While it’s a pretty pointless endeavor to grade picks right after the draft, it does start to make some sense to start grading players when they’ve actually stepped on an NFL football field against NFL level talent across from them. For the next four weeks, I will be grading each player selected in the 2014 NFL draft and seeing how they progress. In terms of grading, obviously I will be excluding Jared Abberderis, who is out on IR. Also, grades will be curved based on where players were drafted, a lot more is expected from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix than is expected from Demetri Goodson thus grading will be harder on the 1st round draft pick. Finally, an overall grade will be assigned that factors in the grades from previous games.
Round 1, Pick 21: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (B grade, B grade overall) – Overall a pretty solid albeit quiet outing for Clinton-Dix. Obviously he showed a better command of the defense and some more versatility after sacking the quarterback, but still seems a little hesitant in his pass defense, in particular on the long gain against Sam Shields in the 1st half, Clinton-Dix could have saved the Packers 10 yards had he just tackled the receiver right away; instead Shield missed the interception and the receiver spun away from Clinton-Dix, who was in position but didn’t pull the trigger.
Round 2, Pick 53: Davante Adams (B+ grade, A- grade overall) – Adams wasn’t as good as he was in his first professional outing but still showed that he can be a valuable piece on the Packers offense if he gets an opportunity. Adams displayed a good balance of solid route running and physicality, especially on a stick throw where he met the defender right as he caught the ball. Overall, I think Adams is the most complete wide receiver the Packers drafted in 2014 albeit the most physically talented might go to Janis. My feeling is that Adams likely wins the 4th WR spot behind the big 3 and Janis and Kevin Dorsey are looking to take the last spot if the Packers only decide to keep 5 WRs.
Round 3, Pick 85: Khyri Thornton (B grade, D grade overall) – Thornton played considerably better against the Rams than the Titans. Thornton was able to get great push, sometimes even on double teams; Thornton managed a spectacular bull rush against a double team that allowed Sam Barrington to get free for a sack on the quarterback. However, Thornton is still pretty much a one trick pony; Thornton doesn’t offer much in terms of pass rush and still has issues once the initial bull rush doesn’t work. If Thornton can learn to use his hands better and get a counter move under his belt he will see a lot more time on the field.
Round 3, Pick 98: Richard Rodgers (B grade, B grade overall) – I think I’m beginning to understand the appeal of Richard Rodgers; while he isn’t the most technically refined blocker or receiver; he does everything pretty well and that gives the Packers a tremendous amount of versatility. During the first series of the game, the Packers ran the no huddle to perfection and Richard Rodgers was actually one of the key pieces that allows the Packers to remain unpredictable while fielding the same personnel package over and over again. Rodgers lined up as a tight end covering both tackles, the fullback, a receiving tight end in the slot and as a check down option. Again while he is an relatively effective blocker (who needs to stop lunging with his head down) and a decent receiver (who is more apt at shielding defenders away from the ball as opposed to creating separation), he’s still very raw in terms of technique and awareness but he does have the potential to be one of the more complete tight ends in the league.
Round 4, Pick 121: Carl Bradford (D grade, D grade overall) – I honestly don’t know what’s going on with Bradford. On one hand, he played 12 snaps, which is more in line with the other 3rd string linebackers, but on the other hand he’s still on the bottom of the barrel, with Mulumba, Palmer, Elliot and Hubbard all in front of him. When Bradford was on the field, he did manage one good pass rush where he looped around and knifed through the interior offensive line. Bradford also showed some ability to drop back in coverage. One interesting thing is that Bradford did spend time with his hand in the dirt, which is something he did a lot of at Arizona St. (he has experience in both a 2 point and 3 point stance so I don’t think its an issue with familiarity) Overall, there must be something more at play considering he’s hasn’t been abysmal and his draft stock demands he get more playing time. Initially I thought it was possible that Bradford was having issues at practice and perhaps the Packers were sending a message but at some point it becomes cutting off your nose to spite your face; Bradford can’t develop if he doesn’t get playing time. My only guess at this point is that Bradford must be dealing with some injury and he’s on some sort of snap count.
Round 4, Pick 161: Corey Linsley (A- grade, B+ grade overall) – Outside a ticky-tack illegal use of the hands penalty (hands to the face) and the subsequent mistime of the snap on the very next play (considering the rest of the offensive line moved all at the same time I’m assuming it’s Linsley fault) Linsley had a very good game. Linsley’s forte is his run blocking and he was able to get great push and open up several lanes for his running backs. He’s decent on pass protection, and seems to have good awareness of what’s going on and does what he can with combo blocks and peeling off and readjusting to late pass rushers. Overall, I think the Packers are pretty happy with their center situation, I would say both players have shown that they could play pivot for Aaron Rodgers and at this point I think both players should be looking to increase their value by spending time at guard, especially Linsley since it seems likely that in order to secure a roster spot he will need to be a swing interior linemen.
Round 6, Pick 197: Demitri Goodson (C grade, C grade overall) – Goodson pretty much had an identical outing from his game against the Titans, he clearly showed his speed and athleticism but also showed that he’s still maybe too raw to contribute this season. On one particular play, Goodson bit hard on a play action pass and let his tight end streak down the field on a go route; luckily another defender had let another receiver free on the flat, but the tight end probably had a touchdown had he gotten the ball. Goodson might be one of the fastest cornerbacks but at the end of the day, a season on the practice squad will likely do wonders for Goodson.
Round 7, Pick 236: Jeff Janis (C Grade, C Grade overall) – I get the hype of Janis, but Janis had a pretty average game outside of the spectacular catch and run that netted him a touchdown. On most plays Janis did get separation but his routes are a little soft and it understandably it does seem like he knows exactly what’s going on. On positive is he is an active blocker, which is something that you don’t typically see from rookie wide receivers. Overall, it was a good start for the rookie, and if he can build off of this game he will likely make the team.
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.