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Cory's Corner: Ted Thompson is a draft savant

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Cory's Corner: Ted Thompson is a draft savant

For the last four months, many have tried to forecast what the Packers will do for the upcoming NFL Draft.

But there’s one thing that we know for sure, as the first round kicks off on Thursday, is that general manager Ted Thompson is anything but predictable.

With Brett Favre still on the roster, Thompson made the bold move by selecting the team’s future signal caller as Aaron Rodgers fell into the Packers’ laps at No. 24 in 2005.

He also moved back into the first round in 2009 by trading away a second rounder and two third rounders to the Patriots for the 26th overall pick and a fifth rounder. That trade brought Clay Matthews to Green Bay — and after another New England trade, brought Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski to the Patriots.

And remember, the draft may be seven rounds long, but Thompson is one of the best at getting the most value late. Brett Hundley, Corey Linsley, Jared Abbrederis and Andrew Quarless were all taken in the fifth round. Hundley is the one in that group that has not started a game yet, but the dynamic quarterback has plenty of promise.

The draft is all about not being tempted. Say a team is in the market for a wide receiver. It’s not easy to put that emotion aside in the first round when the best available talent is a 310-pound defensive lineman. Also, each team must resist the character flaw temptation. A player may have loads of talent, but will it matter much if he cannot stay on the field? Case in point here is Justin Blackmon, who is dangerously close to not being a professional football player.

Add it all up, and it makes sense why Thompson has succeeded. He’s a mysterious, yet boring NFL Draft savant. And yes, there’s a faction of people that loathe him, but you have to admit that he has been pretty successful. It is frustrating when guys like Jerel Worthy, Derek Sherrod, Brian Brohm and Justin Harrell fail.  But for each of those guys, there’s Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Josh Sitton and Matthews.

But the draft is like playing Black Jack. You know the ingredients to win, you just don’t know what hand you will be dealt. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Link below is to an article that suggests GB has been the 3rd best at drafting over the last 20 years. There are some issues with the metrics used, but it is interesting. Another commenter (who definitely does not like TT overall) used just TT's picks and TT's average draft value per player rose to 16.03, which would be good for 2nd place.

dobber's picture

While TT might value the draft too much, Sherman didn't respect it enough.

croatpackfan's picture

Good analogy Cory... Black Jack! I like it!

Razer's picture

I agree, especially with the "you just don't know what hand you will be dealt" phrase. If teams ahead of us start reaching, we should have some real talent fall our way otherwise we are picking from the pile.

Given that the talent levels-out mid way through the first round, it would be nice if some team wants to trade up to 27 and we get a moderately high second and third round pick. We could fill a lot of jars with 2,2,3,3,4,4,4

dobber's picture

Some might argue that the metrics they tend to use for one's draft grades are circular: games started by drafted players, round of selection, etc. If you tend to keep your picks over outside players, they are naturally going to tend to play games at some point. It's not always a measure of quality, but rather a measure of how you stick to your philosophy.

In the end, all that matters is wins. From September through early January, the Packers do that pretty well, and that is ultimately what grants credence to the draft/personnel philosophy. They've just got to make that translate through early February.

Evan's picture

Yea, "games started" is sort of a meaningless metric. Luke Joeckel has started 35 games in 3 years. Does that make him a good pick? High picks tend to get a lot of starts, regardless of their performance.

I'd say it's also a measure of the overall lack of talent on a team, too.

RCPackerFan's picture

Thompson can be unpredictable, but at the same time, he really isn't that unpredictable if you start looking through his drafts.

Thompson has been the Packers GM for 11 years. This will be his 12th.

In the 1st round, he has taken a front 7 defensive player in 6 of the 11 draft picks.

In the 2nd round, he has drafted 5 WR's, and 4 DB's out of 15 picks.

In the 4th round, he has taken 5 OT, 4 DB, 3 LB out of 16 picks

In the 5th round he has taken 6 - OL out of 17 picks.

In the 7th round he has taken 4 WR's and 2 TE's out of 17 picks.

Just looking at the positions in which he has drafted players, you see that Thompson loves taking OL in the 4th and 5th rounds. Out of 33 picks he has used 11 on OL. Then next closest in those 2 rounds have been DB's with 6.

You can definitely find some trends in Thompson's picks.

RobinsonDavis's picture

Great points. Just look at the 4th & 5th rounds for OLinemen....4th especially. Ted has drafted the equivalent of 2 starting lines...from picks many miss on. Where he has hit and missed badly in early rounds is the WRs and DLine. If someone falls like a WR or an OT that Thompson really likes, I could see him not flinching, or still yet, trading back. However, the safe pick is DLine, despite recent's hoping for a breakout by Datone!

EdsLaces's picture

I am just gonna call our 1st rounder right now. After thinking about the sub package thing and that Billings doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a first round pick. The fact that this guy has some issues and might for that reason fall a bit. I think the talent and value meets the need. We need the pass rush tandem that scares people. And I think that duo should be Matthews and ....drum rolll.....Noah Spence. Make your home made jerseys now #55 with Spence on the back! (I'd also love Correa)

dobber's picture

I think that if Spence is there at #27, the Packers will be running to the podium with that pick. Edge rusher is a premium position and the Packers have need (especially after next season) there.

I see Correa as a "trade up" guy in round 2. Package the #2 and #4 to move up into the late 30s/low 40s if he's there. He might be the last of the higher-end edge rushers in this draft on the board.

holmesmd's picture

Butler has more value and is more flexible and less risky than Spence IMO.

dobber's picture

I've made no mystery of the fact that I really like Butler and would like to see him in a Packer uniform, but Spence plays an "in demand" position. He carries risk, yes. But at #27, his value far outweighs that of Butler, IMO.

EdsLaces's picture

We don't get the opportunity to grab a top 10 talent very often. (Not that I'm complaining) So if we could get Spence especially after he kinda straightened his crap up for a year instead of declaring I think we would be stupid to pass him up.

ray nichkee's picture

Brian brohm and jerel worthy were bad picks where they were taken. Derek Sherrod had a horrible injury that derailed his career and justin harrell could never get on the field due to a multiple rash of injuries. They are all high picks that did not work out but I have a hard time using the word fail when they put the effort in and get injured. Brohm failed to learn the playbook as got passed up by a 7th rounder. Worthy was failed to get much time on the field and was cut.

I'm not sure if savant is the right word for TT but i can't come up with anything better to describe him. I bet if he actually talks post retirement he'd say he was lucky. He's an enigma and has a pretty good poker face. He's got one of the best batting averages in the draft and he's the best at pulling players out of the woodwork.

barutanseijin's picture

You gotta figure the injury history in with all the other factors. Harrell was a risky pick and it wasn't all that much of a surprise that he got hurt again. Sherrod was just a terrible lineman, who sunk to the bottom of the depth chart before getting hurt. The broken leg has been a convenient cover up of a bad pick.

Razer's picture

You are right. Lot of ways to coat these picks but they were mistakes from the get-go.

zoellner25's picture

The trade up in 2009 to get CM3 was pretty genious. I read that story yesterday about draft history. While we may have the most draft picks/undrafted FAs in our roster, I would argue some of these guys shouldn't have been on our roster anyway (Don Barclay, Nate Palmer, to name a few).

ray nichkee's picture

Palmer got cut and barclay was a servicable backup until he tore his acl. Give him a chance to prove he can play in camp. I see him being a backup guard not a tackle anymore. The packers will cut him if need be. Palmer was forced into playing when barrington went down. You can't go three deep in starters and pay the going rate.

Handsback's picture

TT would probably be embarrassed by calling him a great drafter. I'm of the impression that above everything else, he's a great scout. He has probably evaluated every guy that's about to be drafted, if not personally, with his staff doing it according to his method. But that's not all, he has also scouted those UDFAs and determined which guys have that something special that could make it in the NFL.

To me, that is why he's so special in the draft.

dobber's picture

I did a little tabulating of draft results over the last 5 years to see when certain positions tend to be drafted (by raw number of picks). For example: 14 QB have been drafted in the first round since 2011. No other round has seen more than 8. What I was curious about what we perceive to be TTs drafting tendencies relative to what has happened league-wide (keep in mind that I was tabulating by year, by hand, so there might be some errors).

We see TT as being someone who looks for OL in rounds 4-5. In general, most OT have been off the board by the end of r2 (38 in first 2 rounds vs. 44 in r3-7). OG selections tend to lead other OL positions from r3 on. Since his selections tend to be OT and OT conversion projects, this really fights the trend. I think this is the most curious stat, and it probably shows where his strengths are in evaluating talent.

We also see TT as someone who looks for WR and DB in rounds 2-3. In general, WR have been selected pretty evenly across all 7 rounds (19-26 selected in each round) since 2011. The majority of DBs tend to be selected from r4-r7 (38, 43, 38, 44), with the fewest being selected in r2 (26) and r1 (29). No distinction was made between CB and S in this database. So, while TTs WR selections don't seem too out there relative to league trends, he tends to pick DB ahead of the rest of the league.

LB mirror DB and tend to be selected more in r4-r7 (avg. 26/yr vs. avg 20/yr in r1-3). In recent years, that's where TT tends to pick LB.

I have numbers for DL, RB, QB, and TE also, but they really don't tell us very much (aside from the fact that DL tend to go earlier....which will be true this year, too).

Just FYI

RobinsonDavis's picture


Clay Zombo's picture

My surprise pick in the first round is Edge Rusher Emmanuel Ogbah.

Razer's picture

Would love to see us get this guy with our 2nd pick. A little bit of a project but he has some good tools.

barutanseijin's picture

OK, so TT drafts well. What happened in 2011 & 2012?

My feeling about 2012 is that his picks were reactive. The Packers defense was bad in 2011 so he went all D on his picks and reached for some guys. Bunch of trades in 2012 year, too.

Evan's picture

Nobody is perfect.

Razer's picture

True - and - sometimes the draft doesn't fall your way. If the couple of guys that we have identified as 1st round talent are gone, you are forced to change your plans. Sometimes the draft dictates a less than optimal result. Let's hope that some of the more desperate teams open the door for the Packers

4thand1's picture

he got away from bap

cheesehead1's picture

We need a top five defense so I would do whatever it takes to upgrade. Saw a few mocks about Ragland falling to us. Some concerns about his coverage ability. What do you think?

zoellner25's picture

I'd take him at 27 if I could

Razer's picture

Totally agree on Ragland. I hope that someone takes him before us so that a better talent can be pushed down

4thand1's picture

Ragland is a really good and smart football player. The key is he is healthy. Big time player from a big time program, f these guys from div II or Idaho state. I want guys who know how to win. Draft em.

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