Ted Thompson Should Lean Toward Defensive Line Early In Draft

The defensive front needs special attention in this week's upcoming draft. 

Mike Neal. 

B.J. Raji. 

Letroy Guion. 

Oh, and Mike Daniels. 

Heading into Thursday night's NFL draft, all of the gentlemen listed above are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in 2016. 

What might that portend for this weekend? 

As McGinn points out, trying to get inside Ted's head to determine what he might do with his draft picks has become a fool's errand and one that is destined to make any prognosticator look a bit silly. 

While I won't venture down the foolhardy path of trying to determine who will be availble when the Packers are on the clock Thursday and Friday nights, let alone guess who they might select, I will offer up that the list above tends to make me think Ted will lean toward the defensive line with one if not more of his early picks. (I recognize Neal splits his time but he spends a good deal of their time with a hand on the ground in various packages in Dom Capers' defense.) 

Yes, Green Bay has watched two talented cornerbacks walk out the door this offseason. Yes, inside linebacker is in flux after the team moved on from A.J. Hawk and Jamari Lattimore. 

But both those position groups have well paid talent at starer (Shields and Matthews - yes, I agree with Pete, he'll be starting at ILB on early downs) and a modicum of depth. 

You would think Mike Daniels would be next in line to get paid, which would make a nice little quartet of starters on the defensive side of the ball with decent contracts - Burnett, Matthews, Shields and Daniels. That's not a bad core. 

But outside of Daniels, the Packers don't offer much in the way of young playmaking ability. Oh, they have plenty of role players and reclemation projects. Neal, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, they all have their uses in Capers' scheme. But the plays they make are few and far between. 

Thompson likes to try and fill holes in his roster a year before they manifest themselves when it comes to the draft. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 

There could be a pretty big gaping hole along the defensive line next year. My hunch is he looks to fill it this weekend. 

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Comments (28)

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bojoerge's picture

April 27, 2015 at 01:24 am

Peppers are not free agent next year but in 2017...

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PackerAaron's picture

April 27, 2015 at 05:43 am

You are, of course, correct.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 27, 2015 at 01:57 am

I agree, in part due to your suggestions that the d line has some FAs upcoming and because it could use an upgrade, but mostly because DT and DE are strengths of the draft. The same point could be made about OLB, with Neal and Perry being FAs after this season, and Peppers likely retiring or possibly declining, and again this is a draft strong in edge rushers and OLBs. I think there is a good possibility that a player with a solid 1st round grade could slide to GB at #30. We will find out soon enough.

As a note, your recent article ("Hayward has plenty of work to do") was one of the finest I've read. It had a definite point of view, was well sourced, and provided excellent video to support your point. Well done.

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PackerAaron's picture

April 27, 2015 at 06:10 am

Thanks very much. Very nice of you to say.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 27, 2015 at 07:08 am

'The same point could be made about OLB, with Neal and Perry being FAs after this season, and Peppers likely retiring or possibly declining, and again this is a draft strong in edge rushers and OLBs.'

yeah, I agree with you there. i said that a while back that I could see them going OLB early just because they do have a quite a few players that could be entering their last year.
Also with Clay Mathews, they could decide to move him around more, which means they could possibly use another OLB.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 27, 2015 at 07:15 am

I can see them going DL early. Pending on who is available at 30 I can see where they would draft a DL.

If they go DL I think they will probably look at more of a 5 Technique player. They have Raji and Guion at NT, also Thornton, and Boyd can play that position. At the 5 Technique they have Daniels and Jones. I can see them trying to add more to that spot.

If a guy like Arik Armstead is available at 30 I could see them drafting him. He would be a perfect fit at that position.
In the 2nd round I could see them looking at Carl Davis if he is there.
Another guy to watch in the 4th round area is Henry Anderson.

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sonomaca's picture

April 28, 2015 at 10:03 pm

Armstead is soft. Former basketball player. Not a great effort guy. Tons of potential, but he's going to have to be coaxed into fulfilling it.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 27, 2015 at 07:28 am

One player to possibly keep an eye on in the 1st round that not a lot of people are talking about is Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
In Green Bay's defense he could be used in a similar role to how Peppers was used last year. A DE/OLB tweener.

One reason why to keep an eye on him, is because he is from UCLA. In the last 3 years Thomson has drafted more then 1 player from 3 separate schools. He has drafted 2 players from Alabama, Iowa, and UCLA.
Something to keep an eye on in this draft is if he drafts more players from these 3 schools.

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Handsback's picture

April 27, 2015 at 07:40 am

Somehow I don't see TT drafting a ILB in the 1st rd. Most of the football experts (hard to define those guys but ex-players usually qualify) have the Packers taking a db in the first rd because of that reason.
So who are the most likely players w/ 1st rd grades??? It seems to be the big guys for the trench or fast OLB/DE. Owamagbe fits that mold and if physically he checks out could be TT's pick in the 1st.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 27, 2015 at 08:20 am

Yeah, most of us are talking about them drafting an ILB or a CB in the first round. But as Thompson has proven in prior years, he doesn't always draft what everyone says they 'have to, or need to' draft.

Talking about DE's he is one player that I could see them looking at. He is in that Hybrid mold that could be a DE or OLB in the Packers defense. In their defense they can always use more DE/OLB's.

I do think they will draft an ILB early. I just don't know if they will with their first pick.

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EdsLaces's picture

April 27, 2015 at 03:39 pm

What about maybe Marcus Hardison 2nd or 3rd round guy I'm not sure. I think if someone gets him that late he is a total steal.

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Tundraboy's picture

April 27, 2015 at 08:34 am

I do not see the modicum of depth at ILB. Ilb first, DL second and CB third would be my priorities .

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PackerAaron's picture

April 27, 2015 at 10:30 am

I hear you on the depth. I just think Bradford is going to surprise some people in camp this year. I could be dead wrong, but he's much better inside than outside. Hate that it took them so long to move him last summer.

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Tundraboy's picture

April 27, 2015 at 12:32 pm

I hope for the same and Joe Thomas as well.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 28, 2015 at 01:12 am

I harshly criticized picking Thornton and Richard Rodgers, and praised taking Bradford (but always as an ILB prospect). I am pulling for Bradford and the others too, but I might have to eat some internet crow.

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Tundraboy's picture

April 27, 2015 at 08:48 am

It sure is going to be interesting to see how it plays out . I would not be surprised if TT goes BPA with first pick , which could be anything other than QB,RB, and then addresses ILB,OLB,CB DE with rest from 2nd on.

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PackerBacker's picture

April 27, 2015 at 09:29 am

Aaron,

You say "But outside of Daniels, the Packers don't offer much in the way of young playmaking ability."

Do you mean strictly on the DL, or on the Def. as a whole?

I would think that Clinton-Dix would count as a young playmaker, or potential playmaker in the secondary.

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PackerAaron's picture

April 27, 2015 at 09:58 am

Sorry for the confusion, yes, I was strictly talking along the defensive line.

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Packer_Pete's picture

April 27, 2015 at 05:03 pm

I'm strictly going on gut feel this time, and most people will laugh at me, but I think Khyri Thornton will surprise some people this year. He is a forgotten man, but from the view tapes I have seen and a couple of games I remember, he can be a good player. So maybe he will be better than most people think. But I know, that is out of left field, and he has to show something first.

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Tundraboy's picture

April 27, 2015 at 06:28 pm

I feel the same about Hubbard as a forgotten player. Hope we're right.

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jh9's picture

April 27, 2015 at 01:05 pm

With this draft having so much depth at OLB, it would make sense to me for TT to trade out from the 1st round for a high 2nd round pick and a additional 4th round pick. With that additional 4th round pick they could take a really good OLB or DE--if there is truly depth at those positions.

By getting that additional pick, that would mean the Packers will have ten total picks for this year's draft. Along with the holdovers from last year like Thornton, Bradford, Thomas, Boyd, Rajon Neal etc., the Packers should have enough talent in camp these next two years to seriously contend for another two Lombardi trophies.

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sub_zero_pr's picture

April 27, 2015 at 04:02 pm

Based on what TT likes to do he will take the best player available. Dont be surprise if he gets a WR that is better than Janis or Abbrederis. I think personally he will grab a CB. Wish he gets anyone that can be a starter for next year.

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Clay Zombo's picture

April 27, 2015 at 07:53 pm

I still have visions of Randy Gregory or Marcus Peters falling to us, its doubtful but those two are character risks that I would take because they are so talented IMO.

After those 2 im really ok with whoever he chooses as long as its an impact player for us. Im even ok with a WR if they think he can be a true #1 WR, a big body badass with speed or something like that.

Dline makes sense though, Armstead would be great, Goldman is possible, Carl Davis and Jordan Phillips are more 2nd day guys to be had in a trade down scenario but I like them too.

Im even starting to like Eric Kendricks, who intially reminded me of Nick Barnett but I see more to his game than Nick. Hes probably the only ILB with a 1st round grade so Id be ok with him too.

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KenEllis's picture

April 27, 2015 at 09:05 pm

Looks like Aaron is not counting on former 1st round pick Datone Jones.

I have not given up on him ... yet. However, if he does not make significant strides this year, I concur that outside of Mike Daniels, this is a mediocre unit at best.

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sonomaca's picture

April 28, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Wouldn't give up on Jones just yet. D-linemen take time to develop, and he's had to deal with injuries.

I predict Raji will play well this (contract) year. Boyd is ok. Guion is ok. Daniels is the man. Thornton is unknown. Pennel and Robinson have shown flashes.

The one guy I'd actually love to acquire would be Shelton. Unfortunately, he'll probably be gone in top 15.

I think TT will have opportunities to get out of the awful 30th pick. Teams are going to want one of the 2nd tier QB's, Yeldon, or whichever of the top 8 receivers is left over.

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The TKstinator's picture

April 28, 2015 at 09:11 pm

Ted will lean toward value.

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Imma Fubared's picture

May 01, 2015 at 02:58 pm

Why do the pack need help on the d line with the vaunted Datone Jones and Perry, both 1 picks by Ted T and shoring up the run D with the ever vescent BHJ Raji.
Soon we will have a third rate ILB from the draft as in the best ones for sure will be gone before the Packers pick again and Ted baby ain't moving up for one.

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zeke's picture

May 01, 2015 at 03:10 pm

Go play in traffic.

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