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Green Bay Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson and How He Drafts

“We are convinced that our best policy is to sign the best player. This is not fantasy football.”

Ted Thompson Green Bay Packers General Manager

A lot of people think Thompson is drafting the best player available, however, when studying Packers drafts since Thompson took over as GM in 2005, that’s not the case. I believe the above statement from Thompson is very misleading and somewhat of a smokescreen.

Rounds 1-3

In rounds one through three, Thompson drafts the best player available to a position of perceived need that meets their first team approach. He is very conservative when drafting these rounds and picks players who have minimal character risk. Thompson is recorded as stating that he is trying to draft at least 2-3 solid starters per draft. These are the main players in your football team. None of the drafted recruits are expected to come in and start immediately. However, if they do, it is considered a bonus. They are expected to take maybe a year or two to develop (sometimes less than that) and then eventually take on a starting role or at the very least be a quality backup. When you look at previous drafts with Thompson as the Packers’ general manager, all of the draft picks from Rounds 1 through 3 fit that philosophy.

2005: Aaron Rodgers – QB (1st), Nick Collins – S (2nd), Terrence Murphy – WR (Round 2)

2006: AJ Hawk – LB (1st), Daryn Colledge – OT/OG (2nd), Greg Jennings – WR (2nd), Abdul Hodge – LB (3rd), Jason Spitz – OG/C (3rd)

2007: Justin Harrell – DT/DE (1st), Brandon Jackson – RB (2nd), James Jones – WR (3rd), Aaron Rouse – SS (3rd)

2008: Jordy Nelson – WR (2nd), Brian Brohm – QB (2nd), Pat Lee – DB (2nd), Jermichael Finley – TE (Round 3)

2009: BJ Raji – DT/DE (1st), Clay Matthews – OLB (1st)

2010: Bryan Bulaga – OT (1st), Mike Neal – DE/DT (2nd), Morgan Burnett – SS/FS (3rd)

Rounds 4-7

In rounds four through seven, Thompson appears to be drafting players based more on raw potential and looking for value. These are called boom or bust type peaks. Many of these draft picks have a lot of upside and athletic ability, however, that may not have been met due to technique, training, character issues, less competition, injuries, lack of bodybuilding, change of position, lack of play, time, offensive/defensive pattern, etc. In these rounds he takes more risks, especially on character, and depends on the coaching staff/individual to develop and maximize a player’s abilities. Examples include:

2005: Michael Hawkins – FS/DB (5th), Kurt Campbell – SS/OLB (7th)

2006: Tony Moll – OT/OG (5th), Dave Tollefson – DE (7th)

2007: Allen Barbre – OT/OG (4th), David Clowney – WR/KR/PR (5th), DeShawn Wynn – RB/FB (7th)

2008: Jeremy Thompson – DE (4th), Breno Giacomini – OT (5th)

2009: Jamon Meredith – OT (5th), Brandon Underwood – FS/DB (6th), Brad Jones – OLB (7th)

2010: Andrew Quarless – TE (5th), James Starks – RB (6th)

Undrafted Free Agents

Being an undrafted free agent himself, these are guys I think Thompson has a special affinity for. Many undrafted free agents are simply overlooked due to a number of factors. It makes them hungry and plays with a chip on their shoulder. Thompson normally brings them in in droves, in certain positions, to push fringe players off the roster and create competition. In some cases, they make the team. Examples include:

2006: Tramon Williams – DB, Jason Hunter – DE/OLB, Atari Bigby – SS

2007: Daniel Muir – DT

2008: Kregg Lumpkin – RB

2009: Evan Dietrich-Smith – OG/OC

2010: Frank Zombo – OLB, Sam Shields – DB, Nick McDonald – OG/OC, Chris Campbell – OT

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