Ask Packers fans their opinion of Ted Thompson and you will get a variety of answers.  Some say he’s kept the Packers’ salary cap healthy.  Others lament his unwillingness to sign big-money free agents.  And some will tell you he doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing.

One facet of Thompson’s tenure that can’t be denied is the team’s excellent record and consistent ability to contend for a championship.  Since Thompson replaced Mike Sherman as General Manager on January 14, 2005, the Packers are 118-73.  In those 12 seasons, the Packers missed the playoffs only three times and had only two losing seasons.  While Thompson certainly isn’t solely responsible for the Packers’ success, he has overseen all personnel decisions during this time.  He brings in the players who play the games, specifically through the signing of free agents and the NFL draft.

It’s the latter I want to discuss today.  What follows is an entirely subjective ranking of every Packers draft Ted Thompson has overseen, from worst to best.  I value quality more highly than quantity, so one great player usually rates better than three good players.  I’m also not factoring in undrafted free agents.  I know they play a huge part in how Thompson builds his teams, but I am omitting them for the sake of simplicity.

Incomplete: 2015 and 2016

There’s a commonly-held mantra in the NFL that you can’t really judge a draft until about three years afterward, so I’m decreeing the jury is still out on the two most recent drafts.

This leaves us with ten drafts, starting with…

 

10: 2011

1. Derek Sherrod – T
2. Randall Cobb – WR
3. Alex Green – RB
4. Davon House – CB
5. DJ Williams – TE
6.Caleb Schlauderaff – G
6. DJ Smith – LB
6. Ricky Elmore – LB
7. Ryan Taylor – TE
7. Lawrence Guy – DT

You probably saw this coming.  Yes, Randall Cobb is a very good receiver (though maybe not a #1, as we saw in 2015) and Davon House had his moments, but everybody else selected is of no real significance.  Most of them were out of the league after 3 years.  Let’s move on.

 

9: 2014

1. Haha Clinton Dix – S
2. Davante Adams – WR
3. Khyri Thornton – DT
4. Richard Rodgers – TE
5. Corey Linsley – C
5. Jared Abbrederis – WR
6. Demetri Goodson – CB
7. Jeff Janis – WR

Selecting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was one of the few times when Ted Thompson picked the player almost everyone thought he would.  That turned out to be good choice, as Ha Ha has played in every game since he’s been drafted.  His interceptions have increased every year and last year he made the Pro-Bowl.  Safety was a huge need that year and Clinton-Dix delivered.

Davante Adams has had two good seasons and one pretty bad season.  If he can match he production from last year, he’ll be a good one.  Corey Linsley has become the starter at center and has played well as the pivot of a very good offensive line.  We could stand to see more from Richard Rodgers, but he’s made some impact plays.  The bottom of this draft gave the Packers two very good special teamers in Demetri Goodson and Jeff Janis.  Unfortunately, Khyri Thornton was a total bust and Jared Abbrederis was injured too much to make a lasting impact.

 

8: 2010

1. Bryan Bulaga – T
2. Mike Neal – DE
3. Morgan Burnett – S
5. Andrew Quarless – TE
5. Marshall Newhouse – T
6. James Starks – RB
7. CJ Wilson – DE

I must admit that if I were including undrafted players in these rankings, this year would probably rate much higher thanks to Sam Shields.  But without him, this class is pretty weak.  Bryan Bulaga has been a very good player when healthy, and Morgan Burnett is a good safety who showed great versatility last year.

But once you look past them, there isn’t much to see.  Mike Neal and CJ Wilson were bit players on the D-line.  James Starks never took over the starting role and only excelled as a backup, though you could argue the Packers couldn’t have won Super Bowl XLV without him.  Andrew Quarless had some nice moments filling in for Jermichael Finley, but he never became the player the Packers hoped he would.  Marshall Newhouse did start every game in 2012 but was let go the next year.

 

7: 2007

1. Justin Harrell – DT
2. Brandon Jackson – RB
3. James Jones – WR
3. Aaron Rouse – DB
4. Allen Barbre – G
5.David Clowney – WR
6. Korey Hall – FB
6. Desmond Bishop – LB
6. Mason Crosby – K
7. DeShawn Wynn – RB
7. Clark Harris – TE

This draft has the ugly distinction of the biggest first-round bust of the Thompson era.  Justin Harrell was an injury-prone player who had top-ten talent, but he couldn’t get healthy, only appearing in 14 NFL games.

While Brandon Jackson was a valuable backup RB, that’s not exactly what you want from a second-round pick.  The real standout of this draft is Mason Crosby, who is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.  Yes, he had a disastrous 2012, but since then he has made at least 81% of his kicks every year and still has a very strong leg.

James Jones, while having a case of the drops early in his career, proved to be a dependable and productive receiver (especially when he swooped in to stabilize the WR corps after Nelson’s injury in 2015).  Desmond Bishop is also worth mentioning, since it was his play at middle linebacker that helped the Packers sustain the loss of Nick Barnett during their 2010 Super Bowl run.

 

6: 2013

1. Datone Jones – DE
2. Eddie Lacy – RB
4. David Bakhtiari – T
4. JC Tretter – OL
4. Jonathan Franklin – RB
5. Micah Hyde – CB 
5. Josh Boyd – DE
6. Nate Palmer – OLB
7. Charles Johnson – WR
7. Kevin Dorsey – WR
7. Sam Barrington – LB

Datone Jones would be the biggest first-round bust of this era were it not for Harrell.  Jonathan Franklin showed potential until he fell prey to a neck injury.  Eddie Lacy had two great seasons followed by two bad seasons.  Despite his fall from grace, he did bring a dominant run game back to Green Bay, something that had been missing since the days of Ahman Green.

Micah Hyde was a very versatile safety/corner hybrid who really stepped up during “Run the Table.”  JC Tretter’s experience at every position on the O-line made him a valuable plug and play lineman.  But it’s David Bakhtiari who really stands out.  Finding a franchise left tackle is hard no matter where you pick players, so to find one in the fourth round is extremely impressive.

 

5: 2012

1. Nick Perry – LB
2. Jerel Worthy – DE
2. Casey Hayward – CB
4. Mike Daniels – DE
4. Jerron McMillian – S
5. Terrell Manning – LB
7. Andrew Datko – T
7. BJ Coleman – QB

The eight picks in this draft don’t look great at first glance, as the last four are all pretty forgettable and Jerel Worthy was a wasted pick in the second round.  Yes, Casey Hayward is gone but he was very good when healthy and last year led the league in interceptions while playing with the Chargers.  Nick Perry, while looking like another bust at first, finally showed what he can do when healthy and was the best pass rusher on the market this offseason.  But what really boosts this draft is Mike Daniels.  He is a fiery, hard-working force in the middle of the defense.  He also brings some pass-rushing ability (22 career sacks) and hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season.  You could argue he’s been the Packers best defensive player for the last two seasons.

 

4: 2006

1. AJ Hawk – LB
2. Daryn Colledge – G
2. Greg Jennings – WR
3. Abdul Hodge – LB
3. Jason Spitz – G
4. Cory Rodgers – WR
4. Will Blackmon – CB
5. Ingle Martin – QB
5. Tony Moll – T
6. Johnny Jolly – DT
6. Tyrone Culver – CB
7. Dave Tollefson – DE

The Packers obtained three quality starters with their first three picks.  AJ Hawk was not the splash player you look for in the fifth overall pick but he only missed two games in nine years with Green Bay and is the franchise’s all-time leading tackler.  Daryn Colledge was plugged into the starting lineup and played in every game during his five-year stint with Green Bay (and every game with Arizona for three years after that).

Greg Jennings was the team’s best receiver from 2007-2011 and was very productive in that time (he still has one more career TD than Jordy Nelson).  Jason Spitz gave the Packers a lot of snaps on the offensive line (at multiple positions), Will Blackmon made some splash plays as a kick returner, and Johnny Jolly had two successful stints with the team, though the first was cut short thanks to a drug addiction.

 

3: 2008

2. Jordy Nelson – WR
2. Brian Brohm – QB
2. Pat Lee – CB
3. Jermichael Finley – TE
4. Jeremy thompson – DE
4. Josh Sitton – G
5.Breno Giacomini – T
7. Matt Flynn – QB
7. Brett Swain – WR

Trading back to take Jordy Nelson in the second round ended up being a steal.  He started off slow but since Super Bowl 45 he has been very productive and will go down as one the best receivers in team history.

Josh Sitton was a rock at left guard for seven seasons and until recently was considered an elite player.  Jermichael Finley may never have achieved his true potential but he was still a dangerous offensive weapon.  When he was on, he was very hard to stop.  Throw in Matt Flynn as a decent backup QB in the seventh round and this class looks pretty good.  Too bad about Brian Brohm and Pat Lee, though.

 

2: 2009

1. BJ Raji – NT
1. Clay Matthews – LB
4. TJ Lang – G
5. Quinn Johnson – FB
5. Jamon Meredith – T
6. Jarius Wynn – DE
6. Brandon Underwood – S
7. Brad Jones – LB

Snagging an impact player like Clay Matthews late in the first round was huge.  Matthews is only two sacks behind Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilla’s team record of 74.5.  Though he didn’t play up to his standards last year, he still commands respect from opposing offenses. Then you have TJ Lang, who started almost every game for the last six seasons, becoming an anchor on a great offensive line.

Finally, while BJ Raji probably wasn’t worth the ninth overall pick, he was still a valuable space eater who allowed Matthews and others to make plays (and made quite a few himself).

 

1: 2005

1. Aaron Rodgers – QB
2. Nick Collins – S
4. Marviel Underwood – S
4. Brady Poppinga – LB
5. Junius Coston – C
5. Mike Hawkins – DB
6. Mike Montgomery – DT
6. Craig Bragg – WR
7. Kurt Campbell – CB
7. Will Whitticker – G

I tried to find a reason to put this draft at number two, but I just couldn’t do it.  Any draft where you get a future first-ballot Hall of Famer (and the best QB talent in the league six years running) has to be considered one of the best in franchise history.  Aaron Rodgers is arguably the biggest component of the Packers’ recent sustained success.  It would be shameful not to mention Nick Collins, whose career was tragically cut short by a neck injury.

He unfortunately played during the time of Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, and while those two were widely considered the best safeties in the game, Collins was just below them.  Brady Poppinga, while not a major talent, gave the Packers a lot of snaps at linebacker. I should also mention third rounder Terrance Murphy, who showed the potential to be a good receiver until he too suffered a neck injury.  But in the end, Rodgers is all you need to justify 2005 as Thompson’s greatest draft.


So there’s my list. Agree? Disagree?  Think I’m a moron?  Sound off in the comments.

 

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