As we sit here waiting…and waiting…and waiting for the NFL draft to come around, now is as good a time as any to look back on Packers general manager Ted Thompson’s draft classes.
This draft will be Thompson’s 10th. Let’s rank his first nine classes best to worst, even if it’s still too early to judge some of the more recent classes.
- 2005. How do you not put the draft where Thompson selected Aaron Rodgers and Nick Collins in your top slot? I scratched my head when Thompson took Rodgers (apparently he couldn’t find a trade partner in time), but, unlike 23 other general managers, Thompson pulled the trigger and rescued Rodgers from the green room at Radio City Music Hall. It might have been a bit of a head-scratcher at the time, but now the Packers have the best quarterback in the league. The Packers would probably still have one of the best safeties in the league if Collins didn’t have his career shortened by a neck injury. Thompson’s first draft was 2005 and was a helluva way to start off as the new general manager. I suppose if you’re a glass-half-empty type of person, you could say Thompson’s drafts have all gone downhill since.
- 2009. After taking B.J. Raji ninth overall, Thompson traded back into the first round to nab Clay Matthews. He also picked up T.J. Lang in the fourth and Brad Jones in the seventh. Yeah, Raji fell off a cliff last season, but let’s not forget what he did to help the Packers win a Super Bowl. When Matthews is healthy, he’s one of the most dynamic defensive players in the game. Grabbing a starting guard in Lang and solid backup/fringe starter in Jones later in the draft gave 2009 a slight edge over…
- 2008. I probably would have given 2008 the nod over 2009 if not for Brian Brohm, a complete bust of a pick in the second round. But Thompson did end up finding his backup quarterback/oh-crap-what-if-Aaron-Rodgers-flops option later with Matt Flynn in the seventh round. Before finding Flynn, Thompson took Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finely and Josh Sitton. Yeah, that’s a helluva haul.
- 2013. Yup, I’m ranking 2013 this high even though we still don’t know for sure how the players from this class will turn out. Eddie Lacy helped save the Packers season in his rookie campaign. Micah Hyde played like Charles Woodson-lite at times. David Bakhtiari was thrown into the deep end of the starting lineup at left tackle and didn’t drown. Datone Jones didn’t do much, but you need to be patient with rookie defensive linemen. I’ve got high hopes for the 2013 class taking a big step forward and helping to make up for some of Thompson’s whiffs in 2011 and 2012.
- 2006. A.J. Hawk has not lived up to the expectations of a No. 5 overall pick, but he’s one of the few defensive players drafted by Thompson who is not made of paper. Unlike the rest of the Packers defense under Thompson, Hawk has stayed healthy and played in 126 games. Thompson found Greg Jennings in the second round of this draft and also added Johnny Jolly in the sixth. Throw in Daryn Colledge in the second, and it was another solid showing
- 2012. We’ll find out for sure this season if the 2012 class will move up or down these rankings. It’s time to find out if Nick Perry can play and if Casey Hayward can stay healthy and build on his rookie season after missing most of 2013. Can Jerel Worthy bounce back from a major injury and fill some type of role on the defensive line? Can Mike Daniels keep playing like a Tasmanian devil and give the Packers the pass rush they need from the defensive line?
- 2007. Justin Harrell in the first round torpedoed this draft. James Jones, Desmond Bishop and Mason Crosby turned out to be decent finds later in the draft, but the shadow of Harrell will always loom over this class.
- 2010. A ho-hum class that had potential to be good with Bryan Bulaga at the top. Unfortunately, like too many of Thompson’s recent draft picks, Bulaga can’t stay on the field.
- 2011. The Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010 and Thompson followed it up with this dud of a draft. Derek Sherrod, Alex Green, D.J. Smith and Ricky Elmore. Yuck. Not even Randall Cobb could rescue this class from a last-place finish.
Packers news, notes and links
- Want to be even more depressed about the Packers 2011 draft? Check out Zach Kruse’s analysis over at CheeseheadTV.
- Who’s got two thumbs and needs to stay healthy in 2014? Clay Matthews. Unfortunately, it sounds like Matthews injured thumb isn’t 100 percent yet, but he thinks it will be by training camp.
- The Packers re-signed Matt Flynn. No more talk about backup quarterbacks until at least 2020, please.
- Mock drafts drive me crazy. They’re useless. But for some reason, whenever I see a new mock draft pop up on Twitter, I click on it and read the whole damn thing. If you like driving yourself crazy like I do, here is a good summary of Packers selections in various mock drafts.
- John Rehor shares a story about meeting Lynn Dickey.
- We’re still like three weeks away from the draft. This is maddening. NFL: Don’t ever delay the draft into May again.
- The longer the draft gets delayed, the more stuff like this happens.
Non-Packers news, notes and links
- The weather has been crappy all week and it even snowed. But it was still a good week because Mastodon released a new single.
- This is an amazing story about the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig. Take the time and give it a read.
- Back when I played baseball in high school we pulled some good pranks on each other, but never this good.
- The new version of Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) comes out Monday. Those of you who know me know I am obsessed with sports management sims and OOTP is the best out there. I’ll have a full review/overview of the latest version next week.
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 .