Predicting who teams take with their draft picks is an inexact science. Some GM prefer taking the best available talent; some focus on their needs, and there are the select few who leave fans and pundits scratching their head in utter confusion.
Is one method more preferred than the other? It truly depends who you ask around the league, but when it comes to Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson all of the above applies.
Prior to this year’s unexpected activity on the free agent market, your guess was as good as the next in terms of predicting who the Packers would take with their variable amount of draft picks. This was because they have had gaping holes on both sides of the ball that weren’t ever addressed during free agency, and were then left to the draft to be filled with missing pieces.
It has prompted Thompson to trade down in drafts, most notably in 2008 and 2013, in which he selected wide receiver Jordy Nelson and running back Eddie Lacy respectively. Albeit minimally, he’s been aggressive and put all of his chips in, most notably in 2009 when Green Bay traded three draft picks (two second-rounders and one third) for All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews.
They executed a similar draft strategy in 2012 in getting defensive tackle Jerel Worthy and cornerback Casey Hayward in the second round. Sometimes, the Packers have caused the faithful to throw their arms up in disgust by trading a whole host of picks to accomplish what has materialized to essentially nothing.
2014 is a different year, though. Thompson has been the most aggressive he’s been outside of the draft since 2006 as he signed cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, while targeting the lack of a pass rush with the defensive line signings of Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion.
To add a further narrative, this year’s draft may the deepest we’ve seen this century, according to several draft experts. The quarterback position is stacked and layered with talent. The big uglies up front on both sides of the ball could dominate the first 15 picks. The wide receivers are athletic and physical. The secondary possesses the speed that makes you look twice, and the linebackers could deliver bone-crushing hits for the next 10 years.
Green Bay, like a lot other franchises, have the ball in their court for May’s draft. The team has seven total selections — one per round — but they are expected to garner compensatory picks in the third and sixth round with possibly more on the brink. The tight end position could use an upgrade, and North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron fits the bill. Most analysts have him going at least top 15 if not higher, forcing the team to trade up to select him.
On the other hand, the franchise could utilize those compensatory picks toward an offensive playmaker at the tight end position and wait around for a guy like Iowa‘s C.J. Fiedorowicz. The team’s deep secondary, particularly the strong safety position, needs a starter; Louisville‘s Calvin Pryor or Alabama‘s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix could fill it. Still, the class is deep enough that the talent does not drop off significantly from the first round to the second.
Nevertheless, for the 10th-straight draft, Thompson is sure to surprise everyone.