Packers 2012 NFL Draft: Drafting Best Player Available is Wrong Move

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Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson
Few NFL GMs work the NFL draft like Ted Thompson

It is hard to argue with Ted Thompson.  One look at what he has done since becoming the General Manager for the Green Bay Packers back in 2005 and it’s easy to see why Thompson is generally considered one of the best GMs in all of football.

Where Thompson really excels is at the NFL draft.  He’s like a plastic surgeon quietly working on his patient (the Packers) until his finished product is something better than anyone could have imagined.  Rarely does he trade way up for a big name prospect, and almost always he works by selecting the best player available for the team, regardless of position.

We saw it with their first pick in the 2010 draft when Thompson disregarded his biggest need (outside linebacker) and drafted Derek Sherrod, an offensive tackle who took a slide on draft day.  At first it seemed like a terrible pick, but after Sherrod was called upon during the regular season to fill in for injured players, the pick proved Thompson’s genius again.

Basically, to argue with Thompson regarding his methods concerning the draft literally makes you clinically insane.  Unfortunately, for the 2012 draft, Thompson can’t select the best player available.  His usually genius ways won’t work this year.

Never before in Thompson’s reign as GM of Green Bay has there been such a glaring need to fill.  You could debate that the Packers need an outside linebacker just as much as the Indianapolis Colts or Washington Redskins need a quarterback.  The lack of production at outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews was the reason that Green Bay saw such a dramatic drop in their defensive performance from 2010 to 2011.

For this reason, Thompson and the Packers don’t have the luxury of sitting back and taking the best player available.  The way I see it, they really only have two options.

Option #1: Trade Way Up

I’m not talking about moving up three-to-five picks to draft a player like Courtney Upshaw.  I’m talking about a Matthews-esque move to bring in an ultra-talented pass rusher.

Two names that instantly come to mind are DE/DT Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State and OLB Melvin Ingram of South Carolina.  While Cox wouldn’t fill the biggest need at outside linebacker, defensive line is Green Bays second weakest position and Cox has the upside to become a complete game-changer.

A player like Ingram would be the ideal choice to trade away a ton of draft picks for.  He’s extremely athletic with an already mature bevy of pass-rushing moves.  He’d instantly improve the defense, most likely in a similar way that Matthews did back after the 2009 draft.

Option #2: Keep Trading Down

If Thompson doesn’t absolutely, positively love either Cox or Ingram, there is no reason for him to give up a bunch of draft picks to draft them.  Should that be the case, the best thing for Thompson to do is continue to trade back until the best pass-rusher is available, and draft him.

With numerous teams likely to desire to get back into the first round, the Packers could continue moving back, racking up draft picks and wait until the perfect player falls into their lap.  Players who could be available in the early second round would be players like Whitney Mercilus, Andre Branch, Nick Perry or personal favorite, Shea McClellin.

Any of these players would be a great fit for Green Bay.  Instead of reaching for a prospect, by trading back they could still get their player and gain valuable draft picks later in the draft.

Considering Thompson’s knack for finding impact players in the later rounds, those extra picks could prove to make quite a difference on the 2012 roster.

As far as I’m concerned, these are the only two options for Ted Thompson’s 2012 first-round pick.  This year, for the first time in Thompson’s career, and probably the last time, he can’t draft the best player available to him.

As crazy as that may sound, it’s the absolute truth.

  • http://PigskinPaul.com Pigskin Paul

    Have to disagree with you overall. OLB is not the only reason PACKERS D was bad last season. Their DL was also weak, primarily because of injuries, and WOODSON is only DB who can zone blitz effectively. Please no INGRAM trade up. He’s overrated, his arms R too short & he’ll have to move all over to play.TED will sit tight, or move up a few slots, & draft “best player available at a psoition of need” as he should.

    • Bubbaloo

      Paul, you say the D line was weak “primarily because of injuries”? That tells me you’re still counting on Neal, who else was injured? I agree it was not just OLB, and I’m not sold on Ingram, but to depend on Neal at this point is a huge gamble to say the least.

  • pointerjeff

    Why move back? They already have 12 picks and a safe bet is that not all of them will make the team. If trading back nets them the perfect pass rush player, then staying where they are does the same thing, only earlier. Trading up? Maybe. Trading down? Makes no sense.

    • BubbaOne

      One way trading down makes sense, and IIRC, TT did it last year; trading a late 5th and a late 7th for an early 6th and early 7th. Plus there’s the financial component re not overpaying a player if you can get him later.
      One trade down I was looking at this year was picks 28 and 197 to KC for picks 44 and 74.
      W/ a deep team having few holes I would like TT to trade a pick for a future pick hopefully netting a move up of 35-55 spots next year.

  • QOTSA1

    Depending on what happens on draft day, staying at 28 or moving up slightly seem like better options to me. To get Cox or Ingram, you are probably talking about trading your 1st,2nd, & 3rd round picks.

    If they like Upshaw, Perry, Mercilus or McClellin, and one them is available at 28 why not take them instead of moving back and possibly missing them. Or, a trade that makes a lot of sense to me, would be a trade up with the Texans just so they can get ahead of the Patriots. The Patriots are in need of a pass rusher as well, so they could be targeting similar players.

  • Evan

    A trade back to get say Shea McClellin and trading our later round picks away would ideally net us 5-8 picks in the 2nd to 5th rounds, where TT is a stud at finding diamonds in the rough. And if we sit at 28 and the BPA works out to be Stephen Hill being our pick I wouldn’t mind adding a Megatron to Rodgers arsenal (:

    • Bubbaloo

      Evan, didn’t we learn against KC and NY that the offense will occasionally have a bad day? When they do we need at least some semblance of a defense! If TT takes “O” early I will be pi$$ed!

    • Ron LC

      4 of the 12 picks are compensatory and cannot be traded. They’d have to use their own #2, #3, #4 and #5 picks to make those moves. Not worth it in this draft.

      • Jeremy

        I’m convinced the articles I’ve seen like this are written by guys who have not actually gone through the trade value charts. The Packers are going to be in a tough spot trying to trade up and will have to really overpay in number of selections to do it.

  • Evan

    Trust in TT grasshopper.

  • Pat M

    I say trade Jordy Nelson and 2nd to KC for KC 1st and 2nd. Get position to take best OLB or DL and one of the stud OL from WI with 28.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      You crazy, Pat!

      • Pat M

        Just real early in the morning. I thought I would get the creative juices flowing. It will cost much to trade up, and frankly TT would be crazy to do it. Wait until 28 and let the other teams make our choice for us.

        • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

          Was trading up to grab Clay Matthews crazy? If the guy you love is within reach, it’s not crazy at all.

          http://allgbp.com/2012/04/11/some-1st-round-trade-up-scenarios-for-packers-gm-ted-thompson/

          • pat M

            Mandarich as a #1 was a bust too! I remember too many draft picks that busted. In this draft there isn’t a player that is that great (IMHO).

            Packers trade their 1st (28), 4th (123) and 6th(197) to the Denver Broncos for their 1st (25). The trade value numbers are 721 on the Packers side and 720 for the Broncos.
            This is great chart value but I’d prefer TT use the 4th and 6th to get a big body for pick and an extra OLB for development.

            The Broncos, with only 8 picks in the draft, increase that number to 10, while still getting one of the top 3 on their board when they would have normally picked. The Packers give up surplus picks to jump ahead of the Texans and Patriots, two teams likely looking for linebacker help.
            Ok, but again we give up two picks that can build value. If the Pick the Pack gets busts, TT has lost 3 picks for the draft. I’m not convinced of any player being that good that TT will not get as good a player with 28. Even a reach for Konz or the guard from WI might set the OL for 10 years. It would be nice to have the OL be consistent for 3-5 years and knowing they majority of the players will be there longer.

            I think the Packers will be surprised and find the best linebacker still available on their board, yes Dont’a Hightower, who the Packers think could even convert to OLB.
            For Courtney Upshaw, who many feel will be dropping into the late first: At 28 he would be nice as well.

            • pat M

              In my original comment I meant to say, before trading picks, consider that TT would be trading a Jordy Nelson. Make those picks mean something tangible. Trading numeric values is easy but when you consider a person that is on the team already it gives you pause. Then ask, is the trade really worth it or is it the heat of the battle?

      • Bubbaloo

        Crazy? Obviously a troll without brains!

        • Bubbaloo

          Pat, that is, not you Al!

          • pat M

            Bubbaloo, No I’m not crazy but suffer from HD. If you are so smart look it up on the internet.

            I’ve drank beers with Max McGee (before he passed away) and have been watching the packers since the 60’s. Maybe I’m not as articulate but that is the HD.

            STFU!

            But I do like your idea of us having a deep team, having few holes that you would like TT to trade a pick for a future pick hopefully netting a move up of 35-55 spots next year.

            Maybe TT can trade the Packs 4, 5 and 6 for next years 3,4 & 5

  • Tarynfor 12

    DL,OLB,S are the needs for the Packers and the talent at 28 in each spot is available.Reyes,McClellin,H.Smith.Some may not like any of these guys but the point is TT doesn’t have to reach for any of them.
    If Shea is gone we get Reyes,if Reyes is gone we get Smith.The only player of imminent loss is McClellin due to his fast raising and yet is still projected at our 28 or lower.
    The point is we will get a solid guy for either spot at 28 but the argument of which spot needs be first remain.
    The signing of Hargrove helps but the Neal factor and the unknown of Guy,whom I like,should dictate DL first but getting an OLB will diminish the burning out of CM3 which would create an even bigger problem if that was to occur.
    The fact that we can outscore anyone may still keep TT from pushing a panic button as in doing a drastic trade-up senario for a Cox,Ingram etc.
    Personally,I would break his hand if he were to show even a faintest idea of pushing that button.
    Trades like that are for those who believe they are ONE PLAYER away FROM WINNING.We are merely in need of a couple UPGRADES to CONTINUE WINNING.

    • Jeremy

      I’m happy to see a well thought out comment from you.

      • Jeremy

        That was supposed to be for cow42. I clicked the wrong reply.

        • Bubbaloo

          Did you have to yell? I could read it just fine without the CAPS.

  • cow42

    they will have to move up to get perry or mcclellin.

    tt seems to draft looking 2 years ahead. the only position that will not be selected @ 28 is qb… everything else is on the table.

    rb – is a need.
    wr – jennings could be gone next year.
    te – fleener and finley would be unstoppable.
    g – lang could be gone next year.
    c – saturday is 100 years old.
    t – sherrod, clifton, newhouse are all question marks.
    dl – obvious need here.
    ilb – could definitely use an upgrade over hawk.
    olb – obvious need here.
    cb – woody = old, williams = getting old/bad year, shields = really bad year/can’t tackle/lot of ?’s, house an unknown, bush………good at special teams.
    s obvious need here.

    could make an argument for picking a player at any of the above positions in the 1st round if a worthy player is there.

    • Tarynfor 12

      You have the microscope to finely focused.
      RB is not nor will be a 1st rd pick as long a Rodgers plays in GB.
      WR,we use multiple sets and need multiple WRs to do so,you can’t do that getting one WR very couple years in the first rd.
      TE in 1st…isn’t Finley our immaculate receptionists-Green,Hanna,Ford
      Lang isn’t going anywhere.
      Center,mid rd guy and yes passing on Konz.
      T-maybe two years from now,Newhouse,Sherrod,Bulaga
      DL-no brainer.
      ILB,mid late guy.
      OLB,again no brainer.
      CB,every year,every year.
      S,when you can find one,absolutly.

      • cow42

        just sayin’ you could justify a pick at any position other than qb. do i think they’ll go rb #1? no. could it be justified if they do? yes.

        • Tarynfor 12

          I believe that what man can think can be made reality…a RB at 28…has broken that belief.

          • Bubbaloo

            cow42, maybe we should use our 1st rounder on a punter! You never know what might happen, and we can always use good field position. Watcha think?

            • cow42

              ok, you got me.
              punter/kicker/snapper are also off the board.

              duh.

          • cow42

            call me stupid but i would love to have Martin.

            He will end up being a star because he’s gonna get drafted by a team that doesn’t suck. Not to mention he can do everything you need a rb to do.

      • Dragonrunt

        “RB is not nor will be a 1st rd pick as long a Rodgers plays in GB.”
        Just because GB is a pass first offense does not mean RB could not be a major weapon in the offense. Someone like Marshall Faulk for St Louise in their pass first offense would have me jumping for joy no matter where they selected him.

  • Ron LC

    I agree that need trups everything in this draft. Fortuneately there are enough OLB’s to give TT an opportunity to use his draft skills to hit a CM3 like homerun this year.

    Trade up in round #1 to get Nick Perry. To do this he may have to use more than draft picks. Fine, OLB USC bookends would make my day.

  • Ed Schoenfeld

    Trading up or trading down is still a “best player available” strategy.

    In 2009, the best player available to the packers with their second and third round picks was to trade them (one second and two thirds) for Clay Matthews and a 5th round pick.

    Is anyone really claiming TT ‘overpaid’ for CM3?

    In 2008, the best player available to the Packers in the first round was to trade down for Jordy Nelson and another pick.

    Is anyone really claiming any of the guys picked in between are would have more value to than Packers than Jordy?

    Those were best player available decisions, not ‘need drafting’ decisions — BPA is NOT just a sit around and do nothing strategy, it is a ‘maximize value’ strategy.

    The 2012 draft is no different than any other draft.

    • ThomasMagnumPI

      Well put. According to the trade chart, GB would have enough ammo in the first 4-5 rounds to trade their picks for two early-mid 2nd round picks and one early-mid 3rd round pick.

      This seems like a pretty efficient use of their “draft capital”, especially if they could get players like McClellin/Reyes/Perry/Still with the 2nd round picks, and an impact player in the 3rd (probably a value pick, regardless of position).

  • brewDude

    Every year there is a crisis of need. 2 years ago it was CB. TT did not draft a CB high and the doom and gloom crowd ripped him for it. But Tramon stepped up and Shields came out of nowhere, and Packer DBs were excellent. As always, why alter what is working great? TT is not looking at just the upcoming season, but the Packers team over the next 4 or 5 seasons. So if BPA happens to be a WR with our first pick, the Packers are a better team if we make that pick instead of a lesser DE or OLB. Easily put – if you draft inferior players, you eventually have an inferior team.

    On a side note, the word ‘literally’ means to not take a phrase metaphorically. You were using it to reference a metaphor.

    • Steve Cheez

      Thanks for the grammar tutorial, brewDude. I thought maybe my Mom was on this site…

      • Normthe1

        Obscure but true, I missed that one…

  • BubbaOne

    TT has said he views the 1st round pick as a long term investment so he could take a player at literally any position.

    Of the OLB’s likely available at 28 (which excludes Ingram) I would take McClellin, he’s the most complete NFL ready OLB. Don’t want any of the other tweeners projected for this pick.
    The only DE’s I want in the 1st round are Cox or Brockers. Unlikely they or Ingram fall to 20, which would cost us picks 28, 90 and 123 but I’d be tempted to pull the trigger.

  • PackersRS

    What? OLB was the biggest need in the 2010 NFL draft? And Bulaga seemed like a terrible pick?

    Tauscher was in the imminence of retiring, and Clifton was soon to follow. There was NO ONE in the roster capable of playing any of the tackle spots with some decency. The Packers HAD to add a franchise tackle in that draft, it was a much more pressing need than to find a complement for Matthews, and Bulaga falling was a gift from heaven.

    That being said, I agree with you to some extent. The value needs to be there. It’s fine and dandy in concept but if there’s no quality prospect available in our reach or if there’s no quality deal to move down, picking BPA will be right move.

  • David Wysocki

    “Players who could be available in the early second round would be players like Whitney Mercilus, Andre Branch, Nick Perry or personal favorite, Shea McClellin.”

    I think there is a very good chance that only one of these guys will be available at the Packers pick (maybe none), let alone second round. But I hope it will work out. I think the pick is OLB and they will look for a bargain DE in the 2nd or 3rd, or both.

  • ted, of bill and ted

    hypothetical…considering his chance of being the next pacman, supposed janoris jenkins drops all the way to our 3rd round pick without someone taking a chance on him (very unlikely, i know, hence hypothetical…)

    does ted take a chance on him? talent-wise, he would certainly be the bpa…and maybe cwood can knock some sense through his thick skull

  • Yoop

    Ingram is a very good college player that will not play up to where he might be drafted. Comes down to just a few things, he does not fit as a 3-4 OLB or really a 4-3 DE.
    NFL offensive tackles are going to kill him. At 6′ 1″ 264# With 31.5″ arms he is NOT going to get his hands on a NFL tackle first. Specially with his LACK of speed and quickness.
    Now if he was exceptional in that area it would make a difference.
    But he runs a 4.79 40 with a 1.65 ten yard time.
    His short shuttle is a good with a 4.18, his only impressive physical number is a 6.83 3 cone drill.

    Just an example Matt Kahlil ran a 4.9 40 time, he is 6′ 6″ and 305#, he had a 1.7 ten yard time with 35″ arms.

    Who wins that battle? It sure as hell is not Ingram!

    Just draft McCellin @#28 and the OLB need is FILLED! NOT a reach at all. He is the best fit for Capers defense. His physcial testing numbers are as good or better then EVERY 3-4 OLB prospect in the draft.
    He has all ready played OLB, DE, ILB and dropped into coverage.
    NONE of the other DE conversion prospects can say that.

    The ONLY play I would move up for is Fletcher Cox. But I also think that price is too high.

    I like players like Billy Wynn, Kheeston Randle, Dereck Wolfe, Akiem Hicks more then Worthy or Still in the first.
    You also have to look at prospects like Trevor Guyton and Brett Roy.

    • Turophile

      One thing that seldom gets discussed is tiers of talent. How much better will Ingram be in the NFL than Mercilus, Perry, Branch, McClellin, Curry, Irvin ? That is a key question. If TT thinks he can get a pass rusher he is comfortable with at, say, #35, then he could trade down for them and use the ammmo he gets from that to trade up from his late second and late third picks.

      Trading down in round one gets the maximum return to make bigger moves up in 2 and 3. If there are many similarly ranked players available at #28 Ted could decide to move down and still get a player on the same tier.

      It’s all about who will be available when the Pack are on the clock and how many others of similar talent there are available (with a degree of emphasis on players that fit a need).

      • Oppy

        Turophile gets it.

        This is EXACTLY how the Packers operate.

        If there’s 15 guys available at pick #28 that the Packers have graded out all to be the same quality of player, and the Packers can swing a trade to end up with a pick between #29 and #33 as well as an extra pick (or earlier picks in later rounds), they are going to generally make that move.

        As turophile mentioned, if the Packers have a NEED position that could be addressed out of those 15 players- let’s say three of those 15 guys with equal grades play at need positions- that would obviously come into consideration and the Packers might only entertain a trade back into #29-31…

        It’s not as difficult as a lot of fans make it.

        • Oppy

          typo, That should be between #29 and #43 instead of #29-#33 (up to 14 players of equal grade could be taken by other teams and the Packers could still land one of them if they traded back to #43 overall…)

  • marpag

    Everybody wants to say, “Yes, we should take the best player, but…. maybe just this once…..”

    Rejecting a MORE talented long term investment (player) in favor of a LESS talented long term investment is dumb. It will still be dumb even if you do it only “just this once.”

  • smelker

    I think this would be ideal scenario for Ted. Problem is finding the trading partners. The talent level in the bottom of the first is similar to the mid-second in this draft. Trading back is a good option here. Then use the addional picks to trade up into the second again to net a total of 3 2nd round picks.

  • http://TalkinPackers Don Christensen

    For me you can’t look as much at where in the round or rounds, but should look more at Ranking for position.

    Say at #28, is it a better value to get the #6 3-4 DE in the draft or the #3 3-4 Rush Linebacker.
    These player might be the #30 and #40 players in the draft overall. But who is really the better value?
    IMO this really comes into play with the conversion players, College DE’s making the move to 3-4 OLB.
    Or college 4-3 DT’s making the move to 3-4 DE.
    And this is where you find great differences in rankings from team to team for the same players.
    Very few top 100 rankings, round rankings or mocks take the differences into consideration.
    A player might be the #3 DT but is not a fit for playing 3-4 DE and would not even be on the board for the 3-4 teams.

    Might be the #3 4-3 DE but is not on a teams board for 3-4 Rush OLB. They will be the same basic size, same type of 40 time, but one has the agility to play 3-4 OLB and the other does not.

    So a player might be ranked #40 overall but is actually ranked higher on one teams board, and not on it at all just because of scheme differences.

  • JP

    First, trading back into the first round for Clay Matthews was just that, trading BACK into the end of the first. Not trading down to a top ten pick. Even if TT thought the world of Ingram, it is very difficult to see him give up the number of picks that Atlanta gave up last year to get Julio Jones. Second, all of those “tweeners” you wrote would be available in the second round… will be gone by the end of the first round. The Packers will not have to trade anywhere (at least not in the first) for what they are looking for.

  • rory

    I think the Pack should do the following:
    1. trade a 5, 6 and 7 round pick back to have next year (trade to a crappy team for higher picks in each round). 2. Use early round picks for DE,OLB, OL and DB. 3. Use late round picks for RB, DB, OL.