The Reasons Behind The 2013 Packers Draft: First Impressions All Green Bay Packers All the Time

I actually got my first shot writing for when Al allowed me to post my draft rationale on his site and 3 years later I’m continuing the tradition.  As before I’m not going to be assigning draft grades or projections, I agree with the idea that grading picks now is something akin to being graded on a test you haven’t taken.  In this article I want to point out some more broad observations I noticed during the draft


Aaron Rodgers dictated the Packers 2013 draft: And Clay Matthews III to some extent as well.  Simply put the Packers are now in a mini-rebuilding year, not due to a lack of talent but due to a lack of money.  While Rodgers’ $110 million and Matthews’ $66 million contracts were both necessary and in my opinion great deals for the Packers, let’s not kid ourselves and think that the Packers are going to be awash with saved money over the next couple years, Rodgers and Matthews are still two of the highest paid players in the NFL and that will have financial ramifications down the road; maybe not as bad as Joe Flacco and DeMarcus Ware bad, but Ted Thompson probably isn’t going to be able to keep everyone he wants.  This is why I think this is the start of a mini-rebuild; teams typically trade down and stockpile draft picks in order to stock the team with young, cheap players who can be the foundation long term and perhaps become stars.

Thompson used this approach when he was hired in 2005 to fix the salary cap mess left by Mike Sherman and he’s doing it again to proactively protect the Packers from the next couple years.  The notable players who are set to become free agents in the next two years are Morgan Burnett, Ryan Pickett, BJ Raji, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, CJ Wilson, Mike Neal, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Tramon Williams and Bryan Bulaga.  The next two years are perhaps the toughest because they also are when Rodgers’ and Matthews’ cap hits are the highest. Furthermore veterans who occupy a niche, like John Kuhn and Jarrett Bush are probably on the bubble now.  Needless to say, Thompson is going to have to be very judicial when it comes to keeping his own players, therefore this draft (and probably the next one) are looking to build the foundation of the team for the next 5 years, not just “put the cherry on the top” for the team now.  Thompson can now do this is that Rodger’s contract gives him a window where he can expect the team to be competitive; Rodgers probably has at least another 5 good years left in his career and now it’s important to have talent around him throughout all 5 years and not just right now.


Best Play Available works in funny ways: I do think it’s a little ironic that Packers fans bemoan the fact that Thompson’s BPA approach often has left the team short in recent history.   Thompson didn’t draft enough linemen in 2008-2009, didn’t draft enough pass rush in 2011 and so forth and so forth.  But perhaps the most notable position where Thompson has not drafted is running back, where the Packers have used only 3 picks since Thompson was hired in 2005.  This year however, the Packers landed not one but two running backs.  Consensus by the fans and media seem to think that this is an active directive to become “tough” team but in my opinion this is just “best player available” working in it’s own strange ways.

Like the phrase goes “when it rains it pours”, for 8 years the draft has unfolded where running back has never really been of great value when Thompson was picking but in the 2013 draft, Thompson not only had one great value in Eddie Lacy but another in Johnathan Franklin.  But when you get down to it, I don’t think the Packers really got all that much “tougher”;  Johnathan Franklin fits in the running back mold of what the Packers typically have liked since Ted Thompson has hired and David Bakhtiari and JC Tretter are both smaller, more agile ZBS linemen that the Packers have been drafting for years, so outside of Lacy it feels to me like business as usual for the Packers.   Again, while it might be misleading since Lacy is a bigger power back, I feel that Thompson was looking at too much value not to draft Lacy, even with the medical concerns as well as not entirely fitting what the Packers typically like to do with running backs.

Same thing can be said about Johnathan Franklin, many fans and media predicted Franklin would be drafted by the Packers in the 2nd round, but in the end the Packers traded up back to the bottom of the 4th round to select him; again the Packers probably didn’t have that high a grade on him, but at that point in the draft, you would be doing a disservice to all the time you spent scouting him not to trade up to get him.  Finally, a lot has been brought up about Lacy’s injuries (notably being dropped from the Steeler’s board), but I think it’s important to note that as a low 2nd round pick, the risk is minimal; if Lacy’s injuries don’t let him get to a second contract, I still think it will be worth it.  Running back careers are short anyways and with so much great running back talent coming into the league every year career length really isn’t an issue when drafting running backs.

Become a tougher team: Fans seem to be fixated on McCarthy’s comments that the Packers want to become a tougher team and assume that this specifically applies to what the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens did to get to the Super Bowl this year.  Furthermore, from McCarthy’s comments many fans have assumed that this means a more bigger linemen and bigger running backs, which as I mentioned above outside Eddie Lacy does not appear to be correct.  It should also be noted that the 49ers and Ravens boast two of the better passing attacks in the league as well, so it’s not like the old “ground and pound” team philosophy is making a comeback, the league is still a passing team and the team with the better passing attack will win more games that it will lose.  Realistically, teams don’t draft to stop players nor do they draft to stop specific teams, they draft to fit their own philosophies.  Finally, given recent history, it shouldn’t be assumed that either Baltimore, San Francisco or even Green Bay will even make the playoffs this year, as typically there is a about a 20% turnover of playoff teams.  Basically, the Green Bay Packers are going to worry about what they can control and not worry about stuff they can’t control, like the 49ers, the Giants, or any other team for that matter.

53 man roster cuts are going to be brutal: The Packers are a pretty loaded team with good starting talent and decent depth right now, so having to potentially cut 20% of the 2012 team to make room for the new draft class is going to be hard.  Obviously, high and mid round draft choices are locks to make the team (Datone Jones, Eddie Lacy, David Bakhtiari, JC Tretter and Johnathan Franklin), as the highest pick to ever not make the 53 under Thompson was 2009 4th round pick Jamon Meredith.  Nate Palmer is almost a lock to make it considering there are only 3 legitimate outside linebackers on the team at the moment and at least one of the wide receivers is probably going to make it to cover for losing Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.  No matter how the 53 man roster ultimately ends up, you could see almost the entire 8 man practice squad being occupied by Packers draft picks (assuming they aren’t signed away) as presumably BJ Coleman and Andrew Datko will remain on the practice squad.



Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


31 thoughts on “The Reasons Behind The 2013 Packers Draft: First Impressions

  1. I know we all have our own definition of “BPA,” but I still contest that TT wants value more than anything else. In the early rounds, value finds itself with the best player on the board. In the late rounds, value finds itself in the players who fill certain needs on the team, in conjunction with being one of the best players available.

    In the middle rounds, like with Franklin, TT found value on both sides, which is the perfect marriage. If he was just picking the best players available, why would he move up? He found a balance of value and purpose in Franklin.

    Make no mistake about it, the Packers are going to be running the ball with more resolve this season.

    1. I agree that they will be running the ball more efficiently, but I’m not sure if they will run the ball more or change their offensive identity to become more run friendly. The league is still a passing league and Aaron Rodgers is still going to be the focal point of the offense. Furthermore I still think McCarthy isn’t going to put much emphasis on it; McCarthy has always been a proponent of the “hot hand” and I don’t think theres any chance that the passing game doesn’t work better than the running game for the Packers.

      1. I tend to agree with you. But the question is once MM starts to see that when he starts every new set of downs with a hand-off and now that play results in +4 yards instead of -1, will he remain as committed to the identity of the team. Or will it be the same predictability in play calling, just with better outcomes in the run game due to presence of actual running backs?

        Oh, the suspense of the off-season.

        1. That’s an interesting point, if the running game does become better like we all hope it does, does McCarthy at least not shy away from the run as much as he had in the past or is the aerial passing attack McCarthy’s philosophy and he doesn’t want to get too far away from that?

    2. @Chad Toporski

      “Make no mistake about it, the Packers are going to be running the ball with more resolve this season.”

      As in this from other HCs…

      ” I fear,for all we have done,was to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”


  2. Correction:

    Realistically,*GOOD, SMART* teams don’t draft to stop players nor do they draft to stop specific teams, they draft to fit their own philosophies.

    1. I will say that the best teams do follow this rule, but even the bad ones I think follow it mostly, can you think of a pick where it was obvious that a team had drafted a player specifically to counter another specific player?

  3. “many fans have assumed that this means a more bigger linemen and bigger running backs”

    I completely agree. Bigger doesn’t mean more physical. Physicality is an ATTITUDE, one that Tramon Williams clearly didn’t have when he yelled “ole” as A.P. ran past him, or when Walden failed to hold the edge. This starts from the coaching…imparting a mentality that the defense is to be feared.

    1. I agree on Tramon, to a point. I don’t think he’s a very physical corner to begin with, but some say his shoulder was still an issue. Walden is just undisciplined. I think he just reacts, and his instincts are a little off.

      1. Tramon better hope his shoulder heals quick. At his salary he will be expendable after this year. guys that are 30+ have to continue to prove their value. He has not done that up to his contract over the last two years.

    2. Williams is still recovering from his shoulder injury, and the Packers know that or they would have asked him to restructure his contract. I will say that if he’s not a lot better this year, the Packers may just assume that the nerve damage is permanent.

  4. With Eddie Lacy you will see a lot more running in the red zone and on 3rd and 1, 2 or 3. Lacy gives the team the run option when running the ball is tough. I think this is what McCarthy meant when he said The Packers are now a tougher team.

    1. “Lacy gives the team the run option when running the ball is tough.”

      Too often in those run situations we’d see opposing defenders playing in the Packers backfield and runners (admittedly indecisive at times and asking for trouble) never having a chance to get that one or two yards.

      Is that on the OL? Is that on the obvious situation/personnel/play call combo? Is that on the back? I think its yes to all three. My suspicion is that this will only marginally improve in 2013…but these new backs are not situational players. I think the immediate improvements will come on early downs and 3rd and 4-7.

  5. It is worth mentioning that TT’s drafting philosophy has ‘need’ built into it.

    The man himself has said he gives a little extra ‘weight’ to picks at positions of need, so that gets factored in. Picks are a combo of need meets talent and that is probably just like every other team.

    1. That is definitely true, but I would still argue that value is vastly more weighted than need. Thompson often drafts in positions of strength, so overall I think need factors in slightly, but definitely not as much as talent or maybe even the medical.

  6. Personally I like TT draft through first 4 rounds and the Charles Johnson pick intrigue’s me. I love the Franklin pick, one of my favorites. Personally I have a feeling he’ll be the Packers starter by the end of 2013 season. Lacy will be there for short yardage and to maybe the 4 minute offense to close the game out but Franklin will be the bread and butter back. Just my humble opinion.

    1. I think you’re pretty much on for the early part of the year. I think Franklin fits what the Packers do and he’ll tend to play ahead of Lacy. Over time, though, I suspect that Lacy will win out. This has the potential to be a quagmire for FFL folks, especially if MM will follow a hot hand (if he’ll give enough carries to allow a hot hand to develop).

    2. I have a feeling that you may be right, but not for 2013. Lacy is a second round pick so he’ll get the first shot at starting and Franklin probably needs some more time to bulk up a little. In 2014 I could definitely see what you are predicting

  7. Great read.

    I love the point on the mini rebuilding mode. I don’t think many fans have had a chance to look at the list of players who are going to become free agents over the next two offseasons. Both starting tackles, all three starting d linemen, all three starting wide receivers, Morgan Burnett, Desmond Bishop, Jermichael Finley, Sam Shields still needs a contract… The packers will look dramatically different in just two years.

  8. I agree with your point, on what primarily influenced TT draft; the contracts of AA and CM, and need to load up on talent to replace soon-to-be FAs. Clearly is a necessary strategy.

    It is clear, that TT and MM want to upgrade run game, and not just a BPA trend. It came from a clear plan to work on runner….and some extent blocker….but I wasn’t convinced they were agressive enough on the OL to convince me they want to get ‘tougher’.

    What do you think is the possibility of any trades? Considering the draft and how it fell (finding a second running back for example)does this make it likely that TT will trade a player of redundant positions…for a veteran to fill a need (OLB or safety)? I’m not specifically thinking about trading any of the new draftees, but what about current RBs, or any OL? Is there chance he could trade for another team’s receiver, or safety before training camp?

    1. I think a trade is probably realistic; say Thompson has a priority list of players to resign and he’s pretty sure that he’s not going to get to the bottom of that list (there are too many future FAs to lock them all up). It then might make sense to trade a player and get a higher pick than what you would get from a compensatory pick.

  9. “It is clear, that TT and MM want to upgrade run game, and not just a BPA trend.”

    ARod is at the peak of his game, and his skills/athleticism can only go down from here. That said, when we get 4-5 years out, we’ll be talking about him as a greybeard who doesn’t move like he used to and might not have the zip on his fastball that he once did. That’s when a good run-game will be imperative. It’s always important to have the threat to run the ball, but being able to assert your will in that way at that time will be necessary.

    1. This is true, but these running backs have probably missed that time frame. As you’ve said Rodgers probably has another 4-5 years left, but running backs usually only last 2-3 years. If anything you should be see a stud running back drafted in 2017

  10. The biggest point made, that is lost on many, is the effect of making Rodgers and Matthews the highest paid at there positions.
    Value comes in many forms, one being the price of what I will call Role players, Kuhn, Bush, and others that have high league minimum costs due to time in the NFL, compared to a lower draft pick or a signed player in there first contract.
    That is simply the price for drafting and developing players like Matthews and Rodgers.
    I really like the draft overall. The two RB’s were steals where drafted. Lacy has better feet and cut back ability then most think. Franklin is more of a zone fit, but does everything well.
    Jones was my Dline pick, the only player I would have liked more was Eifert, But Jones fits both need and BPA.
    Bakhtiari and Tretter are both above average Athletes and both are quite strong. With team dressing 7 linemen on game day you need players that can play multiple spots. Both of them can do that. They both add competition, the inside of the line had to be upgraded.
    Hyde is one of those not great at anything but good at many, with good ball skills.
    Boyd offers flexibility he can play across the Defensive line. VERY quick off the ball and another STRONG player, I am interested in seeing him and Jones together in Nickel.
    Palmer and Johnson are the two players I want to see most. Palmer has that “it” what ever it is for playing OLB in the 3-4. You will like what you see from him behind Matthews and Perry.
    Johnson IMO is a better prospect then Patterson.
    Both the same size, Johnson is the better athlete of the two. I put both Johnson and Patterson at the same level as far as NFL ready.
    Only Johnson is not a high priced first round pick. That goes back to the big point of cap space down the road.
    Competition is where it is at, and TT did a very good job of giving MM and his staff smart, strong players to teach and develop.

    1. I should mention I have no problem with Rodgers’ and Matthews’ contract, but many article in the media make it look like both took minimum salary deals that in no way will effect the Packers salary cap. Yes, they took relatively team deals, but in the end they are still making a ton of cash and are going to take up a ton of cap space.

      I’m curious to know why you think Johnson has the “it” factor. At least for me, I haven’t been able to find much about the guy other than he had a visit with the Packers. Why do you think he has what it takes to be a good OLB?

      1. Palmer is the OLB prospect out of Ill State. I like a little taller OLB but he is 6-2 and change and 248#. First he was productive as a pass rusher and tackler, Totaled 117 tackles, 17 sacks and 25 tackles for loss in his two seasons with the Redbirds, add his 27 QB hurries and that is production on the field.
        He played both with his hand in the dirt and standing up.
        He has the quickness and agility to turn the corner with lean.
        He has excellent lower body strength to bull rush.

        1. I have no idea where you got any of your analysis, but I’ll take it

  11. Running with more resolve is an excellent way to say it. The packers ran the ball enough last season, 48% of the time in the second half of the season. But attempts do not equal results. Running the ball that much should bring people out of the cover 2 looks if you are running it effectively. I hope the three RBs and scheme changes can provide impact along with attempts.

    1. Well if anything, hopefully running attempts will go down this year. The Packers often ran on 1st downs only to get stuffed, then tried to make up for it on 2nd down (which usually they got stuffed), and then finally bailed themselves out on 3rd down by passing. If the Packers can say get 4-5 yards on 1st down, then play action makes a ton of sense on 2nd down.

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