Packers safety Nick Collins' playing future remains uncertain, and General Manager Ted Thompson is not pushing for a decision on Collins prior to the start of the NFL draft next Thursday.
Collins, who underwent a cervical fusion in his neck last fall after sustaining an injury in Week 2 in Carolina, is still consulting with various doctors to determine what risks there may or may not be to playing again.
Thompson said on Thursday the review of Collins' situation is continuing and nothing has been decided, but he's not viewing it as a factor in how the Packers go about this year's draft.
"I think it's more important to make the right determination at the end of this," Thompson said regarding Collins. "I'm sure he's anxious, and all of our people are anxious, but I think it's more important to do it right than do it fast.
"We feel like our roster is balanced enough that we don't have to target any particular position in the draft. That's not what we do as a norm, and we won't do it this year."
The Packers' needs, or as Thompson likes to call them, "perceived needs," lie on defense, where Green Bay finished last in the league in total yards allowed, while the offense set several franchise records.
Rather than speak of position priorities, such as a pass rusher or safety, Thompson sounded confident that with 12 draft picks he'll be adding plenty of depth and competition to the roster at several positions, perceived needs or not.
The Packers have each of their own picks in the seven rounds, plus four compensatory picks (two in the fourth round, two in the seventh) and an additional seventh-round pick from last year's trade with the Jets involving guard Caleb Schlauderaff.
"It's always good to have extra picks," Thompson said. "Like Ron (Wolf) said, the more swings you have at the plate, the better off you usually do. We hope we're prepared come next Thursday and Friday and Saturday that we can help the team with all of those picks. We've had some success in later rounds."
That is certainly true. In the last five drafts, starters or regulars drafted by Thompson in the fourth round or later include linebacker Desmond Bishop (sixth round, '07), kicker Mason Crosby (sixth, '07), guard Josh Sitton (fourth, '08), guard T.J. Lang (fourth, '09), tackle Marshall Newhouse (fifth, '10) and running back James Starks (sixth, '10). Also, quarterback Matt Flynn, who will net the Packers a compensatory pick in next year's draft after signing as a free agent with Seattle, was a seventh-round selection in '07.
Whether or not Thompson actually adds 12 players, or if he'll sacrifice some picks to trade up for a targeted player, is perhaps the most intriguing question. Compensatory picks can't be traded, but any of the Packers' other eight picks could be swapped. Two years ago, Thompson traded up to select safety Morgan Burnett in the third round.
The year before that, in 2009, he made the boldest move of his tenure by trading up for an additional first-round pick and getting linebacker Clay Matthews. The Packers were making the transition to Dom Capers' 3-4 defense that year, but whether or not Thompson sees another potential star worth moving up for who's capable of fixing the defense's ills won't be known until the draft unfolds.
"We thought it was an opportunity to get a pretty special player," Thompson said, referring to the Matthews trade, in which the Packers traded three picks for two. Green Bay's second-round pick plus two third-rounders went to the Patriots for the No. 26 overall pick in the first round and a fifth-rounder.
"We started (talking trades) earlier than when we got him, but we kept plugging away, and we were fortunate, and lucky, that he was still available. If you identify something that you see that fits a lot of the criteria that you're looking for, that's a different thing. Everybody was surprised that he was still there."
By the same token, no one should be surprised if Thompson does indeed add 12 players – plus a handful of undrafted free agents – to a roster that seemingly wouldn't have enough room for all of them with the Packers coming off a 15-1 season.
The offseason roster limit is 80 players, and Thompson's goal at this time of year is to build the most competitive 80-man roster possible. He'll focus on the regular-season 53-man limit when the time comes.
"We're always trying to add quality and class and competition to our team," Thompson said. "Things happen. People get hurt. I don't think you ever have too many guys, so we're not concerned about having too many." Related links