Pack Draft Overview by PG's Pete Dougherty


Apr 16, 2005
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De pere, Wi.
Posted April 20, 2007

Packers draft overview: 'We should get a very good player'

By Pete Dougherty
[email protected]

General Manager Ted Thompson made no moves of note in free agency to upgrade the Green Bay Packers' personnel after going from 4-12 in 2005 to 8-8 last year in Mike McCarthy's first season as coach.

That doesn't preclude a significant signing or trade in the coming weeks — there's a chance, for instance, that Oakland receiver Randy Moss ends up with the Packers either via trade or as a free agent if Oakland cuts him later this offseason.

But for now, all the Packers' meaningful offseason additions will come via the 2007 NFL draft on April 28 and 29.

Unlike last year, when Thompson held a prime pick at No. 5 overall, this year he's picking in the middle of the first round, at No. 16 overall. That reduces, but doesn't eliminate, the odds of landing a Pro Bowl-caliber player in the first round. Considering the Packers' many needs, he can choose a player at nearly any position to play a significant, if not starting, role immediately.

"History tells you every time it's your turn to pick, if you do the right thing, you can get a good player," Thompson said this week. "Certainly, at 16 in this year's draft, we feel the draft is strong enough that we should get a very good player. Whether that player becomes a quote-unquote impact player, I find that hard to judge. If I can get a good football player, I'm happy."

Thompson has nine picks in this year's draft — his own in each of the seven rounds, plus a seventh-rounder acquired from the New York Jets for tackle Steve Morley and a free-agent compensatory pick in the seventh round.

"The way this team is going to improve the greatest is improvement from within — these younger guys getting a year older, having that experience, another good offseason," Thompson said. "That's the way you get better and the way you sustain getting better."

Thompson probably will need immediate help from this draft class to improve on last year's 8-8 record, and he has holes in his roster.

In no particular order, the Packers' greatest needs are a starting-caliber halfback; a quality cornerback to play the nickel role for a year or two and eventually take over for one of their two aging starters, Charles Woodson and Al Harris; a receiver who can stretch defenses and eventually replace 32-year-old Donald Driver in the starting lineup; a safety good enough to beat out Marquand Manuel or any of the other returnees at that position; and a tight end with the running and receiving talent to challenge defenses vertically.

That's a significant list that Thompson can't come close to filling in one draft. He will have done well to fill two of them with immediate help over draft weekend.

"I don't think you can ever guess (immediate major contributors from a draft)," Thompson said. "We'd certainly like to over the long haul, but whether right away or not, that's a little more difficult. But over the long haul, you'd like to have two starters out of every (draft)."

To set the Packers' draft board, Thompson has been meeting with his top scouts — personnel analyst John Schneider, director of college scouting John Dorsey, director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie, and pro scouts Tim Terry and Eliot Wolf — since early April.

Then, starting Monday, Thompson brought in his college-scouting staff for meetings through the weekend, with the daily schedule generally running from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. Beginning Monday through Thursday next week, he'll meet with the coaching staff for its input and set the final board.

There's always the chance Thompson will make a trade in the first round, but his history almost precludes a trade up. In his seven previous years running drafts — five with Seattle, two with the Packers — he's made no trades up in any round. He's traded back in the first round three times. Two of those came in 2001, when he had two first-rounders. He moved from No. 7 overall to No. 9 overall for third- and seventh-round picks from San Francisco, and from 10th overall to No. 17 in a deal that included acquiring Packers quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

Then, in 2002 he moved from No. 20 to No. 28 overall for the Packers' second-round pick.

Thompson insisted he's had numerous talks to move up in every draft. But his failure to pull the trigger on any of those deals suggests he drives a hard bargain, because he hates to give up extra picks to move up.

Trading down is another matter. In his two drafts with the Packers, on draft day he's parlayed 13 picks into 23 total.

"I'm the kind of person that goes to two different grocery stores to try to find cheaper oranges or something," he joked. "… In this particular draft, it depends on how it falls and how things work out. We have added quite a number of young players to our team over the last few years. That's helped if in fact we don't add more picks to our current draft group."

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