft Grades:

21. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: A- Grade
The talented prospects just have a knack of falling to the smart teams. That’s what happened here, as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was projected to go as high as No. 10 to Detroit or No. 13 to St. Louis. Clinton-Dix was one of the better players available, and he will undoubtedly improve an abysmal secondary that gave up giant passing performances to nearly every team they battled this past year.

53. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State: B+ Grade
The Packers lost James Jones, who ruined his career by leaving Aaron Rodgers and signing with the Raiders, so they had to find a new receiver. Davante Adams was a solid second-round prospect heading into the draft, so this pick makes sense from a need and a range perspective. Aaron Rodgers should be happy.

85. Khyri Thornton, DE/DT, Southern Miss: C Grade
The Packers wanted to get quicker on the defensive line to put more pressure on Colin Kaepernick and the other mobile quarterbacks. Khyri Thornton should help them, though he’s a bit of a reach (I had him as a Round 4-5 player). The other issue is that Thornton has some off-the-field concerns, so it’s a bit surprising to see Green Bay take him.

98. Richard Rodgers, TE, California: C+ Grade
A Rodgers out of California worked the first time, so why not try it again? There were mixed reviews on this Rodgers, as there were on the previous one. Some thought Richard would be a mid-round prospect, while others had him in the late rounds. The Packers obviously fell into the former category, but there’s no doubt that their new tight end will compete for a starting job at a big position of need.

121. Carl Bradford, ILB, Arizona State: A+ Grade
Another steal, and it’s not a surprise that the perennial winners are making them. Carl Bradford could have easily been chosen in the second round, and I’m not sure why he fell this far. Bradford can play either outside or inside linebacker in the 3-4, though he’ll probably be stationed at the latter position in Green Bay, given what the team has on its roster. He fills a big need inside.

161. Corey Linsley, C, Ohio State: C+ Grade
The Packers had to find a center after allowing Evan Dietrich-Smith to walk in free agency. This is a bit high for Corey Linsley, but I wouldn’t call it a huge reach. Considering the need, I can’t blame the Packers too much for taking Linsley earlier than expected.

176. Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin: A Grade
I had a tip that the Packers liked Jared Abbrederis, but I actually thought they’d choose him earlier than this. They picked Davante Adams instead, and didn’t need a receiver. The value was too much to pass up on him at this juncture though. Green Bay is getting great value.

197. Demetri Goodson, CB, Baylor: B Grade
It’s odd to see the Packers taking a cornerback shorter than six feet tall, but Demetri Goodson is a solid choice. He fills a need for corner depth and fits the range as a sixth-round prospect.

236. Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State: B Grade
A third receiver for the Packers may seem strange. Well, it is, but they’re getting good value with Jeff Janis, who could have gone in the fifth round. Janis is one of the most athletic players in this draft, so Green Bay must like his potential.

2014 NFL Draft Team Grade: B+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

Green Bay Packers Season Preview

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12