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Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - April 16

Read the transcript of General Manager Ted Thompson’s pre-draft press conference Friday from Lambeau Field. - More Watch Video

Hi. Thanks for coming. Get a lot of answers today.

(So much was made of your track record, then last year you traded up and it worked out well. Did you throw people a curveball last year as to your philosophy, and are they guessing now?)

You should at least have to guess, yes. I think that's fair. No, we'll do anything. We've said it before we traded up and we said it even since then. If we think something is of value and it helps our team, we'll try to do that.

(The event being extended over three days, does that give more opportunity for trading going into the next day, and so forth?)

I suppose there will be more conversations. Whether there will actually be more trades ... There's always, seems like to me during all the rounds quite frankly, there's always quite a bit of trading. Sometimes when the rounds get to five minutes, I think that kind of cuts into it a little bit. But there will be conversations. Whether there will be more trades or not I don't know. It might be too much time. It might freeze us all.

(Do you like the idea of doing one round one night, two rounds the next night ...?)

Yes. The commissioner changed it that way, so I love it. It's perfect.

(How does it change things for the second round? You and Ron both said it's always nice to have that pick in the fourth round, when you could re-set things 4-7. Does that happen now with the second round a little bit?)

To a degree. I think anytime after ... I don't know how much it will be after the first round. Because the first round, it normally kind of goes pretty much to scale. Whether all 32 guys were predicted to go in the first round, there's not a huge bunch of surprises. I think there's probably more surprises, like before, when there were three rounds and then the draft started on the fourth round in the second day. I think that's when people would be kind of anxious because they'd see a guy maybe they had ranked in the second round and they'd notice it overnight, saying well this guy is still up there. And of course we all scout alike, so there'd be multiple teams trying to get to that spot. I think it's always good to be early when you get to start up again, because you've had a chance to kind of see what happened and not only see where you are but see where other teams are in terms of maybe addressing some of their needs and maybe realize they're not going to do that anymore, or they're going to go here, or whatever. It's a guessing game, though.

(What are the disadvantages to this new format, if any?)

I don't know. We haven't done it before. That's a disadvantage in my opinion. Even leading up to next Thursday, we haven't gone through a week like we're going to next week. We've always done it differently, so change is not a comfortable thing for people like me in my business. But I'm pretty sure it's going to work out. I'm pretty sure everybody is going to pick and do all that. It's just different, so there's always a certain amount of anxiety I think.

(The April 15 deadline to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets has passed. How many of your restricted guys have yet to sign their tenders?)

I don't know. How many do you count? I haven't really been keeping up.

(Has Daryn signed his?)

No, not that I know of. No. Is it three or four or something? Is it more than that? I'm not trying to ... we've been kind of doing some other stuff.

(Has Tramon Williams signed his?)

Not that I'm aware of, no. And I don't think Johnny, Atari, ... I'll get the word to Jeff the exact number and he can put it out and get it to you guys.

(What are you hoping to get out of this draft? What needs are you hoping to address?)

We're hoping at the end of it that we feel like we got lucky and we got some players that can help our team. I honestly and truly believe that if you get caught up trying to reach for need at all, that's when you make your mistakes. And I feel like our core team is strong enough that we don't have to search out like that. I know it's what I always say, but I really mean it.

(How would you assess the impact of last year's draft class?)

I thought they did pretty good. Certainly Clay made a huge impact. All the guys were hurt during training camp. I know B.J. was, or Clay was, and then later on in a preseason game B.J. got hurt, and a couple of the other guys got nicked up. T.J. had to play a lot. I don't know, I thought they did pretty good. I'm hoping we can build on that, though. I think we have some good players out of last year's draft class, and hopefully the best is yet to come.

(Do you think you need to come out of this draft with somebody that can develop at tackle, especially on the left side?)

There are a lot of positions where you'd say we'd like to do this or like to do that. That's not any different. If it makes sense, sure. I don't think it's a necessary thing.

(Why isn't it? That's such an important position ...)

They're all important.

(I understand that. But you've said that God only made so many of those guys who can play that position, and your quarterback is so vital to your success both in the present and the future. Don't you have to have that guy, like Chad Clifton the last 10 years, who's going to protect the blind side for a long time?)

Sure, but again, I think our offensive line group, I think our core is building up to where we can have a little more flexibility. But at the same time, it is what it is. If there's someone available we think can do that, certainly that's going to be a consideration. But we're not going to reach on something.

(When you see other teams in the division beefing up their defensive lines, does that add any extra emphasis to your offensive line?)

No. We've always had pretty good competition in this division with defensive lines and whatever. We're not not going to do something on the offensive line. It's just no more important going into a draft I believe than any other position.

(Can you talk about how you split hairs between two top-level talents, like Suh and McCoy?)

You just try to do your work, and watch the tape, and do all the evaluations on the other aspects of things that we do. The athletic testing, the character stuff, you try to do all that work and try to decide.

(Do defensive systems play a role in that too, the type of fit?)

I suppose to some degree. But again, I've said this a lot about our change in defense, I think good players are good players.

(Your corner position has a lot of guys coming back from injury. Pat Lee, Will Blackmon. What's your comfort level with those guys and how much can you count on Al Harris at that age coming back from that significant an injury?)

I would anticipate all those guys being healthy and ready to go, whether it's at the start of training camp or the end of training camp or something like that. I think we'll know more as we get closer. Those guys are good players, but injuries are always something ... we have a number of people that are probably not going to participate in some of the spring and the summer stuff, and that's always a little bit unnerving, but that's just the way it is.

(Where are you at in the process? Have the coaches come in to meet with you yet?)

We met with them briefly to kind of show them the board about a week ago, and kind of went with where we were, and then we have their reports on the players that they've done, and we've been working with the scouts and personnel guys, trying to see, especially the differences, where we see things a little differently, trying to work through that. And we're scheduled to meet with them again starting Monday morning.

(I know nothing's imminent, but what would a guy like Brian Westbrook do for you guys?)

Brian's a really good player, has been for some time. Other than that, like any other good player, it would be nice to have a good player. But nothing's imminent.

(How important would you say character is when you're drafting?)

I think it's important. It's important to every other team. We do a lot of work on these guys. I don't know how many we look into very strongly. But we do a lot of work there. But you're still dealing with young men that are still learning their way in life, so there's always some question marks about how things are going to go. Or there's also question marks about how things have gone. Did someone make a mistake as a teenager or young man in college that is really out of character and shouldn't really be a factor going forward, or is it something else? We spend an extraordinary amount of time working on that, and it's not an easy call.

(Is it possible to have enough character questions about a player that you take him off the board?)


(Does that happen...?)

It happens every year.

(What do you think of this draft class as a whole?)

It's a good draft class. That's what the commissioner told me to say, right?

(Is there a position that you think is particularly deep?)

I never really get into that. Just like every year, I think there will be players to take every time it is our turn. If we are smart enough to figure it out, I think we could have a really good year.

(How has the preparation been different this year without John Schneider, and do you expect some phone calls back and forth?)

I'm sure we will. Neither one of us has had a chance to talk much. We've exchanged a few texts from time to time. We've gone about it the same. We have our same group that we have done this with for some time now. In terms of the structure of the meetings and things like that, it went the same.

(We like to pigeonhole you by saying you don't like to use free agency and you let the board come to you, but does your philosophy change somewhat as your team gets to a different point? Where do you see your team?)

I think we have a chance to be a pretty good team. I've thought that for a couple, three years now, so I wouldn't change my attitude going into the draft any different. I do think every year it's important to continue to add because some of the players that you have now you're not going to have three years from now. So I think you have to continue to add. Now, that doesn't mean that you have to have 15 draft picks every year or anything like that.

(Would you still rather not trade up?)

It depends on the circumstances. It really does. We've moved up twice, and both times we felt like it was players that we were willing to give up extra picks for. Picks are important, but they are not the end all, be all.

(One of the guys you moved up to get was Jeremy Thompson; what is his status?)

We're still working on that, still getting some opinions and things like that.

(Does he still have a chance to play or is that in doubt?)

I think we'll wait until we get everything back before we get into that.

(You take the best player available, but if it is a toss-up, would need be the tiebreaker?)

Oh yeah, sure. We're not oblivious to things, don't get me wrong. It's just if you make reaches outside what you think is valued, then I think mistakes are made. Michael Jordan.

(If there is a toss-up, do you also look into short-term vs. long-term needs?)

I don't know. It kind of depends on what those specific items were. For much of the draft you are working on individual positions at a time. When we do our meetings, we'll be working on receivers and we'll spend a day or something working on receivers. Then the next day it might be tight ends, or something like that, so you are kind of doing them vertically. Then the closer you get to the draft, you have to start comparing things horizontally a little bit, which is a receiver versus a defensive tackle, things like that.

(Did you have to do a little bit of projecting with Clay to see how he would be in a 3-4 defense?)

No, they pretty much switched to a 3-4 during his senior season.

(There are guys that you do have to project, right?)


(Do you feel pretty good about that process? Was it a learning experience and are you better at it?)

I hope we're all better at whatever it is we do. Certainly I hope I am better. Clay was pretty easy to do. You could see all of the things that you wanted to see. He could stand up and play. He could rush from a two-point stance. He could do all of those things. Some people that are projected to be those type players in the NFL always play with their hand on the ground, so that's a little bit more difficult to project. You can do all of the athletic testing and see if they are capable from a flexibility and agility standpoint, but still if you haven't seen it, it's less certain.

(Are you happy enough with your two punters that you wouldn't consider adding one in the draft or after?)

Sure, that would be fine, yeah. No different than anything else, but we are working with our two now. We kind of like them.

{sportsad300}(What was your impression of O'Brien Schofield and what do you think his long-term prospects are?)

I think he is viewed very highly. He was the MVP of the East-West game and got a late invitation to the Senior Bowl. He could have easily passed, but he wanted to continue to show people like myself that he was a player. He wound up getting hurt in the very first practice, the very first Senior Bowl practice. It's a shame. It doesn't mean it is the end of the world. It just means that it might be a little bit of a delay getting started in terms of being in training camp and doing all of that. A good player, a really good player, and a great kid.

(Is he a guy you have to project or was there enough on film with him?)

Most of his play at Wisconsin of course he played with his hand on the ground. He did, in the East-West game, play as an outside linebacker and stood on his two feet the whole time, and played well. He was the MVP. I think he rushed the passer a few times from a three-point.

(Generally the top left tackles have gone really early. When you get a guy like Clifton in the second round, are you getting a little bit lucky?)

Yeah. Regardless of position, if you get a guy like Chad, Chad has been to several Pro Bowls and it's not that easy to get several Pro Bowls out of a player. Offensive linemen, offensive tackles, there are not that many of them. Sometimes you can get lucky and get them later, but most of the time if you are a quality player that can play right away, you get scooped up pretty fast.

(We ask you a lot about the line. Do you feel really good about the options there?)

I do. I think I feel better than you guys do.

(What gives you that confidence?)

I have a lot of faith in our guys. The last several years we have been banged up the whole time, and I would like to trot our five guys out there, whoever they might be, in a healthy group for a number of weeks in a row, and see how good we can be.

(Has there a position since you have been here that has vexed you more than the offensive line?)

It's an area that is normally a little more stable, I'll say that. I remember several years when I was playing with the Oilers where the same five guys played every snap for the entire season. I imagine Larry used to do that, but there are not that many people that do that anymore. The punter position maybe has been a little bit vexing from time to time.

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