4 Main Themes Emerge From Green Bay Packers 2012 NFL Draft
Ted Thompson hasn’t gone crazy: While many people were surprised by the fact that Thompson traded up several times, a good indication that Thompson is still following his MO is that he’s trolling the media about his “change” in personality. If you’ve followed Thompson enough, you’d know that he’ll never tell anyone anything, so if he’s saying he’s doing things differently, chances are he really isn’t. I now think Thompson wasn’t as averse to trading up in the past as we all thought; it simply didn’t make much sense in previous years to do so. For instance right now Thompson probably has one of the best teams in the NFL in terms of depth so he can afford to trade picks to move up the draft but when Thompson took over in 2005 the team was in a salary cap nightmare and salary cap nightmares usually also mean that there were no quality backups on the team (or else why pay more for an aging veteran?). Secondly, the rookie salary cap has altered the draft to a point where the picks at the top of the 1st round are the most valuable (as they should be) and teams have adjusted accordingly by trading up in order to secure the best talent for them. In fact the majority of 1st round draft picks ended up being selected by teams who were not the team originally award the pick. I am a little surprised that Thompson was so quick to recognize the change and act upon it, which is why I now think that Thompson isn’t averse to trading up, he just could justify paying the price in the past.
- Draft and Develop: Thompson again hasn’t changed his stance that the best method of improving a team is to draft and develop its own players. If you take a look at the players selected in the 1st 3 rounds (which is usually where stars are found, although the Packers did not draft in the 3rd round), each has the physical/mental capacity to succeed in the draft, but isn’t really all that polished in their technique. Nick Perry is going to have to learn to play out of a two point stance and drop back in coverage, Jerel Worthy is going to need to learn how to play 5 technique in a 3-4 defense and keep his motor up and Casey Hayward is going to need to learn how to play more in a zone scheme. I would guess that the effect of these players in the first year is going to be a wash, remember even Clay Matthews didn’t really explode onto the scene until his 2nd year.
- Defensive Coincidence: Random variability probably can’t explain why the first 6 draft picks were all defensive players (there’s about a 1.5% that a coin will land heads 6 times in a row), so what else could it be? Thompson was quick to point out that he wasn’t favoring the defense, but “it just happened that way”. I would assume that the reason behind this is a combination of the offensive-heavy draft last year and the state of the defense this year; when drafting players GMs always have to think about the players they are going to replace; for instance it probably doesn’t make any sense to draft a replacement for Aaron Rodgers because he’s entering his prime and is an All Pro player but also it doesn’t make sense to draft a replacement for Derek Sherrod since he’s proven nothing (good or bad) and teams have to give their players time to develop before they know what they have. So Thompson probably has wide receiver, tight end, running back and offensive tackle de-valued this year because players at those positions were picked last year and Thompson simply doesn’t know what he has. Add that to the obvious deficiencies in the defense last year and you probably have Thompson’s “coincidence” in drafting so many defensive players. What will be interesting to see is if offensive players dominate next year.
- Mock drafts are officially dead: Not that people are going to stop making them; even the best draftniks usually only got 3-4 picks correct in the 1st round (and lets not talk about rounds 2-7), but if this yearsis in any way indicative of the future, there is now even less chance for anyone to get any picks right with the amount of trading going on. From a front office perspective, it also means that GMs are going to have a harder time predicting which players go to which teams, so “sticking to your board” may become even more important than it is now. I would probably also guess that drafting by need is going to become even less attractive since presumable teams would have to reach even more to get players they need.
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.