The 2018 season for the Green Bay Packers was filled with disaster and major overhaul.
Green Bay went 6-9-1 and then head coach Mike McCarthy was fired during the season following an embarrassing home loss to an abysmal Arizona Cardinals team.
As a result of that losing season, Green Bay found itself picking at No. 12 overall in the 2019 NFL draft.
Fast forward three years and now is the time to look back on the Packers’ 2019 class and hand out grades.
Rashan Gary, OLB, Michigan (1st round, 12th overall)
Green Bay swung big in free agency in 2019 signing many players including two outside linebackers in Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith.
This made it surprising to some when the Packers then dipped their toes back into the outside linebacker pool by drafting Rashan Gary with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2019 draft. What has transpired since then is greatness.
Gary burst onto the scene after slowly carving out a starting spot towards the end of the 2020 season then broke out last season when he took over a full-time starting role off the edge and racked up 9.5 sacks and 28 quarterback hits. Gary is a superstar in the making and his playmaking ability made it much easier when the Packers had to part ways with Za’Darius Smith this offseason.
The former Michigan Wolverine is a huge part of Joe Barry’s defense in Green Bay and is one of the premier players who will be highlighted in the years to come.
Darnell Savage, FS, Maryland (1st round, 21st overall)
Brian Gutekunst had a stacked hand with two first-round picks in the 2019 draft. The Packers also possessed the selection of the New Orleans Saints from a draft-day trade the year prior. Green Bay traded up from the No. 30 slot – surrendering a pair of fourth-round picks -- to the No. 21 spot and selected Savage with their second selection in the first round.
Savage has had his fair share of splash plays in the secondary for the Packers since entering the league, but his play took a dip from the 2020 season to the 2021 campaign. As a result, a big decision on Savage’s fifth-year option will need to be made by the Packers at some point.
The third-year safety wasn’t bad by any means last season but his Pro Football Focus grade was the lowest of his career and he had less total tackles made despite playing in two more regular-season games.
There is still star potential for Savage, however the upcoming 2022 season will be a huge one for his career trajectory.
Elgton Jenkins, OL, Mississippi State (2nd round, 44th overall)
To say the Packers struck gold with Jenkins wouldn’t do it enough justice. Jenkins has been a savior on the offensive line for Green Bay in his three years in the league.
Yes, Jenkins will be coming off a brutal torn ACL injury suffered in the 2021 season but up until that point there was a case to be made that he was the most versatile offensive lineman in the NFL.
In 2020, Jenkins made starts at tackle, guard and center for Green Bay. In 2021, up until his season-ending injury in Week 11, Jenkins was holding down the left tackle spot that is usually occupied by David Bakhtiari, who was working his own way back from a torn ACL injury.
Jenkins is an All-Pro caliber lineman and getting him in the middle of the second round was a hidden gem find for Gutekunst and the front office.
Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M (3rd round, 75th overall)
Expectations were high for Sternberger coming out of Texas A&M and when he was drafted by the Packers, many echoed he couldn’t have ended up in a better spot with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football. It never worked out.
Sternberger’s rookie season started with him being placed on injured reserve. He returned in November and appeared in six games but with no catches. He played in 12 games the following season, recording 12 receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown. In 2021, he was suspended for the first two games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. The Packers waived him in September.
He’s bounced around on the rosters of Seattle, Washington and Pittsburgh since his release from Green Bay but did not appear in a game.
Kingsley Keke, DT, Texas A&M (5th round, 150th overall)
Green Bay went back-to-back drafting Aggies in 2019 and the latter was far better in terms of production than the former.
Given where Keke was selected and the need Green Bay had getting someone solid next to Kenny Clark on the interior of the defensive line, the results were fine.
Keke piled up 6.5 sacks in three seasons for the Packers while starting 17 games. In 2020 he had a pair of games in which he recorded two sacks. Keke was released by Green Bay in January and claimed off waivers by the Houston Texans.
Ka’dar Hollman, CB, Toledo (6th round, 185th overall)
When getting to the sixth round of the NFL draft, teams are often taking flyers on prospects. When Green Bay took Hollman in the 2019 draft, it was exactly that and the results weren’t terribly surprising.
Hollman barely played as a rookie and started just one game for the Packers across his two years with the team. He was traded in the summer of 2021 to Houston for a 2022 seventh-round pick. He was waived a week later by the Texans.
Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame (6th round, 194th overall)
The Packers took Williams with a pick they received from Seattle after sending quarterback Brett Hundley to the Seahawks.
The dynamic back at Notre Dame never fully got things rolling in the NFL.
Over the course of two seasons with the Packers, in which he played only seven games, Williams had just seven carries for 19 yards. He was part of the final roster cuts in 2021 and has bounced around practice squads for various teams since.
At best, he was a safety net back on the practice squad for Green Bay in case anything happened to Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams.
Ty Summers, LB, TCU (7th round, 226th overall)
Given that he was selected in the last round of the draft, the returns on Summers have been alright for the Packers.
Summers hasn’t molded into a dynamic starting linebacker, but he’s played a crucial part on Green Bay’s special teams units during his three years in the league and has seen spot duty at the inside linebacker position.
His best season came in 2020 when he racked up 39 tackles and even made a start. He’s still on the roster entering Year 4 which is pretty good for a former seventh-round selection.