Ranking Ted Thompson’s Drafts by Year

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Was 2009 the best draft year for Ted Thompson?

With the 2012 NFL Draft just days away, I thought it might be interesting to rank Ted Thompson’s previous drafts as General Manager of the Green Bay Packers.

This activity will incorporate his first draft in 2005 through the 2009 draft. The 2010 and 2011 years will be omitted based on the reasoning that the players from those drafts are too young in their careers to accurately gauge. (But feel free to leave a comment on how you’d rank them if they were included.)

Now, in order to grade or evaluate something, you have to base your decision on a set of criteria. So here is what I will base the ranking on:

  1. How much have the players in a specific draft contributed to the success of the Green Bay Packers?
  2. Secondary to the first criterion is how well has the player has succeeded in the NFL overall.
  3. How many “busts” did a specific draft include?
  4. How much value did Thompson get with each selection based on overall pick number and the player’s future performance?

For the sake of brevity, I won’t go into detail about each of these questions for every draft year; however, I will mention some of the booms, busts, and quick thoughts about each. That way you can at least get a sense of where I am coming from, and I will leave you to discuss your agreements/disagreements in the comments below.

#5. 2007 NFL Draft

1 16 Justin Harrell DT Tennessee
2 63 Brandon Jackson RB Nebraska
3 78 James Jones WR San Jose State
3 89 Aaron Rouse SAF Virginia Tech
4 119 Allen Barbre G Missouri Southern State
5 157 David Clowney WR Virginia Tech
6 191 Korey Hall FB Boise State
6 192 Desmond Bishop LB California
6 193 Mason Crosby K Colorado
7 228 DeShawn Wynn RB Florida
7 243 Clark Harris TE Rutgers

Booms: Desmond Bishop, Mason Crosby
Busts: Justin Harrell, Allen Barbre, Clark Harris, David Clowney
Quick Thoughts: How do you recover from the complete misfire in picking Justin Harrell? The two biggest stars came from the bottom of the draft, and even they took a few years to really reach “boom” status. Brandon Jackson and James Jones were the best they got from the top rounds. This was just an “okay” draft overall, and though not completely horrible, it was easily Thompson’s worst.

#4. 2006 NFL Draft

1 5 A.J. Hawk OLB Ohio State
2 47 Daryn Colledge G Boise State
2 52 Greg Jennings WR Western Michigan
3 67 Abdul Hodge LB Iowa
3 75 Jason Spitz G Louisville
4 104 Cory Rodgers WR Texas Christian
4 115 Will Blackmon CB Boston College
5 148 Ingle Martin QB Furman
5 165 Tony Moll G Nevada-Reno
6 183 Johnny Jolly DT Texas A&M
6 185 Tyrone Culver DB Fresno State
7 253 Dave Tollefson DE Northwest Missouri State

Booms: Greg Jennings, Johnny Jolly
Busts: Abdul Hodge, Cory Rodgers, Ingle Martin
Quick Thoughts: This will forever be the “A.J. Hawk Draft” in the minds of Packers fans, though we shouldn’t forget that Thompson also snatched up one Greg Jennings in the second round. Not a whole lot of big “busts” in this draft, but a good number of “backup” caliber players. Jolly was a boom until he got arrested, and the first two picks never quite played up to their draft status.

#3. 2005 NFL Draft

1 24 Aaron Rodgers QB California
2 51 Nick Collins FS Bethune-Cookman
2 58 Terrence Murphy WR Texas A&M
4 115 Marviel Underwood DB San Diego State
4 125 Brady Poppinga LB Brigham Young
5 143 Junius Coston C North Carolina A&T
5 167 Mike Hawkins DB Oklahoma
6 180 Mike Montgomery DT Texas A&M
6 195 Craig Bragg WR UCLA
7 245 Kurt Campbell CB Albany State (NY)
7 246 Will Whitticker G Michigan State

Booms: Aaron Rodgers, Nick Collins
Busts: Junius Coston, Mike Hawkins, Craig Bragg, Kurt Campbell, Will Whitticker
Quick Thoughts: Were it not for Aaron Rodgers, this draft could easily compete for last among Thompson’s draft classes. But an MVP-caliber franchise quarterback coupled with a Pro Bowl free safety like Nick Collins counts for a lot, despite the vast lack of talent acquired in the rest of the draft. I also have to wonder how Terrence Murphy would have progressed without his career-ending injury.

#2. 2009 NFL Draft

1 9 B.J. Raji NT Boston College
1 26 Clay Matthews LB USC
4 109 T.J. Lang T Eastern Michigan
5 145 Quinn Johnson RB Louisiana State
5 162 Jamon Meredith T South Carolina
6 182 Jarius Wynn DE Georgia
6 187 Brandon Underwood DB Cincinnati
7 218 Brad Jones LB Colorado

Booms: Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji
Busts: Jamon Meredith
Quick Thoughts: Overall, the 2009 class really seemed to play in line with their draft level. The Packers got some good players at the top, with some average guys at the bottom (though not much in the middle). It’s hard to peg anyone outside of Jamon Meredith as a true “bust,” while Raji and Matthews have been essential parts of the defense.

#1. 2008 NFL Draft

2 36 Jordy Nelson WR Kansas State
2 56 Brian Brohm QB Louisville
2 60 Pat Lee CB Auburn
3 91 Jermichael Finley TE Texas
4 102 Jeremy Thompson DE Wake Forest
4 135 Josh Sitton G Central Florida
5 150 Breno Giacomini T Louisville
7 209 Matt Flynn QB Louisiana State
7 217 Brett Swain WR San Diego State

Booms: Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Josh Sitton, Matt Flynn
Busts: Brian Brohm, Pat Lee, Breno Giacomini
Quick Thoughts: I was almost hesitant to rank this draft first, since it seems fairly unglamorous at first sight. But Thompson really nailed some picks here and got a lot of good value from where they were drafted. The depth of talent acquired in 2008 makes it his best draft as Packers GM.


Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski


  • JimR_in_DC

    I agree with your top 3, Chad. I would swap the order of the bottom two years, although, they are pretty close to a draw.

    • Chad Toporski

      You could certainly make a good argument to switch those bottom two. They are very close, though I would say the 2006 draft provided the Packers with more immediate starters.

  • J

    I guess 2005 would be the most top-heavy draft, with two amazing picks and not much else, followed closely by 2009 imo. I guess 2008’s more even distribution of great picks gets the nod over those two top-heavier ones.

    Where’s 2010? Was it left out bc it hasn’t passed the 3 year mark of judging a draft? 2010’s haul of Bulaga, Starks, and Burnett seems more evenly distributed than 2009. It still doesn’t match 2008 for finding more quality later. Good list overall.

    • Chad Toporski

      2010 actually looks to be a pretty good year as of right now. But yes, I did leave it out based on the “3 year rule.” I think it will be interesting to see how those players pan out this coming year.

  • mike

    So I don’t know what a normal NFL draft yields, but the only impressive picks I can see here are Matthews, Finley, Jennings, and Nelson (and probably Cobb from 2011). So, why are the Packers considered the best “builders through the draft”? Or are drafts just normally littered with busts?

    • Chad Toporski

      No Rodgers? Collins? Sitton?

      As to your question, I think most drafts only yield a certain number of contributors when it’s all said and done. What Green Bay does, IMO, is find quality depth through the draft. (And we also can’t forget free agency.)

      Besides, the fact remains that no team could financially sustain a roster full of superstars.

    • Pat Mc

      The Packers are ready to go to camp with 53 already. They need a few better chips for the table but they are a 15-1 team and with 11 picks, 4 or 5 spots to improve on, is 10 wins not realistic?

      Build through draft and FA’s that don’t cost a bundle. That is why (imho).

      Most drafts have 50% busts so the more “swings at the plate the better” (I forget who said it first)

  • BubbaOne

    First off, I hate the word “bust”. TT is responsible for drafting talent, he’s not resposible for injuries. Harrell had recovered from his college injury and then hurt his back lifting weights. Jeremy Thompson and Terrence Murphy had to retire early due to medical concerns. I think those circumstances should be tsken into account when grading a draft.

    On the flip side, the comp picks for Colledge in 2012 and Flynn in 2013 are part of the legacy of the player chosen. So shouldn’t that also influence the draft grade of the year the player was taken?

    • Pat Mc

      I have to agree on Injuries. Thompson was not TT fault but Harrell was a big risk for a #1.

      Obvious starters aside, Brohm was the only bust while Lee, Giacomoni and Swain are signed – playing for other teams. They were not busts (imho) just not good enough for the GB Roster!

      Great Job Chad. I vote with your rankings as you have them.

      • BubbaOne

        It may have been the 1st round but Harrell was reportedly a top 5 pick if healthy so taking him at 16 was a gamble worth taking…it just didn’t work out.

    • Chad Toporski

      I understand your sentiment on the usage of “bust” to describe a player. However, I don’t think it in any way shines a negative light on Thompson or any GM. No one plans on having a drafted player perform worse than they expected from them. Draft grading/selecting is as much an art as a science, and there are circumstances that affect a player beyond anyone’s control.

      In my mind, Harrell was a “bust,” since he ended up contributing hardly anything to the success of the team. It doesn’t mean Thompson was necessarily wrong in taking him, though.

      As for comp picks, they weren’t part of my criteria, but a player’s future performance with other teams was.

  • Ron LC

    First Cliffie has been released – may resign him at lower rate is a possibity.

    Drats – Can’t disagree with you on the rankings. It’s really hard to evaluate unless you can measure them against other teams and the league as a whole.

    Your next assignment grasshopper is – Just kidding Chad. Thanks for the hard work.

  • Mojo

    What disappoints me the most about the ’07 draft was not so much that TT took Harrell, but that he passed up the chance to trade down with Cleveland and get the Browns 1st rounder that year plus next years first rounder(a deal the Cowboys made later in the round). I don’t believe the Harrell market was very strong and TT should have gambled he would be available 10 picks later. Considering the premium Ted puts on draft picks, it remains surprising to me he passed on the opportunity.

    So for me the worst thing about the Harrell pick was not picking Harrell but passing on the opportunity to get an extra 1st the following year. And BubbaOne’s right when he talks about Harrell’s college injuries. If you’re going to pass on every draft eligible player who has had an injury – good luck finding many who haven’t.

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      We can’t really say TT ‘passed up’ a chance to trade down. Both teams have to agree to a trade; we don’t what the Browns (or anyone else) wanted, was willing to give, or which team pulled the plug.

    • Jim R

      I disagree–when you you are picking in the first 2-3 rounds, betting on someone who was significantly injured, is just a loser’s bet. Harrell and Neal for example. Spending a pick on Starks in the 6-7 round is not nearly as critical. As one coach put it, you are what your record says you are. It’s true for Wins and Losses, it’s true for injuries. It’s especially true for the guys who play on the line of scrimmage.

  • FireMMNow

    i would put your #1 draft at #3 and the rodgers draft at #1.

    the 2008 draft has more depth, but also has a lot of questions. jordy was great last year, but he had on good year. j-mike is more hype than production at this point. he is good, but not as great as the media thinks.

    if you do not have a QB you cannot win the superbowl in the NFL anymore. rodgers picked up the leagues best (top 3) at the bottom of the first. i would trade everyone selected in the 2008 draft for aaron rodgers in a heart beat.

    • Chad Toporski

      For me, what brought the 2005 draft down in rank was the amount of players selected that ended up doing little to nothing in the league… not just with the Packers. Whether it was Thompson getting his feet wet as Packers GM or just bad luck, there were more misfires in that draft than any other.

  • Tarynfor12

    I have always felt and said if you can get two true starters in every draft each year and couple that with 3 solid 2-4 year back ups for depth,every draft is a winner and the #1 reason to stay out the over-priced FA market.
    So,all of these drafts are winners.

    • Chad Toporski

      The “feel good” comment of the day. 😉