When Looking At "Needs", Look A Year Ahead

Don't look at this years "needs" - look a year down the road when trying to project Ted Thompson's draft moves.

Its that time of year when the media and Packer fans everywhere like to take a look at the biggest "needs" the Packers have and try to extrapolate that information into some kind of plan of how the team will approach the draft. While good in theory it is mostly misguided when it comes to Ted Thompson's approach to the draft.

The thing to look at is who the Packers could potentially lose a year from now.

The drafting of Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson are perfect examples of this. While no doubt partly influenced by Johnny Jolly's legal troubles, the impending departure of Cullen Jenkins no doubt played a bigger role in the selections. You could see the same principal at work in the Andrew Quarless selection, with Donald Lee most likely gone in 2011, not to mention the potential of losing Jermichael Finley to free agency.

Looking at the group of players slated to be free agents next year, the obvious standouts are Matt Flynn, Josh Sitton, Scott Wells and Ryan Grant. I would not be surprised to see Sitton signed to an extension, even as soon as next week before the March 4th deadline. (No, I have no information on this - just a feeling.)  I would also not be surprised if Thompson used one or more draft picks to fortify the quarterback, center or running back position.

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Comments (35)

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cow42's picture

February 24, 2011 at 11:42 am

great observation

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hyperRevue's picture

February 24, 2011 at 11:46 am

In the same vein, picking a WR early would fill a current need (Jones potentially leaving) as well as a future need (Driver's age).

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djbonney138's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Not to mention the need for a KR/PR guy. A rookie WR would fit in nicely.

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hyperRevue's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm

My thoughts exactly. A WR who has return ability/experience would be a great get.

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hyperRevue's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm

That said, I really hope they keep Jones AND draft a WR/KR.

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Nerdmann's picture

February 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm

A CB perhaps.

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PackerAaron's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Great point - I said earlier in the year that Thompson would most likely take a receiver high in this draft and got killed for it. I still think he picks one sometime before the 4th round if it lines up on his board.

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Omaha Scott's picture

February 24, 2011 at 01:48 pm

Aaron - I also believe that TT is gonna grab a WR early (2nd-3rd rd), however would it surprise you to see him take a guy like Hankerson from Miami U with the 32nd pick?

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PackerAaron's picture

February 24, 2011 at 02:15 pm

The only thing that would surprise me when it comes to Ted is if he took a punter in the first round. And even then I might just do a quick double take and then keep typing...

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IanHanley75's picture

February 24, 2011 at 01:32 pm

I think WR is a bigger need than a lot of people think. I had the Packers taking Titus Young in my mock draft, and while some people really liked the idea, a lot people argued that the Packers have no need for a WR, which I would completely disagree with.

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Kurtahild's picture

February 24, 2011 at 11:51 am

Good points in this article, but I also think there is one other thing to consder, at least in the first round: At pick #32, what top level talent will be left?

Most GMs say they pick the highest value regardless of position. However, most determine value based on their needs at that time. Ted Thompson seems to have a much more true philosophy of taking the greatest value regardless of position. Aaron Rodgers fell way down the draft board, when he could have been a #1 pick. Thompson had no immediate need for a quarterback, but took him anyhow. Similar situation with Brian Bulaga.

Because of Thompson's strident following of this philosophy, I expect his first round pick to be a pick that many expect to go in the top 15, but happens to fall down just because he doesn't exactly fit the current needs of other teams. Who that is and what position they play is largely left to circumstance, however, we can trust that it will likely be a very good player who will be ready to contribute to the team when needed.

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hyperRevue's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I'd argue that the Buluga pick was a combination of best player left on the board and a player filling a big need - offensive line help.

It's hard to know which circumstance took precedence, though.

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CSS's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm

"At pick #32, what top level talent will be left?"

Don't underestimate the positional value of the last pick on day one under the new draft format. With a full day to reset a draft board leading into round 2 on day 2 the relative value of the last pick on day 1 is substantial.

Now the traditionally competent organizations don't want the incompetent organizations to reset their draft boards and actually think about who they take in the top end of round 2. The new format will generate more buzz and phone calls in the end of round 1 for some prospect that the one of the other 31 teams don't want to lose on day 2.

TT will have a lot of options, of which trading out of round 1 with some team willing to overpay being cheif among them.

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PackersRS's picture

February 24, 2011 at 11:51 am

I doubt that, with Graham Harrell willing to stick with GB to learn from MM, they draft a QB. He'll be in his 3rd year under the system when Flynn hits FA. He knows that he'll probably have a spot as the backup, given GB's history with backup QBs. If I'm not mistaken, he was offered a roster spot, or at least another PS spot, and denied to stay in GB.

Regarding Ryan Grant, there's Starks. But there's also Jackson leaving. If that happens, then I could definitely see a RB taken, but my guess would be emphasis on blocking and catching from said drafter RB.

The future needs that I would not be shocked at all if the Packers spent an EARLY pick on, are WR and CB, due to Driver's and Woodson's age.

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IanHanley75's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm

You all have to consider the fact that Thompson will amost always take the best player available regardless of need. Look at last year when everyone thought the Packers were in need of help at OT,OLB,CB and KR/PR. Other then OT, Thompson did not select any of those positions in the draft and rather filled the positions with undrafted free agents.

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PackerAaron's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm

"Thompson will amost always take the best player available regardless of need" - he didn't in the case of B.J. Raji. Crabtree was the #1 player on their board yet he selected a nose tackle, a massive need at the time. Obviously, an extreme case.

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hyperRevue's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm

And then he actually traded up to grab another player that filled a big need. So, maybe, who the hell knows what Ted will do. ha.

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hyperRevue's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Or maybe 2009 was just an anomaly due to the 3-4 switch?

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lebowski's picture

February 24, 2011 at 01:04 pm

Crabtree being a diva headcase played a big part in passing on him as well.

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PackerAaron's picture

February 24, 2011 at 01:11 pm

Ya think? ;)

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ZeroTolerance's picture

February 24, 2011 at 01:15 pm

Crabtree may have been a great potential talent, as rated such, but TT would never have drafted such a me first guy.

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jeremy's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Thompson will take the best player available if he is sure that the guy is the best player. If it's close between several guys he defaults to picking a needed position. He has said so several times.

In his early drafts the team just plain needed good players. Now that he has a base of talent he can fill holes. He is a smart guy and is not nearly as dogmatic as people say.

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Zaphod Beeblebrox's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm

^a year^2-3 years^ and you're right.

Look at Thompson's first first-round pick: Aaron Rodgers. When did he start? 3 years later...

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Ryeguy812's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I'm thinking we see a QB taken in round 2 and that'll be this years move that will have everyone scratching their heads, but Flynn's elevated status and the fact that Harrell just isn't a pro QB makes it a smart pick.
I also think a WR early will be the case. We were one injury away from Brett Swain seeing more extensive playing time in the SB. That is scary

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hyperRevue's picture

February 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm

How do you know Harrell isn't a pro QB?

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ZeroTolerance's picture

February 24, 2011 at 01:17 pm

Another Brohmn? Swain is better than you think.

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CJ in Guatemala's picture

February 24, 2011 at 02:38 pm

I wouldn't have been scared with Swain taking the 3rd wide receiver spot if something like that happened at the Superbowl...

I mean he isn't a name receiver, but he sure is a decent one. It was unfortunate that he didn't catch any of the 2 balls thrown at him, but yet again Nelson didn't exactly caught everything thrown at him that day either. Swain has done some big time catches in spot plays when he enters as a sub and nobody expects him to be targeted.

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Norman's picture

February 24, 2011 at 01:29 pm

Draft, schmaft!

Is it too early to start thinking/talking about the first three-peat in the Super Bowl era?

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Kurtahild's picture

February 24, 2011 at 02:51 pm

One could argue that it is parsing terms, but I say that Ted Thompson will take the "Greatest Value" with his pick, not "Best Avalailable Player". The term "Best Available Player" does not account for lesser tangibles such as character, and leadership ability. "Greatest Value" does account for these. Ted Thompson will take the individual he determines is the Greatest Value with his pick, regardless of position.

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Matt's picture

February 24, 2011 at 04:23 pm

WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT LOSING JERMICHAEL FINLEY??????? HOW? WHEN? WHY? Rodgers would never let it happen......

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Chad Toporski's picture

February 24, 2011 at 05:21 pm

O-line is both a current AND future need. Clifton doesn't have much left in him, and I would not be surprised if he doesn't last next season (though he very well could).

To me, this is the biggest "concern."

But, like you said, TT will go for value over need. The reason he took Raji and CM3 was because of the fundamental changes in defense.

It will be interesting to see how TT moves in this draft. Trading up or down are very real possibilities each, especially due to their draft position, compensatory picks, and the fact that they're going to have a LOT of players coming back from IR, which affects roster size.

Plus, the free agents will play a big role. Them leaving makes room for other players, but places a higher need on some positions. Them staying, however, reduces the available money under the salary cap (which I assume will return).

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PackersRS's picture

February 24, 2011 at 06:24 pm

Just have to say, apparent need.
We have no idea how Marshal Newhouse, T.J. Lang , EDS, Nick Madonald, Campbell, how those guy are gonna fare next year, or in the future.

We had an ABSURD need at CB last year, remember that.

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BubbaOne's picture

February 24, 2011 at 06:51 pm

...and OLB!

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Chad Toporski's picture

February 24, 2011 at 07:19 pm

"We had an ABSURD need at CB last year, remember that."

That's very true, and something I keep reminding myself.

Still, the only guy I feel comfortable with right now is TJ Lang. But of course, I don't see them in practice.

It's funny how things can sometimes end up much different than we expected.

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DaveK's picture

February 25, 2011 at 10:52 am

I know this a different era and so many things are different but looking at needs a year out reminds of part in book I'm reading about Lombardi. (The Lombardi Legacy by Dave Robinson and Royce Boyles) In the early 60's, you could draft players in their junior year. They would play their last year of college and then join the team if they agreed to a contract after their senior year. Lombardi, always drafting late in each round, would draft these guys knowing his roster was solid and he could wait for these guys for a year. Other teams would pass them over because of current needs and Lombardi ended up with some of the best players in the draft because he was willing to wait a year for them to join the team. The league changed this rule in the mid 60's and Lombardi was furious with the Packer president at that time for voting for that change.

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