Who Can Make a Second Year Jump?

Which rookies from the Packers 2019 draft class can make a bigger impact in 2020?

This week we’re looking at the 2019 draft class. Besides Darnell Savage and Elgton Jenkins, the Green Bay Packers saw very little impact out of last year’s rookies. Savage and Jenkins are the only ones who played at least 25 percent of the offensive and defensive snaps. Rookies are typically long-term investments, so this immediate return on investment isn’t surprising. But what can we expect from the 2019 draft class for next season? Can Savage and Jenkins build on an already impressive start, or are some of their classmates ready to take off?

Let’s take a case by case look at whether or not last year’s rookies are capable of a jump in year two. In honor of our fearless leader and CHTV Co-founder, Aaron Nagler, we will do yes, no, or maybe.

Rashan Gary- Yes

Gary played just under 24 percent of the defensive snaps in 2019, but he flashed consistently despite limited opportunity. Gary will have a hard time stealing reps on the edge from Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, but can potentially kick inside to play next to Kenny Clark. It will not only enhance his development but also provide immediate help for the defense as a gap shooter. It’s in Green Bay's best interest to get Gary on the field as much as possible.

Darnell Savage- Maybe

The Packers saw a lot of potential in Savage when they moved up to snag him at 21st first overall. Savage became the immediate starter at safety and made his presence felt early on. Starting 14 out of 14 games, he hauled in two interceptions, forced two fumbles, and recorded 55 tackles. These numbers are impressive for a rookie safety but they might be tough to top in year two. I expect Savage to have a similar impact.

Elgton Jenkins- Yes

It was surprising that Jenkins earned the starting job in week three. However, it may not have happened so soon if Lane Taylor hadn’t got hurt. Jenkins handled the responsibility beautifully emerging as one of the top rookie performers from the entire draft and he could be even better in 2020.

Jace Sternberger- Yes

Does he have much of a choice? An injury set Sternberger back but once he got on the field he looked like he belonged. Green Bay is banking on Sternberger being the guy moving forward after doing very little this offseason at tight end.

Kingsley Keke- Maybe

Keke looked good in preseason, however, he only played nine percent of the snaps on defense. While Keke is a nice developmental prospect, the Packers need help along the interior now. He should see an increased role in 2020, but that’s mostly because his rookie campaign was mainly obsolete. I don’t see Keke doing enough next season to generate much noise. He needs more time to learn the system and sharpen his skills.

Ka’Dar Hollman- No

Many people thought Hollman had the chance to be a solid special teamer even as a rookie. He fell short of those expectations by playing less than eight percent of third-team snaps and only four defensive snaps all year. Perhaps he sees more of the field on special teams but that isn’t much of a jump in my opinion.

Dexter Williams- No

Williams might be on the roster hot seat when Green Bay used a second-round pick on running back AJ Dillon. Clearly, the team feels Dillon has a better shot at being the back of the future over Williams. After playing 38 snaps on offense last year, Williams might be the odd man out in a backfield that has Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, and a hopeful rookie in Dillon.

Ty Summers- Maybe

 A great athlete, Summers is fun to watch fly around on special teams. His next step is learning the system and earning the trust of his coaches to gain more reps. He failed to log a single defensive snap in 2019, however, I’m optimistic about Summers’ future. To some it may not be much but if he can be relied on as a situation or emergency linebacker, that is a considerable second-year jump for a seventh-round pick.

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (27)

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Bure9620's picture

May 25, 2020 at 08:34 am

I think Darnell Savage has the potential to be one of the next elite Safties in the league. He could be an Earl Thomas type of player, I look for him to be more of a "field flipper" in year 2. I think he can make QBs second guess about throwing deep or over the middle.

Looking forward to Rashan Gary's development. He was effective late last year, just needs more opportunities.

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Stroh's picture

May 25, 2020 at 08:48 pm

Completely agee. Savage has a ton of talent and the instincts for Safety. I only see his arrow pointing up. This has the potential to be a great draft if Gary, Savage, Jenkins and Sternberger all become starters. A couple of them might be game changing impact players.

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Hematite's picture

May 25, 2020 at 07:28 am

I'm hoping to see Gary and Sternberger on the field a lot more this year and that they show us that they have "IT"!

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Handsback's picture

May 25, 2020 at 07:34 am

This class has a lot of promise. Gary, Jenkins, and Savage will make bigger impacts this year. The rest will also add depth and playmaking ability before the season ends.
Summers could take this class from really good to great if the light comes on and learns to play the pro game.

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stockholder's picture

May 25, 2020 at 07:35 am

I don't think any make that All-pro jump. Comparing them to a great just isn't happening. But What I'm looking for is a solid starter. I believe the next solid starter is Savage. The packers just invested to much in this pick. If he stays on the field that is the best jump anyone could hope for.

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arthurl's picture

May 25, 2020 at 07:49 am

Really like this draft class and hopefully these guys show more. Gary just needs more reps and I still contend playing him inside more at DL. Savage is just solid and with year in, he should continue being that. Jenkins has All pro potential, I feel best pick in this class. Sternberger could be upgrade over Graham. I don’t see other guys having much impact, but four players mentioned that help the team is huge

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fordguy's picture

May 25, 2020 at 01:02 pm

Gary's not moving to play on the inside, that's why Fackrell had so many more plays then Gary because he didn't know the position. They want Gary to play OLB and have Z Smith move to the inside like last year on obvious passing downs.

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Stroh's picture

May 25, 2020 at 08:59 pm

Gary and Zadarius are going to be pretty interchangable this season and in the future. Fackrell played alot more last year because he was much better in coverage than Gary and knew the scheme. Gary will take a good amount of Fackrells snaps, and he'll take some off Z and P Smith (both played far too many snaps last year). Gary and Z will both be used on the edge and also drop to play inside on a good amount of snaps. Which plays more at each I don't know, but IMO both will play plenty of snaps and each will drop to rush from inside quite a bit as well.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

May 25, 2020 at 08:15 am

I look forward (as I do every year! :-D) to the growth of the second and third year players (I wouldn't limit it to "second year". The current batch of young guys has as much potential as any year I can remember; unfortunately, Covid-19 is going to hamper their development. :-(
I actually prefer to think of it as "players who are 24 or younger" as that is the age of many second-to-third-year players. There often is a lot of both physical and mental growth in that age range.
So let's look at the roster by ages (some lesser-known players positions noted):
24: Kenny Clark, Elgton Jenkins, Allen Lazard, Josh Jackson, JK Scott, Ty Summers, Alex Light, Montravious Adams, Curtis Bolton, Darius Shepherd, Yosh Nijman, OLB-Greg Roberts, OLB-Randy Ramsey, Kabion Ento, WR-Malik Taylor, TE-John LeGlue, S-Frankie Griffen.
23: Jaire Alexander, Jace Sternberger, Equanimious St Brown, Chandon Sullivan, Dexter Williams, S-Henry Black, OT-Cody Conway, LB-Tipa Galeai, G-Zack Johnson, DL Wllington Previlon, LB-Delontae Scott, WR-Darrell Stewart, CB-Will Sunderland.
22: Darnell Savage, Rashan Gary, LB-Krys Barnes, T-Travis Bruffy, RB-Damarea Crockett, QB-Jalen Morton, RB-Patrick Taylor
21: CB Stanford Samuels
Personally, I don't write off any player until they are 25 and not showing growth/value. Every guy listed above has the potential to make another jump, and that's a pretty impressive bunch of jumps! (Clark, Alexander, Savage, Jenkins, Gary, Sternberger, Lazard, St Brown, Sullivan, Jackson, Scott, Summers, Light, Bolton). It's not unreasonable to expect some growth from ALL of those guys, and that COULD be 11 or so starters--basically half of the starters!

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Johnblood27's picture

May 25, 2020 at 03:41 pm

To complete the equation lets look at players over , say... 28 and look for candidates for regression too, this would give an overall balance to the "improved team" hypothesis.

28 - Bakhtiari, Kumerow, Linsley, Turner
29 - none
30 - Taylor, Wagner
35 - Crosby
36 - Lewis, Rodgers

I saw some regression in Bakh's play last year, lets hope it was just too much beer chugginh with ARod and he gets his game in order and that his back isnt a deteriorating issue.
Kumerow - he has nowhere to go but down, his upward trajectory is well over. He is what he is.
Linsley - he is playing for his next contract, probably with another team, I expect no drop off this season.
Turner - his window for improvement is closing very rapidly and I see a steady performance at the sub-average level for this guy. He is a prime candidate for replacement by a younger player.
Taylor - he is in a rough spot with Jenkins well ahead of him at LG now. I would hope that he could beat out Turner for RG, but Turner would hurt the cap if he needed to be cut. Between Taylor and Turner, one must start and one must go, unfortunately for Taylor the cap hit of Turner indicates that Taylor may be cut. Either way I do not see improvement from these guys, they are what they are and regression or departure is a possibility.
Wagner - could be a big regression for the team if he does not bounce back in a big way. Luckily not a killer contract.
Crosby - steady as she goes, low risk at this point.
Lewis - any deterioration is skills would be a minimal impact, not a lot of snaps and blocking role could be absorbed. Leadership for a young group at TE has value.
Rodgers - Im not going here... LOL!

Summary - It looks to me like the ??? are mostly on the OL.

Lets hope the young Lions are ready to eat some raw meat!!!

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Archie's picture

May 25, 2020 at 08:59 am

Despite no OTA and perhaps shortened pre-seasons, I expect considerable improvement from all 8 rooks listed. In three or so cases that may not be enough to get the player on the field more or even to make the 53 but I think all 8 will present the coaches with difficult choices.

The Pack seems to be conservative when it comes to rookie playing time. That and the positions of this year's class of rooks, suggests little help from the latest draftees in 2020. Perhaps the ILB taken in R5 will surprise given that there is no established ILB in GB right now. Everybody is new and/or very young, coming off injured seasons. I still hope they can find a solution for who plays next to Kenny Clarke. Maybe Gary can be that guy. If not, they should be turning over rocks everywhere.

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PeteK's picture

May 25, 2020 at 09:47 am

Surprised how young Gary and Savage are. Makes me feel better about Gary's improvement.

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nostradanus's picture

May 25, 2020 at 09:00 am

The 2019 Packers draft could turn out to be a Great one for sure:

*Gary - showed great physical potential and once the game slows down mentally and combined with his physical gifts he should be a versatile inside/out pass rusher similar to Za’Darius.

*Savage - potentially the next great Packers safety, Savage showed the speed & skills needed to be that player, now he has to clean up his tackling angles and continue learning the pro game. Should be a great one.

*Jenkins - already a stalwart at Left Guard and with improvement on his run blocking should be an 8-10 year starter and pro bowl player.

*Sternberger - I look for Big things from Jace this season. He’s a smooth route runner with decent speed and great hands. Sternberger is also an underrated blocker.

*Keke - Keke flashed in the pre-season and at times in a limited sample size during the regular season and playoffs. Look for a Big jump from Keke as he is needed in the D Line especially with Adams legal troubles and inconsistencies.

*Hollman - I’m high on Hollman as a sticky press corner and special teams contributed this season especially with T. Williams unsigned.

*D. Williams - I had high hopes for Dex but apparently he never got out of the dog house. Maybe another year on the practice squad gets him out of the pound.

*Summers - Captain America was a great special teams guy last season. Maybe he gets a sniff at ILB but I expect he will stick around due to his special teams acumen.

Great draft class by Gute, I hope the 2020 draft turns out as good as this one looks like it is going to be!

Go Pack!

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Stroh's picture

May 25, 2020 at 11:41 pm

Regarding Gary... I see alot of potential in Gary and he seems to be a worker, even if some questioned that about him. I think his trajectory is definitely going upwards. How high is a bit of an unknown. I don't expect JJ Watt, that is asking way too much. Cameron Jordan is another really close comp being similar size and athletic potential and somewhat limited college production (he had 16 sacks in 4 college seasons. Jordan went from 1 sack as a rookie to 8 sacks in his 2nd season then to 12.5 in year 3. I think Gary will be on a trajectory that should be very similar in yr 2, but slightly higher during his career. Jordan has 5 seasons of double digit sacks, and 87 total sacks in 9 seasons. Slightly different postions for each and Gary has others to take some attention off him w/ Clark, Z and P (and possibly steal some sack production from him), so its not an exact comparison, but both are outside and sometimes inside rushers. That seems like a pretty damn good pick at #12 to me, if it works out that he's another Cameron Jordan or slightly better.

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NickPerry's picture

May 25, 2020 at 09:03 am

Looking back now at the 2019 draft, Gute and the Packers had an excellent draft. Jenkins is an absolute stud and could be one of the best in the NFL at Guard OR Center for years to come. Some think he could play tackle and it wouldn't surprise me if he can. It will be interesting to see if what the Packers do with Lindsey. Personally I think they let him go. Jenkins or maybe this Hanson kid they drafted this year is the Packers Center in 2021.

Savage IMO WILL continue to grow. I thought he played better earlier in the year than later, but I also think that was the rookie wall more than anything. Playing in 18 games plus TC and the Preseason is a HELL of a lot more in year one than 11 or 12 games as a college player. It would have been great to have a regular offseason for kids like Savage because I think the leap would be even bigger. Savage is going to be a star in this league.

Sternberger is one I'm probably most excited about. He showed last season he could block much better than most thought he could. This year the Packers will finally have that field stretching TE they had when they drafted Finley or signed Cook for a year.

I really like Keke and Summers. Summers seems like a kid nobody ever brings up or talks about. He's athletic as hell and will continue to grow and be a ST demon. A little more time and Summers just might be stealing snaps or Jobs even at ILB. Keke will at least quadruple his number of defensive snaps this year, especially since Montavious Adams got himself in trouble. I had my doubts Adams was even making the team this year but IMO Keke was going to take some or most of his snaps anyways.

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mnbadger's picture

May 25, 2020 at 09:04 am

If Keke and JK Scott make major improvements, and others listed make normal strides forward, look out. GPG!

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PeteK's picture

May 25, 2020 at 10:14 am

I also liked the way Sternberger finished the season on the big stage, especially his effort at blocking. He's my favorite to improve . Our defense's improvement relies heavily on Gary. If his play improves( 55tkls,6sks,8TFL ) to a point where he is better than Lowry it could create a big problem for opposing Olines.

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jannes bjornson's picture

May 25, 2020 at 04:03 pm

Would not hurt to trade for a five tech to minimize Lancaster on the field.

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cheesehead1's picture

May 25, 2020 at 10:30 am

Bottom line, Gary has to improve. If he’s as good as the coach’s and gm say, then play him.

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Daren726's picture

May 25, 2020 at 12:19 pm

I’m still rooting for Robert Tonyan. Everyone seems to have forgotten how much promise he had a year ago coming into last season. Now that sternberger is on the roster, everyone has forgotten about him. Remember that catch he made in Seattle? I think he still has a chance to make a third year push.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

May 25, 2020 at 08:05 pm

Totally agree Daren!

I am a fan of Big Bob!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

May 25, 2020 at 12:21 pm

I'll take a moment to pay respect to all the men and women who have lost their lives in the defense of this nation.

I like Sternberger's chance to have perhaps the greatest jump; he will certainly have the opportunity to do so.

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PhantomII's picture

May 25, 2020 at 12:50 pm

I thought Jenkins would take Taylors spot in camp and should have. What a great pick. He's playing near pro bowl level year 1. Kinda mixed on savage year 1 did good but has work to do. One thing is Pettine seems leery of giving young guys time on the field. I think he held Keke and Garys' growth back some, as was brought up before Gary moving to the D-line like Z. Pettine needs to work with our OLB's setting the edge more all year so we are proficient at it against running teams. Jace, when I watched his A&M highlights he's the real deal. That kid is going to take over and double Grahams output and then some, easily. I also think Jenkins could play OT as well. I believe Nijman becomes one also. I would definitely rotate him in to get him some live reps.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 25, 2020 at 03:12 pm

Heading my B-List are Yosh Nijman and Kabian Ento. Curious to see if they can make the jump from the practice roster to the bench. Certainly there is a need for back-ups at OT ,and, continuing auditions at CB - especially if King cannot be re-signed. In addition, they have cool names.

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MITM's picture

May 26, 2020 at 08:56 am

FWIW Ty Summers led the NFL in tackles during the 2019 pre season, and had a long pick six. I think he can be the same player as Martinez, and likely even better.

A player nobody ever brings up is Tim Williams. This is a kid from Alabama who was a projected high first round pick at one point.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 26, 2020 at 01:43 pm

I think Summers will have the best opportunity for playing minutes at ILB - which is wide open for competition. Don't think Burks is a starter - can't get off blocks. Bolton has proven to be injury-prone - both college and NFL. And Martin is a lower-round rookie - so expectations should also be lowered - at least in the first year.

As for Williams he's had 4 years to assert himself as a starter. Hasn't done it to date - so there is a high probability that its not going to happen.

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Rudedawg67's picture

May 27, 2020 at 09:28 am

I think Gary has to and will step up this year. I would almost like to see him play outside some more and move Preston Smith to one of the inside linebacker positions depending on the situation. Gary is just a bigger better stronger athlete and will do really well and Preston knows how to get to the ball anywhere on the field. I believe Jenkins was even a better find than Savage and I believe both will step up. Sternberger is the one that can have the biggest impact if he make the TE position a viable offensive threat again.

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