Green Bay Packers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA – Round 1
When the Packers won the Super Bowl in the 2010 season, they had B.J. Raji playing at the height of his game, and he was a real presence at the point of attack. In the years since then, Raji declined and now is done in Green Bay. The Packers needed a disruptive nose tackle and were able to land a good one in Clark. I think he will quickly become a solid starter for Green Bay.

Clark had an excellent senior season with 75 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, six sacks and five passes batted. He was an impactful defender at the point of attack and was very good at stuffing runs. While other players received more attention, Clark had an excellent combine workout. He ran faster than expected in the 40 and was superb in the field drills. Clark showed quick feet, good balance, agility, and an ability to bend. He has the size and skill set to be a very good defensive lineman.

Clark could easily be a boom pick, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up being one of the better 3-4 nose tackles in the NFL. With other defenders like Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Daniels drawing attention, Clark could make a quick impact for Green Bay.

Most Likely To Bust

Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State – Round 3
The Packers have needed inside linebacker help the past few seasons and have loaded up at the position with mid-round talents over the past few drafts. At one time, some draft pundits were rating Fackrell as a first-rounder. However, he isn’t a special athlete and I don’t believe he is overly instinctive. Thus, I could see Fackrell getting lost in the shuffle in Green Bay.

Fackrell (6-4, 244) has the ability to drop into pass coverage and blitz off the edge. In 2015, he had 82 tackles with 15 for a loss and four sacks. Fackrell missed 2014 with a torn ACL and had similar production to 2015 in 2013. While he was a solid player, he didn’t dominate his mid-level competition.

The Packers have a lot of competition at linebacker now, so Fackrell will have the challenge of beating out players while making a big jump in the level of competition. I could see him falling behind other players and ending up not making an impact for Green Bay. Of the Packers’ early round selections, I think he has the most bust potential.

Potential Boom Pick

Blake Martinez, LB, Stanford – Round 4
This is a gutsy projection considering Green Bay drafted a player at the same position a round earlier than Martinez. However, I think Martinez is a significantly better player than Kyler Fackrell. While Fackrell is bigger, in my opinion, Martinez is going to translate well to the NFL because the latter has phenomenal instincts. If you watched Stanford last season, he was impossible to ignore.

Martinez turned in an excellent senior year, making a lot of critical tackles for Stanford. He was the Cardinal’s most steady defender. In 2015, Martinez totaled 141 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks, six passes broken up and one interception. He had 101 tackles as a junior. While Martinez doesn’t have special size or speed, there have been plenty of good NFL linebackers who fit that description because instincts are the most essential characteristic.

I think Martinez is going to stand out quickly for Green Bay and climb the depth chart. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Martinez beats out other recent picks like Fackrell and Jake Ryan to be the Packers’ leading inside linebacker.

Future Depth Player

Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern – Round 4
The Packers took advantage of a strong defensive line draft by landing Lowry in the fourth round. The 6-foot-6, 296-pounder probably would have been a second-day pick in a normal defensive line class, but with the depth in this year’s group, he slipped to the third day. Lowry is a perfect fit as a 3-4 defensive end. He could end up developing into a starter, but that could be tough in Green Bay. I think Lowry will at least be good depth and contribute on a rotational basis.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

27. Kenny Clark, NT, UCLA B- Grade
No real problem with this pick, though I would’ve preferred Andrew Billings or Vernon Butler. The Packers needed a nose tackle in the wake of B.J. Raji’s retirement, and they had their pick of the litter at this juncture. Given that, you might wonder why the Packers didn’t move down, even if they didn’t get full value. Still, Green Bay made a somewhat decent choice to fill a big hole on its defensive front.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

48. Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana C Grade
It’s surprising to see the Packers make such a splash move like this. It doesn’t seem necessary either. Jason Spriggs tested extremely well at the Combine, but he has several things to work on before becoming a starter, as he’s pretty raw. I think Green Bay could’ve waited on tackle depth and perhaps a starter for 2017. There were just other needs to address, and Green Bay could’ve obtained a better football player without trading up.

88. Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State A- Grade
Packer fans have to be thrilled with this pick. I’m basing that on all the e-mails and comments I received from them about being super desperate for an inside linebacker. Well, they finally have one, and Kyler Fackrell is pretty good. We were hearing some buzz for Fackrell in the second round, so the value here is very good. Fackrell also has plenty of versatility, as he can also play the edge and rush the passer effectively.

131. Blake Martinez, LB, Stanford B Grade
I was wondering whether the Packers planned to use Kyler Fackrell inside or on the edge. Perhaps this provides an answer, as Blake Martinez is certainly an interior player. Martinez fits the range as a low fourth-round prospect. He can play the run well, but figures to struggle in coverage.

137. Dean Lowry, DE/DT, Northwestern B- Grade
Dean Lowry probably was an undraftable prospect until he made a name for himself at the Combine. He showed off some surprising athleticism, which intrigued some teams. He’s definitely a project, but perhaps he’ll end up as a starter at some point in his career. If not, he could be a decent rotational player.

163. Trevor Davis, WR/KR, California B Grade
Trevor Davis tested as one of the top wide receivers at the Combine. However, he may not see much action at wideout, as it seems like he might just be relegated to special teams. That’s perfectly fine, as he has the talent to be a dynamic return specialist in the NFL.

200. Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford B+ Grade
I don’t have any athleticism numbers on Kyle Murphy, but what I do know is that he played on Kevin Hogan’s blind side this past season after taking over for Andrus Peat. Murphy could’ve been chosen in the fifth round without any complaints, so this is a nice selection by a team interested in further upgrading its depth at tackle.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: B . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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