Grading the Packers 2017 Draft Class

Grading the 2017 Packers Draft Class: Aaron Jones

Mason Thompson | May 30th, 2020

This year is a big year for most players drafted in the 2017 draft class. For those not drafted in the first round, this is the final year of their rookie contracts. The top 12 picks of the draft had three monumental trades, two star running backs, three receivers, and three quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and, well, Mitchell Trubisky. Three tight ends were selected in the first round, while there was plenty of depth at running back and receiver in the later rounds.

Today, I’ll be taking a look at the Green Bay Packers 2017 class. This class was the last of Ted Thompson‘s career as the General Manager of the Packers. The Packers came in with desperate needs in the secondary and running back position and used multiple selections on each of those positions. Green Bay traded down from the 29th selection with Cleveland, acquiring selections 33 and 108.

2nd Round, Pick 33 – Kevin King, Cornerback, Washington

King was the sixth cornerback taken in the class, behind Marshon Lattimore, Marlon Humphrey, Adoree’ Jackson, Gareon Conley, and Tre’Davious White. Most Packer fans were livid once the team traded down with Wisconsin alumni, TJ Watt still available. Through the first two years of their careers, Packer fans had a reason to be upset as King couldn’t stay on the field and Watt was a game breaker in Pittsburgh. King finally showed some strides last year setting career highs in all major categories and finally showed that he can be Green Bay’s number two cornerback for years to come. King will have to have another season like he had last year and stay healthy for the Packers to give him a lucrative contract.

I recently wrote an article on the decision the Packers have to make on King’s contract, which you can read here.

Grade: B

Round 2, Pick 61 – Josh Jones, Safety, NC State 

Yikes. Jones had all the physical talent in the world and he showed that he could play during his rookie campaign. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. He couldn’t seem to find his way into the starting lineup consistently and would sometimes look like a fool trying to do too much. The Packers added Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage during the 2019 offseason, leaving Jones to potentially find a role as the team’s “moneybacker” starter. To me, this seemed like a great spot for him. Unfortunately, he didn’t help himself and left voluntary workouts and asked for a trade. He eventually was involved in a fight during a practice and was cut last August.

On October 2nd, Jones was signed to the Cowboys practice squad ahead of the Cowboys game against the Packers and was eventually promoted to the active roster this season before being placed on waivers once the season was over. The Jaguars picked him up off of waivers on January 2nd, where he figures to mainly play a backup role and play primarily on special teams.

Unfortunately, there were plenty of players worthy of the 61st selection instead of Jones such as JuJu Smith-Schuster(62nd overall), Alvin Kamara (67th overall), Cooper Kupp (69th overall), Alex Anzalone (76th overall), Chris Godwin (84th overall), and John Johnson (91st overall).

A poor work ethic was the main reason that Jones didn’t find much playing time in Green Bay. Personally, this is one I wish could’ve gone differently and that Jones could still be on the Packers.

Grade: F

Round 3, Pick 93 – Montravius Adams, Defensive Lineman, Auburn

Expectations were high for Adams to succeed going into last year after he took a step forward during the 2018 season, but he ended up only playing 18 percent of the snaps in 14 games, tallying 11 tackles. He has lost snaps to Tyler Lancaster and Kinglsey Keke and could find his way being cut come September.

Two players of note that were selected after Adams were Kenny Golladay (96th overall) and James Conner (105th overall).

Grade: F

Round 4, Pick 108 – Vince Biegel, EDGE, Wisconsin 

Thompson made up for passing on Watt somewhat by selecting Biegel in the fourth round. He played in nine games for the Packers in his rookie year tacking 16 tackles and two tackles for loss before being cut the following September. He was picked up by the Saints and played 14 games, primarily on special teams, before being traded to the Dolphins. Last year, Biegel started ten games for Miami, making 59 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and an interception. Unfortunately, he has found success away from the Packers.

Eddie Jackson was selected four selections later by the Bears and would’ve been a much better choice here over Biegel.

Grade: D-

Round 4, Pick 134 – Jamaal Williams, Running Back, BYU

With Eddie Lacy departing earlier in the offseason, there was a massive hole to fill at the running back position. Williams was the team’s lead back in 2017 earning 817 total yards before taking a secondary role in the last two years. This past season, Williams took a major step forward in pass production, catching 39 passes on 45 targets for 253 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 460 yards and another touchdown on the ground.

Unfortunately for him, the Packers added A.J. Dillon in the second round of the draft in April. With his contract being up, it is unknown if he will be back on the team next season. Overall, Williams was a solid addition in the fourth round and has provided a change-of-pace bruiser for the Packers.

Grade: A-

Round 5, Pick 175 – DeAngelo Yancey, Wide Receiver, Purdue

Yancey was primarily a deep threat at Purdue but didn’t have the elite speed to make it at the next level. He was on the practice squad for his rookie year and part of his sophomore campaign before being released in mid-October of 2018. The Jets signed him to their practice squad that December before releasing him before the 2019 season where the Titans signed him and again, cut him after the 2019 season.

Yancey was the third player selected in the XFL draft by the New York Guardians but didn’t play a single snap due to injury.

Grade: F

Round 5, Pick 182 – Aaron Jones, Running Back, UTEP

It took a while for Jones to find his groove. He started his rookie season third on the depth chart behind Williams and Ty Montgomery but found his way on the field due to injuries. He finished the season second on the team in rushing with 448 yards and four touchdowns. Prior to his second season, Jones was suspended the first two games of the season but took over the starting role midway through the season. He finished his second season with 728 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. He wasn’t given as many opportunities as he should’ve as former coach, Mike McCarthy favored Williams over him.

Before his third season, the Packers fired McCarthy and replaced him with Matt LaFleur. LaFleur finally took advantage of his skill set and made him the feature back in Green Bay’s offense. Jones had four touchdowns against Dallas in week five and over 150 yards receiving and two touchdowns against the Chiefs in week eight. He finished his third season with 1,084 rushing yards, 16 rushing touchdowns, as well as 49 receptions for 474 yards, and three touchdowns. Jones should be a major focal point of the Packers offense this season but also has questions regarding his contract. Overall, this was a slam dunk pick.

Grade: A+

Round 6, Pick 212 – Kofi Amichia, Tackle, UCF

Amichia stayed on the Packers practice squad his rookie year before being cut the next year at final cuts. He has since signed with the Ravens, Panthers, and now is on the 49ers.

Grade: F

Round 7, Pick 238 – Devante Mays, Running Back, Utah State

Thompson drafted three running backs in this draft. Mays was the last one and has produced the least thus far. During his rookie season, he finished with four rushes for one yard and three receptions. He later signed to the Browns practice squad before signing with the Jaguars.

Grade: F

Round 7, Pick 247 – Malachi Dupre, Wide Receiver, LSU

Dupre was the final wide receiver selected in the draft in 2017. He suffered a brutal injury during one of the preseason games and was later released during final cuts. He has since spent time with the Bills, Texans, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Chargers before signing on with the DC Defenders of the XFL.

Grade: F

Well, that was a rough one, to say the least. Thompson’s final draft as GM has seemingly put the Packers years behind. The selections of Jones and Adams over others have put the receiving core and linebacking core in a pinch. Of the ten players selected, only four remain on the roster. It may be three come the start of this season, and maybe even just one come next year. Three players have played any role at all from this draft and it has shown. Jones and Williams were great late-round finds at the running back spot, while King has finally shown potential.

Final Grade: C-

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