Brian Gutekunst had two incredible back-to-back drafts for the Green Bay Packers, drafting 11 potential starters. The possible 11 starters over the last two drafts are more than Gute had drafted in his first 4 years. Of the players still on the roster, Gute has drafted 8 of the starters. With what we can only hope are two stellar drafts to jumpstart this Packers’ retool, let’s look back at how the Gute’s drafts have gone so far.
Overall Draft Grade 2018: C
The 2018 Packers draft class is an interesting one. On the one hand, Gute drafted a top 3 CB, in the NFL, in Jaire Alexander. As well as hitting in the 5th round by drafting Marquez Valdes-Scantling. MVS was never a WR1, but for a 5th-round pick, he played incredibly well and was rewarded with a 3-year $30 million contract from the Kansas City Chiefs. Equanimeous St. Brown was serviceable for a 6th-round pick.
Besides those 3 picks, the 2018 Packers draft class was pretty bad. 2nd-round pick Josh Jackson never lived up to his hype. Packers fans thought they got a still with Jackson, who led the NCAA in interceptions with 8. Jackson was out of a starting job after one season.
Oren Burks was an alright special teamer but fell into the Packers’ 3rd-round pick curse. JK Scott showed promise at times, but there were definitely more frustrating moments than promising ones. Cole Madison had a lot of potential but suffered from mental health issues and had to step away from the game before ever playing a snap in the league.
Not all 7th-round picks can be Donald Driver, but James Looney and Kendall Donnerson played a combined 3 games for the Packers. Hunter Bradley was the long-term long-snapper for the Packers for four years, but he had his problems at that position.
Jaire Alexander: A+
Up to this point in Gute’s tenure, Jaire has been his best pick by far. Not only did Gute draft one of the best players in that draft class, but he traded back, still got Jaire, and picked up a second first-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Jaire has played 64 games for the Packers. In those 64 games, Jaire has amassed 244 tackles, 58 passes defended, 10 interceptions, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 sack. To go along with these impressive statistics, Jaire has earned two 2nd-team All-Pro nominations and 2 Pro Bowl selections.
Josh Jackson: D+
What looked to be the corner duo of the future with Jaire and Jackson turned into a disappointing end to Jackson’s Packers tenure. He was a ballhawk in college but failed to get a single interception in his NFL career.
Jackson had an alright rookie season, highlighted by 10 passes defended. Unfortunately, Jackson only defended 2 more passes, finishing his Packers tenure with 86 tackles, 12 passes defended, and 1 fumble recovery.
Jackson was traded to the New York Giants on August 17th, 2021, for Isaac Yiadom.
Oren Burks: C+
Taken in the 3rd round by the Packers, Oren Burks continued the trend of the Packers striking goal in the 3rd. That being said, in recent memory, Burks was one of the better 3rd round picks for the Packers.
Burks was a solid special teams player and was serviceable when he was put into the lineup due to injury.
In his 4 year career with the Packers, Burks had 92 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and start 7 games.
J’Mon Moore: F
A big swing and a miss for Gute on this pick. Luckily, Moore was only a 4th round pick, but Gute has hit on all his 4th round selections other than Moore, drafting three starters for the team (Newman, Tom, and Doubs). After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in college, Moore failed to crack 20 yards in the NFL. He was released after one year, with the Packers totaling 2 catches for 15 yards.
Since Moore’s release, he has been signed by the Browns, Texans, and Falcons. He has not played a snap in the NFL since his time with the Packers. He was last seen playing in the USFL.
J’Mon Moore is probably one of the biggest “what if” prospects for the Packers. He had plenty of potential that was never tapped into.
Cole Madison: Inconclusive
Madison had a very unfortunate stint with the Packers. There was hope from many Packers fans that Madison would be the next late-round offensive lineman for the Packers. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Madison has a grade of inconclusive because we never got a chance to see how good (or bad) he could have been before some unfortunate circumstances took him away from the game.
Madison took a break from football during his rookie year to get his mental health right. After a season away from the game, Madison came back in 2019 and was looking great before suffering an ACL tear during a November practice. By the end of July 2020, Madison was released from the Packers with a failed physical designation. Madison never played a snap for the Packers.
JK Scott: C+
There’s not much to say about JK Scott. He was a serviceable punter drafted in the 5th round. The two punters the Packers had after Scott were improvements. Scott played three seasons for the Packers, averaging 44.6 yards/ punt, just under the league average of 45 yards/ punt.
Scott last played for the LA Chargers in 2022. He re-signed with the Chargers this offseason and will return as the starting punter.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: B+
The second-best pick for the Packers in 2018, MVS, was an elite deep threat for the Packers. MVS never had eye-popping statistics, but his speed helped take the top off defenses. There was a lot of hope for MVS after his best statistical season in 2020, with 33 receptions, 690 yards, and 6 TDs. MVS led the NFL in yards per reception with 20.9 yards.
Unfortunately, MVS couldn’t build upon that 2020 season because of an injury in 2021. MVS earned himself a big payday with the Chiefs that was too rich for the Packers. In his 4 years with the Packers, MVS totaled 123 receptions, 2,153 yards, and 15 TDs.
Equanimeous St. Brown: C+
Equanimeous St. Brown was considered a steal for the Packers in the 6th round. He was projected to go in the 4th or 5th round in the 2018 NFL draft. With elite size and speed, there was hope EQ could turn into a good starter.
He started his rookie season with a strong showing against the Lions with 3 receptions for 89 yards. He ended his rookie season with another solid showing against the Jets with 5 receptions for 94 yards. Unfortunately, EQ only topped 50 yards once more in his tenure with the Packers.
EQ suffered an ankle injury in the 2019 preseason and couldn’t build off of a solid ending to his rookie season. EQ signed a one-year deal with the Bears in 2022 and re-signed another one-year deal with the Bears this past offseason.
James Looney: F
Looney was the first of three 7th-round picks for the Packers in the 2018 draft. Looney only played 3 games for the Packers, tallying up 19 defensive snaps and 9 special teams snaps. He registered 0 sacks in his stint with the Packers. The Packers released Looney in August of 2020.
Hunter Bradley: C-
Bradley was the only 7th-round pick in the Packers draft class to get meaningful playing time. Bradley was the full-time long snapper for the Packers for his entire stint in Green Bay.
Bradley last played for the Arizona Cardinals in 2022 but was only activated for two games.
Kendall Donnerson: F
Donnerson was the Packers’ last pick in the 2018 draft. He never played a snap for the Packers and was released by the Packers on August 20th, 2019.
The Packers needed the 2Don’traft class to be a hit. It was Gute’s first draft with the team, and they had just come off of a very disappointing 2017 campaign. Unfortunately, only Jaire made an impact in his rookie season. Alexander was also the only player from the 2018 draft class to earn a second contract with the Packers.
Gute made a great trade back with the Saints that got them a second first-round pick in the 2019 draft and still allowed the Packers to draft Jaire Alexander. Unfortunately, that’s where the good of the 2018 draft class ends.
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