When one looks at the history of Ted Thompson running the drafts for the Green Bay Packers, it's hard to figure him out at times. Thompson has run the front office since 2005 and has made the NFL draft the building-block for putting together the roster of the Packers.
Thompson has been very solid overall in his tenure running the draft for the Packers.
Thompson's very first draft choice was quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Talk about hitting a home run. That selection has led to a Super Bowl win by the Packers, a game in which Rodgers was the MVP. Rodgers has also become a NFL MVP, as well as the highest-rated passer in the history of the NFL.
That all led to Rodgers becoming the highest-paid player in the NFL. According to NFL.com, Rodgers received a contract extension last Friday which will garner him $110 million over five years. That includes getting an unbelievable $40 million in the first year. The deal averages $22 million per year.
Back to Thompson and the 2013 NFL draft. Both Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy knew that the Packers had to become more physical on both sides of the ball, especially after two straight playoff losses, in which the Packers were exposed as being too soft in certain areas.
The Packers certainly addressed those issues in this year's draft.
It all started when the Packers selected defensive end Datone Jones of UCLA with the 26th pick of the first round. Jones was a great choice by the Packers, and not just because I had the Packers taking him in the first round of my final mock draft, either.
The reason was Jones' quickness and his explosiveness off the snap—that and his versatility. I wrote about those attributes a couple of days ago in a story I did when the Packers had selected Jones in the first round.
Jones had a fantastic season in 2012, when he had 62 tackles, a whopping 19 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two blocked kicks. Jones also had a great Senior Bowl, and also looked very good at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Bottom line, the Packers have another playmaker on on their front seven on defense.
Then in the second round, the Packers traded back six spots to acquire another sixth-round pick, and then happily selected running back Eddie Lacy of Alabama with the 61st pick of the draft in the second round. Lacy's selection came three picks after the Packers saw running back Montee Ball get picked by the Denver Broncos.
To most people in the know, like Mike Mayock of NFL Network, Lacy was considered the best running back in the draft. I had the Packers taking Lacy in the first round in my second mock draft as well. In addition, I had both Jones and Lacy as being in the top 10 of my Big Board for the Packers.
In Lacy, the Packers drafted a big, bruising back who comes up big in big games. Lacy ran for 181 yards in the 2012 SEC Championship Game versus Georgia, and then rushed for 140 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown versus Notre Dame in the BCS title game, plus added two receptions for 17 yards and had another score.
Lacy will add a dimension to the ground game of the Packers that the team has not seen in years.
The selections of Jones and Lacy were on days one and two of the draft. On Day 3, the Packers added nine more players.
In Round 4, the Packers selected two offensive linemen and another running back. In picking David Bakhtiari of Colorado and J.C. Tretter of Cornell, the Packers selected two players who both have very quick feet, and also graded well with their strength at the combine.
Bakhtiari (6'4 1/4", 299 pounds) had 28 reps in the bench press, while Tretter (6'3 5/8", 307 pounds) had 29.
Bottom line, there will now be even more competition on the offensive line, where the line allowed Rodgers to get sacked 51 times last season and also didn't do a stellar job in run-blocking either.
CBSSports.com had Lacy and Franklin rated as the top two running backs on their board.
That should tell you something right there. Franklin brings another type of back to the Packers, compared to Lacy.
Franklin goes 5'10", 205 pounds and is jet-quick. He started for UCLA for four years, rushing for 4,403 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also caught 58 passes and had three more scores.
The former Bruin had a great senior year, rushing for 1,734 yards and 13 touchdowns, while catching 33 passes for 323 yards and three more touchdowns. Franklin followed up that great season by having a fantastic Senior Bowl.
In selecting Lacy and Franklin, the Packers are telling the rest of the NFL that the running game of the team will not be pedestrian anymore. The selections are also telling the current running backs on the roster (DuJuan Harris, James Starks and Alex Green) that they better come ready to play this summer at training camp.
I could see the Packers keeping four running backs on the roster, so at least one of the current running backs will most likely be gone at some point.
From the fifth to the seventh round, the Packers added depth to the defensive backfield, the defensive line, at linebacker and also at wide receiver.
First the Packers selected cornerback Micah Hyde (6'0", 197 pounds) of Iowa, a player I had the Packers picking in my fourth mock draft. Hyde was the Defensive Back of the Year in the Big Ten in 2012, and had a very nice career at Iowa (232 tackles, 29 pass breakups and eight interceptions).
The Packers followed up the selection of Hyde, by picking defensive end Josh Boyd (6'3", 310 pounds) of Mississippi State. Boyd was a four-year starter with the Bulldogs, and had 84 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks. Boyd is a very good run defender.
The last four selections by Thompson and company probably had members of Packer Nation scrambling to find information about these players.
In the sixth round, the Packers selected Nate Palmer (6'2", 248 pounds) of Illinois State. Over the past two seasons, Palmer had 117 tackles, 25.5 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks as a defensive end.
In the seventh round, the Packers picked two wide receivers and another linebacker. The two receivers were Charles Johnson (6'2", 215 pounds) of Grand Valley State and Kevin Dorsey (6'2", 207 pounds) of Maryland. Both have great size, exceptional speed and great leaping ability.
Johnson was timed at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day workout, while Dorsey ran a 4.47-second 40. Both averaged over 17 yards a catch and both jumped over 38 inches in the vertical jump.
With their final pick of the draft, the Packers selected linebacker Sam Barrington (6'1", 235 pounds) of South Florida. In his career with the Bulls, Barrington had 258 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.
Thompson seemed very pleased with the draft overall, as he spoke to the media via Packers.com.
I feel pretty good, Thompson said. I think most teams will probably give you the same answer. You work all this time and you’re able to do some things maybe that you didn’t think you could. We not only have an opportunity to bring I guess a full 11 or 12 guys, I don’t even know how many picks we had when it was all said and done. But 11 more guys onto our team and (to) work out this summer, see how they compete and compare to the guys that we have.
Coach McCarthy agreed, as he too spoke to the media via Packers.com.
“The reality of it is we’ve helped our football team,” McCarthy said.
On paper, and on tape, I think McCarthy is correct. The Packers obviously did their homework with the selections in this draft.
But like all homework, the biggest hurdle is always passing the big test. The Packers passed that test after the 2010 season when the team won Super Bowl XLV. The pieces added to the team this past weekend will hopefully allow the team to pass another big test.
That would be bringing home another Vince Lombardi Trophy.
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