Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson may have surprised Packers fans when he selected UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but what Thompson did in the second round Friday night, was even more surprising.
That’s because for one the few times in his tenure as general manager of the Packers, Thompson traded up, in order to get Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs. And by doing so, the GM added both tremendous upside and value to Green Bay’s 2016 draft class.
Now in order to get Spriggs, Thompson had to move up nine spots and to do that, the Packers surrendered a fourth and a seventh-round pick this year to the Colts. This was smart for two reasons:
One, Spriggs was the last big-time offensive tackle in the draft, so he likely would not have made it to Green Bay’s original pick at No. 57. And secondly, thanks to two compensatory fourth-rounders, Thompson had plenty of room to maneuver and didn’t give significant compensation.
And thanks to his bold deal-making, Thompson still got to keep this third-round pick, which ended up being Utah State outside linebacker Kyle Fackrell, who Pro Football Focus rated as its third-most productive 3-4 outside linebacker in the 2016 NFL Draft.
While there is plenty to like about Fackrell, I am still over the moon about the selection of Spriggs, a player with left tackle potential. Players like him, that stand 6-6, 301 pounds and run the 40 in 4.9 are rare. He has great feet and started 47 of 48 career games at Indiana.
Spriggs may not start this season for the Packers, but he will play and if needed, he could start at either tackle position. He’s not perfect and needs to get better in the run game, but as far as pass protection goes, he is solid.
The second-rounder from Indiana also gives Green Bay some insurance for next season, when David Bahktiari will be a free agent, along with T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton and J.C. Tretter. That means, pretty much regardless of what happens, the Packers are going to have to replace some starting offensive lineman next season and Spriggs will be a prime candidate to take over one of those spots.
Green Bay has a history of taking tackles (Lang, Sitton, Tretter) and turning them into guards and it wouldn’t shock me if Spriggs did the same. However, finding a true left-tackle talent is hard and Thompson did so without using a first-round pick or giving up much in value to trade up in the second.
Because of his prudent decision to keep his third pick, Thompson also got Fackrell, a four-year college player with 13 sacks and 36 tackles for loss. Fackrell is 6-5, 250 and long off the edge. He will play special teams and could see snaps as a rotational player in 2016, but like Spriggs his value is in 2017 and beyond when both Nick Perry and Julius Peppers could be gone due to retirement or free agency.
Clark was a great pick in the first round, but no draft is decided by one pick. The Packers needed a plethora of players and so far they have gotten three good ones at three positions where they were low on depth.
Yes, inside linebacker is still a need, but make no mistake, Thompson has gotten three good football players, who are proven, but also have upside and after two days of the NFL draft, you can’t ask for much more than that.