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NFL Draft Review: 2018 class a mixed bag for the Packers

The second part in our 2020 review of past Packers NFL Draft classes takes us back to 2018, where the Packers used 11 picks to rebuild the depth on the outside of the offense and defense, along with drafting both a punter and long snapper.

2018 was the first go-round in the mini-rebuild of the Packers, in which Green Bay again invested heavily in its defensive backfield and spent three picks on wide receivers. Through that lens, with most of their selections coming on Day 3, it's easy to see how the Packers thought that by adding sheer numbers to certain groups they could overcome some deficiencies in those areas.

It was the first step towards returning to the playoffs, which didn't happen in 2018 and cost coach Mike McCarthy his job late in the season. By addressing some problem areas, the Packers found a few players who are now locks in the starting lineup, particularly on defense and special teams.

For the second straight year, the Packers used their top two selections on defensive backs. The #18 overall selection was used on Louisville corner Jaire Alexander, who has quickly developed into one of the league's best cover men on the outside. Alexander had 17 pass breakups and two interceptions while starting all 16 games in 2019. Alexander is a cornerstone of the Packers' 2020 defense.

Going right back to the position, Green Bay used its second-round pick to grab Iowa corner Josh Jackson, a big-time producer in college, at #45 overall. After starting 10 of 16 games as a rookie, Jackson appeared in 14 games in 2019, with no starts, and spent much more time in sub-packages and special teams. Jackson is part of a crowded defensive backfield that is always in acquisition mode.

Injuries have robbed third-round pick Oren Burks of Vanderbilt of plenty of opportunities in his first two seasons. The linebacker, picked #88 overall, has started just four games in his NFL career, at a position of need for the Green Bay defense. 2020 is a make-or-break year for Burks in Green Bay, as the Packers are linked to just about every available inside linebacker available in the Draft and free agency.

Lasting just one season in Green Bay, Missouri speedster J'Mon Moore was waived before the 2019 season before catching on with the Cleveland Browns late in the year, landing on the Cleveland practice squad. Moore, the #133 overall selection in the 2018 Draft, had just two catches in his brief Packers tenure.

He has yet to appear in a regular-season game for the Packers, but the first of three fifth-round picks in 2018, former Washington State offensive lineman Cole Madison, is now looking to make the leap from practice squad to depth piece for the Packers in his third season. The #138 overall selection is part of a mix of interior linemen that saw its two starters turn over in 2019 at guard.

The second of the fifth-round picks, at #172 overall, was used on Alabama punter J.K. Scott. Scott has been solid, and occasionally great, in the role for the Packers. His accuracy numbers improved in 2019 over his rookie season.

Two picks later, at #174 overall, Green Bay added its second receiver of the 2018 NFL Draft. South Florida receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling has shown the most of the three receiver choices in the 2018 Draft class; in two years, he's hauled in 64 passes for 1,033 yards and four touchdowns. Valdes-Scantling has started 20 of a possible 32 games, and figures to be a large part of the Packers offense in 2020 opposite Davante Adams.

Apparently not ready to stop drafting receivers, Green Bay added Notre Dame receiver Equanimeous St. Brown with the #207 overall selection, a sixth-round pick. St. Brown started seven games and played in 12 as a rookie while battling injuries, grabbing 21 passes for 328 yards. However, injuries didn't allow St. Brown to see the field in 2019.

Three seventh-round picks allowed the Packers to take some chances late in the Draft. California defensive end James Looney went first, at #232 overall. Looney appeared in three games in 2018 but didn't record a stat.

It's not often a team drafts a long snapper, but the Packers, with 11 total Draft choices and three late in the seventh round, got their guy in Mississippi State's Hunter Bradley at #239 overall. The Tennessee native has played in all 32 regular-season games so far in his career.

Green Bay went fishing with its final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, scooping up Southeast Missouri State linebacker/edge rusher Kendall Donnerson at #248 overall. Donnerson has yet to appear in an NFL game.

BEST PICK: Green Bay appears to have gotten it right with their first selection, Jaire Alexander, who has been a steady playmaker at one of football's most important positions. The athleticism and awareness on display on his highlight reels is occasionally breathtaking. Green Bay has used eight of its 13 first- or second-round picks in six years drafting defensive backs; they were bound to get it right at least once or twice.

BOOM: The middle pick of three receivers in the 2018 Draft class, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is primed to take an even larger role in the Packers' offense. With Davante Adams drawing attention on the other side of the field, M-V-S has found some room to operate the past two years. Even if the Packers invest in receiver during the 2020 Draft, Valdes-Scantling has begun to establish himself, and a leap in year 3 would mean big things for the Packers offense.

BUST: J'Mon Moore was the first of three receivers picked, and is already out of Green Bay. Waived before the 2019 season, Moore caught just two passes in his time in Green Bay. Moore's speed was supposed to stretch the Packers' offense, but Moore couldn't stay on the field for Green Bay, and is currently signed to a future/reserve contract with the Cleveland Browns.

STARTERS: Alexander is a mainstay in the starting lineup, as are the specialists, J.K. Scott and Hunter Bradley. Oren Burks, if he can stay healthy, will have some chances at inside linebacker. Valdes-Scantling should get plenty of reps on offense, having already started 20 games, behind only Alexander in this class for starts among the 2018 Draft class. The rest of the class, entering year three, are depth pieces until further notice. This class has produced 61 starts in two years during the regular season, not counting the specialists who have "started" all 32 games available to each of them.

Photo: Getty Images (Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson)

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