It’s safe to say the Green Bay Packers struck out on their 2015 NFL Draft class. Let’s give them another chance and redraft for them.
Coming of a 12-4 season in which the Green Bay Packers were heartbroken by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship, the franchise was just a couple key players away from getting back to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, their 2015 draft class was a flop, likely contributing to their decline in wins over the next four years.
Of the eight-man draft class, none of them earned a second contract in Green Bay and are still with the Packers. That’s a hard pill to swallow. The following is who and when they drafted:
- Damarius Randall (30th overall)
- Quinten Rollins (62nd overall)
- Ty Montgomery (94th overall)
- Jake Ryan (129th overall)
- Brett Hundley (147th overall)
- Aaron Ripkowski (206th overall)
- Christian Ringo (210th overall)
- Kennard Backman (213th overall)
With the full power of hindsight bias, let’s go back in time and redraft based on the best players available.
30th Pick: Eric Kendricks, ILB (Originally drafted with the 45th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings)
This is the perfect blend of one of the best players available and need. Eric Kendricks was a fan-favorite for the Packers to draft at the end of the first round considering their need at inside linebacker. Green Bay ended up starting Clay Matthews on the inside with guys such as Jake Ryan (in this year’s class), Nate Palmer and Sam Barrington backing him up. Kendrics was a Day 1 starter in Minnesota and has thrived in the middle of the field.
62nd Pick: Danielle Hunter, EDGE (Originally drafted with the 88th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings)
This isn’t a perfect fit, but it’s definitely a best player available approach. The Packers had decent depth at outside linebacker with Julius Peppers (aging), Nick Perry (injury-prone and one year before his breakout season) and Mike Neal. However, Hunter has been dominant for the Vikings and would’ve given Green Bay a pass-rusher they can rely on for five years and running. Oh, and he’s still only 25-years-old.
94th Pick: Stefon Diggs, WR (Originally drafted with the 146th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings)
Okay, I promise I’m not trying to rebrand the Packers with their rival–this is just the way the cookie crumbled so far. The Packers already had a deep receiving core in 2015 with the likes of Jordy Nelson (who ended up tearing his ACL before the season), Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and James Jones. However, they were in the same situation when they drafted Cobb after they won the Super Bowl in 2011. Diggs would’ve picked up the slack for the declining Cobb, Jones and Nelson, and given the Packers a great one-two punch alongside Adams in the coming years.
129th Pick: Grady Jarrett, NT (Originally drafted with the 137th overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons)
Born to play nose tackle, Grady Jarret would’ve provided tremendous depth behind B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels and given the Packers a terrific rotation on their front line. He can eat up blockers and has even come on as a pass rusher these last two seasons. The Packers had no idea at the time, but Raji suddenly retired following the 2015 season–something Jarret could’ve covered for as well.
147th Pick: Trent Brown, OT (Originally drafted with the 244th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers)
The Packers had two stalwarts at tackle in David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, but with Bulaga struggling with injuries, this is the time to draft for depth. Trent Brown has bounced around and is on his third team in the last three years. However, he also made his first Pro Bowl selection with the Raiders. He could’ve started for Bulaga during the games he missed due to injuries and presented the Packers with a long-term option at the position.
206th Pick: Bobby Hart, OT (Originally drafted with the 226th overall pick by the New York Giants)
Although he may not be a spectacular player, Bobby Hart has proven his worth as a starting-caliber offensive lineman in the NFL. And that’s difficult to find this late in the draft. He likely never would’ve made an impact on the field, but the depth at tackle would be enough to soothe any quarterback’s worries.
210th Pick: Christian Covington, DT (216th overall pick by the Houston Texans)
Covington is a part-time player on the defensive line, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been impactful. He put up a career-high 28 combined tackles last season along with four tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. He can sub in along the line without becoming a huge casualty and can help keep the other big guys fresh.
213th Pick: Daryl Roberts, CB (24th overall pick by the New England Patriots)
Cornerback depth is another helpful thing to have on successful teams. The Packers had a decent cornerback room with Sam Shields, Micah Hyde and Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins (each of whom was drafted in this class). Roberts would’ve obviously replaced the latter and given Green Bay a quality third corner behind Shield and Hyde. He’s had no fewer than six pass deflections in each of his first four seasons.