Experts give Packers high grades on NFL draft
APR 28, 2013 6:14p ET
In charge of a Packers team that's been to the divisional round of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons after winning Super Bowl XLV the year prior, Thompson once again showed why he's capable of keeping Green Bay very competitive despite not spending much money in free agency.
The Packers added 11 new players to their roster in this draft, beginning with defensive end Datone Jones in the first round. Jones played in a very similar 3-4 defense at UCLA and should give Green Bay's defense the player it hasn't had since Cullen Jenkins' departure two years ago.
Thompson drafted two running backs, Eddie Lacy (second round) and Johnathan Franklin (fourth round), who immediately upgrade a need position for the Packers. Two offensive linemen, David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter, were drafted in the fourth round to add much needed depth at those spots. In late rounds, Green Bay drafted two linebackers (Nate Palmer and Sam Barrington), two wide receivers ( Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey), a defensive lineman (Josh Boyd) and a cornerback (Micah Hyde).
Here's a look at how several national draft experts graded the Packers' haul in the 2013 draft:
FOX Sports, Jen Floyd Engel: A "The power of a good GM has been proven again. Ted Thompson killed it, especially like the two running backs he picked up in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin."
FOX Sports, Alex Marvez: B "UCLA's Datone Jones fits the bill as a 3-4 end. The selection of Lacy (second round) and UCLA's Franklin (fourth) doesn't bode well for incumbent running backs James Starks and Alex Green."
FOX Sports, Peter Schrager: B-plus "Jones is a talented 6-4 defensive lineman that can play multiple spots. He's stout enough to play defensive tackle and can get to the quarterback. Lacy was a nice value pick in the second round, but Franklin could be a Warrick Dunn clone. Two solid running backs to add to a good squad."
ESPN, Mel Kiper: Needs: B, Value: A, Overall: B-plus "I love what Green Bay got out of this draft, particularly at two spots — defensive end and running back. Datone Jones is a perfect scheme-fit for the defense. He's the penetrating 3-4 defensive end who should line up to the right of B.J. Raji. The Packers improved their pass rush last year after a disastrous 2011, and Jones is going to provide yet another player who can cause some problems for opposing quarterbacks. I know some teams have health questions with Eddie Lacy, but getting the guy I had as the No. 1 RB in the draft all the way down at No. 61 is terrific value. The Packers build their offensive portfolio off Aaron Rodgers' arm, but it'd be nice to see that 43-game streak of no running backs reaching 100 yards come to an end. Remember, Rodgers also took plenty of hits over the last two years, so a little more reliability in the run game is key. Adding to that, Johnathan Franklin will produce if called upon. That position is now a strength. There isn't a lot else here that will factor into the 2013 plans. J.C. Tretter can give them reps, but won't be needed early. One sleeper here is Charles Johnson from Grand Valley State. I thought he might come off much earlier than No. 216. Green Bay did well with its early picks, and that's plenty."
NBC Sports, Evan Silva: B-plus "GM Ted Thompson annually dominates on draft day; it's where he butters his bread. The Packers are not a free-agency team. Jones is a relentless, potentially special inside rusher who finally gives Green Bay a legitimate replacement for Cullen Jenkins. Lacy and Franklin can form a Thunder & Lightning backfield with the former as a light-footed wrecking ball and latter in the big-play, change-up role. Both rookies can pick up the blitz and play on all three downs. Bakhtiari is a heady, athletic mover and fit for the Packers' zone scheme. Hyde, Palmer, and Barrington are core special teams guys. Johnson abused his competition at small-school Grand Valley State and has Julio Jones-like measurables. The value on Lacy, Franklin, and Johnson was sensational. Chalk up another draft-weekend "win" for arguably the top GM in the sport."
Sports Illustrated, Chris Burke: A-minus "So...no one else wanted RBs Eddie Lacy or Johnathan Franklin? Well, good luck trying to stop them in Green Bay's offense. DE Datone Jones also has a perfect look for the Packers' front. G/T David Bakhtiari gives the Packers another option along the O-line (as does J.C. Tretter), while S Micah Hyde will be in the mix on defense."
Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer: A "The highlight of another good Ted Thompson haul was doubling up on running backs with Alabama's Eddie Lacy and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin. After their recent injury mess at the position, the powerful fresh legs the Packers now have sets them up for a much stronger committee approach. They also nailed the first round with UCLA defensive end Datone Jones, a versatile player ready to be a productive pass rusher in their 3-4. Then they went for two offensive tackles—Colorado's David Bakhtiari and Cornell's J.C. Tretter—who will end up helping on their line somewhere."
CBS Sports, Pete Prisco: C-minus "Best pick: It was their first one when they took UCLA defensive end Datone Jones. He will be a good player to help improve their front. Questionable move: Taking running back Eddie Lacy in the second round. They added Johnathan Franklin in the fourth, so who starts? Third-day gem: Franklin. Some scouts thought he wasn't tested as an inside runner at UCLA, but I think he has that ability. Watch him beat out Lacy. Analysis: I usually think Ted Thompson is one of the best in the business. But I wasn't enamored with his haul this year. It just didn't seem to have the same sizzle. And taking two backs lessens the grade."
CBS Sports, Rob Rang: A "Anyone who watched the Packers get dismantled by San Francisco in the playoffs anticipated that general manager Ted Thompson would focus on defense early. He did so, nabbing productive defensive end Datone Jones from UCLA in the first round. Jones was terrific this past season and carried that over to the Senior Bowl. The Packers only had one selection on Day Two, but he could prove a steal, nabbing running back Eddie Lacy, a player whom many (including myself) projected them to take a round earlier. Lacy has drawn comparisons to Steven Jackson for his blend of power and agility. Considering the red-zone opportunities that he could get with Aaron Rodgers throwing the football, Lacy could be an offensive rookie of the year candidate — if he beats out fourth-round selection Jonathan Franklin, who left UCLA as the team's all-time rushing leader and also turned heads at the Senior Bowl. Franklin was the headliner but was just one of the standouts from the Packers' impressive haul on Day Three. Frankly, no team got better value in rounds four and five than Green Bay. David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter are future contributors to an offensive line that needed reinforcements, and defenders Micah Hyde and Josh Boyd are good football players who didn't get enough national attention after being overshadowed by more high profile teams in their power conferences."
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