Skip to main content

Thompson Found Good Value Throughout Draft

General Manager Ted Thompson has often said he doesn’t draft to fill needs, he drafts to find good football players. The 2010 draft was yet another example of that. - More Thompson/McCarthy NFL Draft Transcripts Draft Page


General Manager Ted Thompson has often said he doesn't draft to fill needs, he drafts to find good football players.

The 2010 draft was yet another example of that, as in the eyes of some the Packers failed to address two much-talked-about needs over the last three days, outside linebacker and cornerback, while adding players at some positions seemingly well-stocked.

But with the seven-player class Thompson selected -- two offensive linemen, two defensive ends, a safety, a tight end and a running back -- the GM not only stuck to his guns by drafting the highest-rated player on his board at each pick, he also sent a message that in his mind the outside linebacker and cornerback spots aren't in as dire need of reinforcements as some might think.

"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," Thompson said. "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."

It's not that Thompson wasn't paying attention to those two key defensive positions. In fact, he acknowledged after the draft that he's still working on outside linebacker, presumably in the rookie free agent pool. But he wasn't going to pass up a better player at another position just to fill a spot on the depth chart.

Thompson reiterated that Brad Jones, a seventh-round pick a year ago, played pretty well opposite Clay Matthews at outside linebacker in the second half of 2009. And he's confident in the health reports he's getting on his three cornerbacks coming back from injury in Al Harris, Pat Lee and Will Blackmon.

Where the personnel will look significantly different come training camp is in the trenches, on both sides.

By bringing in offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga in the first round and tackle/guard Marshall Newhouse in the fifth, the Packers have built up their depth up front on offense and established some competitive battle lines going forward.

The same goes for defensive end, with the additions of second-rounder Mike Neal and seventh-rounder C.J. Wilson.

"I feel this training camp will be the most competitive training camp that I have been a part of in Green Bay, both on the offensive line and on the defensive line," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think really if you just look at the offensive line we'll have the ability to place players behind each other at a position and let them compete."

On offense, McCarthy envisions Bulaga beginning his career as the backup to Chad Clifton at left tackle, while second-year pro T.J. Lang will back up veteran Mark Tauscher on the right side. Third options at each spot will be Allen Barbre and Breno Giacomini.

With things still uncertain as to whether Newhouse will begin at tackle or guard, that leaves a group including guards Josh Sitton and Daryn Colledge, center Scott Wells, and center/guards Jason Spitz and Evan Dietrich-Smith to sort out the three inside spots.

On the other side, Neal and Wilson get added to a mix at defensive end that includes Cullen Jenkins, Johnny Jolly, Jarius Wynn, Justin Harrell and B.J. Raji, who also plays on the nose.

Suddenly there's no shortage of players at positions where it can be hard to find the physical specimens needed to play them.

"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," Thompson said of the defensive linemen. "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."

So much focus has been placed on outside linebacker because Matthews racked up double-digit sacks there as a rookie, and Aaron Kampman departed in free agency for Jacksonville. But Thompson believes the overall pass rush can still improve with the additions of Neal and Wilson on the interior, particularly in nickel situations.

"I think those guys can play, and they're going to help us in the sub packages," Thompson said. "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."

{sportsad300}The Packers also have some newcomers to push established veterans. Third-round safety Morgan Burnett could challenge Atari Bigby for a starting spot, fifth-round tight end Andrew Quarless will compete with Donald Lee and Spencer Havner as he tries to emulate Jermichael Finley's quick rise at the position, and sixth-round running back James Starks could be another option as a big, every-down back behind Ryan Grant.

The Packers didn't necessarily "need" players at those spots, but that doesn't mean the new additions didn't improve the team.

"We're in a position now where we're talking about adding good football players," McCarthy said, addressing the strength of the roster as a whole, one that won seven of its final eight regular season games to make the playoffs last winter.

"It's a simple philosophy, but it's one that you can get away from very easily when you start talking more about need and this guy doesn't fit us. To me those are mindsets that you need to stay away from."

Thompson did, particularly with his four picks in the final three rounds on Saturday, when he found players rated much higher than their draft position still available. When things fall that way, Thompson's not going to complain.

He's going to stock up on good football players and count on everyone being able to contribute if called upon.

"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," he said. "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."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content