NFL Draft Grades: 2008 Class

The Packers brought Josh Sitton and his flowing locks to Green Bay in 2008. How does the rest of the class stack up?

The Packers brought Josh Sitton and his flowing locks to Green Bay in 2008. How does the rest of the class stack up?

We’re a bit late with our NFL Draft grades, but you’ll be forgiving, right? Good.

Last year, I pointed out that everyone loooooves to grade drafts immediately after they happen, but that’s ridiculous, because nobody has even played a down yet. I operate under the premise that you should wait about five years to decide if a class was any good or not. Since we’re celebrating the five year anniversary of the 2008 class, it’s time to see how Ted Thompson and company did.

Here were the picks:

  1. Jordy Nelson – WR – Kansas State (2nd round, 36th overall)
  2. Brian Brohm – QB – Louisville (2nd round, 56th overall)
  3. Pat Lee – CB – Auburn (2nd round, 60th overall)
  4. Jermichael Finley – TE – Texas (3rd round, 91st overall)
  5. Jeremy Thompson – DE – Wake Forest (4th round, 102nd overall)
  6. Josh Sitton – G – Central Florida (4th round, 135th overall)
  7. Breno Giacomini – T – Louisville (5th round, 150th overall)
  8. Matt Flynn – QB – LSU (7th round, 209th overall)
  9. Brett Swain – WR – San Diego State (7th round, 217th overall)

Of the Packers’ nine selections, six were still in the league last season, including three with the Packers. The obvious misses were Brian Thompson and Brohm, but overall, it was a good draft.

Depending on who you ask, the best player from this draft was either Josh Sitton or Jordy Nelson. Sitton is perhaps Green Bay’s best offensive lineman, while Nelson may be their best receiver (although Randall Cobb could challenge for that title). Either way, both were pretty good values where they were taken, especially considering that Nelson was the third receiver off the board (behind Donnie Avery in St. Louis and Devin Thomas in Washington) and Sitton slid all the way to the fifth round.

Behind Nelson and Sitton, Jermichael Finley is easily the third best player. Though he’s inconsistent, you could safely assume that most teams in the league wouldn’t mind having him around. He’s an above average tight end, and for a third round pick, you’re probably feeling pretty good about that. But that being said, the Packers¬†could have drafted the very solid Martellus Bennett (61st overall to Dallas) if they’d decided to pass on the eternally nondescript Pat Lee (60th overall) or Brian Brohm (56th overall), but we’ll get to them in a second.

Next up, Matt Flynn, who you might think was an incredible player given the hype he’s gotten, but he really only won the Packers a single game: the Week 17 shootout with Detroit in 2011. He didn’t produce in 2010 when Aaron Rodgers went down with a concussion (also against Detroit), and he had a massive brain fart at the end of the next week’s game in New England, although he did play much better. Still, there’s something to be said for being a relatively competent backup, and he managed to do that during his stay in Green Bay.

Grouping largely irrelevant players together:

  • Breno Giacomini was a giant (6’7″, 318 lbs.) but only played one game in two years with the Packers. How does someone that large go so unnoticed?
  • Brett Swain caught six passes for 72 yards and no touchdowns in two years.
  • Jeremy Thompson was undersized and played in 15 games (including three starts!) over two seasons, but never recorded a sack and only managed six solo tackles.

Pat Lee is a question mark. He managed to hang around for 32 games over three seasons playing mostly special teams. He broke up one pass and made 19 solo tackles, but never recorded an interception or a sack, which leads to the question: why couldn’t they find anybody better?

Finally, there’s Brian Brohm, who exists more or less only as a footnote in the Aaron Rodgers saga at this point. It reminds us of a time when we wondered if this Rodgers kid would ever amount to anything. And at that time, some of us (okay, maybe only me) were probably slightly¬†too excited when a former Heisman Trophy-caliber player made his way to Green Bay. Sure, the Packers might have been able to draft serviceable players like the aforementioned Martellus Bennett or defensive end Kendall Langford (66th to Miami) or even cornerback Charles Godfrey (67th to Carolina). But maybe instead, we should remember Brohm as what will someday be a fun twist to the Rodgers Saga, hearkening back to that time when he was anything but the sure thing he is today.

Or we could just accept that he was a really, really, really terrible pick in hindsight. Probably that.

So while the misses in the 2008 class can be spectacular (like Brohm) or barely remembered (Thompson), overall it’s a pretty good group. Nelson and Sitton have been instrumental in the Packers successes the last two or three years, and Finley hasn’t been that bad either, all things considered. If you drafted like this every year, you’d probably have a fairly successful team on your hands.

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