It’s been three years since the Green Bay Packers made their selections in the 2018 NFL Draft. Time to take a look back on Brian Gutekunst’s first class and consider the future of each player.
The year was 2018. The Green Bay Packers were coming off their first losing season in well over a decade. Change was inevitable and it would start in the front office.
Longtime GM Ted Thompson agreed to step down to an advisory role with the Packers. It was later revealed that he was suffering from autonomic disorder – a degenerative disorder that would later take his life.
The move opened the door for seasoned scout and Director of Player Personnel, Brian Gutekunst. The Packers needed an influx of young talent and that would start with the 2018 NFL Draft.
Now, three years and three seasons later, it’s time to judge each pick and decide on the future of each player.
Round 1 Pick 18: Jaire Alexander, CB Lousiville
Gutey struck gold on his very first draft pick. After trading down from 14 then back up from 27, Gutey landed at pick 18 netting a 2019 first-round pick from the Saints. He also netted one of the top cornerbacks in the league in Jaire Alexander.
The Green Bay Packers have already exercised their fifth-year option on Alexander. The plan is to keep him in town for as long as possible as he’s one of the top building blocks in the league on the defensive side of the ball.
The more you watch it, the more incredible it becomes.
Jaire Alexander is the future at CBpic.twitter.com/4QxrOaN0Wk
— Eli Berkovits (@BookOfEli_NFL) July 25, 2021
Round 2 Pick 45: Josh Jackson, CB Iowa
The Packers doubled down on the cornerback position – a huge need at the time. Jackson was extremely productive in college but fell below some athleticism thresholds. There was concern that he may struggle to mirror receivers at the NFL level. In over 1,000 defensive reps, Jackson has done nothing to quiet those concerns.
His contract keeps him on the team through this season – unless the Packers choose to release him – but his future beyond that is far from certain. I’d put money on Jackson wearing different colors for the 2022 season.
Round 3 Pick 88: Oren Burks, LB Vanderbilt
After trading away their original third-round pick to move up for Alexander, the Green Bay Packers packaged 2 day-three picks to move back into the third round. Burks was a player that Gutey had his eye on throughout the draft process.
He displayed elilte athleticism as a linebacker prospect but he never did learn how to transfer that to the football field. He’s failed to make much of an impact away from special teams. Burks is now buried on the depth chart. It’s ‘now or never’ for him and I’m betting on ‘never’.
Round 4 Pick 133: J’Mon Moore, WR Missouri
Moore made a name for himself as a playmaker with Missouri, so much so that some draft analysts considered him a first-round prospect. The Packers snagged him in the fourth hoping to capitalize on his potential.
However, Moore struggled with drops and never found a rhythm with Aaron Rodgers. He was released prior to the 2019 season. After bouncing around on some practice squads, Moore is now a free agent.
Round 5 Pick 138: Cole Madison, C Washington St
Hopes were high that Madison would continue the trend of successful day-three interior linemen with the Green Bay Packers. That never happened. Madison spent the 2018 season inactive, focusing on his mental health.
He was activated for just over half the 2019 season but released prior to the 2020 season, having never played a down for the Packers. Madison is still a free agent.
Round 5 Pick 172: JK Scott, P Alabama
The lanky punter for the Crimson Tide had a knack for netting some serious hangtime. He partnered that with coffin corner accuracy, making him easily the top punting prospect in the 2018 class. Scott won the job for the Packers as a rookie and he played fine.
To this day Scott is still… just fine. But as a drafted punter, expectations were much higher. This is the last year of Scott’s contract. Unless he turns it up a notch, it will be his last with the Green Bay Packers.
Round 5 Pick 174: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR South Florida
MVS had a quiet NCAA career, first with NC St, then with South Florida. He made a name for himself at the Combine, however, recording a 4.37 40-yard dash at over 6’ 4”. The Packers took a chance on MVS, hoping that he would develop – he has.
While MVS has frustrated Packer fans beyond belief, he’s also carved out a decent role as a deep threat. He’s outplayed expectations for a fifth-round wide receiver, though big drops have kept him from taking the next step. MVS has a chance to right the ship this season, potentially cementing himself on the Packers’ roster for the foreseeable future.
— NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2021
Round 6 Pick 207: Equanimeous St Brown, WR Notre Dame
The third and final receiver selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2018 draft, EQ St Brown, shared a similar length/speed combination with MVS (6’ 5”, 4.48). However, injuries and inconsistent play have kept St Brown on the sidelines.
Maybe St. Brown should stretch more, or maybe he should play some special teams, or maybe he should just hit the road. This is his last chance with the Green Bay Packers. Whether the team keeps 5 or 6 receivers, St. Brown will absolutely be competing for his job during training camp.
Round 7 Pick 232: James Looney, DL California
Looney was an interesting selection for the Green Bay Packers. He had tweener traits and elite athleticism for the position but wasn’t able to find his footing in the Packers’ 3-4 base. The team even gave him a shot at tight end but that didn’t work either. Looney was released last fall during final cuts.
Round 7 Pick 239: Hunter Bradley, LS Mississippi St
Bradley has been just average at a position of little consequence. Expectations were high and they haven’t been met. My guess is that the Packers opt for a cheap rookie contract after Bradley’s expires next offseason.
Round 7 Pick 248: Kendall Donnerson, EDGE SE Missouri St
Donnerson was the definition of project edge rusher. He played just fine against FCS competition but lit it up at his Pro Day. The Green Bay Packers took a flier on Donnerson but he was never able to capitalize on his potential. He was released prior to the 2019 season before ever playing a snap for the Packers.
It’s entirely possible that the first selection of Gutey’s entire career goes down as his best. Jaire is off to a great start and certainly has Hall of Fame aspirations. His selection floats the entire class for Brian Gutekunst. The next four picks – Jackson, Burks, Moore, and Madison – were all huge busts.
MVS, St. Brown, and JK Scott were the only other picks aside from Jaire that received ‘passable’ grades. Those four, along with Jackson, Burks, and Bradley are all still on the roster, giving the 2018 class a total of 7, though that number could drop over the next couple weeks.
Overall, the Green Bay Packers’ 2018 draft class has been underwhelming. Here’s hoping that those 7 players still on the roster turn the corner this season.
Overall Grade: D+/C-