Few teams in the National Football League do the draft better than the Green Bay Packers. General manager Ted Thompson believes in building through the draft and taking the best player available whenever possible. This philosophy can sometimes frustrate the fan base but overall it has brought the Packers plenty of success over his eight-year run as general manager and it looks like Thompson hit it out the park again in the 2013 NFL Draft as he was able to address some very specific needs without having to sacrifice value.
Here is a quick analysis of each pick the Packers made in the 2013 draft with an eye on how each player fits within the organization going into next season and beyond:
Round 1 (26) - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA - Jones had been rising up draft boards across the league since his impressive performance in the Senior Bowl and with a big need along the defensive line, he made too much sense to pass up near the end of the first round. The 6-4, 280 pound defensive end brings great size and athleticism to the Packers front, while also adding some position versatility. Jones is a disruptive defender, who has shown a tremendous ability to wreak havoc in opposing backfields with 12.5 sacks as well as 36.5 tackles for loss in his college career. He will compete to start right away at defensive end in the 3-4 and will be the front runner to join B.J. Raji inside as a pass rusher in sub packages.
Round 2 (61) Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama - For years the Packers have put off making a major investment in the running back position but that all changed with the selection of Lacy. The former Crimson Tide standout has had some injury issues but beyond that, the consensus was that he was the best runner available in the draft. He has great size at 5-11, 229 pounds and averaged 6.7 yards per carry in his three-year career. In his first full year as a starter, he rushed for 1,322 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, while also hauling 22 passes for 189 yards and two additional touchdowns. Lacy truly can do it all and as long as he remains healthy, he should help transform the Green Bay running game from a relative weakness into a strength.
Round 4 (109) David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado - After trading out of the third round, the Packers opened day three with the selection of Bakhtiari, a left tackle in college who may need to move inside or switch to the right side in the NFL. Bakhtiari, was viewed by most scouts as a top-100 prospect and one of the ten best tackles in the draft. At 6-4, 301 pounds, he is probably better suited to play inside but is similar to Marshall Newhouse in that his athleticism could allow him to thrive on the perimeter. He should compete right away at tackle and possibly even guard entering the 2013 season.
Round 4 (122) J.C. Tretter, OL, Cornell - Tretter's name may have surprised Packers fans when it was called but it was no surprise to scouts that Tretter went where he did. He played left tackle during his last two seasons in college but is much better suited to play inside at either guard or center. Either way, he provides solid depth along the interior offensive line and could give the team a legitimate competitor for Evan Dietrich-Smith's spot at center.
Round 4 (125) Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA - It's rare that Thompson trades in the draft but with Franklin still on the board in round four, the value was simply too good to pass up. In Franklin, the Packers get a dynamic runner, who racked up over 4,400 rushing yards in college to go along with 58 career receptions and 34 total touchdowns. At 5-10, 200 pounds, he is not the physical presence Lacy is but he is more explosive and with bring a different element to the running game. He was considered by some to be a first-round talent and is a tremendous get for Green Bay on day three. He also provides insurance in case injuries issues continue to haunt Lacy.
Round 5 (159) Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa - As the saying goes you can never have enough corners in the NFL, so the Packers selected Hyde, a tough, physical defender from Iowa in round 5. Hyde was named the defensive back of the year in the Big Ten conference in 2012, has good size and can play both inside and outside. He finished his career with eight interceptions and 29 passes defensed. Although some teams view him as a safety, the Packers currently have no plans to move him. He should push for time right away on special teams.
Round 5 (167) Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State - Boyd first caught the Packers attention last season when they were scouting Fletcher Cox and they liked what they saw in the 6-2, 307-pound defensive tackle, who started 41 of 51 career games, while posting 8.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. "I saw a big kid with explosion who was able to get some nice pop," D-line coach Mike Trgovac told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "He's got some good movement to him. Best thing he did was play three-technique and one-technique (nose tackle)," Trgovac continued. "We'll have to see if he can play four-technique. For a big guy, he's got pretty nimble feet. He'll fight you." Boyd figures to compete for snaps backing up Ryan Pickett at the nose and adds another big body to a defensive line in need of them.
Round 6 (193) Nate Palmer, OLB, Illinois ST - Palmer is a college defensive end who projects to outside linebacker in the Packers 3-4 defense. After playing at Illinois, he transferred to Illinois state, where he totalled 17 sacks over the last two seasons of his college career. He is a great athlete with all the physical tools to succeed. He will be a pet project of linebackers coach Kevin Greene but will compete for the fourth spot on the depth chart behind Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Dezmond Moses. His college position coach compared him to Roosevelt Colvin.
Round 7 (216) Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley ST - Many expected the Packers to take a wide receiver earlier in the draft but it just never happened. Yet, the team added Johnson, your typical size-speed prospect in the seventh round, believing he has some upside. "Ran really well," Thompson said. "Had a real good pro day. Flexible in and out of his cuts." He is listed at 6-2, 215 pounds and ran a 4.40 in the forty-yard dash and has plenty of potential. He will compete for the fifth wide receiver spot.
Round 7 (224) Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland - Dorsey is another prospect with good size, who runs well. He was a two-year starter at Maryland but caught just 80 passes for 1,092 yards during his career and hauled in just 17 passes for 345 yards and four touchdowns as a senior. He will add more competition to the wide receiver position but meets all the physical requirements you are looking for in a wide out.
Round 7 (232) Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida - Barrington is an athletic linebacker listed a 6-1, 240 pounds who brings position versatility. He started 36 of 49 career games, notching 258 tackles (21.5 for loss) 6.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, 10 passes defensed and one interception. "He's athletic and has good size," Thompson said. "We were a little surprised he was still available." Thompson believes he can play inside or outside but his most immediate contribution will need to be on special teams if he is going to make the 53-man roster in 2013.
Final Analysis - Overall it was a great draft for Thompson and the Packers. Green Bay finally addressed a running game that has been a weakness for years and added an impact player along the defensive line, who can finally replace the departed Cullen Jenkins. Add in two solid offensive line prospects in the fourth round as well as solid depth in the secondary and d-line in the fifth round. All in all, it was a good draft for the Packers, who did a great job addressing some key needs while adding depth and bringing in competition at a number of postions.