Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - Feb. 20

Read the transcript of General Manager Ted Thompson’s press conference Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. - More Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s press conference transcript is also available on Packers.com. - More


(Last year there weren't any receivers taken in the first round but then several in the second. Do you see that trend changing?)

I think that has to do with the number of receivers available in the draft, and comparisons between the top ones and the ones that are maybe in the second tier or whatever term you want to use there. It also is probably is an indication that in last year's draft it was much stronger at some other positions and people felt like they would be able to get a good player a little bit later on. We traded back out of the first round and we were able to draft Jordy Nelson, and that's kind of where we wanted to pick, that's where we thought we could get him, and we thought he was a good player.

(It seems like cornerbacks and defensive ends have received the bigger contracts. Do you see a guy like Albert Haynesworth vaulting up to that level or is that too big of a reversal of a trend?)

I wouldn't speak to another player specifically, but in terms of just a generic position thing, quite frankly the defensive line position, I know the defensive end position is a little bit more glorified because of more sacks and things. Defensive tackles, since the onset of free agency, have always made quite a bit of money. They might not have been right at the top in terms of the groupings, but no, that wouldn't be a remarkable surprise.

(How do you feel about the transition for Aaron Kampman at outside linebacker?)

I think it's going to be a good move for him. He's a little more talented player than a lot of people think. I had a long talk with him last week and he is really looking forward to it. At the same time, you have to remember that in the NFL you play in your base package less than 50 percent of the time, so 55 to 60 percent of the time you are going to be in sub-packages where he is going to have his hand on the ground anyway. So, sometimes I don't know, but I'm looking forward to seeing him do it and he's going to be pretty good at it.

(How different is it for you this year to evaluate defensive linemen now that you are playing the 3-4?)

There are some subtle differences. There are people that we would normally look at as defensive ends and now we're looking at them as linebackers, just like all 3-4 teams do. There are guys that you normally would have looked at as a defensive tackle, under tackle like in a 4-3, and now those guys are more appropriately assigned to the defensive end position. So, it's subtle, but again, I keep saying this over and over and I might sound like a broken record, but football players are football players at the end of the day. There are no prototype absolutes in football. There are guys that don't fit the prototype. James Harrison, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year this year, he does not fit your prototype 3-4 outside linebacker, but he's a great player because he is a football guy. Now, there are exceptions and there are ballpark numbers that you want to shoot for because historically speaking, your odds are better if you have these type of players at these type positions.

(How important on draft day are those size numbers in the 3-4?)

I think you do that, but you can't do it all at once. You're not going to just say throw your cards back in the deck and get a whole brand new deal. You have to play with what you have. Over time, I have said this, I think over time the Packer defense, you will see some size differentials as we go forward at different positions. But that will happen over time, and that will be calculated in our ratings. I tell our local guys the same thing. They talk about, 'how does this change in your draft and all of that?' It doesn't change our evaluation of the player; it may change that player's rating in terms of his value to us.

(What is it that makes this such a desirable scheme, and now with more teams doing it, are you competing more with other teams for the players that fit the scheme?)

No, you're always competing in the National Football League. This is a tough business. It's not competing against for players because everybody is going to like players differently. Even though we might run a 3-4 and another team might run a 3-4, everybody is going to evaluate players a little bit differently. So we're just going to focus on what we're going to try to do, which is try to get good football players, and if they happen to fit a little bit better in a 3-4 now than a 4-3 in the past, then that is all the better.

(When you put a team together, are you conscious of team chemistry and the character of players?)

Yes, we do. It's a huge part of the equation and it always has been. Again, it's not to say that someone couldn't have made a mistake in his past. But we try to do these interviews and we bring people up to visit. We try to get as much information as we can. It's very important, to me personally and it's very important to the Packers in general, the kind of players that we bring into our locker room. We think we've got a pretty good group.

(Do you think winning builds chemistry or does it exist on its own?)

I think chemistry helps in winning. I think it would be difficult to have really bad chemistry and still win on a consistent basis. I think in the NFL, it's the ultimate team sport and I think you have to have players that care about each other and are accountable to each other. I do.

(Do you think the economy is going to affect teams and what they do in free agency?)

That would be a question probably more appropriately addressed to an owner if you see one of those guys walking around. Yeah, there is real economic worries and problems out there in the real world. I don't think football is immune to it. I think all of us in positions of management have to consider that as we go forward. We don't know what the end of this economic cycle is going to be, and I would suspect that every organization, every owner is in a little bit different position than the next. In terms of predicting if it will affect how things are done in free agency, I'm not smart enough to know that.

(Are you scaling back on amount of free agent or scouting trips that you take or in bringing guys to Green Bay?)

We have not done any scaling back as of yet. We're not a huge travel team. We normally, prior to the draft, in bringing guys in, if we need to bring a guy in for a physical, and he's somebody that we're thinking about drafting, we're going to do that. We think that's cost effective, because if we draft a guy in the fifth round and we don't have a physical on him, and he comes in and flunks, that's a huge amount of money and a huge value that we've thrown away. We understand the Green Bay Packers are the Green Bay Packers. It's a community-owned business. It stands on its own. It's very successful. But at the same time, those of us in management try to be cognizant of the fact that we have to do our jobs and represent in terms of what's going on.

(What's your assessment of the defensive back group?)

The defensive back group is a strong group. The corners look like a strong group. Now having said that, I'm going to say every group is a pretty strong group. That's sort of my answer to all these questions, just so you know. But yeah, it looks like a pretty good group.

(Anything in particular stand out about them?)

I don't know. I think every year it's a little different. You have some size guys that makes it a little bit easier against the kind of receivers that are coming in. We just did the heights and weights for the receiver group, and these guys are huge. That's the way colleges are putting them out. So you have to, there's a counter deal.

(Were you struck by Brett's recent comments?)

No, I'm not sure I've seen all the recent comments, but no.

(About how he said he wanted to stick it to you ...)

No, I'll tell you what, I've done a pretty good job of staying away from that. Brett's a great player. We congratulate him on his retirement, and outside of that, I don't think it's productive for me to comment.

{sportsad300}(What are your thoughts on possibly changing the overtime?)

I talked to someone the other day, and this is my opinion, that I'm not a particular fan of the overtime rule. I don't have the answer. I'm not being presented with a good answer to the question, though. I don't know what the alternative is. I don't particularly think we should change the game. I don't think you should start saying OK you kick off at the 40 now as opposed to the 30 when you've played the entire game from the 30. I don't know that it's fair that you give everybody one possession at the 50-yard line, because if you do that, then you've taken away ... if one team happens to have a dynamite kick returner, then you take that player away from the other team. So I don't have the answer. I wish some really smart person could come up with an alternative because the way it is, I think is as good as we can get it right now, or that's the best alternative we have, but it's not unbelievably fair. Because if something happens and all of a sudden, the ball goes down the field and you win the game on the first play, is that it, you know? But that's the way it is now. In terms of the different options I've seen, the way we do it now is the one that I would prefer.

(How about just one possession each and then go back to the same rules, just to give everybody a chance?)

Right. I'm not going to debate you. I'm sure there are a lot of people with different ideas. I just haven't seen the perfect one yet. Somebody might give it to me pretty soon, though.

(How does the spread formation change the evaluation process, and do you ever see it taking hold in the NFL?)

Well, we are a sport of copycats. I think it has changed the NFL. I think the fact that you're watching an NFL game, and often times there are many snaps of an offense, ours included, where we've got four, five receivers on the field and no running backs. So I think that's part of the game now, and then the defense catches up and the offense goes forward, but that's an ongoing thing. But I certainly don't think it's going away. Now, in terms of the wildcat formation with the quarterback running the ball and things like that, I don't know how often you're going to put your 'quarterback' quarterback in peril running the football as a rule. I just don't really see that.

(What do you think of your draft class last year and some players who might be making a leap now?)

I'll kind of talk in generalities I guess a little bit there. We like our class from last year. They all did a good job on the practice field. Some of them had to play. There are some of the fellas we think might become starters a little bit sooner than others. But all in all, I've been pleased with it, especially picking where we were picking at the end of the round every time. It makes a little bit of difference.

(Who would you pick if you had the perfect choice at a position?)

He wants to know who we would pick if we had a perfect choice. I'm not going to get that specific. But hopefully we'll get a very good player, and if we do, it really won't matter what position it is, because you're only a sprained ankle away from needing the next guy. We try to build our team so that we have a front-line group, but at the same time we want sustainability during the course of a season. We're not quite there yet, because if you lose a star player, then you drop off a little bit more than I'm comfortable with. What we want to get to is sustainability.

(How do you see defenses trying to catch up to the spread?)

You have to create as much confusion as you can on the quarterback, because the quarterback is running the show. There has to be doubt in the offense's mind as to who's coming, when they're coming, and how they're coming. I think the 34 leads itself to be able to create more confusion from the offense's point of view. That's what we're trying to get to. Pressure on the quarterback is the No. 1 stopper of offenses. As skilled as the quarterbacks and receivers and tight ends and stuff are in this league, you cannot think you can stop them on a consistent basis if you just drop and let them know what you're doing all the time. So that's the whole point.

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