Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - April 23

Read the transcript of GM Ted Thompson’s press conference Friday evening from Lambeau Field following the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft.

(What's gotten into you the last three years, trading up three years running?)

I know. I'm going to have to stop this. We were doing what we normally do, kind of fishing around and the board was kind of working against us, working later in that round and even in the fourth round. Not that there won't be good players going, but just for the things that we were kind of looking for, we felt like it was worth it to go ahead and make sure we could get the guy that we wanted to get.

(What do you like about Burnett?)

He's very athletic, he's got good size. He's a junior coming out early. He's got great ball skills. I think he's got 15 or 16 interceptions in his career. I did quite a bit of study over the last three or four weeks because juniors you have to go back and study again because you didn't see them in the fall and you didn't watch them in the fall. I think he's got all of the ingredients we look for to play safety. I think he has the ability to be a dual guy and be the kind of guy that you are looking for that is athletic enough to cover down and can still come up and make tackles.

(Is he a good communicator. Can he handle that part of your defense?)

I think so. He seems like a very, very bright kid.

(Can you talk about the second-round pick Neal and what appealed to you about him?)

He was very impressive in the all-star games. It was my first exposure to him. Of course we've scouted him in the fall. Our other scouts, Shaun Herock and I think John Schneider, went into Purdue. They both liked him. He was very impressive in the all-star games practices and in the games themselves when they are going agsinst all seniors and guys that are getting drafted at the same time. We think he fits very well into our system. He played defensive tackle mostly in college. He's almost ideally suited to play the 3-4 defensive end. We feel like he'll be a good asset for us in our sub packages rushing the passer from the inside.

(Do you feel the talent level overall of the players you have is you don't have to get eight of 10 or 11 players in here every year?)

I see your point. To some degree that is the case. I think our core is stronger than it has been in the past. Hopefully it will continue to get bigger. It doesn't discount the value of adding new players to your team and that's very important. But you do sometimes look at the board and say, 'Well, if we draft this guy is he going to be better than these guys?' That's what I meant about the board getting a little soft today, that we felt like we had a guy that we identified that would fit in well with our group and into our roster, and that's why we made the trade. I don't like having to give up the fourth-round pick, but that's just the price that we had to pay.

(How much do you value versatility in these players?)

You do because it's all well and good to write down your depth charts and say this guy is going to play here and this guy is going to play here, but that's not the way life works in the NFL. You have to have the ability and the versatility to line up at different spots. I think all three of these guys have those possibilities. Now we are going to put him in a position and they are going to concentrate on that position, but they do have the athletic skills and intellect and that sort of thing and have proven in the past that they can do different things on the field.

(Did you go to Burnett's pro day?)

I did not. I watched it about four times over the course of the last little bit.

(Do you think this kid has the wherewithal to play early as a rookie?)

I think he has a possibility. We're going to throw him in there and see how it works out. He's got some pretty good competition in front of him, but I think he's a legitimate pro or we wouldn't have made that trade.

(14 interceptions in three years is rare. Is he unique in terms of catching the ball?)

I think he has good ball skills, like I said. I don't know if it's unique or anything like that. Some defensive players have struggles in that regard, which is the reason some of them play defense. But he does have good anticipation, he does have good feel for space. He is a little bit like a center fielder. Some guys have played baseball, some guys haven't, but he looks like he probably played a little baseball. I have no idea if he did or not, but he sees the ball. He understands angles and he knows how to get in front of it, and the opportunities that I saw, he made the catch and he made the interceptions. I'm not saying that he didn't drop a chance somewhere, but I never saw it.

(Did you have to work hard to find that spot to get to him, or did you find a lot of teams wanting to drop back?)

No, we did a little bit of calling, and we do that all of the time. We were probably a little more aggressive because like I said, we kind of discussed our board and what we felt like was the perceived weakness based against our roster of the next little bit.

(Did you think the Bears might take Burnett?)

I didn't even know they were picking. I just knew that there was a long list of names...we had these slot charts in each round and on my slot chart we were way down here and the pick was way up there and I wanted to move up there because I didn't think he would get there. If I was a better gambler or poker player, maybe I could have waited out, but we felt strongly that he would be a good addition to our team.

(You mentioned last night with all the down time there might be a lot of talk about veteran trades. Did you field any calls like that?)

I didn't field anything abnormal, so I must have been wrong on that. That was just a guess on my part. I didn't hear anything from any of our people that was anything out of the realm of the ordinary.

(How much better can these two players make your defense this season?)

I think they will have a chance to make contributions right away. On the defensive line, certainly we use a lot of different substitutions and rotations, which is hugely important, especially at that position, especially another guy that can play in the sub packages. In the secondary in the case of Morgan, he's going to have a chance to play. In the secondary you run a lot of different sub packages. I would think we are counting on all three of these guys coming in and helping us. Now, to what degree, we'll have to wait and see and see how well they compete with our current guys.

{sportsad300}(With Jenkins and Jolly being free agents after this year, same with Bigby, how important is it you're getting guys that could help you this year but also long-term?)

It doesn't matter the position or the people that happen to be in front of him, you're always looking to add a draft class and core players going forward because players mature, some of them sign as free agent, some retire, so you have to continue to add to the group. The Packer team is not just the snapshot from 2008. It's an ongoing, evolutionary kind of thing.

(Why do you think it's been so hard for you to get that second safety spot next to Nick playing at the same level?)

I think Atari has done that from time to time. I think he has struggled with an ankle injury that has seemed to go on forever, but he has played good ball for us. This is not any sort of indictment against Atari. It's the same way with different positions. We've had injuries on the offensive line that we talked about last night, and injuries sometimes on the defensive line. You just have to have more players, more quality players so when someone does get dinged then your final product doesn't diminish. You stay at the same level, and that's what we're trying to do and that's what every other team in the NFL is trying to do. You can't just trot your 22 guys out there.

(Are you OK with the fact that you don't pick again until the fifth round ...)

No, I'm not OK with that.

(... and you haven't added another pass-rushing outside linebacker and another corner?)

All of those things are in consideration. Early in the day yesterday and today, we just felt like where we were at and the players available to us, we picked those guys. You can't pick them all. You only have so many picks.

(Your first two picks in this draft were both from the Big Ten. Is that a coincidence or is there something about Midwest guys that appeals to you?)

Midwest appeals to me, but I'm from Texas. It doesn't matter where they are from. I think it helps in terms of watching tape and evaluating people and comparing this player to this player when you see them playing against the same players and good quality competition like the Big Ten is. I think it probably helps, but it's not a determining factor.

(Would you say you don't have the ammunition to make a fourth-round pick tomorrow?)

No, I would not. I don't anticipate us picking again in the third round.

(You've got Pickett, Raji, Jolly, Jenkins and Neal now. Do you have room for Justin Harrell?)

Sure, you bet. You can never have too many of those good big guys. From our reports, he's doing great.

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