Packers upgraded immensely after draft

    First-year general manager focuses on improving defense

    More stories from Seth Abrahamson

    Take Two
    May 10, 2018

    Photo by SUBMITTED

    The Green Bay Packers selected cornerback Jaire Alexander in the first round of the NFL draft.

    The 2018 NFL draft is over. The madness has ended, and all 32 teams are hopeful for a successful upcoming season. The draft, while only a piece of the puzzle, can set a franchise back years, or push them ahead to glory.

    The Green Bay Packers went into the draft with 12 picks, one of the highest for any team. They went into the first round with the 14th pick, having to address many needs.

    For years, the greatness of Aaron Rodgers was able to mask some of the team’s flaws, but after he went down last season with a collarbone injury against the Vikings in week 6, those flaws were exposed. A lack of playmakers on defense, little-to-no communication in the back seven, receivers unable to create seperation from the defense, are all issues that came to the surface during this past season.

    Going into the draft, General Manager Brian Gutenkust was able to address some of these issues. Firing long-time defensive coordinator Dom Capers and bringing in Mike Pettine should help with any communication issues, while bringing in defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and tight end Jimmy Graham bring veteran presence to a young team.

    Gutenkust had work to do in the draft to make this a super bowl team again, and he did just that.

    ESPN, Pro Football Focus, NFL Network, CBS Sports, SB Nation and other sports networks each gave Gutenkust and the Packers high praise for their draft work. What they liked, are the same things I liked.

    Gutenkust began the first round with the 14th pick, traded back with the New Orleans Saints to the 27th pick, in addition to picking up the Saints next year first round pick, according to Sports Illustrated.

    He then traded back up with the Seattle Seahawks to the 18th selection and there, he took cornerback Jaire Alexander from Louisville. A brilliant move by the Packers to take a guy that they essentially could have taken at No. 14, but were able to move back only four spots and pick up a first-round pick in next year’s draft.

    Alexander was considered one of the best corners in this year’s draft and will be an immediate upgrade for the Packers’ secondary. In the second round, the Packers doubled up on corners and selected cornerback Josh Jackson out of Iowa.

    Many considered Jackson to be a first-round talent, so for the Packers to get him in the second round is a steal. He, along with Alexander, will dramatically upgrade a Packers secondary that was rolled over repeatedly last year.

    With the trade in the first round, the Packers did not have a selection to begin the third round, but with many picks in the last few rounds, Gutenkust made a trade to get back in at the end and selected a linebacker, Oren Burks. A safety to start his college career, made the transition to linebacker and could start alongside Blake Martinez to make a young athletic linebacker core.

    Three defensive picks in the first three rounds. This has happened multiple times over the last few years, but the difference this time is that they have a new coordinator who can make this defense play as they should.

    The Packers not only had good picks at the beginning of the draft, but made some steals at the end.

    The Packers took three receivers in the later rounds that could end up helping the team sooner rather than later. All three are big and fast and have the chance to make an impact immediately with the loss of Jordy Nelson.

    The Packers addressed a lot of their needs in this draft, getting two corners right away, a linebacker to add depth and a few receivers that can help Rodgers spread the field.

    This has been a great start for Gutenkust and his revival of the Packers.