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One week to go, Packers ready for the draft

GM Ted Thompson says preparations pretty much complete


GREEN BAY – It sounds like Ted Thompson and his personnel staff are more than ready for the 2017 NFL Draft to begin.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday at his annual pre-draft news conference, Thompson indicated not a lot of new ground is broken in draft prep during this upcoming final week.

The first round begins next Thursday night in prime time.

"A lot of it is walking the same steps over and over, checking this, checking that," Thompson said. "I might get an idea about a particular player, and we'll run to the draft room watch (film), and he turns out to be same player we watched a few months ago. There's a lot of that."

There's still value to those reviews, reassuring the personnel staff to have confidence in the evaluations already made. But over the next eight days, there's not much that will change all the work that's been put in since campus visits last fall through the scouting combine and pre-draft visits over the last two months.

All that's left to do is wait for the show to begin, and the waiting on draft night itself all the way to the 29th pick, where the Packers are slotted as the 2016 NFC runner-up, can be the hardest of all.

"You have to watch all those names come off the board," Thompson said.

The Packers enter this year's draft with eight picks, one in each round, plus a compensatory pick at the end of the fifth round. This year, compensatory picks can be traded for the first time, an option Thompson said is better to have than not.

Odds are overwhelmingly in favor of Thompson making a trade or two at some point during the three-day draft. Only once in his first 12 drafts as Packers GM has he not made any trades and picked a player each time he was on the clock (2014).

He described the three days as a mixture of things falling into place and last-minute, tough calls. Often the decision to take a player has been made several picks before it's the Packers' turn, based on where the board sits and the belief the player will still be there.

"It doesn't necessarily mean your thought process was correct. It means you never wavered," Thompson said. "You try to take this good player and hope for the best."

Other times, Thompson might be deciding between two or three players during his time on the clock, and it's a close call. Either way, it's "hope for the best," because no one knows for sure which selections will pan out.

The process doesn't end on Saturday night after the seventh-round pick, either. Scouts are working the phones endlessly to try to sign a strong crop of undrafted rookies, which has produced quality players for the Packers time and time again.

"We spend a lot of time on it and we make no bones about it," Thompson said. "We're active in the preparation part of it and we're active in trying to execute it once the draft is over with. I don't know whether to say it's more important than anything else, but you can look at our roster and see we've gotten players that way."

Starters Lane Taylor and LaDarius Gunter, along with Jayrone Elliott, Joe Thomas and Geronimo Allison, are among the undrafted players on the current roster who have made significant in-game contributions in recent years.

It's not always easy to land those players. The competition amongst the 31 other teams can get pretty intense.

"It's kind of chaotic," Thompson said. "It's every man for himself in that thing, but it's part of the process. We're used to it."

Thompson also is used to the waiting, from now until late next week. He keeps himself busy, exploring all the "different avenues" for grading and analyzing players, to keep things fresh, but he never gets too far away from what really matters.

"We kind of go back to, 'Is the guy a good player?'"

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