A look back at Ted Thompson's best pick during each round since he became the Green Bay Packers general manager in 2005:
First Round: QB Aaron Rodgers (1.24, 2005)
Honorable mentions: LB Clay Matthews (1.26, 2009), LB A.J. Hawk (1.5, 2005)
Rodgers is one of the greatest draft picks in team history and possibly the history of the entire league. A best-player-available gamble with a future Hall of Famer and franchise icon entrenched at quarterback, Thompson's drafting of Rodgers eventually paid off handsomely. He's now an elite quarterback with a Super Bowl ring and a league MVP award. And remember, this was Thompson's first ever pick as the Packers general manger. It took an unwavering commitment to his drafting principles, master planning and rare guts to pull it off. Matthews was a home run pick after Thompson traded back into the first round in 2009. Hawk has never been a dominant player, but he's given Green Bay eight strong years.
Second Round: WR Greg Jennings (2.52, 2006)
Honorable mentions: WR Jordy Nelson (2.36), S Nick Collins (2.51, 2005), WR Randall Cobb (2.64, 2011), RB Eddie Lacy (2.61, 2013)
No round has Thompson been more ruthlessly effective than in the second, where he's consistently selected game-changing players at incredible value. Jennings, who finished his Packers career ranked seventh in receptions and receiving yards in team history, gets the nod here as Thompson's best ever second-rounder. It's a dubious distinction, yet Nelson, Cobb and Lacy may all pass him one day. Nelson is rock-solid, Cobb is one of the game's unique receiving talents and Lacy is a bulldozer who established himself as a top-8 running back in his rookie year. Collins had Hall of Fame potential before a freak neck injury ended his career.
Third Round: WR James Jones (3.78, 2007)
Honorable mentions: TE Jermichael Finley (3.91, 2008), S Morgan Burnett (3.71, 2010)
Thompson has only made seven picks in the third round since 2005, his lowest of any round. The results have been mixed. Jones wins the round. He caught 310 passes for 4,305 yards and 37 scores over seven years, progressing from a fourth or fifth option to a main target with relative ease. His 14 touchdowns in 2012 led the league. Finley's career had limitless potential, but injuries and inconsistency have dogged him throughout his six years. A free agent coming off a major neck injury, he might be done in Green Bay. Burnett looked like a rising star at safety but regressed sharply in 2013.
Fourth Round: G Josh Sitton (4.135, 2008)
Honorable mentions: G T.J. Lang (4.109, 2009), DL Mike Daniels (4.132, 2012),
Thompson has selected five offensive linemen in the fourth round, with Sitton the jewel of the group. He's an All-Pro guard and a line stalwart (80 career starts), capable of playing left or right guard. He should play in more Pro Bowls before he's done. Lang found a home at guard and has now made 50 starts. Tough and dependable, he forms a strong combo inside with Sitton. Daniels is a rolling ball of butcher knives. Seemingly miscast in the 3-4, he's developed into Green Bay's best interior rusher since Cullen Jenkins.
Fifth Round: T Marshall Newhouse (5.169, 2010)
Honorable mentions: TE Andrew Quarless (5.154, 2010), CB Micah Hyde (5.159, 2013)
Not the strongest round for Thompson, despite him taking 14 total players (second most). You could make the argument for either Newhouse or Quarless, two picks from the 2010 draft. In the end, Newhouse has made 31 career starts—including 13 for Green Bay's record setting offense in 2011—while Quarless only has 15. That number could rise in 2014. When it's all said and done, Hyde might turn out as one of Thompson's better values. He's a poor man's Charles Woodson, and the Packers coaching staff is expected to entrust him with more snaps and responsibility as a second-year player.
Sixth Round: LB Desmond Bishop (6.193, 2007)
Honorable mentions: DL Johnny Jolly (6.183, 2006), K Mason Crosby (6.194, 2007), RB James Starks (6.193, 2010)
Thompson has found some nice players with his 13 sixth-round picks. You really couldn't go wrong with Bishop, Jolly, Crosby or Starks. Bishop made 27 starts at inside linebacker and was emerging as one of the NFL's true thumpers before injury struck. Jolly has been effective over 47 starts, but his career is marred by a three-year prison stint. Crosby set an NFL record with 762 points during his first six seasons, and he's now only 151 points behind Ryan Longwell's franchise scoring record. Starks helped the Packers win a Super Bowl in 2010 and then produced a career-best season as a backup to Eddie Lacy last season.
Seventh Round: QB Matt Flynn (7.209, 2008)
Honorable mentions: LB Brad Jones (7.218, 2009), DE C.J. Wilson (7.230, 2010)
Thompson loves his seventh-rounders, having selected 16 players in the final round since 2005. Even with all the swings, his success rate is low. That said, Flynn has produced some big moments as a backup quarterback—including a near win at New England in 2010, a record-breaking win over the Lions to end 2011 and a season-saving recovery job over five games in 2013. Versatile and willing, Jones has made 35 starts and tallied 10 career sacks at linebacker. Wilson stuck around for four years and made 11 starts despite being the 230th player picked in 2010.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV and is the Lead Writer for the NFC North at Bleacher Report. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].
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