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Draft remains long-term investment for Thompson

Rookies’ play in last two seasons has been added bonus


GREEN BAY—The draft is about the long view, and recent results won't change that for Packers General Manager Ted Thompson.

The Packers' last two drafts have produced several immediate contributors as rookies. Eddie Lacy, David Bakhtiari and Micah Hyde burst onto the scene in 2013, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers and Corey Linsley followed suit last year.

Thompson won't allow that kind of instant success to alter how he views each and every draft, though. It's still a long-term investment in the Packers' roster.

"The question is how much value and for how long is that value going to be there," Thompson said Wednesday in his annual pre-draft press conference. "That's the way we look at it.

"You can't get whacked out about the here and now. That's not the overriding issue. Our overriding issue is making sure we make good picks."

Thompson and his staff are in the final stages of what he referred to as a "brick-by-brick process" in preparation for the draft, which begins next Thursday night. Meetings to set the draft board are wrapping up, while talks with other teams and agents are subsiding as the first round nears.

The Packers' top three needs on paper for 2015 would seem to be inside linebacker, cornerback and tight end, though the only one of those with a starting job wide open is inside linebacker.

The equivalent of a Lacy, Bakhtiari, Clinton-Dix or Linsley to immediately step in would be ideal, but Thompson won't hunt for that specific player or players. Those types of expectations for young players can be unfair, and Thompson doesn't feel any added pressure when there's a roster hole that needs filling.

"We're not going to ask them to carry a mountain or carry an undue burden, but we're going to need them to help us out," he said.

The last two years' results have been impressive, and Thompson's patience likely played a part following an uncharacteristic draft in 2012.

Three years ago, he traded up three times, investing seven total picks for three players, but only one of those three selections is still on the team. Second-round pick Casey Hayward is a front-runner to start at cornerback following the departure of Tramon Williams, but fellow second-rounder Jerel Worthy and fifth-rounder Terrell Manning are long gone.

Contrast that with 2013, when Thompson traded back in the second round and still got Lacy, then traded out of the third round and found Bakhtiari in the fourth. Or with last year, when he didn't make a single trade and stayed put for each selection.

"Sometimes it just doesn't work out," Thompson said of draft-day trades. "As much as we'd like to have some kind of magic pill to take before I pick up the phone and draft somebody, we don't have that magic pill. We just have to depend on our work and what we think is going to happen with this young man in the future."

If that immediate future produces instant success, all the better, but that won't be Thompson's primary concern.

"Pressure in my view is making sure we take good players," he said.


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