Being Ted Thompson - Quarterback and Tight End Tendencies

There are a few positions that the Green Bay Packers show very few trends in, because they don't draft these positions early or often enough. Most notably are the positions of quarterbac and tight end.

At quarterback, the only significant picks that the team has used on the position are Aaron Rodgers and Brian Brohm. At tight end, the only top-100 selections the team has brought in are Jermichael Finley and Richard Rodgers. 

If we're going to find trends at these positions, we're going to have to squint a bit and really put ourselves in the shoes of the Packers decision makers. Let's start with quarterback. Here is the cast of characters:

•                     2005 first-round pick Aaron Rodgers

•                     2008 second-round pick Brian Brohm

•                     2006 fifth-round pick Ingle Martin

•                     2015 fifth-round pick Brett Hundley

•                     2008 seventh-round pick Matt Flynn

•                     2012 seventh-round pick B.J. Coleman

 

On the surface, there's not much to work with. Four (Rodgers, Martin, Hundley and Flynn) of those six quarterbacks have a shuttle time of 4.34 seconds or faster, which is in the 46th percentile for quarterbacks according to Mock Draftable. Coleman was a step slow with a 4.38-second time, while Brohm had a well below average 4.55-second mark. Brohm was a projected first-round pick who fell to the back end of the second round. Again, the outlier had a massive draft day tumble.

This is when the squinting starts. Quarterbacking has little to do with measurables, though every pick the Packers have taken has been 6'2”-flat or taller, but mobility does play a part in the position. When you think about the biggest names that the team has brought in as backups, it has been the mobile Seneca Wallace and Vince Young, two Madden legends. Don't forget, Ted Thompson was the first general manager to stick his neck out for Michael Vick in public, too. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/236045-michael-vick-slides-through-ted-thompsons-fingers-signs-with-eagles

With that in mind, I think a filter for shuttle times and height would be the way to look at how Green Bay adds quarterbacks, as Wallace, Young, Vick, Rodgers, Martin and Hundley were all significant athletes for the position.

Here's how a board would look if you filtered out quarterbacks with a 4.35-second shuttle time or worse and/or measured in shorter than 6'2”-flat:

 

 

There's nothing too special here. If Green Bay is targeting a mid-Day 3 quarterback, keep an eye on Josh Dobbs of Tennessee, who actually forced Pittsburgh's Nathan Peterman to transfer from the program. With Rodgers and Hundley already set up for the next two seasons, it's hard to imagine that the Packers would draft a quarterback higher than mid-Day 3.

 

The next position we're going to look at is tight end. It's another “squint” position. Here are the cast of characters you need to know:

•                     2008 third-round pick Jermichael Finley

•                     2014 third-round pick Richard Rodgers

•                     2010 fifth-round pick Andrew Quarless

•                     2011 fifth-round pick D.J. Williams

•                     2015 sixth-round pick Kennard Backman

•                     2007 seventh-round pick Clark Harris

•                     2011 seventh-round pick Ryan Taylor

Harris and Taylor were brought in mostly as special teamers, and they don't look like the athletic profile of the rest of the tight ends. If you will notice throughout this series, it tends to be sixth- and seventh-round picks who buck a lot of these trends. It's not odd for NFL teams to draft players who are listed as undrafted free agents on their board in the later rounds because they need functional bodies in terms of the numbers game heading into camp. Keep that in mind.

Of the five tight ends who were drafted in the first six rounds of the draft under Ted Thompson, four of them either ran a sub-4.7-second 40-yard dash at the combine or at their pro day. For the most part, it's smart to just ride with combine times, but Finley, arguably the best tight end in a decade in Green Bay, ran an uncharacteristic 4.82-second 40-yard dash in Indianapolis to go along with just a 27.5” vertical, but improved his dash time to 4.66 seconds at Texas' pro day. Just rolling with the “athletic tight end” narrative, it would seem like Finley just had a bad combine week. A real bad combine week.

When you look at the tight ends that the team has brought in this offseason in Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, the narrative isn't shaken. Kendricks, like Finley, improved his 40-yard dash time significantly from 4.75 seconds to 4.57 seconds between his combine and pro day. While there is this notion that pro day times are much faster than combine times, that doesn't nessicarly play out on NFL Draft Scout's numbers, as they aren't numbers agents want the public to know about, like most pro day numbers are reported. Size seems to be no issue for the Packers, as they have drafted the 6'2” Williams and 6'3” Backman recently.

Here's what this tight end class looks like when you filter out the 40-yard dashes over 4.69 seconds, the 72nd percentile for tight ends according to Mock Draftable:

 

 

This tight end class is incredibly deep. With Bennett, Kendricks and Rodgers on the roster, though, it's hard to imagine the team spending a top pick on a tight end. With that being said, there's easily a scenario where Kendricks and Rodgers are both gone in 2018. If the team is looking for a wing player to pair with Bennett long-term, Evan Engram of Mississippi, Gerald Everett of South Alabama, Jonnu Smith of Florida International and Cethan Carter of Nebraska are solid fits. Billy Brown of Shepherd is a receiver convert, like Bucky Hodges of Virginia Tech. George Kittle of Iowa and Jake Butt of Michigan are solid all-around tight ends, but Butt is coming off a late-season ACL injury.

 

Previous installments of this series:

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Comments (10)

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NickPerry's picture

April 05, 2017 at 05:55 am

Kittle from Iowa's is an interesting prospect. He's projected to go somewhere in the 4th or 5th rounds but put up numbers very comparable to some of the top TE in this class at the combine. Jake Butt would be a blessing if he slides and Thompson was able to draft him after the 3rd. It's pretty doubtful but one can hope. Maybe Ted could move back up into the 3rd or early in 4th if he's still there.
With Kendricks, Bennett, and Rodgers the Packers have the luxury of picking a TE who doesn't have to play in 2017.

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croatpackfan's picture

April 05, 2017 at 06:10 am

I bow to the effort to make this article and series. It is interesting and informative...

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slit's picture

April 05, 2017 at 06:37 am

These articles, by far, are the best on Cheeseheadtv. Thanks, Justin.

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The TKstinator's picture

April 05, 2017 at 06:38 am

It seems like one of every six QB's TT drafts is HOF caliber.
Thus, using advanced sabermetrics, I humbly suggest that TT draft 6 QB's on the eve of 12's eventual retirement.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an interview for a front office position with the Browns.

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EdsLaces's picture

April 05, 2017 at 06:53 am

Baziiiing

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

April 05, 2017 at 06:39 am

McCarthy added, a year or two ago, that he believes the new rules favor a "tall target down the middle of the field." I think the Packers would prefer a 6'4" or taller TE at this point, though 6'3" would still be "taller than an average receiver."

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croatpackfan's picture

April 05, 2017 at 11:57 am

Mo Alie-Cox. 6’6”, 250 pounds. What do you think of him as development TE for the future... Former VCU’s basketball team member was eligible for 2016 draft and he is available for signings immediately...
Is this valid idea or what?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 06, 2017 at 05:19 am

Just barely. The size is good. Worth sending a scout out, probably. The guy hasn't played football since his freshman year ... wait for it ... of High School. So, unless he makes the 53, he can't be locked up to a multi-year contract and thus can be poached by another team at various times, how long will it take before he reasonably can be expected to play and would we be developing him for GB or for some other team?

Can he block? Probably has zero technique.
Can he run routes? Probably not.
Love of the game? Probably not.

I am not against bringing him in to camp - that costs next to nothing. Maybe he is a natural. Antonio Gates played both hoops and basketball in high school, and got football scholarship offers from Ohio State, Michigan and accepted Michigan State's offer because they let him play both sports. (Gates got scholarship offers for basketball only from mid-major schools.) He red-shirted his freshman year, and then MSU said he couldn't play both sports, so he left and played basketball; he never played in a college football game. Gates held a workout, signed as a UDFA, and had a solid rookie season as the starter by the end of the season. IDK if Cox is anything like Antonio Gates. Still, can't hurt.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/04/05/ex-hoops-player-mo-alie-...

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PatrickGB's picture

April 05, 2017 at 01:09 pm

Croat, I do think he has a chance to be an NFL caliber TE. If he tests well somebody will pick him. I doubt we will but might bring him in after others have passed.

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croatpackfan's picture

April 05, 2017 at 04:56 pm

Thanks!

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