Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - April 20

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

Hello. Thanks for coming. This is about the draft, I suppose, so I'll give you a little background on just the process during the course of the year. In the middle of May, like the week before (Memorial) Day, we always meet with the National Football Scouting group, which gives us the initial list of potential prospects for the coming draft. Sometime in June, all of our area scouts come back into Green Bay, do reports for about a week or 10 days, set schedules, and then based on the grades that those guys give out, kind of dictates where I wind up going in the fall, or John Dorsey or John Schneider or Reggie or whoever. Then we get into the fall, they'll go to two-a-day practices, go to visit schools all during the fall. Once the fall's over with, they'll get the final reports in, then the all-star game season begins, which lasts about four weeks. Then we bring our scouts in and we meet for about three weeks prior to the Combine, fly directly from here to the Combine, do that for a week, or eight days now I think it's spread out to, and then go to pro day for the following month, and then the day after Easter this year our scouts flew back here, we began meeting the very next day, and we've been meeting since then, all about the draft. This week, we'll begin meeting with the coaches and kind of put everything together in terms of what their thoughts are on some of the players. It's a long process. One thing that doesn't get mentioned very often is the work of our staff, and those guys work very hard and spend a lot of time away from home and work hard for the Green Bay Packers and trying to help us be better, so I thought it was worth mentioning. Other than that I guess I'll take some questions.

(Can you explain your philosophy on trading down and why you have done it so much?)

First and foremost, I thought when we first came here that we needed to build up the core of our team a little bit, that we were a little short in that regard, so in order to do that we started trading down. Trading down, trading up, it's all a question of supply and demand. If at your pick, there are multiple players that you would like to have at that pick, and you don't have any real hard preference and you'd be fine with any of them and you could move a few spots and know that you can still get one of those players, then sometimes, especially if you're trying to build up your core, then it makes a lot of sense to move back and pick up an extra pick later on.

(Once you have built that core, does it get to the point where it maybe isn't worth trading down?)

I think so, yeah. At some point, if everything worked perfectly and all your picks worked perfectly and they were all really good players and that sort of thing, then I think after a while you'd have diminishing returns, sure.

(Are you at that point?)

I don't know that we're at that. I like our team, I've said that before, I continue to say it. I think we have a sound foundation and some core players here. I don't think you can ever get in a position where you stop trying to get better. I think creating competition for the summer activity and for training camp makes for a better team in the fall.

(Why are we hearing so much about teams not wanting to have a high pick due to the economic times? Is that new or are we just hearing about it more?)

I was just telling Jeff and Mark, I don't think I've picked up a newspaper in about a month, so I was asking them what's going on. I haven't seen that, but you've heard things like that over the course of the past several years, there's quite a monetary layout. But at the end of the day, nobody is going to pass, nobody is going to not pick. They're going to take the player and try to take the guy that can help that team.

(When you are picking in the top 10, do you change your strategy at all, need to get more bang for your buck?)

It doesn't change. You have a different group of players to look at and so you're probably a little more focused on a group of players. You figure we're picking at 9 and then we're picking at 41, so you kind of focus in on the 9 and you kind of focus in on the 41, and the guys that are probably going to go in between you may not focus in quite as much. It's a question of just trying to apply your resources to the best spot available.

(In general terms, how does your board work? You talk about the best player available but do you also need to marry that with your needs?)

We have all the positions across a long wall, like this, and we always start with the receivers over here, and then it goes tight ends, tackles, guards, centers, quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks, defensive ends, defensive tackles and so forth. You don't need me to go through the whole thing. And then we have, it would be horizontal, right? Horizontal lines going like this, and the very top horizontal line, anything above that would be first-round players, second-round players, third-round players, fourth-round players. And so the board is going to look like it does now, like there's guys at each position and there's a certain number of players in a lot of the rounds at those positions, and some rounds there may be a blank where there's no players in that particular round. And when you go through the draft, in a perfect world, if you've done your job properly, you sit there and you just let it come to you, and if it's your pick in the first round, you look up there and if you've got two guys, then you say OK there's the two guys we would take at this pick, which one do you want to take? Or if there are four guys, and then somebody calls and wants to move two spots up to your spot, then you think, well, you know - to answer this question about moving back - we've got four guys we'd like to have, we can trade back and we know we're going to get one of two. That's kind of the way it works.

(Do you go through different scenarios, saying if X player and Y player are both available, which player will we take?)

We do that with our scouts, after they came back in after Easter. The things that we focus on, we don't get quite there. We're talking more in terms of making sure that the positions are balanced properly. That, OK, we have Joe Y at linebacker and we have Joe X at guard. We have this guard in the fifth round and we have the linebacker in the fourth round, but wouldn't we think about those guys at about the same time? So we kind of try to make sure that it's balanced horizontally. It's a little bit easier to balance them just by position, because you say I'd rather have this receiver than that receiver. But when you're looking at it this way, you have to first get this right, and then make sure that this is balanced as well. If any of that makes sense, that's good.

(With your approach to free agency, is it fair to say you have less margin for error in the draft when it's the biggest way you build your team?)

I've never said that it's not. The draft is the biggest way you build a team, and I think it's the best way to build a team for the long run, because you have a draft every year, and you can work at it that way. But, having said that, I still think free agency is a marvelous tool to address specific needs that you think you might have.

(But do you think the margin for error is any less because you don't do as much in free agency?)

I haven't thought of it in those terms. I'm sure if you think it is, then it is.

(So you don't look at it like that?)

I don't look at it like that. I think the draft is very important, and it's important whether you're active in free agency or not active in free agency. It's an investment in the future of your team.

(When you talk about looking at players at No. 9 and No. 41, does that mean you are not looking to trade back or up?)

I don't know that it's indicative that I'm thinking anything other than right now, today, we have the 9 and 41. I think that's right. It doesn't mean we're not doing work on the guys that will probably be in between, because you never know how the thing is going to do. You never know if somebody's going to go earlier or later or whatever, so you work on them all.

(Is there a position on the roster you wouldn't look at in the draft?)

No. We don't go into the draft like that. We try to evaluate them not only for our purposes now but also for historical purposes, so that we evaluate the players the way they should be evaluated, despite what your current makeup of your team is.

(How many players have you seen personally this year?)

I don't know. I like to say I have seen thousands. I don't look at it that way. Are you talking about going to schools?

(How many guys have you specifically looked at?)

Oh, I don't know. In the fall I think I went to like 23 or 24 schools, and at the combine of course I saw everybody there, and I have been to a few Pro Days. But we collectively, the Packers, have been to a lot more than that.

(How many players will you bring in for visits and are you still allowed 30?)

You are allowed 30, yes, outside of your area. (We'll bring in) 20 maybe.

(What value do you see in picks in the sixth and seventh round?)

I think it gives you an opportunity if you do your job right you can find guys that can come in and compete, possibly make your team and help your team get better, help your team get better and improve the core of your team. There are college free agents that make it almost every year. Your success ratio is lower, but if you have confidence in your scouting department, you like the challenge of trying to find a guy down there.

(Do you look for a certain type of player in those rounds (intelligence, athleticism)?)

It varies. It kind of depends on where you are. If you are looking for offensive or defensive linemen and you know you are going to be involved in the free agency part of it, sometimes you go for the big guy because those guys are hard to find and the good Lord didn't make many of them. Sometimes it is just go for the athlete and we'll figure it out as we go along. But sixth round, Mason Crosby, he was a kicker but we felt he was a very, very good kicker. Of course I think we took Korey (Hall) in the sixth round when he was converting from linebacker to fullback.

(If everything is equal, would you rather pick a junior or a senior?)

Everything is equal, I would probably say seniors just because percentage-wise you are talking about a guy that is one year more experienced, one year more mature, one year farther along in life.

(With that being said, are you surprised by how many underclassmen will probably go in the first round?)

There again, it's numbers. You had a lot of the guys that would have been seniors in the first round this year that came out last year and were drafted in the first round or later. I just think it is the cycle that we are in.

(Is there more pressure on the organization and the player when it is a younger player?)

Again, I think there is always a positive and a negative to anything. But there are juniors that come in and play right away and play really, really good. I'm not saying they don't. I'm just saying given your scenario with everything being equal then I would rather take the guy with one more year of experience. It's not an exact science.

(What measures do you take to make sure a player is a solid person off the field?)

We go through a lot of things. It starts with our area guys that do all of the hard work leading up to say January. They are interviewing and talking to people from hometowns and things like that, that you do in the beginning of January. It's every time you get a chance to get in front of that player, it's trying to get to know the people around him. You do all of that stuff. We have the psychological tests and all that sort of thing. At the end of the day, we're human beings and we make mistakes, and we're looking at young human beings who are prone to make mistakes and we are trying to predict the future there.

(There have been reports that some teams have set up phantom Facebook pages to see what players post on their pages. Is that something you do or that you have heard of?)

I have never heard of it. If we do it, I would be shocked. Actually we don't do it, but I've never even heard of that. Quite frankly, I don't know what a Facebook is. I understand the theory behind it but I have never been on one as far as I can tell, unless I have been on y'alls.

(How different was it preparing for this year's draft with the scheme change on defense?)

Not much. It's still we're looking for football players. Good ones can play and the ones that can't play usually can't play no matter what defense you have. I'm not trying to be glib about it, but the more you look at this and the more you say, 'OK, this guy can do this and we can position this guy this way,' it all comes back to how good a player is the guy. It creates some possibilities to look at maybe some different types and stuff, but it really doesn't affect what we are doing.

{sportsad300}(Are there guys you will take off your board due to character issues?)

I wouldn't specifically answer a question like that based on just this year because smart guys like y'all might figure out who it is. There have been in the past, and there probably will be in the future, guys that we would take off of our board.

(What does it take to get to the point where you would say there is no way we will draft this guy?)

I think at the end of the day what we do is we try to make a decision, and maybe it is a judgment call, but at some point, it is my call, is this a good guy or a bad guy? I think everybody makes mistakes. I think there is going to be guys that you are going to read about coming through this draft, and you maybe already have, that have done things in their past and it doesn't look great, but at the end of the day we think he is more of a good guy than a bad guy. There are other people that quite frankly if we think he is a bad guy then we are not going to mess with him.

(How competitive is it with non-drafted free agents and how successful do you think you have been with that?)

It's chaos. It's absolute chaos. We think we have a pretty good system because we have four guys going at it and they are all sitting right next to each other, so it's not like somebody sitting down the hall and that has happened before too. I think we have done a pretty good job of zoning in on the guys we want and signing them. If somebody else wants to pay somebody a lot more money than we are willing to, that is OK. But it kind of depends on where you are and how many you need to sign and what your roster limit is like. But I think we have done a pretty nice job with free agency. Usually somebody makes our team, or sometimes two.

(What is the scouting process like for a small-school guy?)

It doesn't differ a lot, other than the fact then I might not go there in the fall. But usually if we have identified a guy that we think can play, that is a draftable kind of player, we're still going to have more than one person go into that school in the fall. Sometimes that player gets a little bit less exposure in the all-star games and sometimes they don't get invited to the combine, but we still do our due diligence. Those are the kind of guys that we would invite in for physicals and visits and things like that. It's not that different, but clearly a guy that goes to Ohio State is going to get more attention than somebody that goes to a real small school, but we still scout them.

(This is your fifth draft; what kind of batting average do you think you have?)

This is a 'we' thing. This is a cumulative effort. It's not just me. I think we have done OK. Again, this is not an exact science and it's people trying to predict the future of another person, but I think we have added a lot of core value to our team. I think we are pretty solid.

(Going into the draft, is there a need you feel like you have to fill?)

No, I don't see it that way. I think there are certain scenarios that you would rather the thing fall, but like I said, I think we have built our team up core-wise where I don't think we are in a position where we have to do anything.

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