The Green Bay Packers 2020 season is over and it was certainly a unique campaign for the Packers and the entire NFL. This was a year with no OTAs, preseason games and no fans in the stands for most of the season. So, the Packers draft class had more obstacles to face than the typical rookie does in any other year.
While we cannot get an accurate idea of how a draft class will pan out until at least year three, here is a look at the contributions of the Packers 2020 draftees and what they contributed in the first year of their NFL careers.
Grades are based on a combination of expectations and performance. Those players that didn’t see the field much will get an incomplete grade.
Round 1: QB Jordan Love
Love was inactive for all 16 regular season games and both playoff contests. The former Utah State star wasn’t expected to play this season barring injury and the lack of preseason games and a full offseason program made it even less likely that he’d see the field.
Once the season started, Aaron Rodgers elevated his game and returned to a league MVP level of play which solidified his hold on the quarterback position and further made it less likely Love would get into a game as a rookie.
The coaching staff was pleased with the progress Love made in practice over the course of the season. “He’s done a really good job with the mental part of the game,” quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy told reporters in December. “We spend time each and every day honing in on his fundamentals and things like that, trying to get them tighter. He takes a bunch of reps with the practice squad so we use those as live reps and try to relate the plays that other teams run to the plays that we run so that he’s getting somewhat close to a live bullet each and every day. So that part of it’s been really good. And then the one-on-one time we get on the practice field each and every day has been very beneficial.”
Love will battle for the number two quarterback spot next season. The offseason and preseason will be important to the next stage of his development.
Round 2: RB A.J. Dillon
Dillon was third on the Packers depth chart for most of the season behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. He contracted Covid-19 midseason and missed five games and was slowed in several others as a result.
Dillon finished the season with 246 yards on 46 carries and ran for two touchdowns. His 5.3-yard average per carry was impressive.
The only game Dillon was the feature back came in Week 16 against the Titans and he responded well, gaining 124 yards on 21 carries in the Packers 40-14 win.
The former Boston College star has great agility and speed for a man weighing 247 pounds and that makes him tough to bring down.
Dillon showed progress as a pass blocker and receiver as the season progressed and that gave the coaching staff more confidence to put him in the lineup later in the year.
Since both Jones and Williams are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason, Dillon will likely play a much larger role in the Packers offense in 2021.
Round 3: TE Josiah Deguara
The Packers hoped Deguara would provide help at tight end, fullback and H-back. The former University of Cincinnati star played in two games before being lost for the season with an injury. He caught one pass for 12 yards while playing 31 total snaps on offense against the Vikings and Falcons.
Head coach Matt LaFleur loves Deguara’s versatility and potential but obviously, he needs a bigger chance to show what he can do. Look for Deguara to get a larger role in 2021 in the Packers offense, especially if Marcedes Lewis is not back at tight end.
Round 5: ILB Kamal Martin
Martin was a pleasant surprise for the Packers this summer and was considered the team’s best ILB in training camp. Unfortunately, he was injured just before the start of the season and was unable to play until Week 7 against the Texans.
Overall, the former University of Minnesota star played in 10 games, starting six. He was in on 24 tackles and made one sack this season.
Martin showed some promise but also made his share of rookie mistakes. He can play the run effectively and it a physical linebacker who can play downhill. He showed the potential to drop into coverage in training camp but wasn’t asked to do it much during the season.
If he stays healthy, Martin should battle for a starting spot at ILB next season depending on what the new defensive coordinator expects from players at that position.
Round 6: G Jon Runyan Jr.
Runyan played tackle at Michigan but was projected as a guard in the NFL. He filled in at guard during four games when injuries struck the Packers offensive line. He more than held his own and was not a liability for the offense in those games.
Runyan played in all 16 games and was active on special teams in each of them. The coaching staff was pleased with Runyan’s performance when he filled in but didn’t feel he was ready to start even after injuries hit. His savvy and experience should serve him well as he continues his development and looks for a spot in the lineup next season.
Round 6: C Jake Hanson
Hanson was on the practice squad this season and was signed to a future contract after the playoffs ended. The former Oregon star may have a bigger role next season especially if potential free agent Corey Linsley signs elsewhere.
Round 6: OL Simon Stepaniak
Stepaniak spent most of the year on the injured reserve recovering from injuries suffered during his senior year at Indiana. He will have a chance to compete for a roster spot in training camp next year.
Round 7: S Vernon Scott
Scott played in 15 games, playing on special teams and seeing some snaps on defense. He finished the season with 13 total tackles including one quarterback sack and two tackles for loss. The TCU alum showed promise during his limited playing time and will look for a bigger role in 2021.
Round 7: OLB Jonathan Garvin
Garvin played in the first eight games of the season for the Packers and was credited with five total tackles. He was not able to record any pressures, sacks or quarterback hits when called upon to rush the quarterback.
The Miami (Florida) alum played 85 total snaps on defense and a bit on special teams as well. He needs to work on his pass rush technique to assume a bigger role next season.
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