“He’s clearly not the best player available”
This is the comment that stuck out for me most during the draft. I think if anything, the 2015 NFL could be considered the textbook example of just how much Ted Thompson believes in the best player available philosophy. In a nutshell, its widely assumed that teams follow one of two drafting strategies; the first is need based drafting where a GM will target a specific player and likely move up or down in order to draft them. Naturally, needing to trade from your original spot to your target spot to pick the player that you want usually costs draft value; the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints definitely are two of the teams that follow this strategy the most and at the moment are suffering from losing so much draft value over the years.
On the other side of the scale, which the Packers and Ravens in particular follow is the BPA approach, which basically stipulates that teams should maximizing value by staying put and drafting the best player left on their draft boards. Also if a player falls below a certain point, then his relative value becomes high enough that trading up to pick him justifies the loss in draft value. Naturally, no front office drafts purely by need or BPA but the Packers and Ted Thompson are about as true to the BPA philosophy as you can get.
I think some fans know this but fail to realize the implications. Hypothetically, if Ted Thompson believed in drafting by needs, he would target positions that are weakest on his team; inside linebacker was the position du jour that Thompson “had” to address, a tight end who could really replace Jermichael Finley would be great and the defensive line could use an upgrade as well since BJ Raji and Letroy Guion are on 1-year prove it deals and Datone Jones hasn’t lived up to his 1st round pedigree yet.
On the flip side, cornerback was considered the deepest position last year and even with Tramon Williams and Davon House leaving, there was enough young talent (Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward) ready to replace them. Safety was also set with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett and wide receiver was loaded with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams all playing a big role. And of course, Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league so no worries there.
Well, guess what, Ted Thompson basically picked 8 players this weekend and the vast majority of them were in positions that the Packers are actually pretty stocked in. In particular, Thompson picked 2 cornerback/safeties and a wide receiver with his premium first 3 picks. After that it a bit of a mix as he also picked a quarterback and a fullback, positions of strength and then finally address the inside linebacker, defensive line and tight end spots but only at the end of the draft, which again shows you how much he really factors in need.
The QED moment that proves Thompson is drafting based on BPA has got to be trading up to draft Brett Hundley in the 5th round. Many fans have asked “why draft a player that will sit on the bench forever behind Aaron Rodgers?” The answer is Hundley fell far enough to justify trading up to get him, again a classic BPA move and you never know exactly what kinds of players you will need. Sometimes teams can get away with lack of depth like when Graham Harrell backed up Rodgers and sometimes it bites you in the butt like in 2013 when Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien made the rounds at starting quarterback.
I think perhaps its time to admit that there is a third drafting philosophy which is the BPU or best player for you (the fan). I was disappointed when the Packers didn’t draft Eric Kendricks in the 1st round, where I thought he had good value. I was also disappointed that they didn’t draft Stephone Anthony, Blake Bell and Ben Heeney or a plethora of other players who I felt would have made great Packers. But the reality is my “draft board” is going to be different that Ted Thompson’s draft board and so while Thompson might not have picked the BPU, Thompson’s actions definitely prove he is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to BPA.——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.