Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - April 23

Read the transcript of General Manager Ted Thompson’s pre-draft press conference on Monday. The 2007 NFL Draft is this weekend, April 28-29.

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Good afternoon. Thanks for coming. I think I'll just open it up to questions. I don't have a prepared speech.

(The Packers haven't taken a RB since 2002. Can you virtually guarantee you'll take one in this draft?)

No. It will depend on how the draft works. I don't know that you can guarantee anything. I didn't realize even that the Packers hadn't drafted, ... we didn't draft one the last couple years? I haven't even thought about that. You can't do it that way. You just have to go into it saying this is where we value this player, and build your board that way.

(You've never traded up, here or in Seattle. Is that something you're opposed to doing?)

No. I think last year during the course of the draft we tried once to trade up. I know that we did it several times in Seattle, tried to trade up, and just weren't able to find a team willing to trade back. It's just the way it goes. Again, it's sort of a reflection of the board. Last year's board was strong enough that we felt like we could trade back and still get the same quality of player that we would have taken if we had stayed there, which was the reason we did that. It sort of depends on the team at a particular time in the draft and the way that team's board is. If you're in a position where you think there's one player on there you desperately would like to have, and that's the only player you'd desperately like to have, then it makes sense to try to move up and take that player. If there are several players and just the way the thing is going you feel like one of those quality players you think you can take later on, then it's easier to just sit tight.

(So you won't rule out trading up?)

No. No. I'm sure we will have conversations with teams about moving up. In fact I know we will.

(You didn't do a lot of free agent spending. Are you still waiting to see where you are salary-wise after the draft?)

We're kind of where we anticipated being salary-wise. We invested in some of our own players. As I mentioned before, we wanted to re-sign Ahman Green and we just couldn't get that done. But there's all kinds of things that could happen, there are opportunities that arise in May and in June, in a normal year, and even in July, sometimes a disgruntled player on another team, and if you have some flexibility, which we try to keep, then sometimes you can act upon those opportunities, but we don't have any definite plans about doing anything.

(With the new conduct policy, what changes have you made in your evaluation process?)

None. I know it's an emphasis, but all the teams I think, certainly most that I know of, are very conscious of the character factor. We are here in Green Bay very conscious of the kind of players we want to put in our locker room with our team.

(Are there any players this year you would rule out strictly based on that?)

There's a few, but that's no different than it was last year or the year before, or even when we were in Seattle. There are players you say we would not choose to put in our locker room. And that does not necessarily mean it's not going to work out for that player. It's just a risk-reward ratio we try to put together.

(Does your gut tell you you'll stay put at 16?)

I normally assume we're going to sit and pick at every one of our picks. I go into a draft assuming that's the way it's going to be. I think it was in Seattle, in fact I'm sure it was, I don't remember the year, but we tried like heck to trade all day long, up, down, it didn't matter, and we sat and picked at all seven of our picks. It's just the way it worked out. So I anticipate, yeah, that's the way you plan, we're probably going to be here and we're probably going to pick.

(You said last year you'd get an impact player at 5. What kind of player do you think you'll get at 16?)

I think we'll get a very good player at 16. Impact is sort of in the eye of the beholder, but I think there will be an opportunity to take a really good player. I don't know who it is yet, and I don't know what position. There can only be 15 taken in front of us, I know that.

(Does it become more difficult after the draft passes to trade a high-priced veteran?)

Not necessarily. The high price complicates things a little bit, but often times teams will go into a draft, and once the draft is over with they see the players they've accumulated, they'll realize that we weren't able to address this particular position in the draft, and some teams might draft two or three players at that position and all of a sudden there are people who will move sometimes because of those reasons.

(How would you assess the depth of the running backs in this draft?)

Pretty good. That's going to be a recurring theme, by the way. Pretty good.

(Are there any that are very good?)

Most of them are pretty good. It's a normal draft. I thought last year was a really strong draft in terms of depth and quality throughout. This is normal. Not as good as last year's, but normal.

(When you look at what Denver has done the last several years, do you maybe not need a marquee guy at running back as long as the guys up front are doing their job?)

Clearly you have to have the guys up front doing what they need to do. As I've said before, we have some young backs here we think can be pretty good players. We don't feel particularly bound to do anything at that position. Having said that, there are running backs taken all through the draft almost every year, some are taken in the first round, some are taken in the sixth round. I think Dorsey Levens was, what, a fifth-round pick. That happens, whether it's playing time at a particular school or something like that. And it probably happens at other positions as well. In fact I know it does. The key is making sure you find the right guy. It's all well and good to say Dorsey Levens was a fifth-round pick, but the key was to make sure you picked him in the fifth round. A lot of people used to give Ron a lot of credit for picking him, and his argument was, well, I should have picked him earlier, you know.

(Can you share your evaluation of Joe Thomas?)

He's pretty good. No, he's an outstanding football player. He's a classic left tackle with the athletic ability to get out in space and actually block defensive backs on the run, out in space. My guess is he's going to be a starting left tackle for a long, long time in the NFL and be very, very good. The thing a lot of people don't know, I know that you would know this, is he's an outstanding person and he's going to be a quality addition to any locker room, and quarterbacks are going to love him.

{sportsad300}(How much is the draft itself part of a GM's legacy?)

We, and I stress we, ... there's a lot of people upstairs, ... in fact I left them in a meeting and I said I had to come see you guys. But we spend a lot of time preparing for the draft, but everybody else does too. Certainly, I think it seems to be now that I've got this job, that general managers are graded by drafts a lot, and other things as well. But I think it's the body of work. I think the draft is one component of my job, and it's an important component, but it's just one component. That's the way I look at it.

(How many mock drafts does your staff do to try to determine who those first 15 picks will be?)

Not many. We'll probably have some sort of bull session on Friday morning or something and say OK, if this happens, this happens or this happens. But even if you have people that you trust on other teams, nobody is going to tell you the truth. So you look at the things you guys put out. You guys put out all your mock drafts, or the people on a national level, and you look at that, but they're guessing too. So you can't get too worked up into it. You work on all the different scenarios and you're comfortable by the time Saturday is done, really, except for surprises like you trade up or you trade back or something like that, except for surprises it's pretty much done. You just sit there and let it happen.

(You said last year there were 4-5 guys you expected to be there at 5. Does that number change at 16?)

It gets a little bit more difficult to zero in there because the farther away you get from 1, the more variations are possible. We anticipate there will be a couple of surprises, like there always are, that you think wow, he went a little higher or a little lower than we thought. But again, you just kind of go through all the scenarios and you get comfortable in your mind that here it is, this is what we do. If this happens, we do this.

(What's your opinion of the guys who just work out for the Combine? Does that sway you in any way?)

Certainly at the end of the day, and this week especially, we've spent an inordinate amount of time gathering all this information, filling in all the boxes, what he did the shuttle time in, how he vertical jumped, how he did this. But at the end of the day, like this week, we get back more to football. We have all the athletic comparisons and things like that, but now we get back to, OK, who's football and who's maybe not football. But I don't fault these guys for training. That's their job. They're getting ready for job interviews, and that's what they're supposed to do. Some of them do it elsewhere, some of them like Joe Thomas did it at the University of Wisconsin.

(Is there any comparison between getting ready for a draft and getting ready for a football game when you were a player?)

No, not for me. I enjoyed playing. It's not that I don't enjoy, I'm not suggesting I don't enjoy this. But I enjoyed getting ready for a game and the challenges of an athletic event, no different than all you guys when you were kids playing whenever, in Little League. It's different doing this. Now this is an important part of our business here with the Green Bay Packers, and we take it seriously, as do all the teams in the league, but it's different than playing. I know I'm not going to get hit, or I don't think I'm going to get hit. I guess I could.

(Do you get much sleep before draft day?)

Yeah, I sleep pretty good. This week we're meeting with the coaches. We've met with them before, and last week I was with the scouts all week. We've put all this stuff together, and we're getting close to, by Friday, we'll have kind of put it to bed. Now, you can tear yourself up and drive yourself crazy, thinking oh my gosh, what if this happens, because there are doomsday scenarios you would prefer not to have happen, but you can't do anything about it, and I'm not much of a worrier. I try not to do that, I think it's a negative emotion.

(At what point do you let everybody out on Friday to be fresh for the weekend?)

We'll be done by about noon or something I imagine. We have to kind of overhaul the draft room a little bit to get it ready for the draft.

(What's the most important draft lesson you learned from Ron Wolf?)

Stay true to yourself and true to the board. Part of that is all this work that we've done, putting together the board, that's staying true to yourself. But once you put it up there, and you believe in your heart that's the way it should be, then you stick with the board.

(Will you always take the best player, or are there times need overrides that?)

Need factors in if you have what you consider, certainly the way they are on the board, identical players, Position A and Position B, and you feel like you might have more of a pressing need right at this moment, you might go for Position B. But if there's a difference in those players, if Position A is truly a better player, then we feel like you have to take Position A. Because a draft is not let's get ready for mini-camp, or let's get ready for the 2007 season. A draft is an investment in a player that's going to be here for a number of years, and when you don't take the best player, it'll just come back and bite you every time. And we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I've taken players based off need, or what I perceived to be a need, and passed on another player that was really a better player. But we try not to do that, and I have people that keep reminding me of that all day long.

(Last year you said you had decided a few weeks before that Hawk was your guy and you worried a little bit ...)

Well, when you're picking at 5, there's so little to computate, there's only four guys that can go in front of you, and you start thinking ... I mean, we were ready. If someone else would have taken him in front of us, we were ready to do what we needed to do. But I do think worry is a negative thing.

(So you can't fall in love with a guy now at 16 because the variables are so much greater?)

Right. There are scenarios that I would prefer have happen much more than other scenarios that could happen, but there's not anything you can do about it. So you just have to be prepared to do what you have to do, and pick the player that you think can help the Packers the most.

(What kind of contact is there regarding trades of pick through Friday versus draft day itself?)

There's a lot of fishing expeditions. Most of them are looking if you're interested in moving back, or maybe we'll be interested in moving back. They just want to know that they can call, or who do I call, that sort of thing. We've had I think two calls from different teams inquiring about our pick at 16, but they're just throwing the line out there and reeling it back. They're not actually trying to catch anything.

(Does it matter when there's a widespread belief in mock drafts you're going to pick a specific guy?)

It doesn't matter.

(Why not?)

It just doesn't, because nobody knows the truth. And in fact maybe I don't even know the truth, maybe I'm keeping it to myself. But it just doesn't matter. People are going to put out whatever they want. I read mock drafts from time to time, and I don't believe them. When I see that Team A is set to pick this guy for sure, then I'm pretty sure in fact that's not going to happen, and then the whole thing goes out. If you do a mock draft, you have to put somebody in there that the Packers are going to take, and it doesn't really matter who they put in there.

(So we shouldn't put Marshawn Lynch in there?)

It doesn't matter.

(How much do you consult the trade-value chart in making trades?)

Yeah, the problem with the trade chart is there are multiple different trade charts. So if you're calling a team that doesn't have your chart, then you might not be able to come to a thing. But we understand what's going on there, and we have John Dorsey, Reggie McKenzie and John Schneider, and all three are, not constantly but consistently making calls and talking to people, and somebody will call up and say 'I'll give you 32 for 14,' you know, all that kind of stuff. And then we have Mike Eayrs, who's a statistician and does a very good job with our coaching staff during the season and in the off-season. But he's big into numbers and he's quick to say this is good, this is not so good, or whatever. But at the end of the day, what matters most is do you want to make the trade or not. You want it to be fair, and you want it to be, OK, this is a fair deal, but if you really want to move up or if you really want to move back, sometimes you take maybe a lesser deal. But again, it doesn't really matter.

(What's the possibility of Randy Moss winding up here?)

Can't talk about anything like that. That's a player that's under contract with another team. I think I mentioned this to most of you guys during the spring, but it would be the same if you asked me if we were trading for Peyton Manning. Same answer.

(Can I ask what kind of player you think he is?)

No. Well you can, but I can't answer. I can't talk about another player.

(Ron used to say if he got three solid starters out of a draft, it would be a good draft. Do you have a certain standard?)

That would be good. You'd like to hit on all your draft picks, but history tells you if you bat .300 or .350, just like in baseball, you're probably a pretty good hitter. But we'd like to add some more players, yeah.

(How does the trade-value chart change when you're talking about a player already in the league?)

It kind of gets thrown out when you're talking about a player. Most of the trade chart data, and they've put it into super computers and run the things, they've run them but they haven't run the trades when a player is involved because that throws off the equality of it. It's more of a strictly numbers thing.

(Would it take a special set of circumstances to trade a pick for a player, or is everything on the table?)

No, it wouldn't be unusual. I guess I probably haven't done it, since you guys point those kind of things out. But that happens all the time.

(The last two years you've made 11 and 12 picks. This year you have nine. Do you have a number in mind you'd like to come out with?)

No, I don't. Now, like I say, I'm anticipating and I'm planning to pick at those nine spots. But don't hold me to that because when we come back in here on Sunday or Saturday or whenever that is, it might be different than that. But I think you have to plan on picking where you're at and going about your business.

(You brought Marshawn Lynch in for a visit last week. What were your impressions?)

He seemed like a nice guy. It was a nice visit. He seemed to have a good time and the people he visited with seemed fine.

(How about him as a player?)

He's pretty good.

(What's your philosophy on those 30 pre-draft visits you get? What are you trying to accomplish?)

Well, sometimes it might be a medical thing, where you want to take a look at something. Sometimes it's maybe you want to get to know somebody a little bit better. Sometimes it's done just to see what everybody says.

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