Packers add intriguing weapons with Day 2 draft picks
GREEN BAY, Wis. — As is tradition around Lambeau Field headquarters this time of year, general manager Ted Thompson explained that the Green Bay Packers’ newest draft picks were all chosen on the premise of one simple rule.
"Quite literally, we pretty much stayed with the best player available at the time," Thompson said Friday night. "Or what we considered the best player."
The Packers concluded the second day of the draft having added wide receiver Davante Adams at No. 53, defensive lineman Khyri Thornton at No. 85 and tight end Richard Rodgers at No. 98. Though Green Bay didn’t select an inside linebacker, the rest of those positions just so happen to line up with some of the team’s biggest needs.
Thompson, of course, remained steadfast that those picks weren’t necessarily an indication of where he saw weaknesses on the Packers roster.
"It literally just sorta worked out that way," he said. "There are times when, if it’s close, we’re going to lean toward the place where we think we need a little more help. But here and in this day and age in NFL football, you can’t get too concerned with that in my opinion."
Green Bay leaned in the right direction with its Day 2 picks, especially with its first selection of the night.
Adams, a 6-foot-1, 212-pound pass-catching machine from Fresno State, was a very good value. He instantly adds quality depth to a position that has seen several of its top options depart in the past two offseasons (Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones). Adams, only 21 years old, should be able to immediately compete with Jarrett Boykin to be the No. 3 receiving option. And, with his vast skill set, it’s not difficult to foresee Adams being in a much bigger role in a year or two.
"When you watch him on tape, you love how he’s a competitor," wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett said of Adams. "He competes. Tremendous as far as his catching ability. Has good hands. Makes the tough catch. Goes up and attacks the football. Extremely productive. So from that standpoint, it was a lot of positives."
Adams could’ve easily gone off the board earlier in the second round, but the number of top-tier receivers in this year’s draft with similar scouting grades allowed the Packers to get him at their spot.
So, in that regard, Thompson addressed a need position with arguably the best player available at that time. That’s what every team hopes to accomplish with their picks.
The only downfall of selecting Adams was that Green Bay could’ve instead drafted the two next-best inside linebackers, Louisville’s Preston Brown or Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, neither of whom were still around when the Packers were on the clock again.
Adams’ incredible production in college (an eye-popping 233 catches for 3,030 yards and 38 touchdowns in just two seasons) is enough to easily justify Green Bay’s decision to wait on an inside linebacker and take a receiver who could become Thompson’s next second-round gem.
"I feel like I’m one of the best playmakers in the draft, being able to catch the ball deep or catching the short route and taking it the distance," Adams said in a phone conference. "Obviously I feel like I’m the best red-zone threat in the draft, so I definitely can be utilized in that way."
Whereas Adams and first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix were a perfect combination of value and positional need, the Packers’ next two selections come with a couple question marks.
Thornton and Rodgers could certainly turn out to be Green Bay’s two best players from this draft, but both of them were considered reaches as third-round picks.
Even Thornton didn’t expect to hear his name called so soon.
"To be honest with you, I really didn’t have high expectations of going high in the draft," Thornton said.
Thornton is already 24 years old and came from a Southern Mississippi program that has only won one game over the past two seasons. And that one win that Southern Mississippi did muster was the one game that Thornton missed due to injury. But that didn’t deter the Packers from drafting the 6-foot-3, 304-pounder who will likely line up most often as a defensive end in Green Bay’s 3-4 base scheme.
"Khyri kept catching our eye, and he played on a team that didn’t win many games and that sort of thing," Thompson said. "But he’s extraordinarily quick off the ball and has ability to penetrate and get in the backfield and pursue laterally and that sort of thing. We think he gives us a chance to add a little juice."
With this year’s draft not even over yet, Thompson has now added five defensive linemen in the past three years. Thornton joins Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones and Josh Boyd on that list.
"I don’t know if it’s youth movement, but I feel pretty good about our group, and we’ll see," Thompson said. "Now we’ve got to go play."
Tight end was a need position for the Packers. Jermichael Finley’s future is uncertain, as he’s not only an unrestricted free agent but is also recovering from a neck injury that could potentially end his NFL career altogether. Andrew Quarless is a solid starting option and Brandon Bostick is a project who still needs to prove himself on a consistent basis, but it made a lot of sense for Green Bay to add another talented player to that group.
"What I see on film is a guy that is a precise route-runner for his size (at 6-foot-4, 257 pounds)," tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said. "He’s got good length, he’s got decent quickness off the ball, but what he really excels at is he’s got really good hands, catching the football, and he’ a very detailed route runner. He’s a smart kid in sitting down and talking to him, very understanding of schemes and concepts. Does a really good job with the game mentally."
The Packers have five picks remaining, beginning with No. 121 overall in the fourth round. Though Thompson will continue to insist it’s always about best player available, don’t be surprised if Green Bay selects one or two linebackers, a quarterback and an interior offensive lineman who can compete with JC Tretter to be the Packers’ next starting center.
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