An interesting discussion about the Packers draft and develop philosophy broke out in the comments section of this post the other day.
The basic question that came out of the discussion was this: What does draft and develop mean to you?
Draft and develop might mean different things to different people. The various meanings appear to include:
- Having players on the roster who can immediately and adequately fill in when a starter is injured.
- When an upper-echelon player leaves the team (for whatever reason), there’s another player on the roster than can immediately play at a similar level of the departed star.
- Accumulating as much young talent as possible.
There is no right answer to the question, but if I had to select one of the above, I’d select the third option. However, that answer is a little broad. There isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t want to accumulate as much young talent as possible. That franchise goal isn’t unique to the Packers.
Perhaps I need to add a fourth option: Accumulating as much young talent as possible and having the patience to stick with that philosophy and actually make it work.
Draft and develop has paid off for the Packers because they didn’t ditch it at the first sign of trouble. It’s also worked because the front office appears to be on the same page as the coaching staff, which is a lot more rare than we think. (It’s also worked because the Packers have Aaron Rodgers.)
I picked a hybrid fourth option, but the first three options have merit. There are real examples of the first three options being used on the Packers.
- See Desmond Bishop in 2010 or James Jones in 2012 for an example of players adequately filling in when a starter is injured.
- See Rodgers taking over for Brett Favre when a star player leaves the team (for whatever reason).
- See Ted Thompson accumulating picks late in the draft and signing undrafted free agents who often turn into useful players.
If you want to extend the draft and develop philosophy discussion further, we can talk about how once the drafted talent is developed, you have to open up the checkbook to keep it. Clay Matthews just got extended. Aaron Rodgers will soon. Those two players will likely eat up about a fourth of the Packers salary cap.
How do the Packers remain contenders when two guys take up a fourth of the salary cap? By drafting and developing, of course.
The better you are at drafting and developing, the more you have to improve at drafting and developing.
Now that’s a deep thought…——————