Cory's Corner: Will Thompson be on the defensive?

Ted Thompson is probably knee deep in reams of information right about now, trying to figure out how to put his general manager’s fingerprints on this team.

The NFL Draft is three weeks away and what do we know and what do we have yet to know?

First of all, we know that you can get great defensive line value. There are 18 defensive linemen projected to go in the first two rounds, which is a huge number. And it’s pretty ironic that defensive line is one of the biggest needs on this team right next to inside linebacker. We know that Thompson likes to stick to his “best available” mantra, but with a deep talent pool like that, there are pretty good odds that he’s going to be able to snag at least one of them.

Secondly, how important is it for Clay Matthews to play outside linebacker? Not long after losing in the desert to Arizona in the NFC Divisional Playoff, coach Mike McCarthy said that Matthews would go back to outside linebacker after playing a mix of inside and outside. Thompson has to have a firm answer on this because there are five outside linebackers slotted to go in the first two rounds. And if there is a sliver of a chance that Matthews could play inside linebacker again, then drafting one of those guys would be a better value pick over one inside linebacker projected in the first two rounds.

Finally, with the Packers signing free agent tight end Jared Cook, will Thompson be more apt to revert to 2012? That year he took six straight defensive players to begin the draft before taking offensive tackle Andrew Datko in the seventh round. If he opts to do this again, many Packers fans should be OK with it because Nick Perry, Casey Hayward and Mike Daniels have been decent to excellent. More depth along the offensive line, some running back competition and even another punter would be welcome additions. But the reason the Packers didn’t advance to the NFC title game was because the defense failed and more playmakers are needed on that side of the ball.

But as always, make sure that the picks are the best available, right Ted? 

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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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Comments (29)

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 05, 2016 at 07:22 am

I think we should expect to see more of the same from the last 2 years. About 50/50 on offense vs defense.

The last 3 drafts have netted 15 offensive players and 13 defensive players. That's pretty balanced.

Going into this draft it would not surprise me if we ended up with 5 or 6 defensive players and 3-4 offensive players.
I could see them coming away with 2 DL, 2 LB, 2 DB's, and 2 OL, 1 RB or something like that.

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Bearmeat's picture

April 05, 2016 at 08:52 am

I think you probably have the right idea RC. IMO though, we can probably be a little more specific. The strength of this draft is the big bodies on D. Generally TT has not been strong at drafting front 7 talent on D. Accordingly, GB once again has its biggest need in the front 7 - at every spot.

NT and 5 Tech are the biggest needs IMO, but ILB and a not-too-far-off need at OLB are very close behind. That to me, suggests that we'll see an ILB or OLB in the 1st round and TT will leave the deeper positions of 5 tech and NT for 2/3/4th rounds.

Just a guess, but I'd be THRILLED with a selection of Spence or Ragland at 27 overall.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 06, 2016 at 06:29 am

Yeah, I agree with you. Although, I think it will really depend on who is available in round 1. I think the best players available in round 1 will be on the DL. Unless Ragland or Lee were to fall to them.

If I were to guess, based on depth of the positions, I could see them doing something like this.

Spence is definitely a guy to keep an eye on. Ragland would be a good pick if he is available.
Here is a question, are you willing to trade up for Ragland? If so how far would you be willing to trade up?

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Bearmeat's picture

April 06, 2016 at 08:34 am

No - But not because he won't fare well in the NFL. I think he'll be at least a 7 year starter - which is what you want in the 1st round as a baseline.

It's because GB needs reinforcements at 5-6 positions on the team. And this draft is strong in the areas GB needs. Good problem to have.

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NickPerry's picture

April 05, 2016 at 05:27 pm

WOW.... It sure doesn't FEEL that balanced. I guess that 2012 draft still haunts me. : )

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Bearmeat's picture

April 05, 2016 at 05:57 pm

You know, if anything, those two drafts show that TT is human. On defense he had 2 all pro's get sudden career ending injuries. Wood got old quickly, and he made a mistake in not resigning Jenkins.

So he reached. He reached for Perry, Neal and Worthy. And he drafted McMillan, Terell Manning, DJ Smith, Ricky Elmore, and Lawrence Guy - when they were fringe prospects at best.

Only Perry remains on the team. And then TT followed it up with Datone - who is NOT a game changer (or even much above average) at any facet of the game the next year. And then Khyri Thornton. Another bust.

LOOK at that list of BUSTS! The fact is that TT has struck out on the front 7 on D a LOT. And that's only since 2011. Now, to be fair, Daniels was a home run. And Heyward was solid as a 3rd round pick. Jake Ryan looks ok so far. And Penell looks very promising. But over that's not much to hang your hat on for FOUR different positions since 2011.

IMO this (more than any free agents or lack thereof) is the reason GB did not win it all in 2013, 2014 and 2015. What could have been is very sad. Hopefully it turns around quickly.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 06, 2016 at 06:37 am

I don't think he reached for Perry or Worthy. Before the draft both those players were projected to go in the area in which they went. Worthy was projected to go in the first round.

I do agree that the 2011 and 2012 drafts were a major reason why they were set back. In a draft and develop system you can't miss on many players.

Hopefully with 3 very good drafts in a row, we will see the positives in return.

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Bearmeat's picture

April 06, 2016 at 08:04 am

Fair. But if not overdrafted, then both were miscasts in GBs 34 system. There were a lot of those "miscast" players drafted by TT in 11/12.

Perry is a better 43 DE than a 34 OLB. Always has been. Always will be. D Jones doesn't have the strength to be a 43 Under Tackle, nor a 5 Tech DT in the 34. But he also doesn't have the speed to be an OLB in the 34. Worthy should have been a 43 Under Tackle.

:(

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 06, 2016 at 08:52 am

One can argue that. I think the problem with Perry has been he has been injured to much. He has shown flashes of playing great as an OLB but then gets hurt. I don't think its as much of a bad pick as others think. I just think he has been injured to much.

I agree with that about Worthy. But Worthy was a bust pick. He never turned out to be the player most thought he was going to be. I think Thompson viewed him as the next Cullen Jenkins. Jenkins wasn't a great fit as a 3-4 DE but Capers adjusted his scheme a bit to fit him in it, and allow Jenkins to do what he was good at.

I think part of the problem with some of the players that Thompson has drafted is that Capers and McCarthy haven't adjust their schemes to fit those players talents.

At the end of the day you have to draft the best players available and the best ones that can fit onto your team. But also the coaches have to do a really good job of adjusting their schemes to fit the players.

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holmesmd's picture

April 09, 2016 at 05:38 pm

Not so fast. Jones can actually run for a guy his size and I think can be more disruptive standing up. The coaches seem to think so thus his inclusion as an elephant at the later part of last season. Jones ran a 4.8 coming out of UCLA. I think he's a better athlete than most give him credit for. Let's see what happens. For the sake of illustration, JP runs a 4.68 CMIII 4.67...both are faster than AR's 4.71. That's actually pretty incredible since both guys have 65 & 35lbs on Arod respectively! Don't give up on Jones yet. If he can stay healthy, the guy can play.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 06, 2016 at 06:31 am

Yeah, the last 3 drafts have been pretty balanced overall. Probably doesn't feel that way because in the last 3 drafts they have used their first pick on a defensive player. Kind of tilts to that way.

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marpag1's picture

April 05, 2016 at 07:26 am

"But the reason the Packers didn’t advance to the NFC title game was because the defense failed and more playmakers are needed on that side of the ball."

Wait... the Packers held Arizona, the #1 offense in terms of yards, to 288 yards in regulation and 368 including overtime, both of those numbers lower than Arizona's season average of 408. The Packers gave up 20 points in regulation and 26 points including overtime to the #2 scoring offense that averaged 30.6 points per game.

The Packer offense on the other hand was more or less atrocious all season, 15th in points and 23rd in total yards. And they scored LESS than their season average in the Arizona game.

This is "the defense failing??" Geez...

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NickPerry's picture

April 05, 2016 at 07:38 am

LOL... Opps, sorry marpag1, we used the same quote. Excellent comment!!!

PS... I rewatched that Arizona Game again and still can't believe on that fluke TD pass they went ahead with, there wasn't a Flag thrown on the Cardinals WR who blocked Hayward (Nelson or Brown?). I mean damn, the dude was blocking before Palmer even set his feet let alone threw the ball!!!!

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marpag1's picture

April 05, 2016 at 10:22 am

Well, ya gotta be purdy quick on the draw 'round these parts, pilgrim. ;)

Yeah I think I remember the block you're talking about. In fairness, though, I'd say that Green Bay very often gets away with the same sort of thing on wide receiver screens. It's just not called very tight in today's scoring-happy NFL.

Another thing about the Arizona game... With less than 2 minutes to go in regulation, GB had scored only 13 points. They needed a prayer of a 60-yarder to Janis on 4th and 20 to keep the game alive. And even after that they needed yet another prayer of a Hail Mary just to tie the game at 20 with only 5 seconds on the clock.

And one of the Arizona touchdowns was scored when the Packer defender (Randall) deflected the ball away from the intended receiver (Fitz) and it floated directly into the arms of Michael Floyd.

All of this makes it utterly inconceivable to me how any informed person could say, "the reason the Packers didn’t advance to the NFC title game was because the defense failed." Bizarre.

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BradHTX's picture

April 05, 2016 at 10:25 am

"Bizarre."

Careful, dude... There could be an edit in your future.

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marpag1's picture

April 05, 2016 at 10:46 am

Hehe... maybe I need to take a quick screencap before the Edit Genie shows up and changes it to "Thanks! Pretty good job!"

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NickPerry's picture

April 06, 2016 at 06:03 am

THATS the TD I was talking about. Watch the play again and you'll see the Arizona WR blocking Hayward Backwards at least 2 or 3 seconds before the ball is thrown, THATS Offensive PI. Even Collinsworth made a point of it during the broadcast. That fluke of a play should have been called back for Offensive PI. Seems we can't get a OBVIOUS penalty call in a Playoff game in Arizona.

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NickPerry's picture

April 05, 2016 at 07:33 am

"But the reason the Packers didn’t advance to the NFC title game was because the defense failed and more playmakers are needed on that side of the ball".

I would argue the reason they went 4-6 after a 6-0 start was anything other than the defense. Sure there were those games where Capers Defense looked like Capers defense of 2011, but there were several games where the offense was completely dominated in ways we haven't seen in years and years. The Packers need for O-Line depth and a quality starter or 2 possibly as soon as next season can't be ignored.

If the Packers can draft 2 O-Lineman, 2 D-Lineman, and address either the OLB, ILB, and/or TE position with the first 6 picks in rounds 1 through 4 (Comp picks included) and either the Utah or Texas A&M Punter in the 5th or 6th I'd be a VERY happy Packers fan.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 05, 2016 at 07:57 am

"And if there is a sliver of a chance that Matthews could play inside linebacker again, then drafting one of those guys [an OLB] would be a better value pick over one inside linebacker projected in the first two rounds."

This too is highly questionable. Regardless of the players selected by TT, MM has the option to play CM3 at ILB if circumstances warrant. It is MM's job to put the best team on the field using the players provided, not to stubbornly refuse to use CM3 at ILB regardless of whether that is what is best for the team.

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NickPerry's picture

April 06, 2016 at 06:18 am

That's a good point. If you recall Matthews had 2.5 sacks in 2014 after 8 weeks of playing his normal OLB position. Once Matthews moved inside not only did the run defense improve, but he had 8.5 sacks over the final 8 games of the regular season, Matthews WAS the reason the Packers D improved so much the second half of the 2014 season after the move. If the Packers struggle in the middle, MM can't wait until week 14 or something like he normally does (Stubborn) to make change.

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croatpackfan's picture

April 05, 2016 at 08:19 am

Very well questions Cory. What will Ted Thompson do. As many of us, other GMs are surely question themselves about Packers moves and players Packers will pick. Those first 3 rounds from the last season draft might left competitors confused. All 3 were top scores...

Regarding needs (D vs O), I have to be on your side Cory. I know that stats showing that D played much, much better than O, but... As always there is but: O already had additions - to remind all of you - returning of Jedi, sory Jordy, Jared Cook, and injuries will be healed, Eddie looks wonderfull, James Starks are back, Packers lost only Don Barclay. Lets see what happened with D - D lost B. J., Mike Neal, Mike Pennel for 4 games, Julius is not younger, Andy Mulumba left Packers, Casey Hayward left Packers, D got back Josh Boyd and Christian Ringo...

I think D should prevail... But, as always BAP!

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 05, 2016 at 09:53 am

The more reel I watch on this guy -- the more I'm impressed. This dude hustle is awesome. He's athletic for a big guy.

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actorjim's picture

April 05, 2016 at 10:28 am

I think the D will be a primary focus because of the number if bodies being lost there. That being said, offensive tackle, offensive guard and running back must be addressed.

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Community Guy's picture

April 05, 2016 at 10:59 am

Thank you Cory.. good piece. I have a question for McCarthy on his statement about moving Clay outside: why would you limit yourself? Capers likes to use the best 11, right? What if the best eleven includes 2 OLBs who are not Clay?

Regarding O v. D in the entire draft.. I have been thinking that there will be 5-6 DL who would be awesome and available when the Packers select through the first 4 rounds. Extending through the first 6 rounds, I see 5-6 attractive pass rushers. I think there will be 2 attractive and available ILBers. On offense, I only like 2 RBs not named Zeke... probably one of those guys will be gone ahead of the Pack pick in frame 3. I only like 5-6 OL guys, 4 of whom will not be available at the Packers current slots. I do have interest in several of the TE prospects as value picks. With that: how about 6 D, 3 O guys?

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4thand1's picture

April 05, 2016 at 05:30 pm

TT will draft a bunch of players

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tm_inter's picture

April 05, 2016 at 07:35 pm

I have a hunch TT will go "big" at this year's draft: probably 2 DL, 2 OL, and 2LB. Since it's hard to find an ILB who can cover, maybe TT would wanna draft a big and speedy safety to play instead of ILB. A DB, a RB, and a punter would complete the draft.

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AgrippaLII's picture

April 05, 2016 at 10:00 pm

First of all...how can you put the blame on the Packer's Defense for last season when the Offense absolutely skunked up the field? The Defense carried this team last year. Second...Ted's fingerprints are already all over this team. Have you been away long? Third...yes, Ted has had some failures with draft picks...who hasn't? If you haven't noticed the Packers draft at the bottom every year...which "is" Ted's fault for fielding a competitive team. Finally...I strongly doubt Ted is still trying to figure out what he's going to do in the draft. Everything I've observed of him tells me he already has a plan and he'll stick to it. Unless say someone like Aaron Rodgers drops to him at #24.

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lucky953's picture

April 06, 2016 at 07:23 am

TT always has one eye on the future, so I believe he will pick up another WR. They have to develop a #1 to replace Nelson, who has 2-3 elite seasons left (at best). We saw the value of the position last year. I don't think they're convinced by Janis or Adams, and Cobb proved he's a good number 2, no more than that. If one of the top guys falls to 27, he'll take him, regardless of "immediate" need.

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Littlejim51's picture

April 06, 2016 at 01:00 pm

I agree with tm_inter on his list of skilled player TT needs to pick

It is Ted's time to shine
2016 is the year TT has to show his skills and draft players in the first two rounds to step in and play.
DL is an area to look at first
TT draft has to include a Nose Tackle,DE/LB"Elephant"(with sideline to sideline speed)a "fixer"OL to plug and [email protected] guard/tackle, TE for the new TE coach/whisper to work his magic, (2)ILb's, WR and a punter for competition

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