The Green Bay Packers have been killing it in the 2018 NFL Draft under new general manager Brian Gutekunst. But they made an…interesting choice with one of their selections in Round 5 on Saturday.
The Green Bay Packers had a punter who was so good last year that he was named an alternate for the Pro Bowl. Then-rookie Justin Vogel, an undrafted free agent out of Miami, was the team’s only punter heading into training camp, and he ended up being the only one they needed.
Vogel played in every game for the Packers in 2017-18, averaging 44.4 yards per punt (gross) on 71 punts.
How solid was Vogel’s play? He was No. 7 in the NFL with a net average of 41.6 yards, which actually set a new Packers franchise record.
But new general manager Brian Gutekunst declared that he wanted to create competition at every position as he gives the Packers roster a facelift, and, apparently, he doesn’t want Vogel to rest on his laurels heading into training camp this summer.
In all honestly, the move is, at worst, amusing. It’s certainly not a wasted pick; the Packers headed into Day 3 with eight selections, including three in Round 5. Not all of the Packers’ rookies this season can make the roster, and so there’s nothing wrong with giving Vogel a little nudge in training camp.
There’s no question that Gutekunst is, on the whole, knocking it out of the park with this draft class so far, including doubling down at the cornerback position with Jaire Alexander at No. 18 overall and then Josh Jackson — a player many had mocked to Green Bay at No. 14 originally – at No. 45, an indisputable steal.
And if you’re going to take a punter in the fifth round, it might as well be the best, or one of the best, in the draft. Green Bay made Alabama’s JK Scott the second punter taken in the draft after the Seattle Seahawks selected Michael Dickson, also in Round 5. At Alabama, Scott led the nation in yards per punt, with 48.0, as well as net yards per punt (44.7).
Alright, Packers. We’re still awake, and you have our attention.