What if Packers GM Ted Thompson takes a WR Early in the NFL Draft?

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Could Packers GM Ted Thompson take a WR like LUS's Odell Beckham, Jr. in the NFL draft?
Could Packers GM Ted Thompson take a WR like LUS’s Odell Beckham, Jr. in the NFL draft?

It’s obvious to both diehard and casual Packers fans that the team desperately needs to upgrade at the safety position and also on the defensive line. Middle linebacker or tight end (if Jermichael Finley can’t play) could use upgrades as well.

With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb returning at wide receiver, and Jarrett Boykin emerging last season, nobody is clamoring for the Packers to add another receiver. But the upcoming draft is overflowing with receiving talent, and Packers general manager Ted Thompson might not be able to help himself.

If the Packers take a wide receiver in the first two rounds, I’ll have no problem with it. Sure, it might not fill an immediate need, but Thompson’s batting average in drafting receivers is one of the best in the league. It’s definitely a lot higher than when he tries to draft a pass-rushing complement to Clay Matthews, a dynamic defensive lineman or an offensive tackle.

If Thompson does take a wide receiver early in the draft, here are five guys that I think would be good selections for the Packers.

Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU
5-11, 198
Combine results

Fit with the Packers: I thought Beckham could possibly be a second-round target for the Packers, but he has rocketed up draft boards in recent weeks. After an impressive performance at the NFL Combine, he might be gone by the time the Packers pick in the first round. What I like most about Beckham is the consistency of his speed. Aaron Rodgers takes his footwork and timing on passing plays seriously. When Rodgers is in position to make a throw, he needs his receivers to be where he expects them to be on the route. Beckham’s quickness off the ball and smoothness in his acceleration makes that possible. He’s not herky-jerky in his movements and won’t be a half-step off when Rodgers is ready to throw.

Davante Adams, Fresno St.
6-1, 212
Combine results

Fit with the Packers: Adams has long arms and catches everything thrown his way. He’s also physical and should be productive in the red zone thanks to his ability to time leaps and go get the ball at its highest point. And you can’t ignore the guy’s production: 3,030 yards and 38 touchdowns in two seasons. Adams isn’t a speedster, but could fill the James Jones role of providing Rodgers with a big, tough and physical target. Some scouts knock him for being a “system wide receiver,” but that might be a plus in the Packers’ view. Thompson tends to draft receivers who are fundamentally sound and would be good fits for the Packers’ “system.”

Mike Evans, Texas A&M
6-5, 231

Combine results

Fit with the Packers: What I’ve liked best about watching film on Evans is his mastery of the back-shoulder catch. If Rodgers watches film on Evans, he might personally demand that Thompson takes him in the first round based solely on his ability to catch back-shoulder passes. Evans knows how to use his size and strength to box out defenders, while still having the hands and arm length to reel in those back-shoulder throws that appear to be zooming out of bounds. At 6-foot-5 with NBA-style leaping ability, Evans would be another option for boosting the Packers production in the red zone. So what’s the downside? Evans is far from polished. The Johnny Manziel-led offense at Texas A&M featured a lot of improvisation. He’s also not very fast. McCarthy and Bennett would have some work to do with Evans in making him a better route-runner and understanding the nuances and tricks of operating in traffic with less-than-superior speed. The Packers tend to draft more polished route-runners when they pick wide receivers in the early rounds, but Evans’ physical skills might be too good to pass up.

Jarvis Landry, LSU
5-11, 205 pounds

Combine results

Fit with the Packers: Landry ran the slowest 40-yard dash (4.77 seconds) of any receiver at the combine. What he might lack in speed, he makes up for in route-running, toughness and intelligence — all traits Thompson likes in wide receivers. Landry also was a special teams standout and doesn’t hesitate to lay someone out blocking on running plays or bubble screens. A faster 40-time at his upcoming pro day will help alleviate concerns about Landry’s speed. But even if his time doesn’t improve much, Landry’s college production and his toughness will resonate with Thompson. He’s a good all-around football player.

Brandin Cooks, Oregon St.
5-10, 189

Combine results

Fit with the Packers: Cooks wasn’t thought of as a receiver with blazing speed heading into the combine. Then he posted the fastest 40-time (4.33 seconds) of any receiver in Indianapolis. He followed that up with impressive showings in the 20- and 60-yard shuttles, demonstrating that not only is he fast, but he can also change direction and pivot without slowing down. Combine the speed he showed at the combine with the elusiveness and craftiness he shows running after the catch on film could turn Cooks into a special receiver pretty quick. With Cobb on the roster (but set to hit free agency next offseason), perhaps Thompson won’t want to add another slot-type receiver. But there are so many good ones in this year’s draft that he might do it anyway. I’m sure Rodgers and McCarthy would find a way to make it work.

Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
6-6, 225
Combine results

Fit with the Packers: I’ll throw in Coleman as a bonus because I think he’s more of a fourth or fifth-round option. It’s impossible not to like a guy who is 6-foot-6 with the strength to break through jams at the line and who averaged almost 22 yards per catch in college. He was slowed by a terrible offense and a knee injury his junior season. Many analysts thought he should have stayed at Rutgers one more year. But he didn’t, and if the Packers take him, Rodgers will have a big target with a lot of untapped potential. Coleman won’t blaze by anybody over the top, but he might be a good option to replace the physicality the size of James Jones.


Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .


38 thoughts on “What if Packers GM Ted Thompson takes a WR Early in the NFL Draft?

  1. Great question you pose. I wondered the same, whether Packers should focus on the strengths, or weaknesses. I think a late round pick like Coleman or Evans is intriguing, with a contrasting style and body type; getting at least one tall receiver. But, I still hope Safety, ILB and Tackle are the first 3 picks. The middle of the defense has got to be fortified with Speed and Grit. I wouldn’t care if 2 safeties, 2 tackles and 2 ILBs are chosen in the first 5 rounds. I’d grin and compliment the effort to fix it.

    1. Evans is not a late rnd pick. 1st rnd. I would love a draft that had a Safety or DL in the 1st. LB in the 2nd. And Kenny Ladler in the 3rd

  2. It goes against the Packers grain a bit, but it would be interesting to see the results when you match AR’s passing precision with one of these big guys with the Megatron-like size and reach.

    Aside from that, I think it would be fun to have a receiver with the name is Odell. Rhymes with hell, and can be used together as both cheer and jeer depending on the performance.

  3. The only receiver I would consider with a first round pick if I were the Packers would be Evans. And I think he will be long gone by the time the Packers pick.

    This is such a deep draft for receivers the Packers should be able to get one in the middle or late rounds.

    1. I come from a family of Aggies. None of us can figure out if Evans was better because of Manziel or Evans made Manziel better.

      Several of us question Manziel’s decision to enter the draft this season. Like Machael Vick, I think Manziel needs another season at the college level.

      Evans has the speed, hands and all the measurables. I’m not certain he has the demeanor to play in the NFL. By this, I mean I’m not certain he’s all that coachable. On several occassions, I saw Evans turning away from coaches on the sideline because he didn’t like what he was hearing. More than once, he treated Manziel the same way.

      I won’t be disappointed if TT passes on Mike Evans.

  4. What would drafting a WR early mean?

    Best case that ARod has another reliable weapon and that TT has addressed the deficiencies on D through some avenue other than a high draft pick.

    Worst case it means TT is drafting either Cobb or Nelson’s successor and has ignored the dearth of talent at S, DL, and ILB once again .

    1. Or that Thompson has addressed the safety needs by switching Hyde and drafting a CB in the 3rd, and addressed DL in the 1st or 2nd (whichever round wasn’t used on the WR.)

      Let’s think about the whole process, and not obsess on just one pick.

      1. That, too.

        But then I’d add the following point:

        “And Thompson didn’t find a trading partner willing to give up enough value in picks to justify moving down.”

        A trade down generally means fitting your value to where you expect the BPA fits your need — see the Eddie Lacy pick last year.

        1. That’s a great point, except we have 3 other teams to thank for passing on Eddie. The Packers can’t count on that every year. WR is deep this year. If the Packers get a 3rd round comp pick for Jennings, that’s where they take one I think. I don’t believe Ted will trade in round one if Nix, Pryor, Mosley, or HaHa-Dix is there. Anyone of those guys improve your team at a position of need.

          1. Maybeso. Or maybe TT moved to be 3rd among teams that were likely to pick RBs because he would have been happy with any of the 3 that made it to his pick, and that was the way to recoup enough value to get a Bakhtiari and a Franklin in the 4th. (If you look at the trade for the pick he used to get Jordy Nelson, it worked about the same way.)

            Still you may be right that TT won’t be able to trade down in the 1st. For one thing, you need a partner to make a trade work, and if the players available at 21 don’t interest another team, there is no trade to be made.

            But I for one am getting a little wary of Nix. Crappy Senior Bowl and a crappy combine workout. Mosely and Pryor did have inspire confidence during the ‘predraft’ activities either.

            There is a long way to go until draft day.

            (for some reason the computer I was using posted as anonymous, but I wanted to ‘fess up that it was me Nick Perry replied to).

  5. I would like to see a DL and LB in the first two rounds (Nix, Smallwood). Safety and WR can come after that. I know that people would like to see us get a safety early, but I don’t see much value at the top. There are a lot of good athletes in the 3rd and 4th that can help at WR or safety.

    1. I agree with you, for the most part. So many decent WR and QB out there that there’s no need to go get one early. What the Packers do in FA (with their own and with others) will dictate how they approach the draft, of course, but I expect TT to draft first and do any extra signings later.

      Jeff Janis of SVSU is a small-college sleeper (a Jordy Nelson type) I like, but he’s been knocked for his route-running of late, and TT is good for drafting mature route-runners.

      1. My only quibble is that if Thompson sees real value at WR in an earlier round he needs to take it. Either of the ‘bigger/slower’ receivers mentioned above would replace the threat Finley posed and allow a later round (or lesser free agent) solution at TE, which could be an overall advantage for the team.

        It’s also time to get insurance against the chance we won’t be able to do a deal with *both* Nelson *and* Cobb. This is the year to get that, and let the kid learn the system for a season before needing to take a major role.

  6. IMO, TT should be drafting best player available. Too many holes out there to ignore any but a couple positions altogether. With the tremendous number of FAs the Packers stand to lose/replace/resign this year and next, the only positions I wouldn’t be looking for in round 1 is QB and OG.

    1. I would love to see TT trade out of day 1 for 2 Day 2 picks. TT has been pure genius in round 2 getting guys like Nick Collins, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy there. Most of the rest have at least been solid players. He’s had only 2 undisputed busts in the round in his tenure in GB (Pat Lee, Brian Brohm)

      If Greg Jennings yields a 3rd (it’ll be borderline between a 3 and a 4), that would be 4 picks on day 2. That would certainly give them the flexibility to address a lot of areas, including WR.

  7. All it will mean is that TT has remained true to his principles of drafting the best player available. If he can’t move out of a spot to match value/need then he will draft BPA. If we end up with a stud receiver, ask yourself “who doesn’t need another stud receiver?” (vic ketchman style quote). Keep in mind that TT’s value board may look much different than all the “draft evaluators” that are on the internet. — I still think we end up with a D-lineman or a S if available at #21, although I would be happy to drop back to pick up an additional pick if possible. GoPack!

    1. This:

      “Keep in mind that TT’s value board may look much different than all the “draft evaluators” that are on the internet.”

      Needs to be remembered, too.

  8. I could see TT taking a WR in the 2nd rd, as has been his pattern in the past. Good WRs can be found in RDs 2-4 and TT knows it. I’m praying that a difference making D player is available at 21, although I wouldn’t mind if the no1 TE is there( assuming Finley is out of the picture)

  9. TE Eric Ebron could be the guy we thought Finley would ultimately be. If Rodgers had a all pro TE, to go along with Lacey, Cobb, Nelson and an improving OL (with Bulaga coming back), I think we would out score everyone we play.

  10. Unless Sammy Watkins plummets, there’s absolutely no reason to take a WR in the first round. Best player available at S, ILB, or DT. Need some defensive playmakers. I’m hoping for Mosley

  11. If he does take a WR it would sick unless the defense has been addressed in FA or with current players. But the only WR that may be on the board worth taking is Cooks. But I hope we address the defense. Offense has not helped us get past the 49ers, Giants, and it won’t get us past the Seahawks

  12. If the Packers fill a couple of keys spots via free agency I would love a wide out early! Two names to keep an eye on in the second round are Jordan Matthews and Allen Robinson. We all know how our second round wide receivers turn out.

  13. I do think the depth of the WR class means TT will see better value later in the draft than is normally present at that stage. I could see a 3rd round or comp pick as a WR, rather than a first or second. GoPack!

  14. Remember sometimes during the draft TT will close one eye and blink alot with the other one.

  15. So you want TT to draft defense early; how about DL help so he takes Justin Harrell (2007) in the 1st round. Better yet he takes Jamal Reynolds (2001) or he could take a CB, Ahmad Carroll (2004). Oh that’s right we need a S, how about Antuan Edwards (1999). And we need a LB so let’s take one early let’s say by the 3rd round…Abdul Hodge. Has this sent enough shivers down your spine to remember it’s the PLAYER not the POSITION?

    Yes the defense needs help but the player I want TT to draft in the 1st round is I.M. Playmaker. If he plays WR so be it; if he plays OG but happens to be the second coming of 7 time all pro Steve Hutchinson I want him. 2nd round, I hope he takes I.B. Differencemaker. 3rd round, Illbe Perenial Probowler is my choice. Playmakers win championships that why I felt comfortable we’d win SB XLV, every game we played in the playoffs we had more playmakers than the opponents.

    Capers reminded us recently that most defensive turnovers come when the team is leading so any way to improve the team’s talent level helps both sides of the ball. Now, if TT can find them on the defensive side of the ball all the better. TT found defensive help in Micah Hyde (5th round), Desmond Bishop (6th), and Tramon, Cullen Jenkins and Shields as UDFA’s so just because he doesn’t take a certain position early doesn’t mean he can’t find help later (how’s that for a triple negative).

  16. 2014 Best T.T draft ever! Reason:Picking the brain of new hire Spec.team assis. coach Ron Zook. Not only Special team coach for the Steelers under Bill Cowher but also for Steve Spurrier & FLA.Gators. Head Coach for Gators(replacing Spurrier)& Head coach-Ill.Fighting Illini.Not to mention Defensive Coordinator for the Saints when McCarthy was Offensive Coordinator. BEST for Last=CBS Analysis of College football (Hung Around with Jon Gruden)I’ll Never forget The Pack picking Cobb-2nd. Rd. 2011& Gruden saying,”Oh Great that’s all they need is another Weapon”!Zook knows his S$$t.High Energy guy(Like Dennis Greene)Great Hire = Great Draft.Watch-out Slocum or Capers.Zook Man has just entered the building.

  17. It would seem to be a misuse of resources but as long as that WR is the best player on the board, that’s fine with me.

    There’s a lot of good value in late rounds. I haven’t even seen Max Bullough on R1-5 Mocks as of late. He’s not an all-star player but he could provide great late round value.

  18. maybe he should, he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire with his defensive choices, unless you like people who are hurt a lot and take three/four years to develop…we can just try to outscore everyone like three years ago!!!!

  19. Picking a wide receiver with the first pick would be like opting for a anchor in a sinking row boat. DEFENSE is so lousy that the offense can’t score enough points to make up the difference. O line man, D line man, DE, TE, Safety, etc. Given time Rodgers can make a average receiver look good. Defense needs everything, Offense needs lineman end of story.

  20. Right now my personal favorite for Packers in the first round is Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama, but if the Packers were to go WR in the first round, my first choice would be Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State, without a doubt.

    1. …and I say Benjamin only because I think Watkins will be long gone by the time the Packers pick.

  21. If TT is going to focus on the defense during this draft, I would be OK with him picking a top WR during the early rounds. Didn’t we get Cobb during a draft when he was focused on defense? Take one really good pick for the offense then use the other 5-6 picks for the Defense. I would not let an outstanding offensive player go by just because we’re focused on defense this year. Thanks, Since ’61

  22. I expect a WR to be drafted at some point relatively early. Not 1st, maybe 2nd but more likely 3rd round. Unfortunately you left off they WR I think is most likely to fit the Packers.

    Go look up Donte Moncrief!

    He has the potential to be a true #1 WR in a couple years and take over the reigns from Jordy. Very good speed, excellent beating press and gaining separation, size, strength and physicality, willing blocker. Refine his route running and he could be outstanding.

    I can see a Jordy-esque maturation in Moncrief.

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