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Thompson's Last Defensive Class Integral to Packers' Future Success

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Thompson's Last Defensive Class Integral to Packers' Future Success

For the first time since 2005, the Green Bay Packers have a new general manager. While Brian Gutekunst is now in charge of putting together the roster, it takes more than one offseason for a team to really reflect its GM. No matter how active Gutekunst gets in free agency this offseason, the Packers of the near future are still going to have Ted Thompson’s fingerprints all over them.

Not that that’s a bad thing, by the way. It’s not as though Thompson left the cupboard bare as he shuffled out of the GM’s office and into the darkened, secluded film room where he undoubtedly now spends most of his days. By many accounts, the Packers have plenty of young talent to work with.

But a lot of that talent, particularly on defense, has yet to be put on full display.

Green Bay’s first four picks in the 2017 draft went the way of defense.

While second-round pick Kevin King provided the best overall glimpse of his potential throughout the season, his rookie campaign was cut short by a shoulder injury after 12 weeks and he underwent surgery to repair the injury in mid-December.

Perhaps the most intriguing pick of the Packers’ 2017 rookie class, Josh Jones turned in his best performance of the season in week three against Cincinnati. Jones never really seemed to settle into a firm role because of his “hybrid” status, and injuries in the secondary sometimes forced him into action at spots that didn’t maximize his skill set.

The case of Montravius Adams is a hard one to crack. After being drafted in the third round, Adams suffered a foot injury in camp and missed the entire preseason after having surgery. Despite returning, he played in only seven games, recording two tackles.

Fourth-rounder Vince Biegel was supposed to be a boon to the Green Bay pass rush in 2017. Instead, he broke his foot in the early stages of the offseason program and began the season on the PUP list. Returning in week nine, Biegel managed 16 tackles in 121 snaps, but hardly showed the pass rushing potential the Packers had hoped for.

Adding to the intrigue for the 2017 rookies is the installation of Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator. It’s hard to argue that at least of portion of the team’s defensive struggles last season were the product of poor personnel utilization. Obviously, Adams and Biegel stand the best chance for improvement, if only because they’ll have significantly more time on the practice field than they did last year. All four drafted rookies, however, likely stand to benefit simply from finding more fitting roles within Pettine’s defense.

Whatever the case, Green Bay needs an impact player on defense. If Brian Gutekunst doesn’t think he already has one, he’s going to do his best to acquire one, whether through the draft or free agency. Even if he does make a splash, though, the Packers are going to be counting on the young talent provided by his predecessor to step into the spotlight and produce.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

WinUSA's picture

2018 football season for the Packers is so very challenging. The above mentioned players had been hit by injuries as it seems the Packers team in general was disposition to an unusually high injury rate. I think that Thompson would likely still be in the GM position had his draft class not been decimated by weird injuries. Maybe, the lack of consideration of the above players previous injury history should have been a tell. Everyone knows that Biegle is an excellent player when healthy...but he missed many games for the Badgers due to injuries. King had shoulder concerns that were well documented. Josh Jones even though did not have documented college injuries left college as a junior. One year less to be tested physically. And then there was Davis who had no history of injury. Bad luck? Bad draft position? Bad judgement on injury history? Who knows. Watt was available and the Packers passed on him..he started 15 games and made rookie honors. I think Wanless hit it on the head when he said this year will be a tell tale on Thompson's choices. Personally, I thought the draft was remarkable when it happened...and then the injury curse for the season. Next discussion should be WHY the Packers have had so many injuries: bad luck, bad turf, medical staff? I do know when Dominick Gentile was taking care of the Packers we did not have the numbers that we do today with players lost for a majority of a season. Can't wait for the season to start! Go Pack!

WinUSA's picture

Just to emphasize how horrible this defense was: https://packerswire.usatoday.com/2018/02/14/packers-defense-was-a-punchi... It was enough to make any Packer fan vomit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Community Guy's picture

if the Packers end up with their full slate of 2018 draft choices (11) and avoid much of the injury bug that plagued the team's rookies last year, the Pack are going to have a serious influx of talent.. and some really difficult decisions when the roster has to be cut down.. i am looking forward to that nice problem this year.

agree with Wanless's piece.

i also agree with the comment that Ted had some bad luck last year with his '17 draft class..and, by the way, who saw the Martellus Bennett fiasco coming? AR doesn't go down with the collarbone injury and Bennett would have stayed with the Pack.. maybe Bennett would have ended up with a more productive year. and TT might still be the GM.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

You got to pick good players just because you have 11 picks doesn't mean Jack crap

TheVOR's picture

Dead nuts. I don't exactly think Ted Thompson's defense drafts have been exactly killer either! I like King, he's already had surgery, I liked Jones until the 2nd half of the season, and Capers looked like he had him completely confused and robotic by the end of the year, so it's hard to say what he really is. Kenny Clark was an excellent pick, but hell, I MADE THAT PICK!

The alarming part of this, is like it or not, Ted Thompson evaluated players and his draft board is going to be back in front of Gutz, which IMO cries out SAME SAME SAME crippled glass, ineffective, sissy football players being selected all over again. Just when you think we're finally rid of Ted Thompson, you realize we're not, and he's going to be 100% our draft guy. Gutz will be a puppet on a string, selecting more weak glass players from Ted's Glass Menagerie draft board. I can't believe we didn't get it done, and get him the hell out of Green Bay! We're stuck with this joker until he's officially no longer in the front office.

In other words, don't expect any miraculous drafts, because this guy never really has one! He hits on 1 or 2 guys. Don't expect miracles! Not going to happen simply because another mouthpiece is in the draft-room acting the part of a General Manager.

John Kirk's picture

Your reply was probably one of my two biggest concerns going forward. Murphy's involvement is the other. What organization moves a failed GM into a "hidden role" where he can be shielded from the media and the new GM says he's going to heavily rely upon him? Ted's body of work, if not just his mindset alone, merited a pink slip years ago, yet, we chose to conceal him instead of sending him back to Texas? Murphy is one weak CEO.

With all the first rounders dumped into this D and the assortment of other high picks including our first 4 last year, it's a disgrace this D is what it is. This notion that there's a lot of talent and the cupboard isn't bare is a daring proclamation. We don't really know that the cupboard isn't bare. I can't think of a single player on our defense that I instantly think, wow, he's going to be so much better now that Dom is gone. I do believe Pettine is a better DC at least from a mindset standpoint and he can raise each guy a little to make the collective whole a lot better but I don't expect his arrival to turn non stars into stars.

Man, did our first 4 defensive picks from last year underwhelm. Not one of the 4 looks like a player much less an impact player solely based off 1st year impressions. I understand there's a new scheme coming and it takes 3 years to fully judge but early returns were not positive. I'd count more on Pettine's influence and this year's draft and FA a lot more than I would bank on any of these 4 being a huge help to us.

Spock's picture

The VOR, and you KNOW that Thompson is "going to be 100%" the draft guy? Once again we have the "conspiracy theorists" out in force. First someone says TT was a drooling idiot and the next he's this savvy "puppet master" working behind the scenes. IMO I don't know what drugs/alcohol you're using to come up with this :), but please let me know the magic combination as my Oxycodone isn't near enough to reduce my back pain or come up with this (IMO) wacko theory. Heck, I read and write science fiction and this is Twilight Zone worthy! I'll give you this: a good laugh always helps with pain and this one made me literally LOL on a rainy day when I needed it.
Thanks for that!

stockholder's picture

Maybe the reason TT had such bad luck; is he wasn't taking the BPA. He didn't believe in Poles/Mocks. And he thought he was right all the time. He felt need over rating. Maybe Gute will see grades as a way of not making mistakes. As a Packer fan I want the best player available. I'm going to use NFL.com as a grade system. Bradley chubb 7.2 DaRo Payne 6.6 Vita Vae 6.5 Bryan Taven 6.3 Marcus Davenport 5.8 LBs =T. EDMUNDS 7. 2 R. Smith 6.5 Evans 6.2 CBs.= Fitzpatrick 6.5 (TAKEN) Jackson 6.1 Ward 6.1. S= James 6.3 Harrison 6.2 WR- Ridley 6.8 Rest under 6.0 QBs- Sam Darnold 7.1 Rest under 6.1 Impact player=/= Are we really going to get one in the draft? People with these grades, it's Depth only, and getting the most for "chance." Free Agency is the ONLY option for a DEFENSIVE IMPACT PLAYER. Why? Edmunds and Chubb will be gone. Leaving R. Smith (Likely Taken), Payne, and Vita Vea, as the best graded players to draft for defense.(@14). Were going with defense #1. RIGHT? The choice should be Vita Vea or Payne. Being the packers play 3-4-4. Vita Vea would be the best graded pick at 6.5. This was just a footnote. But the example shows Vita Vea defense and Ridley Offense. But Anything can happen with a new GM.

worztik's picture

Stock... you want the best player available and that’s fine, except, TT drafted like shit and I thought he ALWAYS went BPA and then develop?!?!? I can’t get the taste of Harrell, Sherrod, Brohm, Patrick Lee, Spriggs, that nitwit DL from MI in rd2, Gum chewer, Datone, Fackrell, and on and on!!! I didn’t even mention the players he released that could be either starters or serious backups had we kept them!!! TT was an anomaly as far as GM’s go... ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONALITY, no communication skills whatsoever, he came across as being a quart low during the few pressers he did, he kept players that should never have been on the team (Goodson, and the other slugs in the D backfield), Vince Young and Seneca Wallace round out the names that immediately come to mind but, there are many, many more that now leave us with... you tell me Stockholder! I looked over the best players we have in the other article and it really shows that we have maybe 12 core players after all TT’s time here!!! Had AROD NOT FELL INTO HIS LAP, he would have been gone 8 years ago and he should have been... or shot!!! Gun and a shovel would have solved our problem with Ted Thompson!!!!!!!

worztik's picture

However, I’m against violence... except maybe in Ted’s case... just bein’ depressed over TT!!!!!!! ;-€(

stockholder's picture

Can't argue about A-ROD. He was lucky. But Brohm and the others? I have to agree, made no sense at all. He let his GM duties interfere with the better pick. Even Spriggs turned out to be a bad move. Thats the thing about the combine. It was his crutch, instead of his experience that he should of relied on. I wonder if the Farve media circus made him afraid. We never know what goes on behind closed doors. And it seems he made some bad moves prior to 2009. I believe he's went the same way with A-Rod as Farve. His penny pitching suggests that it was about money,more than the super-bowl. That he mis -judged the draft when it came to picking later. He just didn't care.

fthisJack's picture

its easy to sit back and complain about draft picks that have been disappointments when you look back on them. i bet you guys were happy as pigs in sh!t when half of these guys were selected. you neglect to mention all the mid or lower round guys that turned out to be great. i'm not here to defend TT but you guys are obviously haters and need to let it go. its water under the bridge and we're starting a new chapter and already you guys are complaining about TT making all the picks. do you really have inside info that Gute is going to be under TT's thumb?
by the way....i believe much of the problem for the defensive guys not developing is directly related to Capers incomprehensible scheme.

stockholder's picture

I was with many. I really didn't torpedo many. But their were some. The 2014 I hated. I would have went DL in the 2nd. or a TE. Dix was not OK, but understanding. I feel if the player is good, go after him. Don't take the 2nd place bargain. Trader Ted was his name, before it became, In ted we Trust. And his Title of GM got in way. I would have traded up for the BPA. If you have 3 Wrs go for the 4th! ( if you know he's going to be a star. ) Trade the lesser talent. In this years draft I believe they should take Vita [email protected] Regardless of Clark or Daniels. But if they know R. Smith is going to be a star and need him more. Trade -up! Taking Randall was like What the Heck is he doing. A Player rated at 50 and we give Hendricks to the Vikings. Then He turned around and drafted the same needs he passed on the year after. TT made picks a year Late. And that is why the team is having trouble. His FA moves blew -up and the scouting should have been better with Bennett. But We should blame Capers too. I see the next mistake happening with Mathews and A-Rod. I remember ted Hendricks. Bart Starr. etc. Title town deserves better, Not Bargains.

fthisJack's picture

i too didn't like a lot of TT picks and his lack of getting FA talent at times. but he did keep the team in the playoffs year after year but didn't really do enough to get them to the SB. but they should have been there in "14 when i blame that debacle on MM and Capers.
i just want to turn the page and look ahead to a new chapter and kinda put the past on the back burner. i am absolutely pumped about a new OC and DC with new schemes on both sides of the ball.. i think that gives us a real advantage going into the season.
also, the #14 and having 11 draft picks along with possible trades and FA. can't wait for March 14!

Handsback's picture

I think TT passed on Carl Lawson twice and Cinn took him and he was the rated the 3rd best rusher before the draft. Granted he has possible bad knees, which explains why not in the first two rounds, but still a known talent.

I'm sure there was a reason to pass on him....just too many passes on guys like this that have become good NFL players.

nigrivasilayesrej's picture

TJ Watt would have looked good in Green & Gold. Packers need pash rush on the outside, despite investing big time money in Clay(injury prone)/Perry(injury prone). Instead, Ted drafted a guy who had a documented history of shoulder issues in college. Injured in his rookie season, what a surprise.

Packer Fan's picture

We won't know about this draft class for a few years. No one really stood out. As opposed to the 2016 draft class for defense where Clark and Lowry are ascending players. But what is more important is how BG will do in this draft and how aggressive he will be in both the draft and free agency.

flackcatcher's picture

Good overview Chris. Outside of injuries the other unspoken part which you mentioned was the coaching collapse last year. Only McCarthy really knows what happened inside 1265, and he not talking. You would have to go back to the Dan Devine era to find something similar happening to both the front office and coaching staff. I still can't believe what I saw last year. Unreal.

worztik's picture

Unreal... unexpected... unpopular... NOT understandable... and totally unacceptable!!!!!!

fthisJack's picture

what happened is the best QB in the league broke his collar bone and they had no adequate replacement.

Packmaniac's picture

2017 D draft — King and Vince revisited college injuries. I think King is likely to be good if this injury issue doesn’t jump from problematic now to chronic down the road. Vince. Meh.

Jones looks like he’ll develop into a solid player.

I live in the South nowadays, and when an Auburn fan friend of mine heard we’d taken Montravius Adams in the 3rd round, he laughed and said “good luck with that.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement from someone who watched every game the guy played.

HankScorpio's picture

UDFAs are not part of the draft class but they are part of a rookie class. I'm curious to see if Lenzy Pipkins can make a yr 2 jump to become a viable contributor to the CB depth chart.

One thing is certain...the Packers are not going to change the entire 53 man roster, nor should they. So they are going to need holdovers to step up their game.

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