How much risk should Ted Thompson take?

Ted Thompson has always been a conservative, non-flashy general manager.  Should he be taking bigger risks like Tom Oates wants?

The NFL has often been jokingly referred to as the “Not For Long” league but while many fans often think this applies to just players and coaches, it also applies to front office officials like Packers general manager Ted Thompson.  GMs are under intense pressure to show immediate dividends; while players have partially guaranteed salaries that give them some security and coaches seem to get second chances all the time (seriously, why is Jeff Fisher still a NFL coach?) GMs are often the first to go if the team plays poorly and often don’t get a second shot. 

Every year you’ll see an embattled GM swing for the fences; it’s almost guaranteed that either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz (maybe even both) will be colossal busts in the NFL and it’s likely that the front office and coaching staff will be the ones to take the fall.  Ted Thompson on the other hand is perhaps the antithesis of swinging for the fences; he probably has only made one franchise shaking decision (picking Rodgers over Favre in 2008) and has solidly built a team that makes the playoffs every year and won it all in 2010. 

Nevertheless, people will want to Thompson to make a big move.  Tom Oates at the Wisconsin State Journal makes just such an argument that Thompson should have taken the risk and selected Myles Jack with the 27th pick instead of Kenny Clark, the “safe bet”.  While there are plenty of arguments for and against risk taking, one interesting way to think about like an investment.

Imagine you want to invest some of your money.  Would you take 50% of your assets and invest in a stock that has at best 50-50 odds of making you a lot money?  Or would you take 50% of your assets and invest in a stock that has something closer to an 80% chance of making you a reasonable amount money?  The biggest question of course is how much you are investing total; if you have a $1000, then it’s obvious you should take the bigger risk (as you have less to lose as well).  If you are a billionaire, almost any financial advisor will tell you to take the 2nd option; the main reason is the value of your assets, a 2% return on a billion dollars is $20 million while a 25% return on a $1,000 dollars is $250. 

The same is true with Ted Thompson and the Packers; the Packers are worth well over a billion dollars and the Packers first round pick represents 51% of the draft value they received in 2016.  The chance that any player in the 1st round starts a season or plays 40 games is about 60%; given that Jack had a serious injury at best he’s a 50-50 on whether he has a long career.  On the other hand, Clark has only a 20% of producing less than 5 career AV or in other words being a complete bust. 

The Packers don’t need to take huge risks because the value of their assets (in other words players) is incredibly high.  The packers are in the playoffs every year and by all accounts the roster is solid and one of the most complete in the league.  While fans will argue that Thompson shouldn’t be wasting Aaron Rodgers’ prime years, in reality it’s because of Rodgers prime years that Thompson can make the safe investments that slowly build a team up.  I would argue that the Cleveland Browns must absolutely take huge risks because the value of their assets is so low, but a team like Packers can be more conservative since they already have high value teams.    

  

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Comments (56)

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sheppercheeser's picture

May 06, 2016 at 12:19 pm

I enjoyed reading this article for a different point of view.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

May 06, 2016 at 04:33 pm

Yah know who was a risk taker...Dan Devine was a risk taker.

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4thand1's picture

May 06, 2016 at 05:35 pm

Never bring that name up again.

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HankScorpio's picture

May 06, 2016 at 08:10 pm

Mike Sherman, too.

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Tundraboy's picture

May 06, 2016 at 10:48 pm

Nor that name either please.

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Point-Packer's picture

May 07, 2016 at 11:28 am

Look up "mediocre" in the dictionary and there's a picture of Mike Sherman.

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KenEllis's picture

May 06, 2016 at 01:29 pm

Question for the author; if the Packers took a "huge risk" (your phrase) and drafted Myles Jack instead of Kenny Clark in the 1st round of the most recent draft do you believe they would not make the playoffs this season?

In other words, are we just a Kenny Clark injury from being on the outside looking in at the playoffs (your measure for success apparently being merely making the playoffs)?

Personally, I think Kenny or no Kenny, the Pack makes the playoffs just like they have the past 7 years.

I also think that with Aaron Rodgers at QB the Pack should be expected, at a minimum, to make the playoffs every season.

Finally, I would argue that advancing to a single Super Bowl in 11 years with HOF QBs behind center every one of those years is not a record that should be beyond approach. Apparently, at least one prominent member of the mostly benign Wisconsin press corps is starting to question whether TT's rigid approach to stocking the roster is in the franchise's best interests. I for one can only say, it's about time.

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:26 pm

From simple chance alone, every team should win one super bowl every 30 years. My argument is that it's getting to and winning a super bowl is largely about luck. The Packers were by no means the best team in the Nfl when they won it all in 2010 and a lot of that has to do with luck. While I agree with you that the Packers are likely to make the playoffs regardless of what pick they take, this also means there's very little reason to take a big risk.

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KenEllis's picture

May 06, 2016 at 04:31 pm

I confess, I don't follow. Which team was better than the Pack (not in the regular season but in the playoffs) in 2010 when they won the Super Bowl?

I think GB was the best team and commend TT for taking risks on players like Rodgers, Clay, and Woodson to get them to the mountain top.

I am even more confused by the statement in the article that "t's because of Rodgers (sic) prime years that Thompson can make the safe investments that slowly build a team up."

Slowly build up to what exactly? Is the goal to build up a team to make the playoffs, or to win the Super Bowl?

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 06:07 pm

The Packers were the 6th seed, injured all over the place, didn't have a running game, and got lucky a couple times, notably Tramon Williams game sealing int against the Eagles. I think the Falcons were a better team but just fell on their face against the Packers.

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4thand1's picture

May 07, 2016 at 07:18 am

@ hobbes, Starks ran all over the Eagles. Rodgers was out of this world against the Falcons. The Packers were simply better than the Bears. In the SB, the better team won period. Are you just another hater that won't admit the Packers won it all because they got hot at the right time? And were a good team.

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chugwater's picture

May 07, 2016 at 04:48 pm

We definitely were the best team by the end of the season. We had a young team that stumbled early vs MIA and WAS, but we were in high gear mid season vs MIN and DAL. The only thing that hurt us late was AR's injury.

Gotta remember we never trailed by more than 7 points the entire season.

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NickPerry's picture

May 08, 2016 at 07:19 am

Hobbes...Those Lucky Packers played the Eagles twice that year and won both! Rodgers began playing the way he did against the Falcons and didn't stop until week 7 of 2015. The BEAT the best defense in 2010 in football when winning SB45. Rememeber against the Falcons that same year the los by a FG late. Obviously in 2011 Thompson should have doe SOMETHING the second Collins was hurt and they gave up 900 passing yards in the first 2 games, maybe get a pass rusher of D-Lineman.

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longtimefan's picture

May 06, 2016 at 07:58 pm

Ted wasn't gm until 2005. What was the excuse for no super bowl from 98 to 05?

Sherman who many said did what Brett wanted, never made NFCCG.

Ted has had the team with Brett- on verge of SB.. He also had them on the verge 2 years ago with Aaron

Wolf- 3 straight NFCCG, and 2 SB

Ted- 3 NFCCG 1 SB, it should have been 2 we all know that..

As good as wolf was, from 1998 to 2002 (he handled draft and FA in 2002) we did nothing.

My whole point is that it may not be just the gm's abilities, but everyone on coaching staff should take some blame too

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PaulRosik's picture

May 07, 2016 at 02:09 pm

For this season whether the Number 1 pick succeeds or not is probably not a deal breaker. But missing on draft picks, specially for a draft and develop team, will add up and eventually the talent pool is dry and the team is headed downhill. The Packers are not a better team right now because they missed on picks like Worthy and Sherrod and because they lost players like Collins.

Overall, the Packers are generally considered one of the deeper and more talented teams in the league year in and year out. So of course their approach is not going to be questioned other than by fans like this who think they should be winning a Super Bowl yearly. The Packers are a draft first team, so if they miss on those draft picks the team will start to suffer and changes will be made.

The main thing people have against Thompson is that he is not an all in sort of guy who will break the bank to go after any one particular season. He is about a consistent acquisition of talent and making small tweaks to the already good roster. And small tweaks are boring.

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Evan's picture

May 06, 2016 at 01:36 pm

As Jack was falling, I was getting as excited as anyone and was really hoping the Packers would pick him.

But now that the draft has ended and I see the full draft class, I don't think I'd trade it.

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:39 pm

One other issue that I had with the Oates piece was the idea that they could have gotten jack and then picked up their Defensive linemen in the 2nd. While that is technically true, that's 20/20 hindsight thinking, no one could have known who was going to be taken when

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dobber's picture

May 07, 2016 at 09:09 am

I guess it depends on whether you assume there would still be a "trade-up" if the Packers took Jack instead of Clark. If so, do the Packers still take Spriggs or do they take their DL at that point? If they don't deal up, do they sit tight and take an OT (like Le'Raven Clark) at the end of r2 and wait until r3 for a DT? So many variables...

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Lphill's picture

May 06, 2016 at 01:45 pm

The Packers need players that are going to help win now not down the road , make the best of Rodgers time while we still have him, I think most fans feel the same way , enough with the heartbreaks to end the season , let's just get it done!

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Evan's picture

May 06, 2016 at 01:58 pm

"The Packers need players that are going to help win now not down the road"

Jack is exactly that. He is a player who would help win now...but maybe not down the road.

Smith is the opposite.

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:42 pm

Actually Smith is a player that probably won't help the Cowboys win now or later. He's rumoured to also have suffered nerve damage that might also shorten his career

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croatpackfan's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:47 pm

Smith? Who is Smith?

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Amanofthenorth's picture

May 06, 2016 at 04:31 pm

There is only one Smith, sir.
John Smith of Jamestown.

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 07:01 pm

Jaylon smith, the other injured lb that the Cowboys took at the top of the 2nd

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:41 pm

I don't get why this concept that the packers are wasting Rodgers has gained so much ground. Rodgers is human and thus makes mistakes that will lose his team games, he's not this infallible player that would win the Super Bowl by himself of his teammates didn't drag him down. Why doesn't this argument get applied to Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson or Josh Sitton?

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Handsback's picture

May 06, 2016 at 04:07 pm

I agree w/ Hobbes. Why does everyone say the Packers are wasting Rodgers years by not winning all of these SBs.
I wish everyone would look at at who has won the SB since the Packers and ask themselves who had the best team, the SB winners or the Packers? Rodgers is great, but if the game is played in the trenches, the 49ers, Seahawks, Carolina and the Pats have the better lines and teams. Green Bay will win again as soon as the talent gap and nominal injuries kick in.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 06, 2016 at 01:50 pm

"picking Rodgers over Favre in 2008"

That was a much easier decision because they all knew Rodgers. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz have yet to be on a practice field with NFL players. So in a way TT has been able to remain insulated from these sorts of risks.

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4thand1's picture

May 06, 2016 at 05:38 pm

Wait, 23 teams passed on Rodgers. Said he had an awkward delivery and couldn't throw the deep ball. The decision was a risk because if AR didn't pan out TT would have been fired by now. Do you forget the uproar in GB when AR finally replaced Favre? AR never practiced with NFL players until he was drafted. I don't get your argument.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 06, 2016 at 07:36 pm

It's simple, Ted didn't have to count on Aaron to start when he drafted him so the risk was lower. When Favre retired Ted knew Rodgers very well and had a good idea of what he could do against NFL talent. You and some other fans may have been in an uproar but Ted was not.

Here's some evidence: http://espn.go.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/14003/pro-bowl-in-20...

Les Snead has none of these benefits. He is 100% projecting on Jared Goeff so the risk in his decision is a lot higher than both of Teds combined.

This is the kind of thinking that goes into Million plus dollar decisions. The kinds of decisions most of us never make, so we are not used to weighing implications in that manner.

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dobber's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:31 pm

I would argue that TT didn't pick Rodgers over Favre. By declaring himself retired, Favre picked Rodgers over Favre...or maybe better stated, he opened the door to allow TT to do what he really needed to do.

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 04:17 pm

That's a hard argument to make either way since farve was rumoured to have been forced to decide, with the implication of retirement, by the Packers. Perhaps the Packers were sick and tired of Favres waffling and knew that Rodgers would demand a trade if he didn't get his shot soon.

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PaulRosik's picture

May 07, 2016 at 02:14 pm

That's not what happened. Favre retired and the Packers moved forward like they believed him. They obviously liked Rodgers an built the offense for him. They drafted two Quarterbacks to be the new backups and moved on. Then Favre said he wanted back in and the Packers said they had already moved on and chaos ensued.

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:49 pm

True but I don't think even the Packers knew how good Rodgers truly was in 2008.

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4thand1's picture

May 06, 2016 at 05:42 pm

Here's where I think MM doesn't get enough credit. It was the perfect storm for AR. He didn't get thrown into the fired right away and got a chance to develop. He watched and learned and probably said,"I'm not going to throw a pick to lose the game for us".

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marpag1's picture

May 06, 2016 at 02:19 pm

If we haven't seen the medical reports, it is silly and senseless for us to be debating this.

That is all.

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Tarynfor12's picture

May 06, 2016 at 02:39 pm

Green Bay has been significant in the NFL the 23 years because of the QB ' S and a 20 year dumpster fire before that. I cannot help but sense that the primary function in GB is to ensure they stay relevant to a somewhat high degree as huge swings and misses will erase th at hope quickly and GB will once again sink into the land that no one wants to play for. Sure they will still have a line for season tickets but it won't make the future better than Clev, Buff, etc.
Those who regard playoff appearances as success should demand Thompsons way as eternal but those who want SB'S want swings while having the QB on hand and risk a Casey at the Bat for the sake of winning another or two.
The time imo for those swings with Rodgers was at the start and perhaps again in 3 years when he is in the last segment but at this moment, the draft and develop is the way...but drafting correct has been off somewhat of late but this year again appears back on track.

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Razer's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:07 pm

I agree. Adding injured players to the roster increases the risk of leaving big gaps. At this point, for this team, we needed to add the personnel that not only replaces but improves critical elements of the team. This draft happened to address the trenches and linebacker holes. Not sexy but critical like the foundation under your house.

Also, picking at the bottom of all these drafts doesn't give you much wiggle room. If we had the picks that some teams had, Myles Jack could have been an affordable luxury. Of course, you would have to pay the price by being one of those teams that is sporting a 4-12 record.

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PaulRosik's picture

May 07, 2016 at 02:30 pm

Thompson will never take that swing. He will never go "all in" for one season. He will always look to stockpile players through the draft. He will always look to resign those that have proven themselves and he will always view free agency as too big a risk to undertake very often. And until those draft picks fail enough to make change necessary it will go on this way.

That is my major problem with all your comments. You are espousing a view that will never happen. The Packers have remained a highly successful franchise so no major changes are going to be made. No team that has gone 77 - 34 and to the playoffs seven years in a row is going to change their approach.

And continually saying that winning the Super Bowl is the only way to have a good season is just tiresome and untrue. You are just railing at the moon - as long as the Packers remain in the hunt yearly they are not going to change - they are not going to pick up Randy Moss for one year, they are not going to make a big play for Marshawn Lynch, they are not going to shake up their whole cap structure to rent Darelle Revis for one year. Acting like you expect them to do these things over and over is silly.

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Tarynfor12's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:02 pm

An elite QB is one who makes his players better via his ability and Rodgers has been that since his taking over less last season for whatever reason (s) one may wish to imply. If Rodgers has lost that ability to a degree that dismisses him from elite status than greater risks become more mandated to simply make the playoffs and belief in Rodgers to get the team to the SB has waned and whether Thompson swings or not becomes moot and the new drought is closer than thought.

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dobber's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:36 pm

If you honestly feel that this team was one Myles Jack away from being a SB favorite, then I think you roll the dice and make that pick. Certainly the oddsmakers in Vegas think this team is still at least in that conversation. But do you think that Myles Jack is that missing piece?

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 04:35 pm

I don't think any team is just one player away from winning a super bowl at any time.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 06, 2016 at 05:31 pm

¨I don´t think any team is just one player away from winning a super bowl at any time.¨

That says everything necessary to know your philosophy. I do not agree with the generalization, but I do think GB was more than 1 player away from the SB.

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croatpackfan's picture

May 06, 2016 at 03:53 pm

Thomas I think you are on the spot! What people always thinks is they knows better. But they did not. Neither Tom Oates. We say here that "is easy kick fens with somebody's d*ck!" I suggest Tom Oates to invest his money in risky business. And earn more money. If that is so easy, very quickly he can buy himself franchise and than listen only himself in investing in risky players...
I'm with you in this - completely agree!

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Since'61's picture

May 06, 2016 at 04:35 pm

First of all, the NFL draft is a crap shoot from the beginning. There is risk with every player chosen. The key is taking calculated risks with players who may fill your Team's needs and hopefully improve your roster. Is Kenny Clark less of a risk than Myles Jack? I would argue yes, based on comparing their injury history. Does Clark and Jack meet a roster need for the Packers? Yes to both, however, Clark currently represents a better chance of meeting the need on the roster than Jack, again because of their injury status. If Jack is permanently injured early in his career due to his prior injuries the roster need remains. Clark can also be injured but it is less likely than Jack being injured or reinjured. Therefore in a process which is risky by nature TT has taken a calculated risk with a higher probability of success by picking Clark over Jack and simultaneously filling a roster need. IMO taking Jack in the first round was too high of a risk for TT and the Packers. I would have been fine if they took him in the 4th round or later when the risk is mitigated by being taken later in the draft. TT delivered a very solid foundational type of draft for the Packers. How it all works out, only time will tell. Thanks, Since '61

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hobbes's picture

May 06, 2016 at 04:39 pm

The injury risk was too high for 31 teams in the first round. It's not like the Packers were the only ones who were worried about the injury; keep in mind even the Jags who ultimately drafted him decided against it in the 1st round.

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NickPerry's picture

May 07, 2016 at 05:47 am

Good to hear from you Since '61, haven't heard from you in a while. Nice post as always.

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RCPackerFan's picture

May 06, 2016 at 05:37 pm

I wanted Jack as he was falling. But his injury is a major concern. For the most part I felt that the staff would do what they felt was right.

I'm not in the mindset that for the draft you draft to fill a huge hole now, rather build for now and the future. It's worked out really well for them in the past. Drafting Cobb to replace Jennings. Drafting Rollins to replace Hayward. Drafting Spriggs to potentially replace Bakhtiari. I really like the way the organization is ran.

The thing about Jack is, there was some major medical red flags on him. If there wasn't he wouldn't have fallen. There are times when risk is good. But there are times when risk isn't worth it.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 06, 2016 at 06:15 pm

I have no problem with TT passing on Jack. I am not a doctor and did not see his medical records.

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sonomaca's picture

May 06, 2016 at 06:23 pm

Exactly.

The Packers were all but in the Superbowl in Seattle two years ago. A series of fluke events cost them another shot at the ring. Is that Ted's fault?

Furthermore, they were very close vs. San Francisco at home. Was that Ted's fault?

Jeez.

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The TKstinator's picture

May 06, 2016 at 09:23 pm

Myles Jack resembles Little Richard.
Not a criticism, just an observation.

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holmesmd's picture

May 08, 2016 at 08:38 am

Hahahaha. Hilarious! He actually does a bit;)

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dobber's picture

May 07, 2016 at 06:05 am

An interesting read from Bob McGinn this morning at the Journal-Sentinel. I wonder if he wrote this in direct response to Oates's piece?

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/ted-thompson-made-right-choice-no...

That said, the Ron Wolf commentary is very interesting (for those who would say that Wolf would've made that pick). His statement that when he drafted players that were injured, they tended to stay injured (or something to that extent) was compelling.

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NickPerry's picture

May 07, 2016 at 09:47 am

I wouldn't call the Packers "Need" at ILB that much greater than the D-Line going into the draft. Pennel is gone for 4 weeks, Boyd is coming off an injury, and Raji is gone for at least this year. Granted Jack is the type of player who doesn't fall to the Packers normal draft spot at the bottom of each round, but the risk is just to great to waste the pick.

Look at 2007 with Harrell, what a nightmare that turned out to be. Most of us here and other Packers site blasted Thompson for drafting a injury risk in the first round. I can can hear it now, all of those wishing the Packers had drafted Jack now, blasting TT if he's injured. I don't believe Jack will finish out his contract and even though there's no promises with Clark, the Packers DON'T have to worry about an injury Clark is already dealing with and can go out at anytime.

Personally I like the combination of Clark, Fackrell, and Martinez better than a combination of Myles Jack and who? TT got a D-Lineman who can play anywhere on the DL, an OT who is already the most athletic of all the Packers O-Linemen, AND a ILB and OLB.

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4thand1's picture

May 07, 2016 at 07:26 am

Is Raji really gone for the year? Seems like he left the door open a little. If late in the season and the d-line is really banged up, he could return to help. Provided he stays in shape. He might look like the fridge, sittin on a dock, 400 plus pounds and drinkin beer.

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dobber's picture

May 07, 2016 at 09:04 am

"Provided he stays in shape..."

With guy of his physical type and at his age, I think a year away might as well be the end. I'm not sure there will be a place for him.

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NickPerry's picture

May 07, 2016 at 09:46 am

I'm thinking the same thing. Raji worked really hard to be in shape for 2015 and he still wasn't really close to 2010's version. He just might be done altogerher, at least that's my guess.

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