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Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - April 21

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

Hi. Thanks for coming. We'll try to answer some questions. I think it's good to have this talk, but then don't get mad at me if at the end of it you realize I haven't really said a whole lot, because that's sort of my job. And I apologize for that, but that's the way it usually is. Sometimes you guys take a shot at me after this one, but we'll see.

(Some take the tack of flat-out lying to us. Why don't you?)

We don't lie, and I think I've been consistent with that throughout, since the day I took the job. But I also will not tell you anything I think is proprietary to the Packers and could do us some harm. It's not that we don't want the fans to know, it's just that other people read this stuff, and everybody is trying to get an edge. Quite frankly, I don't have many answers, because we don't know how the outcome of all the picks in front of us are going to be, whether it be in the first round or the last round. It's all a mystery to us.

(Is it hard to find an edge at 30 in the first round?)

No, I think you just have to stick with your basics, and understand and keep reminding yourself that you're looking for good guys, good football players, and stay true to the work that you've put in. Our guys, our coaching staff, our personnel staff, it's always me out here talking to you, but there are a lot of guys that have put in a lot of work, and continue to. We're in meetings now, and we'll be in meetings for the bulk of the rest of the week. So we just work hard, try to do the right thing, and keep reminding ourselves what our goal is.

(I'll get this out of the way ... are you going to take the best player available?)

Yeah, yeah. We try to. Now, it might not be the best available player in everyone's eyes, but we'll try to stick to that. We always think that's the best way to go. But oftentimes, it works itself out. The bad thing is we're picking at 30. The good thing is we're picking at 30. That way, 29 other teams have to make some decision for us, and that makes our decision easier.

(Why do you choose not to go with needs or wants?)

Again, I think a draft is a long-term investment for the organization. It's not that you don't go into the draft with blinders on and realize that you'd like to have another of this and another of this. I just think the draft is a long-term investment, especially the early-round picks, and I think if you take a lesser player ... in your own mind, if you know Player A is a better player and you wind up taking Player B because he happens to play a different position, I think that's a mistake.

(Can you get a starter with the 30th pick or are you resigned to just getting somebody to add to your depth?)

Oh no. We're expecting to get a really good player there. Whether they come in and start right away, that's not as important as whether it's a good long-term investment for the organization. We're going to try to put some heat on these guys and let them compete and see what happens. We want to create competition, as we've always done, create as much competition as we can at every spot, and there is no spot that doesn't need more competition.

(Do you have to find a backup for Aaron Rodgers this weekend?)

No. I mean, we don't have to. The quarterback position is an important position, and we feel very good about Aaron. There are other ways to get quarterbacks as you go through the spring and the summer, so we don't feel compelled to do anything. But again, if we can create more competition, that's a good thing.

(In the draft room, how much give-and-take is there between you and Mike?)

During the draft? Yeah, we sit side-by-side and we talk all the time. But by the time we get to the draft, it's pretty much done by then.

(Do you have to be careful about taking a quarterback too high, because of your support for Aaron and how you feel he's your guy?)

No. In fact, it's no slight on anybody. If we take a player at any other position, it's no slight on the players that we have at those positions. Aaron, he's comfortable in his own skin. He understands the NFL is the NFL. As a player, all those players in there that are working out, it's probably not their favorite day, and I'm not talking about Aaron specifically, I'm talking about anybody. When I was with the Oilers for 10 years, and nine of those 10 springs, I sat there and I was hoping that the Oilers would not draft a linebacker, because I didn't want that added competition, but there's nothing you can really do about it. That's part of it. I think all the players know they came from the draft, and there will be other players that will come behind them, and that's just the way it is.

(So at 30, if the best player on your board is a quarterback, you'll have no problem taking him?)


(You haven't signed a backup quarterback yet. Is that a sign of the weak free-agent group of QBs, and does that make you more prone to address that in this draft? You have to get a backup at some point, right?)

Well, yeah. At some point, we're going to address that, sure. And we're constantly doing stuff. You don't see it, but it's behind closed doors, we're talking to teams and looking at tape and studying different ways you can go about that. But no, just because we don't have one already, it doesn't necessarily indicate anything other than we haven't found the right match for us.

(Have you ever seen this many corners this skilled from the smaller schools?)

I don't know if 'ever' is the right word. It looks to be a very strong group at that position, and yeah, there are some smaller schools (represented). I don't know how to answer that question. If I said yes, then somebody would come to me and say, 'Well, in '98, it was much better.' OK. But it's a pretty strong group.

(You've had success with players from smaller schools. Is that a philosophy, or did it just work out that way?)

It's a coincidence. We scout small schools, and I think some people probably believe that spending that time at small schools is probably not a good enough return on investment. But other than that, it's just a coincidence.

(Lying might be a strong word, but is there a value in mis-direction, trying to get teams thinking you're going in another direction, without lying? Do you engage in any of that?)

Probably not. I'm not sure if we're subtle enough to do stuff like that. I don't know. There's enough information out there, there's all these magazines and all the newspapers in each of the towns, the 32 towns are writing the mock drafts and stuff like that. So there's enough stuff out there where if you want to get confused, you can get confused pretty fast. So I think most of us, even people that want to try to misdirect people, I think that's more appropriate probably early in the draft. I think where we're picking, it's like, we'll wait and see who's there.

(How about the flip side, do you try to get a gauge on what the teams ahead of you are trying to do, by reading the papers or the internet?)

Sure. Sure. You do. And some teams are a little bit more open about it, but again, you don't know what to believe. Nobody's telling anybody, really, the truth. You can look at it and say he mentioned four running backs there, and he didn't mention this one, so this must be the guy he wants. Or did he put the guy they really want in the first four guys they mentioned? So you can drive yourself crazy doing that.

(How many run-throughs will you do before Draft Day? Is that something you'll do?)

No. Not really. We've been talking about it quite a bit, certainly a little bit more over the last week or 10 days. But ever since we started the meetings, we kind of speculated, who's going to take (whom), who's Atlanta going to take at whatever spot, that sort of thing. But we don't do mock drafts per se.

(How do you like the new quicker-paced draft early on?)

I'm for it. I haven't been through it yet, so we'll see. That first round last year was a marathon, so I think it's probably better for all of us. It gives us plenty of time. There's some people that were concerned that you might not be able to do as many trades, things like that. I don't think that will have any effect at all. I wish it would start earlier in the day.

(How does 5 less minutes per pick affect you in the draft room?)

None, other than, it'll probably be, has anyone figured out when we're going to pick? Any of you guys done that? I haven't figured it up either. It'll be earlier. I don't know. It'll be different, 10 minutes. I think it was 10 minutes in the second round last year. So we have experience in the 10-minute mode.

(In the past, do you recall using all of your allotted time to make your final decision?)

It seems like most teams do. We've sort of tried to speed things up. But with that first one, you make the phone calls and you listen to phone calls because usually there are people calling you and other people, and then you have to get ahold of the player and make sure he's fine and dandy and sometimes, you want to let them talk about the Packers for five more minutes. At least now, it will be only 10 minutes total.

(If there are several players there at 30 equal in value, do you initiate calls for a possible trade, or do you wait for teams to call you?)

Well, no. We're always calling people. In fact this week, everybody does the calls: 'Well, if there's somebody we want, we're willing to move up. And if you want somebody, you can come up to us.' So you're always talking about that. And during the course of the draft and leading up to the draft, there will be people saying, 'If our guy is there, we want to call you.' So there's always communication. We have Reggie McKenzie and John Schneider and John Dorsey and Russ Ball, those guys are really good at making sure that we're in tuned with all the other teams and then you play it by ear by what happens. But I think probably with 10 minute sessions, people might call you a pick earlier than they used to call. If in fact they're going to.

(What kind of player would it take for you to finally trade up instead of back?)

A good one. Well, you know, I think we've tried at one time or another in probably every draft I've ever been involved in. But you have to have another team willing to make that trade at that particular time. It doesn't mean you're going after the same player. If they come back seven spots to our spot, you have to have a team that's willing to say, 'OK, we can do that.' Or maybe we didn't offer enough. But there's a price to be paid for giving up picks, obviously.

(Can you give us an example from the past where you tried to trade up in the draft and it didn't happen?)

Oh, I can't remember specifically anything but we do. Sometimes it's just fishing but it always depends on how strong the board is. We've felt the past couple of years that the board had good strength and depth and we've felt comfortable where we were and pick.

(How long does it take to see what you got in a particular draft?)

I think most drafts you'd probably have to look at it three years removed and you look back and see how it worked out. I think you have to take the whole body of work. Often times somebody will come in and play for a couple years and then they get hurt and in that third year you're saying, 'That wasn't a good pick.' Well, if the guy came in and played and did what he was supposed to do and unfortunately he got hurt, it doesn't necessarily mean it was a bad pick.

(With the roster deeper, do you think you could shoot for somebody specifically, whatever round it might be?)

Sure. You betcha. We're not opposed to it. We almost need to move up just so we can put this conversation (to rest). But, no, it's certainly possible. But again, once you get going we'll see how it's working and how the board looks for us. If it looks a little desperate and there's one guy that we think addresses something really important in terms of his long-term value to the Packers and we just don't think he's going to make it to us, that's when you try to step on the accelerator.

(How much time do you spend on players who are not likely to be there at 30?)

Not a lot, no. We know who they are and we've studied them extensively in the fall and in the early winter. But guys that we feel pretty certain are very, very high picks, no, it doesn't make sense because there are certain places we couldn't get to even if we wanted to. I doubt very seriously if you could get to single digits from where we are.

(When you've scouted all these guys so much, is there one reason over any other that some first-rounders fail, or sixth-rounders fail?)

Oh, I don't know. I think it's all an adventure. And it's not that we're not prepared. All the teams are doing the same thing and it happens, guys don't turn out to be as good a player. They get injured. They're human beings that go from a place in college somewhere and then all of a sudden they're transformed into the NFL and maybe they get off to a rough start and it just never clicks for them. It's certainly not an exact science. I'm not sure if there's an answer that covers everything. It's just we're all human beings and we all make mistakes. I suppose it boils down to that.

(Do you use the trade value chart as a reference? Are you a proponent of seeing that changed considering the financial ramifications at the top of the draft?)

I've seen some of the newer things. Everybody uses some sort of trade value chart and it sort of depends on which chart the other guy you're talking to is looking at. Because if he's looking at a different chart than you're looking at, then it doesn't make sense. But they're all basically the same. The whole idea is they've lowered the value of the very, very top picks because of the perception that the money is a hindrance and it's more difficult to trade those picks. We haven't studied that in depth, quite frankly, because it's not going to affect us. But I know what they're getting at. I'm just not sure. It was 3,000 points, how to come to 2,000 points? I don't know. We spend a lot of time on it. We have Mike Eayrs in the draft room with us all the time and he's an expert on all to do with numbers. He knows more numbers than I'll ever know in my lifetime. Our guys are talking to teams and they're saying, 'It's whatever for whatever.' He kind of comes back and says, 'This is fair. This is not fair. This is whatever.'

{sportsad300}(Is more picks always better because of the potential you might miss on a guy, so you have more chances?)

Yeah, no. We feel good that we have eight picks, so we go into the draft every year thinking that's probably what we're going to wind up with, and if something happens that we're able to get more, you know, if that happens and you feel good ... you can't just create more picks. It doesn't do you any good. You have to do it for a reason. You have to do it and (be able to) say, `I know I can still get this player, if we go back five spots, and then maybe with that extra pick that we're getting, I'm going to get Player A.' You actually have a plan. Now, it doesn't always work out that way, but you know, and if you don't get that other pick, then you're not going to get that other player. So there's a reason why you do it. It's not just to collect more picks. Now, obviously, the more picks you have, the greater your odds, and more players to make your team. So it's the chicken or the egg, you know?

(With better depth, is that less of a priority, though?)

I think there's a danger of having diminishing returns on stuff like that.

(What do you think of this year's class of tight ends? Is it a deep class or not so much?)

OK, this'll be the part that you guys will yell at me (about) tomorrow. All positions are really good this year. (Laughter) And I think the tight end group is a really good group.

(Do you have to get one this weekend? You only have two on the roster.)

No. Not necessarily. If it works out and it's a player that we think is a value there, then that's fine. But no. There's other ways of getting players.

(At quarterback, when Philadelphia took Kevin Kolb at the top of the second round, there was an immediate reaction from Donovan McNabb. Do you think about any of that?)

No. No. We don't. And we don't at any other position. It's not a slight on whatever the position or whoever the player is. It is a testimony that we're going to take the best player, and if that happens to be at that position, that's what we're going to do. I don't think it's going to affect people the way you think. But I've been wrong.

(So it's a big-boy league and you can't worry about feelings?)

Well, I don't think any feelings are going to get hurt. I wouldn't think that's going to happen.

(Say if Brohm is there at 30 and you take him, and Rodgers goes 0-4 in his first four games, the fans will want to see the other guy. Does that factor in?)

No. No it doesn't. First of all, I'm not anticipating any of that happening, about the 0-4 thing. Again, this is the National Football League, and everybody's got to stand on their own two feet. And Aaron's been preparing for this time and he's been hoping for this time to come and now it's come. So yeah, he's going to be our quarterback. If we take another guy at 30, we're not saying this other guy's going to be our quarterback. We're saying that we've gotten another guy to play the position. You can never have too many people, especially at the most important position in the National Football League.

(With the success you had last season, is it hard to identify specific needs?)

You're always weighing potential draft choices against your current roster, in terms of how are they going to fit in. But again, we don't draft based upon need.

(So did you just succeed in not telling us anything?)

I think so. How'd I do? Thank you. Y'all have a good day.

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