2014 DRAFT GUIDE
NFP Sunday Blitz

Sun May 27, 2012 7:00am
By the National Football Post

Not many general managers are reputed to be great drafters, but Ted Thompson is. So it’s worth studying the patterns of his drafts—if you can find them, that is.

One of the qualities that makes the Packers general manager so good is his draft philosophy is fluid, and flexible, always changing based on circumstances. That was evident in the recent draft.

One of the hallmarks of a Thompson draft is the trade down. In his seven previous drafts as G.M., Thompson made 16 tradedowns and only three tradeups. Moving down clearly has been his preferred trade mode.

And what did he do in this draft? Trade up. Three times.

What’s up with that?

Thompson has some outstanding new lieutenants in place in director of football operations John Dorsey and pro personnel director Eliot Wolf, but he isn’t being talked into a new way of doing things as much as he—and they--are being reactive to circumstances.

“In every case, there was a player we had rated higher than where they were at that particular time,” Thompson told me. “You trade up because you think the player won’t be there at your turn.

WorthyICONIt takes a great value to entice Thompson to trade up. He thought Jerel Worthy was one.

The players acquired as a result of the trades were defensive end Jerel Worthy in the second round, cornerback Casey Hayward in the second round, and linebacker Terrell Manning in the fifth. The Packers had the 31st pick of the second round originally. When they saw Worthy still on the board in the middle of the round, Thompson’s eyes got big. They moved up to the 19th pick to take him, giving up a fourth round pick in the process.

“It’s always hard to give up the picks,” Thompson said. “Draft picks are very important. We don’t just casually do it. But if there comes a moment in time in the draft when we feel it’s too good to turn down, we do it. We thought Worthy was a very good value at that point of the draft. We were a little surprised he was still there.”

What he did to get Worthy was not unlike what he did in 2009 when he moved up for Clay Matthews. He saw a player who he thought was an outstanding value who also not coincidentally filled a significant need.

When he moved up 15 spots in 2010 to take safety Morgan Burnett in the third round, there was another motive: jumping teams ahead of the Packers that needed safeties, most notably the rival Bears.

Trading up felt good this year, but there were some unusual circumstances that led to Thompson changing it up this year. First, the Packers had 12 picks, including four compensatory picks. That was a big wad of cash in Thompson’s pocket. Given where the Packers are as a team, they didn’t need 12 players. They needed impact players.

Thompson also thought the draft was exceptionally strong in the second through fifth rounds. That’s where he did his dealing.

“Most of time when traded down, we felt a number of players were available and that some of them would still be available at where we were going,” he said. “We could go down, get additional picks and still be able to help our team.”

Thompson also can be defined as a drafter who follows the best available player philosophy. But there have been times, including this past draft, when he clearly has drafted for need. Of course, drafting the best available and drafting for need don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

“This year it worked out pretty good because there were some areas we wanted to address,” Thompson said. “Going in the defensive board was pretty strong, and we had opportunities to take players within our philosophy. It worked out.”

It also worked out in 2009 when the Packers plucked B.J. Raji and Matthews from the first round to fill two giant needs. “We were taking pretty good players that year,” Thompson said. “It’s rare that it comes together like that when you are able to get the players who clearly are the best players on the board and they also fill your needs.”

Tell Thompson he drafted for need, and you will have an argument on your hands. “You can say I’ve done things differently, but I’ve never gone against that philosophy of taking the best player,” He said. “Needs are temporary. That’s the reason I stick with the best player available strategy. What you think you might need, or where you think you might be strong can change. You can have a couple of accidents in the offseason and all of a sudden you aren’t strong at all.”

Thompson may be flexible, but some things are set in stone.

Things I Didn’t Used To Know

*Missing offseason work is a big deal for Titus Young because one of the Lions’ offseason goals for him was to get him comfortable playing more than one position in 2012. In order to do that, the second year man needs to take a lot of practice reps. If Young can line up in different spots, he can be included in more plays. He made news by missing OTA practices last week after taking a swing at teammate Louis Delmas, but the Lions believe he will be making news in the fall for making plays. The team has high hopes for Young because he finished the year strong and seemed to develop a rapport with quarterback Matthew Stafford as the season went on.

RichardsonThe Browns are thrilled to have Trent Richardson, regardless of what Jim Brown thinks.

*The great Jim Brown might not see anything outstanding in Trent Richardson, but the Browns office sure did. In fact, the name “Adrian Peterson” came up in the Browns offices when they were evaluating Richardson. The Browns acknowledge Peterson is a little faster, but they think Richardson is better in pass protection, and they believe he is one of the best backs to enter the league in quite awhile. The Browns love his versatility and plan on getting a lot of out of Richardson ASAP. They are not the only ones who think Richardson will be a quick study. Richardson’s presence does not mean the team is giving up on injury-prone Montario Hardesty, however. The hope is that Hardesty can stay on the field and give the Browns a pair of pounders.

*It is no surprise that the production of Seahawks receiver Mike Williams took a dip in 2011 after he had a career year in 2010. Williams’ breakout season was the result of dedicating himself to conditioning and preparation for the first time in his career. Last year, sources say he reverted back to some of his old lazy habits. His weight has been an issue, both during the season and in the offseason. And not being in shape contributed to him not staying healthy last year.

*The Falcons were interested in Asante Samuel in part because they believe he will bring a higher level of confidence and swagger to their defense. Samuel is a four-time Pro Bowler and his 45 career interceptions are third most among active cornerbacks. Samuel is a risk taker, but the Falcons believe he has “some of the most accomplished anticipatory skills of any DB in the league.” Samuel believes he can cover any receiver. The Falcons think that kind of attitude can be contagious.

My Sunday Best: Thompson’s Top Picks

Since becoming general manager of the Packers in 2005, Ted Thompson has become respected as one of the best in the business at drafting. With that in mind, here are my best draft picks by Thompson. Any disagreements?

RodgersTed Thompson doesn't have to be picking at the top of the draft in order to find stars like Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers.

1. Aaron Rodgers, first round, 2005. This was one of the best draft picks by anyone, ever. I can’t see a player like Rodgers ever falling to the 24th pick again, given how the quarterback desperation has driven up the stock of players like Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder. Thompson, who already had a 35-year old Brett Favre playing very well in 2004, was smart enough to overlook other needs and stop Rodgers’ slide. Thompson and the Packers were good, but they also were lucky. Andrew Brandt once wrote that the team really wanted DeMarcus Ware or Marcus Spears with this pick, but both were off the board. He also said the team would have entertained a trade proposal, but none came.

2. Clay Matthews, first round, 2009. He was the fifth pass rusher/outside linebacker taken in the draft and has become the best. Matthews was a late riser in the draft process, and at the time, some thought Thompson reached for need by trading up 15 spots and picking him 26th. Clearly, he did not.

3. Matt Flynn, seventh round, 2008. It’s difficult finding a starting NFL quarterback in the first round, let alone the seventh. Flynn is as much a credit to Mike McCarthy and Tom Clements as Thompson, because the coaches developed him. Eleven quarterbacks were chosen ahead of Flynn, including Brian Brohm by the Packers in the second round. Brohm did not make this list.

4. Nick Collins, second round, 2005. After the release of Darren Sharper, the Packers desperately needed a playmaker at safety, and they found a three time Pro Bowler in Collins. A lot of teams considered him a cornerback, and he wasn’t that highly regarded until he ran a 4.37 at the combine.

5. Desmond Bishop, sixth round, 2007. In a draft with a number of linebacker busts, Thompsons pulled a solid starter out of round six. Bishop, like Rodgers and other Packers, benefited from patience, time, and good positional coaching from Winston Moss. He took off after Dom Capers became defensive coordinator.

6. Greg Jennings, second round, 2006. Jennings did not have the kind of measurable that made teams drool. And that’s often all that matters in terms of wide receivers’ draft stock. But Thompson saw an instinctive player with top quickness who knew how to get open.

7. Josh Sitton, fourth round, 2008. He played right tackle at Central Florida and was not that highly regarded by some teams. He has become one of the better guards in the NFL.

8. Jermichael Finley, third round, 2008. This was an excellent value pick as many thought Finley would be taken as high as the second round. The Packers got him with the 28th pick of the third.

9. Jordy Nelson, second round, 2008. Based on what scouts were telling me pre-draft, I had Nelson rated as a third round pick. Thompson nabbed him with the fifth pick of the second round and made him the third overall receiver taken. Nelson’s play the last couple of seasons has justified Thompson’s faith in him.

10. B.J. Raji, first round, 2009. Some thought the ninth overall pick was a bit rich for Raji, but he filled a need and has played some excellent football. If Raji can become more consistent year to year, he can make the selection look inspired.

Scout Talk: Let’s Make A Deal

The NFL is in a new era for draft pick movement as well as ball movement. In the recent draft, 36 picks were dealt, including a record setting 16 in round one.

Thirteen teams made at least three draft pick trades. The Eagles won the trading Super Bowl by making five deals. Next up were the Broncos, Dolphins, Niners, Patriots and Vikings with four deals apiece. Making three deals each were the Bucs, Colts, Jets, Lions, Packers, Rams and Redskins.

Of course, the lack of a rookie salary cap paved the way for more deals. Especially in the first round. But there is more to it than that, according to front office men I spoke with.

Said one AFC executive, “This draft was not deep, so it led to trades. People needed things, so they went up and got them.”

A second AFC front office man said he believes future drafts will look like the 2012 one in terms of trades. He cited the change in the rookie pool as one reason, but he said there is another reason too. “Philosophies are changing,” he said. “First time general managers and head coaches feel they have to make impact moves because they won’t have a lot of time to turn around their teams. A lot of existing general managers and head coaches feel pressure to get what they need in order to stick around.”

It seemed as if fans and teams were in agreement on one thing. “I loved all the movement,” the second AFC man said.

Hot Reads

*This piece in Esquire beautifully tells the story of how the greatest athlete in the world became a sideshow to the former girlfriend of Reggie Bush. And Miles Austin. And a few others.

*Titus Young would be best advised to try to follow the career path of someone like Gene Washington, not Kermit Washington.

*Some might say a thief robbing Chad Ochocinco evened out what Ocho did to the Pats last year.

*I’m all for more pads in the NFL—on coaches.

*Some people got down because of the NFL lockout last offseason. Others, like Fred Davis, did the opposite.

Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune. Follow him at Twitter@danpompei

Follow @footballpost on Twitter for the latest news

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Dane FletcherMay 27 02:33a

Free-agent LB Dane Fletcher (Buccaneers) has returned to the New England Patriots on a one-year contract.

Devonta FreemanMay 26 09:53p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman worked with the first-team offense during organized team activities Tuesday, May 26.

Charles SimsMay 26 05:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims has a solid chance of beating out RB Doug Martin for Tampa Bay's starting running back gig, according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com.

A.J. JenkinsMay 26 01:02p

Free-agent WR A.J. Jenkins (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the Dallas Cowboys Tuesday, May 26, according to a source. Jenkins was the 30th overall pick by the San [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 26 08:43a

Updating an ongoing story, the Dallas Cowboys have moved on from the idea of trading for Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, despite persistent rumors, according to The Dallas Morning [ More ]

A.J. McCarronMay 25 10:37p

Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron (shoulder) is healthy and hoping to push QB Andy Dalton in 2015. 'We wanted him in our building so bad and it happened and [ More ]

Ray McDonaldMay 25 04:42p

Updating previous reports, Chicago Bears DE Ray McDonald has been released Monday, May 25, just hours after being arrested for alleged domestic violence and child endangerment.

Adrian PetersonMay 25 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson still wants to be traded, according to a source. Peterson intends to skip all organized team activities, which would cause him to lose $250,000 in workout bonuses.

Adrian PetersonMay 24 09:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has informed head coach Mike Zimmer that he will not attend the optional practices that begin Tuesday, May 26, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Tom BradyMay 22 04:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard by commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFL rejected a motion by the NFL Players [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 22 03:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension has not been scheduled at this time.

Ray RiceMay 22 11:42a

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) could be a consideration for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, speculates The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota. He cites Cowboys owner and general [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 22 09:52a

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains in pursuit of being traded or receiving a new contract and remains away from the organization during voluntary workouts. [ More ]

William BeattyMay 21 12:02p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty (chest) underwent successful surgery Thursday, May 21, to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Beatty will need approximately five to six months of recovery time.

Derek CarrMay 20 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) will not need surgery on his injured finger and may be able to throw again before the end of offseason workouts, according to his agent.

Joseph RandleMay 20 09:23p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle is the most likely option to lead the team's running back by committee approach in 2015. Randle has the most experience in the system, [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:53p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty's (pectoral) torn pectoral will require surgery and Beatty's recovery time is expected to be around five months. Beatty suffered the [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:33p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) tore his pectoral while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source, and will undergo surgery. One [ More ]

Josh HillMay 20 03:23p

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is slated as the starting tight end this season with TE Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. TE Benjamin Watson could give Hill a run for his money, however.

William BeattyMay 20 03:13p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) suffered a potentially serious shoulder injury while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source. Surgery is a possibility.

Geno SmithMay 20 03:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith is the starting quarterback and will not see competition in training camp, according to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Tom BradyMay 20 03:03p

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal will not be affected by the team's decision to accept their sanctions. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to [ More ]

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group