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Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - April 24

Read the transcript of GM Ted Thompson’s press conference from Lambeau Field following the completion of the NFL Draft on Saturday. - More Thompson Transcript - Fri., April 23 | Thurs., April 22 | Mike McCarthy Transcript, Sat., April 24 Draft Page

(Are you pleased overall?)

I am. Pleased to get to this point. We're still working on some things upstairs. But all the work that our guys put into it, it's nice to get to the end of it and feel like you've helped the team. It's nice to be at this spot.

(Anything you didn't get done that you have to look elsewhere for?)

There are all different kind of scenarios that you think a way the draft might fall or who might be available at a certain time. But considering the guys we got, where we got them, we were surprised, especially today. There were some things that worked out pretty well for us. You only have so many picks, and this year I guess we wound up with seven. So you have to do what you do with the seven picks.

(What told you the tight end was not a character risk?)

We did quite a bit of research into it. Darren Perry is a Penn State guy, so he knows a lot of people there. The kid seemed pretty forthright with everything that's happened, and we feel confident that he's on the right path now.

(No cornerback, does that mean you're OK with the health of Blackmon, Lee and Harris coming back?)

Yeah. Again, it would have been fine if the board would have worked out where we had taken a guy. But it just didn't work that way. Yeah, we have a large number of guys and we're working through some of the young guys that haven't played very much, and certainly the injury things that you mentioned.

(Can you describe what fifth round was like? There seemed to be a run on corners. Were you waiting for something to come to you?)

No. We had to wait so long because we started in the fourth round and we didn't have a pick. So you kind of sit there and write the names down as they're called out and you think boy, that was a good pick or boy, I wish I could have got them. But I don't remember anything specific about the way it worked itself down. Is that when we picked the tight end, Quarless? No, he was by far our highest rated player on the board.

(Did you feel at all hamstrung by not having the fourth-round pick?)

No. In fact John Dorsey and I were talking about it. When it got to be the fourth-round pick, considering who we could have taken at our original pick in the third, we both said we were very happy we had Burnett. Not that we wouldn't have picked there and hopefully gotten a good player, but we felt like it was worth it.

(What are you going to do for pass rush opposite Clay at linebacker?)

Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga are lined up over there. Brad did pretty good during the limited time that he played there last year, and we're going to work at it. We didn't draft any linebackers this year, but still we're going to be trying to add some stuff to that position, sure.

(What did you see out of C.J. Wilson? Why did he drop so far?)

I have no idea. I talked to him briefly before we turned the card in, and he's pretty fired up to show people everybody made a mistake. We liked him a lot. Brian Gutekunst scouts in that area. His dad worked at East Carolina this year towards the end of the season, and we felt like we knew him very well. He's a very impressive player. We had him higher on our board than where he wound up going.

(You mentioned surprises today. What was the biggest surprise of your guys being available where they were?)

When we started the day, I don't know where we were picking, but it was two full pages blank, and you start thinking, well, nobody is going to be there when it's our turn again. But every time there were guys that we liked and that we had valued maybe even a little bit higher.

(Can you talk about how you filed away your scouting report on Starks and followed up and made the pick?)

We went back and did a lot of work off the tape that we did have from 2008, which we still have obviously. We know some of the coaches there. Coach Turner used to be here, and he speaks very highly of him. We got to meet with him a little bit at the combine, briefly, and we felt like it was a good pick. He's a very good pass-catcher, a good runner, sort of a one-cut guy, a no-nonsense type running back.

(How many undrafted guys are you looking to sign?)

I couldn't tell you an exact number. It will kind of depend on who ... we're not going to sign guys just to sign them, because they count immediately against your 80-man roster. There are certain guys we're going after, as soon as this draft is overwith we're going to be going after pretty hard.

(Some of those guys you maybe brought in for visits?)

Sometimes it works like that, but often times it's not. It's just kind of the way it is. Usually it's a few of those guys but mostly it's probably not.

(How do you feel about your offensive line, not only now but maybe a year or two down the road?)

I feel good. I feel better now that we've added these two young men to the group. I think they'll fit in really good. We'll see how they match up with our existing guys. We have several classes of younger players on our team at that position, and of course we have the two tackles that have been here for a while. But I feel good about our offensive line. I like the two guys that we added and I think they'll fit in with our room very well.

(From the outside looking in, it looks like you needed help at cornerback and another alternative at left outside linebacker. Are you confident in the guys you have, because you didn't draft as if you needed to get guys that could impact your team immediately?)

Oh no, I disagree. I think we got guys that can come in and make an impact. I've said all along I think we have a good team. I think we have a team that's going to be competitive week in and week out. And at those positions, we have some guys that are dinged up, but we don't necessarily think that's going to be an ongoing problem. Like I say, we're still doing some work at the outside linebacker spot. But Brad did play quite a bit last year and did OK.

(What makes you think those guys will contribute quite a bit this year given all the guys you have coming back?)

Every year it's that way. Quite frankly, Brad Jones is a perfect example. We picked him in the seventh round last year and at this time last year you wouldn't have thought he'd have wound up starting eight games or something like that and had the production he had in sacks. In this day and age, this is a long season, and you have to be able to suit up other guys and play the game and maintain and sustain your success, and I think the more guys you can get the better off you are. These guys will have to stand next to our veterans and kind of find their way initially, but we're expecting them to help, and we're expecting to win.

(You undersell how good you think your team is. But when you're as close to being a championship team as you seem to be, is there any temptation to go for the need picks, to trade up to get need guys and go for it now?)

Sure. We go up to get players. We don't go up chasing needs. But we'll go up and get players, as we did this draft and we've done before. This isn't about shooting the moon. That's not the way NFL football works. NFL football is an ongoing thing, and the draft is important because it adds a whole new group to your team as you go forward. Your group, like I talked about yesterday, a football team is always in an evolutionary cycle. It's always growing. We're trying to add growth to that, and I think we added quality. We got guys that are going to play, going to start. When that is, do we need them right now? I think we absolutely need them right now, maybe not to step in on Day 1, but maybe Day 4.

(When you say you're still working on outside linebacker, is that rookie free agents or working a trade or a veteran free agent?)

We're working on it. That's about as far as I can go on that. I'm not suggesting there's going to be some groundbreaking dynamic thing. I understand everybody's concerned about that position. We don't think it's quite as dire as everybody else does. But it is a position we'd like to add a couple more competitors.

(The punter from Michigan went a couple of picks before you took the tight end from Penn State. Was he a consideration or are you happy with the two punters you have?)

I made a rule I'm not going to talk about anybody we didn't draft. We consider all kinds of players when it comes to our pick.

(Without adding a corner, does that mean you're pretty high on Pat Lee even though he's done very little in his two years here?)

Sure. We'd like to keep him healthy, and I've said this about other players on our team. The NFL is about being able to answer the bell, so we've got to get him healthy. He's doing great right now. Yeah, we liked him when we originally drafted him, and we still like him and we want to keep him on the field. And we think he'll do a good job when we do do that.

(Do you think you'll have an NFL caliber punter?)

Do we? We think we might. We'll see.

(Are you going to go with these two until September?)

We'll see. I don't know.

(Every year there's the emphasis on player conduct. Where is that line for you? Is it a case-by-case basis to figure out whether a guy is worth the character risk? The track record on Quarless is a little bit scary.)

We looked into that obviously very hard as we do all those things. We don't think that's going to be an ongoing problem, and yes, it is sort of an individual case-by-case thing.

(Do you need to bring in another quarterback?)

I'm not sure. If we could find the right guy, I think we might, but that sort of depends on what happens the next few days.

(Can Pizzotti throw at the rookie orientation?)

He's eligible, yes.

(Can Starks be a return man? Have you seen him in that role at all?)

I haven't seen him do it. There's people in my personnel department that think he could be a kickoff returner. I have not seen that before.

(Speaking of returner, the reports you've gotten on Will Blackmon, do you have any doubts he can return to form and be the guy there?)

Yeah, we think all those guys are on track to be back, yeah.

(Rich McKay used to say he could sit down a day or two before the draft and predict who's going to be on his roster. Can you do that?)

No. I didn't have a clue yesterday, I didn't have a clue today. Or even the first day. I'd like to be able to tell you I'm some sort of wise person that can do that, but I can't.

{sportsad300}(Have you ever had a height limitation on a running back? Is 6-2 too tall because they'll be running too high?)

I have not. I have not done that, no. I guess 6-8 would be a little much, and 5-3 is probably a little too short. One time, Ron and I used to go back and forth because he was big on height and weights, you guys know that. We'd always be talking about we can't draft this guy, he's 5-7. And I'd always go over and get Barry Sanders' tag and bring it over to him. Yeah, yeah, give me somebody else. We do have, at positions, we have what we'd like to have, the ideal measurements of those positions, but it doesn't work like that all the time. And certain positions, like corner, we hardly ever go below a certain height.

(Does Starks take a lot of punishment because of his style?)

I don't know. The tape I watched, he gave out some punishment. He's a little more vertical, but it hasn't seemed to affect his play.

(Does drafting Starks mean Ahman Green won't be back?)

I don't think the two are related.

(So you still might bring him back?)

We'll continue to talk about that I'm sure over the next few weeks.

(I'm sure there are 31 other GMs that will do press conferences today who will all say how much they like their draft ...)

I didn't say that, did I? I guess I probably did.

(How much do you like this draft and how much better do you think you are?)

I don't know how to quantify how much better. I think we're a better team. I think we're a stronger group and a more solid 53-man throughout.

(Without getting the linebacker, are you better pass-rushing with the defensive linemen you got?)

I think we are. I do. I think those guys can play, and they're going to help us in the sub packages. Yeah, I do. That's one thing that's a little bit overlooked. The pass rushing in this defense isn't just from the outside linebacker spot. We have other people involved.

(With the injuries you had last year on the defensive line, are you considering carrying more on the roster than you did? You have quite a few now.)

We do. I'm a big fan of defensive linemen. As you know, before when we ran a 4-3, I think we'd keep sometimes 12 on our 53-man. You start running out of those guys, you run out of them pretty fast and there's no well to go get any more water. We felt like really and truly, those were really value picks for us, and I was very comfortable taking them. There and the offensive line.

(Do you think you're leaning toward keeping more?)

We'll let it work itself out in training camp, the whole bit.

(Is there an optimum number on an offensive line?)

There's always an optimum number.

(Which would be ...?)

I don't know. It depends on who you're talking to. A personnel guy might say nine or 10, an offensive line coach is going to say 14. It's just nature.

(Do you have any idea when the Johnny Jolly situation might be resolved, and are you operating with contingent plans based on his legal situation?)

I don't. To answer your question, I don't have any knowledge about any sort of timetable or anything like that. And no, I'm not operating any differently than I would with say any other player on our team, or maybe an injured guy, whether he's going to be back or whatever. We're counting on him being here.

(Given what the commissioner has done, if the legal thing doesn't fall in his favor, would you assume he's going to be suspended?)

Oh, I would never make any assumptions on something like that.

(What kind of player is Wilson?)

C.J.? He plays defensive end in a 4-3 defense for East Carolina. Really quick off the ball. He's got good quick hands. He's got the ability to stick his hands in the chest and back them off the ball. He can rush from the inside. They move him around a lot. He's a very fired up human being right this second.

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