Grading the Packers Rookies: Preseason Week 4

NFL: Preseason-Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers

Game 4 is often called the Super Bowl for those players looking to make one last impression before the 53-man cutdown; often times game 4 is the one time that some players get to play in a game and for other it might be the last time they see a NFL football field.

Round 1, Pick 21: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (B- grade, B grade overall) – Clinton-Dix has been very consistent throughout the preseason; while he hasn’t made really any splash plays that fans are likely expecting from a 1st round draft pick, he more importantly shown that he belongs on the football field and has the basics down, which is a great start for any rookie.  Most importantly, Clinton-Dix always seems very natural and at ease on the defense; he hasn’t been baited or mislead too often and has done a good job recognizing plays; in one instance Clinton-Dix did a good job switching from covering the tight end to sealing off the sideline on a quarterback scramble.  Furthermore, Clinton-Dix has been solid in run support, especially in the box.  Overall, the Packers must be pleased with Clinton-Dix’s development and while he might not be a starter with Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde in front of him, the Packers might go with 3 safeties sets this season because of Clinton-Dix.

Round 2, Pick 53: Davante Adams (B-  grade, B- grade overall) - Adams has definitely cooled down a little after showing some real dominant performances in games 1 and 2, but nevertheless Adams is probably the most polished wide receiver on the roster after the big 3 of Nelson, Cobb and Boykin.  The most notable skill that Adams has shown through the preseason is his body control, he does a good job using his body to shield defenders from the ball but he also uses his physicality and crisp route running to block out defenders from influencing his routes, which makes him more open that just the physical distance between him and the defender.  Overall, Adams reminds me of Jarrett Boykin during his rookie season, while he lacks the dominant speed that Jeff Janis or Myles White display, Adams is a savvy route runner and uses his physicality allows him to generate separation.

Round 3, Pick 85: Khyri Thornton (D+ grade, D+ grade overall) - The Packers have to be a little disappointed in Thornton and probably got a little lucky that the decision was made for them when Thornton tore his hamstring.  On the positive side, Thornton has shown the ability to collapse the pocket when playing DE and showed some good versatility by playing some NT throughout the preseason.  Thornton also showed some good awareness by peeling off his pass rush and getting on the running back on a screen play (he missed the tackle though). On the negative side, Thornton just isn’t much of a rusher, even when given a free shot at the runner he still failed to make the tackle and still lacks any real way to disengage from his blocker after the initial bullrush.  Overall, the Packers would have likely kept Thornton of the 53 man roster simply based on his draft status but in reality he didn’t show enough during the preseason to warrant a spot.

Round 3, Pick 98: Richard Rodgers (B- grade, B- grade overall) - It’s pretty hard to grade Rodgers since he already has a spot locked up and had the lowest snap count of any drafted rookie at 14; at this point Rodgers is the starting TE and was given about as many snaps as James Starks and Jarrett Boykin (and only in the 1st quarter).  While his blocking is still a little hit or miss, Rodgers is slowly starting to get quarterbacks looking in his direction, which is actually really important for such a versatile player like Rodgers.  Hopefully Richard Rodgers becomes a viable passing threat, which forces defenses to account for him in the passing game, which will then allow Rodgers to spend more time on the field.

Round 4, Pick 121: Carl Bradford (C- grade, D+ grade overall) - Bradford has a pretty up and down performance at inside linebacker; which isn’t all that surprising considering this was his first real opportunity to play the position all of the preseason.  Unsurprisingly, Bradford look lost on a lot of plays; in one instance Bradford went to cover a running back on a wheel route, which was obviously the other ILB’s assignment.  Another observation is that Bradford wasn’t really asked to cover anyone in man; while the Packers are a 3-4 blitzburgh style defense, it is a little odd to see Bradford not covering running backs or tight ends.  Overall, Bradford will likely have to make his mark on special teams for his rookie year; the Packers probably don’t seem to convinced in Bradford’s ability to play OLB considering his late preseason switch to ILB and his play style probably doesn’t match well with a Packers ILB either, who are required to soak up blockers and stuff the run; in reality Bradford strikes me as a good weakside “chase” 4-3 OLB, then again Mike Daniels shouldn’t be a Packers 3-4 defensive end so it’s not like all hope is lost on Bradford.

Round 5, Pick 161: Corey Linsley (A- grade, B+ grade overall) - The Packers must feel pretty confident with Linsely as their starting center because he only got a handful of snaps (23) in the first quarter and then bowed out to Garth Gerhart for the remainder of the game.  Compare that to Derek Sherrod, who logged in a 100% snap count with 76 while playing both right and left tackle (some of this is likely due to Aaron Adams exiting the game with an injury).  Overall, Linsley has done well, he hasn’t been asked to block many defenders by himself but does a good job combo blocking with his guards and does have a pretty good nasty streak.  Perhaps the most concerning issue with Linsley is that he hasn’t had any time to play with either starting guards Josh Sitton or TJ Lang and of course hasn’t snapped to Aaron Rodgers in a game environment.  Hopefully, Linsley can transition quickly from practice to game time.

Round 6, Pick 197: Demitri Goodson (N/A grade, D+ grade overall) - Did not play due to a concussion.

Round 7, Pick 236: Jeff Janis (C- Grade, C Grade overall) - Interestingly Jeff Janis finishes the preseason with two catches and two touchdowns, which highlights his big play ability but also highlights a need for more consistency.  Janis is one of the most physically gifted wide receivers on the Packers roster but still really lacks the technique to be a consistent receiver for the Packers offense.  In particular, Janis often has trouble getting a clean release off the line of scrimmage and lacks the route running ability to recover later on.  Janis does have the ability to simply outrun defenders if they make a mistake in covering him, but when lined up against DeMarcus Van Dyke, a player who is faster (4.28 40-yard) Janis’ poor release and route running allowed Van Dyke to cover the route and almost make the interception.  Overall, Janis probably has more value in special teams as a returner but has the potential to make a difference as a receiver but with the amount of depth in front of him and a much more polish Davante Adams likely seeing more time as the developmental rookie, Janis’ best bet is to take the season as a redshirt year at wide receiver and really focus as the returner.

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • Archie

    Except for Dix (no-brainer), TT went 0-3 on defensive picks in this draft. That is a continuation of his putrid 10 year trend. The guy is just clueless drafting defenders. Part of the problem was alluded to in this article – he drafts guys that don’t even fit the 3-4 defense e.g., 30″ arms OLB Bradford. Thornton was a reach and it looks like another big miss. Goodson is a long term project which is OK in R6 when your top 4 CBs are good. Had he hit on either Thornton or Bradford we wouldn’t be having this conversation but he missed badly on both. I am ever hopeful but I must confess I will be mildly shocked if our defense looks much different/better than in recent years. Another 25th ranked defense?

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I think you’re jumping to conclusions; the rookies haven’t even played a real game and yet you are labeling them busts (I also like how you’ve excluded Clinton-Dix for some reason in your argument). Sure their preseason grades weren’t the best but that isn’t always indicative of their future performance; keep in mind Clay Matthews looked like a bust pick during the beginning of his rookie year when he was hobbled by a leg injury in the preseason and wasn’t all that great really until his sophomore season.

    • TedTomsin

      Yeah Archie, I agree with you on some of these guys like Bradford, Thornton and Goodson showing very little so far. BUT!! and it’s a big one. Teddy Tee recovered or made up for them with the free agents Mike Pennel, Jamar Rolle and of course the camp’s biggest hit sensation Jayrone Elliott. Just trade places and we are right back on track is how I see this. That’s why Ted loves as many draft picks as possible. It’s all a numbers game. Some you hit and some you miss. In this case TT struck gold more so in the free agents than some of the draft picks. I don’t care where they come from. If they can play put them out there.

      Still let’s not dismiss this draft. I think it’s a damn good one for TT. There’s only three on your list that have disappointed. The rest Dix, Adams, Rodgers, Linsley and Janis appear all solid hits. That’s a damn good draft in my opinion.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        I think the biggest fallacy is thinking that great GMs don’t whiff on picks; considering the average NFL career is 3 years and 4 years if you are drafted and you can guess how many players actually “man their position for the next decade”. All GMs, Ted Thompson included will whiff on picks, how Thompson really separates himself is by not letting his picks really bog down the team. Even Thompson’s biggest busts haven’t killed a team, personally I would say Justin Harrell has been Thompson’s biggest bust and even then the Packers were a successful team. I’d argue that the Raiders are still feeling the blowback from the JaMarcus Russell pick all these years later.

    • funcrusher

      I’d make the case for Bradford, that his not playing well is McCarthy’s fault for putting him at OLB. He’s a short guy w/ short arms. OLB was never going to work. I feel if he had a full training camp and preseason at ILB, he’d be playing pretty well.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        I’m not sure how much input McCarthy has on the defense, I’d wager Dom Capers or Winston Moss have more control of Bradford’s position.

        • funcrusher

          I’m sure it was a group decision among the coaches, but don’t be one of those people that acts as if McCarthy has no say whatsoever on the defense. He is the head coach.

          Anyways, what’s important is that Bradford can’t be called a bust when he just moved to his correct position a couple weeks ago. I still think he’s going to be a good player now that he’s at ILB.