Green Bay Packers 2017 NFL Draft Retrospective

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

How should the Green Bay Packers feel about their 2017 NFL Draft class after three years? We take a deep dive into it.

Just months after reaching the 2017 NFC Championship Game, the Green Bay Packers attempted to address their biggest needs with the goal of taking the next step the following year.

Yet despite their success in 2016, this roster needed some serious work at key positions.

Cornerback topped the list of needs entering the draft. A Packers secondary featuring cornerbacks LaDarius Gunter and Quinten Rollins had no answer for the Atlanta Falcons offense in the NFC Championship Game, with Julio Jones catching nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

Other needs included guard and running back. Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang and JC Tretter had departed in free agency. Meanwhile, the ground game was led by Ty Montgomery, a converted wide receiver, and Christine Michael.

Original Grade

FanSided: B-

"“The Packers traded back and got their likely target at pick 29. The team had a desperate need for a cornerback. Quinten Rollins and Demarious Randall have been rocky picks and Ladarius Gunter has played way too much recently. The Packers recently brought in Davon House, and that is not a long term answer at cornerback.”"

Draft Class

Round 2 (No. 33)

CB. Huskies . Kevin King. 1. player. 818.

CURRENT TEAM: Green Bay Packers

This pick has divided Packers Nation ever since it was made. Green Bay originally owned the 29th overall pick and had the chance to draft Wisconsin’s own T.J. Watt. Instead, GM Ted Thompson traded out of the first round and selected Kevin King with the first pick on Day 2.

In hindsight, Thompson should’ve stuck at No. 29 and drafted Watt. Not only would’ve Watt addressed a position of need on defense, but he’s become a star for the Pittsburgh Steelers with 34.5 sacks, two All-Pro and two Pro Bowl selections in his first three seasons.

That said, King has been anything but a bust. He is a starter in Green Bay’s secondary, which has become an area of strength in Mike Pettine’s defense.

Injuries were a concern in his first two seasons with King missing a combined 17 games. But he bounced back in 2019, playing in 15 regular-season games and leading the Packers in interceptions with five.

Round 2 (No. 61)

CURRENT TEAM: Jacksonville Jaguars

This proved to be the start of a run of bad picks by Ted Thompson.

With a starting duo of Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety wasn’t considered a need entering the draft. But the Packers saw Josh Jones as a versatile defensive back who would add speed to the defense. It also felt like a reaction to losing Hyde in free agency, who could line up at just about any position in the secondary.

As it turned out, Jones was a jack of all trades but a master of none. The Packers tried him at multiple positions but he struggled to make an impact. After just two seasons, the Packers moved on. He had three sacks and an interception. Jones played six games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 and is now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Round 3 (No. 93)

3. player. 842. . DE. Tigers . Montravius Adams

CURRENT TEAM: Green Bay Packers

The Packers’ overhaul of the defense continued into the third round by selecting defensive tackle Montravius Adams. But this pick also hasn’t turned out as they hoped. Adams remains part of the team but he’s failed to make a significant impact.

In three seasons, Adams has played 37 games but only started three. He’s made 33 tackles, six quarterback hits and has one forced fumble, but Adams hasn’t made the impact you’d expect from a third-round pick. He’s also struggled to get on the field consistently, playing just 20 percent of the defensive snaps in 2018 and 18 percent in 2019, according to Pro Football Reference.

Outside of Kenny Clark, Green Bay’s defensive line struggled in 2019 and the defense ranked 23rd against the run. The Packers may look to strengthen the defensive line this offseason.

Round 4 (No. 108)

Vince Biegel. 4. player. 809. . LB. Badgers

CURRENT TEAM: Miami Dolphins

The Packers may have passed up the chance to draft T.J. Watt but they brought in his teammate later in the draft, Vince Biegel. Unfortunately, the results haven’t been the same as Watt. Biegel only spent one season in Green Bay, playing in nine games, finishing without a sack.

Following his rookie season, the Packers transitioned from Ted Thompson to Brian Gutekunst at general manager. Gutekunst decided to move on from Biegel prior to the start of the 2018 season.

Perhaps the Packers gave up on him too soon. Biegel spent a season with the New Orleans Saints without much success but looks to have turned things around with the Miami Dolphins. In 2019, Biegel started 10 games for the Dolphins. He consistently pressured opposing quarterbacks and finished the season with 2.5 sacks, 13 QB hits, and an interception.

Round 4 (No. 134) 

Jamaal Williams. 5. player. 861. . RB. Cougars

CURRENT TEAM: Green Bay Packers

With a need at running back, the Packers selected Jamaal Williams in the fourth round. Williams has become a solid addition to the offense. He’s a talented runner, receiver, and blocker, and in three seasons has 2,205 all-purpose yards with 15 touchdowns. In 2019, Williams’ five receiving touchdowns tied for the team-lead.

Williams is very much the No. 2 runner in the backfield currently, but the Packers will be pleased with this pick. He’s only missed two games in three seasons, is the Packers’ best pass-blocking running back and offers plenty as both a powerful runner and a talented receiver.

Round 5 (No. 175)

848. . WR. Boilermakers . DeAngelo Yancey. 6. player

CURRENT TEAM: New York Guardians (XFL)

Ted Thompson built a strong reputation for drafting wide receivers, but he swung and missed in the fifth round, selecting DeAngelo Yancey. Yancey didn’t play a single game for the Packers and was released during the 2018 season. He would go on to sign with the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans but didn’t play. Yancey was the New York Guardians’ first selection in the inaugural XFL Draft.

Round 5 (No. 182)

CURRENT TEAM: Green Bay Packers

Here is by far the Packers’ best pick of the draft. Ted Thompson hit a home run in the fifth round with the selection of Aaron Jones.

Jones has quickly become one of the most explosive running backs in the NFL, who is an efficient runner and a talented receiver. He had to wait for his opportunity, initially beginning 2017 third on the depth chart behind Ty Montgomery and Williams. But after both players went down to injury in the same game, Jones stepped up and never looked back. Given his first start in Week 5 against the Dallas Cowboys, Jones rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Despite being the most efficient runner on the team, Mike McCarthy continued to split time between his running backs. That all changed under Matt LaFleur in 2019, who finally gave Jones a featured role. And it was the right call. Jones finished the regular season with an impressive 1,558 total yards and 19 touchdowns, and he added four more touchdowns in the postseason.

Jones might not have a Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection to his name yet but, make no mistake, the Packers found a superstar with this pick.

Round 6 (No. 212)

C. Bulls . Kofi Amichia. 8. player. 816.

CURRENT TEAM: San Francisco 49ers

The Packers drafted Kofi Amichia with the hope he could develop into a starter or top backup along the offensive line. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Amichia didn’t play a regular-season snap for the Packers and was waived in his second season. He’s been around the league since, most recently part of the San Francisco 49ers practice squad.

Round 7 (No. 238)

CURRENT TEAM: Jacksonville Jaguars

Four carries for one yard with two fumbles. Devante Mays couldn’t have made a worse start for the Packers, fumbling on his first two carries in the NFL. Unsurprisingly, he quickly lost Mike McCarthy’s trust and was released after one season.

Round 7 (No. 247)

10. player. 817. . WR. Tigers . Malachi Dupre


Malachi Dupre was the Packers’ final draft pick and added some competition to the wide receiver room. He was waived prior to the 2017 season. Dupre is currently part of the DC Defenders’ roster in the XFL.

Retrospective Grade

Green Bay Packers. 2020 RETROSPECTIVE GRADE. C-. .

Bottom Line:

The Packers entered the 2017 NFL Draft with needs at cornerback, edge rusher and running back. Thompson did a solid job of addressing those needs. King started the turnaround in the secondary which has continued into the Brian Gutekunst/Matt LaFleur era, while the combination of Jones and Williams at running back has proven to be a valuable one in recent years.

Despite that, Thompson failed to successfully fix the pass-rushing problem, which got worse in the years that followed. Gutekunst turned things around by signing Za’Darius and Preston Smith in the 2019 offseason.

Of the 10 players drafted in 2017, only four remain on the roster. Josh Jones and Vince Biegel, selected in the second and fourth rounds respectively, were both gone by the start of the 2019 season.

by Freddie Boston

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