The 2018 was the first time Brian Gutekunst was running the Packers draft room as general manager. The Packers were active in this draft, making trades in the first round before selecting Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander with the 18th pick and making 11 selections overall.
But after Alexander, the rest of the 2018 draft class has been disappointing for the most part. Here is a look at six players who may be facing their last chance to prove they were good selections and can be consistent contributors for the Packers in 2021. If they do, they can salvage the reputation of the class of 2018.
- CB Josh Jackson
Jackson was considered a first-round talent by many scouts entering the 2018 draft but he fell to the Packers in the second round with the 45th overall pick. The Iowa product lacks the speed to be great in man coverage, but he plays his best in zone defenses which is what new defensive coordinator Joe Barry wants to emphasize.
Jackson has had difficulty getting into the lineup after starting 10 games in his rookie campaign. By the end of 2020, Jackson was inactive for many games despite being healthy. He has yet to intercept a pass in three seasons although he has a fumble recovery and scored a special teams touchdown in 2018.
This is likely Jackson’s last chance to prove he can contribute on defense and carve out a role as the Packers nickel or dime cornerback in 2021.
- ILB Oren Burks
Like Jackson, Burks has struggled to find his way into the lineup on defense. Last season, he played only nine percent of the Packers defensive snaps although he was one of the team’s better players on special teams.
Burks was off to a strong start in training camp during his rookie season when he got injured. He was injured again in training camp in 2019 and has never really regained that early momentum he had in his first preseason.
Burks is quick and the Packers were hoping he could fill in at ILB opposite Blake Martinez but he never claimed the job.
This will be Burks’ last chance to show he can carve out a role on defense in Barry’s system and realize his early promise.
- P JK Scott
Scott has been the Packers punter for the last three seasons but he continues to struggle with consistency. Most teams don’t use a draft pick on a punter and when they do, they expect a great performance from that player.
Scott has had two punts blocked in three seasons and has struggled with November slumps in each of his seasons in the league.
He has a strong leg and is averaging 44.6-yards per punt so far in his career, an impressive number for a player who kicks in the wind and cold of Lambeau Field in the second half of every season.
The Packers have signed Ryan Winslow to compete with Scott in training camp this summer. If Scott doesn’t improve his consistency, his time in Green Bay may soon come to an end.
- WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
After Alexander, Valdes-Scantling has been the most productive player the Packers drafted in 2018. MVS made 33 catches for 690 yards and six touchdowns last season while averaging 20.9-yards per carry which was the highest mark of any qualified receiver.
MVS is a legitimate deep threat with a lot of talent, but he can become a great receiver if he can improve his consistency and reduce the seven dropped passes he was credited with last season according to pro-football-reference.com. He also had a catch percentage of just 52.4 percent last year, a number that needs to get better.
If MVS can improve his intermediate route running and his consistency, he can help improve the overall grade of the 2018 draft and take his own career to another level.
- WR Equanimeous St. Brown
St. Brown has had his career slowed by injuries and has missed 24 games in his first three years including all the 2019 season.
The former Notre Dame star caught seven passes for 117 yards and scored his first NFL touchdown in 2020 but missed four more games due to injury.
EQ has good size but needs to be more consistent with his hands and his routes to take his game to the next level.
The talent is there so if St. Brown can stay healthy, he has a chance to show the coaches what he can do.
- LS Hunter Bradley
The Packers selected Bradley in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. He has been the team’s long snapper since that time.
While Bradley has not made any disastrous snaps that resulted in an immediate turnover, but he has struggled with consistency too often in his tenure in Green Bay.
Bradley will face competition from free agent addition Joe Fortunato who will compete with Bradley for the long snapper position.
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