Thompson's First Draft As GM - But He's A Veteran Of The Process
ALTHOUGH TED THOMPSON will be presiding over his first draft as the Green Bay Packers' new executive vice president, general manager and director of football operations this weekend, he is hardly a stranger to the NFL's annual selection process.
Thompson, in fact, will be working his 14th draft overall, his ninth in behalf of the Packers. He originally joined Green Bay's player personnel operation in 1992, after concluding a 10-year playing career with the Houston Oilers.
Further, Thompson will be coordinating a draft for the sixth consecutive year, having served in that role the past five years as vice president/football operations for the Seattle Seahawks.
Prior to joining Seattle's front office, Thompson had worked eight drafts as a member of the Packers organization (1992-1999), the last seven as director of player personnel under Ron Wolf.
Thompson is now in his fourth month in his tri-cornered role, having been named to his responsibilities by Packers president Bob Harlan on January 14.
AS A PLAYER, THOMPSON presumably was the kind of player he would like to be selecting this weekend -- in every round. He played in 146 games at linebacker in his 10-year NFL career with the Oilers -- and missed only one.
"I had a hyper-extended knee at the time," Thompson said in explaining why he missed the lone contest. "I was dressed and on the sidelines, but I didn't play."
WHATEVER POSITION it may be, Thompson's initial pick for the Packers in this weekend's draft will be the 81st first-round selection in the team's history. Although this is only the NFL's 70th selection meeting, the differential is traceable to the fact that the Packers have had "doubles" -- two first round picks -- in 13 different years of the draft.
The first such parlay, history reveals, occurred in 1954 when the Packers selected Notre Dame tackle Art Hunter with the No. 3 overall pick and then halfback Veryl Switzer of Kansas State, immediately following at No. 4.
The most recent "double" was recorded in 1993. On that occasion, the Packers tapped linebacker Wayne Simmons of Clemson with the 15th selection in the first round and safety George Teague of Alabama with the 29th pick in the opening round.
EXCEPT FOR THE POSSIBILITY of a late change in plans, the Packers will be making the 24th selection in the draft for the fifth time. Oddly enough, the first two such occasions came in back-to-back drafts in 1939 and 1940 -- and produced a rare coincidence. They were, in order, center/linebacker Charley Brock of Nebraska in 1939, and halfback Lou Brock of Purdue.
Both were drafted in the third round, the NFL having only 10 teams at the time.
Although they shared the same surname, Charley and Lou were not related.
As a rookie, Charley Brock helped the Packers win their fifth NFL championship in '39 and their sixth in 1944, earning all-pro honors five times over a nine-year pro career.
Lou joined Charley in helping the Green and Gold win that '44 title before retiring from the game following the '45 season.
The Packers' other 24th picks were guard Ray Frankowski of the University of Washington, selected in 1942, and tackle Alphonse Dotson of Grambling State in 1965. Frankowski played only the '42 season and Dotson cast his lot with the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL's rival, the American Football League, and a year later found himself playing against the Packers in the first Super Bowl.
Ironically, Dotson's son, Santana, played for Green Bay three decades later -- and helped the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI (35-21 over the New England Patriots in 1996) and get to SB XXXII a year later.
THE FIRST ROUND SELECTIONS the Packers have made in the 69 previous years of the draft have represented 49 different institutions of higher learning. The list has been expanded in each of the last two years with the selection of linebacker Nick Barnett of Oregon State in 2003 and cornerback Ahmad Carroll of Arkansas in 2004, who thus became the first players from their respective institutions to be chosen in the opening round of the NFL's annual selection meeting by the Packers.
'FAVORITE' POSITION: Running back (generically including fullback) has easily been the first-round position of choice for the Packers in the 69-year history of the National Football League draft.
The Green and Gold have selected a running back in the first round in no fewer than 20 drafts, most recently in 1990 when they selected Minnesota's Darrell Thompson with their second pick in the draft's opening round.
In the early years of the draft, then Packers coach Curly Lambeau opted for a running back in the first round for five consecutive years (1937-41), selecting fullback Eddie Jankowski of Wisconsin (1937), tailback Cecil Isbell of Purdue (1938), Larry Buhler of Minnesota (1938), Hal Van Every of Minnesota in 1940 and George Paskvan of Wisconsin (1942).
JANKOWSKI, INCIDENTALLY, was the first University of Wisconsin player to be drafted by the Packers -- and one of only three former Badgers to be selected by Green Bay in the first round of the draft.
The other two: Paskvan, the Green and Gold's initial choice in '41, and halfback Earl "Jug" Girard of Marrinette, Wis., the Packers' first selection in 1948.
QUARTERBACK, ADMITTEDLY, has long since become football's most prestigious position. Yet this reality is not reflected in the Packers' draft history. To date, they have selected only six quarterbacks in the first rounds of the NFL's 69 drafts.
They included Wisconsin native Stan Heath of the University of Nevada in 1949, Vito "Babe Parilli of Kentucky in 1952, Iowa's Randy Duncan in 1959, Don Horn of San Diego State in 1967, home-grown Jerry Tagge of Green Bay West High School and the University of Nebraska in 1972 and Rich Campbell of California in 1981.
'MOST POPULAR': The Packers have not spent a first-round selection on a University of Minnesota player for 15 years, but Minnesota, historically, remains Green Bay's most popular choice in the opening round in the 69-year history of the draft.
The Packers have opted for seven Golden Gophers in the first round, the list including running backs Larry Buhler (1939), Hal Van Every (1940) and Darrell Thompson (1990), tackles Urban Odson (1942) and Dick Wilduing (1943), center-linebacker Clayton Tonnemaker (1950) and guard Gale Gllingham (1966).
NOW THAT'S A LONG SHOT: Larry Krause, a running back from St. Norbert College (located in West De Pere, six miles south of Green Bay, where the Packers have annually been conducting their training camp since 1958) technically is the longest "long shot" ever to make a regular season Green Bay roster after being drafted by the Green and Gold.
Krause was the 432nd player chosen in the 1970 NFL draft -- the most "distant" selection to gain a regular season berth with the Packers -- and went on to play four seasons (1970, '71, '73 and '74). He sat out the '72 season after suffering a fracture of the chin during preseason play.
A native of Greenwood, Wis., Krause subsequently retired from the game with a modest claim to fame. As a rookie, his 100-yard scoring return of the opening kickoff triggered the Packers' 20-12 win over the Steelers at Pittsburgh in December of 1970 -- a victory which turned out to be Phil Bengtson's last success as head coach of the Packers.
It also was the only touchdown of Krause's four-year NFL career.
A SUCCESSFUL START: Russ Letlow, the Packers' first selection in the NFL draft when the latter was implemented in 1936 under the leadership of then Commissioner Bert Bell, was an immediately productive pick. A guard from the University of San Francisco and the seventh overall selection (the league had only nine teams then), he helped the Green and Gold win their fourth league championship as a rookie in '36. Letlow also was a starter for the Packers when they won their fifth NFL title in 1939. He went into World War II service following the 1942 season and returned in 1946 to play a final year.