Packers 2013 NFL Draft Prep: Best Player Available

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Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson

Like most teams, the Green Bay Packers ostentatiously draft by the philosophy of picking the best player available. Whether this is an actual fundamental tenant of solid drafting or merely a self-fulfilling prophecy, since whoever they pick is certainly going to be called “the best player available” or “top player on our board,” is debatable.

The past three drafts would appear to be driven more by need than by “best player available,” at least in the first couple rounds. There is nothing coincidental about the fact that with the retirements of Packer stalwart tackles, Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton, the Packers drafted Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod in the first round of consecutive drafts. It is also not merely serendipity that the Packers drafted Nick Perry in the first round last year or that they spent virtually that entire draft on the defense after it gave up an NFL record in passing yards the prior season.

So, with another draft now only three weeks away, Packer Nation has its seasonal debate on which position is the Packers’ greatest area of need. My answer is — all and none.

Sure, the Packers could use an athletic and physical presence at safety who can not only make plays on the ball in coverage, but can be a sure tackler as the last line of defense. The Packers could use an offensive lineman on the left side of the line who is actually capable of run blocking. The Packers could use a running back that would enable them to run the ball for once on 3rd and 2. And the Packers could use speed on defense — anywhere.

No doubt that is all true. However, more than that, more than the need at any single position, what the Packers need is another impact player, regardless of position.

When the Packers faced the 49ers in the playoffs three months ago, they faced a team loaded with first-round picks at skill positions. The Packers themselves had their last three first-round picks sitting on IR. While Nick Perry missed games last season, first-round picks Harrison Smith and Matt Kalil helped the Vikings make the playoffs.

Ted Thompson must reverse this trend. As good as he has been at picking players in later rounds, the Packers can’t continue to see their first-round picks flounder and expect to remain an elite team in the NFL. Yes, injuries have been perhaps the biggest factor in this recent trend, but there is a plaque outside the ladies’ restroom for the losers sunk by injuries. Teddy himself didn’t give Mike Sherman a pass for going 4-12 when the Packers had to pull Samkon Gado out of the local Subway to tote the rock because everyone else got injured.

The Packers need their first-round pick to stay off IR and contribute.

This glaring need outweighs the need at any one position. So, if a linebacker is the best player on the board when it is the Packers’ turn, they need to pick him. If a running back is the best player available, they need to pick HIM. Even if a wide receiver or a cornerback are the best players available — same difference. In fact, if a quarterback was the best player available, which is doubtful, the Packers still better pick him.

The Packers do not have a Pro Bowl appearance by anyone picked in the last three years. That has to change, or the success of the past few years will turn into the success built by Ron Wolf — one championship followed by decline.

If Thompson wants to avoid repeating history, he needs to draft another impact player. Now.

About The Author

Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.

26 Comments on "Packers 2013 NFL Draft Prep: Best Player Available"

  1. TyKoSteamboat

    I would like him to simply take Eddie Lacy if he is there or the best available Offensive Lineman.

    Teddy is also not afraid to trade-up to get his man, even though that is rare for him. (Clay Matthews).

    • Vijay

      Um…no. By impact we mean to say a defender, you know, in case our $13M OLB goes down for a few games with a hammy or a groin…Our line is fine…they do need better TE blocking to help out in certain game-to-game scenarios though. A developmental tackle is always worth taking, but the way we draft tackles–I’d rather focus elsewhere.

      Eddie Lacy won’t be holding La’Veon Bell’s jock strap by the end of the year. Just watch!

  2. Packer Bob

    Well, I think anyone taken in the first round should be considered an “impact player”. The million dollar question is whether that player will be able to be an impact player in the NFL. I also think picking the best player available is about not letting your competition get that player too.

    But I will say this, Thompson has to stop wasting high draft picks on players that are known to take downs off. There’s no excuse for not going all out on every play. We need players who will play “harder” on defense. We need to be more “physical” on defense. I want the players we have to become “impact players”.

    Does that mean he should draft a pass rushing DE when a better player at different position is available? Say an offensive tackle or running back? I dunno. That’s why I don’t get paid millions of dollars to make these decisions. :)

    Lastly, I wouldn’t use the Pro Bowl a litmus test. Randall Cobb had a break out year and he didn’t go. The Pro Bowl is a joke, IMO.

    • Shawn Shawn

      Quite true, the Pro Bowl is a joke. Within this context it is just used as an illustration of the over all point.

      Certainly not all elite players are found in the 1st round of the draft, but it is still your best chance to acquire one. The Pack’s two elite players- A-Rodge and CM3, are both 1st round picks.

      TT needs to hit on another 1st round pick, and if he needs to pick a guy at a “non-need” position to do it, he better.

      • Vijay

        Maybe you should say “All Pro” instead…because teams like the 49ers are full of them….oww…Wammy!!!!

  3. PackAttack

    Monty said it perfectly – “impact player”

    So many needs and holes on this team who knows what Thompson is going to do — wouldn’t be shocked to see him show up naked on draft day and select Ilitarion in the 1st round. It wouldn’t be any worse than taking Harrell or Sherrod, maybe another RB in the 5th or 6th round that’ll look good on the practice squad with BJ Coleman. Do we still have Brian Brohm, I always loved that one.

      • PackAttack

        As usual I find nothing that you say amusing in any way.

        I do, however, find the following Ted Thompson selections in the draft — HILARIOUS!

        Terrence Murphy – 2nd Round – 2005
        Justin Harrell – 1st Round – 2007
        Brandon Jackson – 2nd Round – 2007
        Every pick in the 2007 draft was an absolute abomination for the exception of James Jones and Bishop. The players Thompson missed on and passed in this draft is enough to make someone puke. Purely awful in every way.
        Brian Brohm – 2nd Round – 2008 – WORST EVER?
        Patrick Lee – 2nd Round – 2008 – AWFUL!
        Weird how Thompson actually TRADES UP and gets two 1st Rounders in 2009 and the result is “impact” players in Raji and Matthews. Hasn’t traded up since.
        Derek Sherrod – 1st Round – 2011 – book is still out on this guy right? I guess Jabaal Sheard or Orlando Franklin were out of the question.

        I could go on and on and on — but I had my laugh.

        The smartest thing that’s been said on this board the last few days is that Thompson has “consistently” (being the key word) missed on 1st and 2nd Round picks. Failing to get “impact” players early in the draft.

        AJ Hawk – 1st Round – 2006 (re-signing him was worse)

        • Shawn Iltarion

          Its an inside joke that only Monty and Andy would be likely to get.

          So, yeah, I confess. I tend to read your posts when they are shorter. Just not the huge rants. Maybe during the season if you sound reasonable.

          Ron Wolf’s list would be much longer… Terrell Buckley…Mark D’Onofrio…Antuan Edwards… Fred Vinson… Jamal Reynolds…

  4. FITZCORE1252

    “In fact, if a quarterback was the best player available, which is doubtful, the Packers still better pick him.”

    Aaahhh… No.

    GBP 4 LIFE

    • Shawn Shawn

      The Packers have been extremely fortunate with the durability of Rodgers.

      The back up QB can be a very important position. If the Redskins had put theirs in earlier in the game, they likely beat the Seahawks in the playoffs.

      I am a believer in Graham Harrell. One of the few. But if the best guy on the draft board was a quarterback, the Packers should still take him.

      Even if he didn’t help the team immediately, you get him a couple spot starts, and then trade him for draft picks after a couple seasons.

      Fortunately, based off this particular class, it sounds like the best player available at the time the Packers draft will definitely NOT be a QB.

    • Vijay

      I like that Matt Scott kid…he’s got that read option thing down! Would be great to have him as a backup of he’s around in the 4th (assuming of course we somehow collect an extra pick).

    • Packer Bob

      Also, what if your QB is going to demand $25M+ in a couple years and eat up over 25% of your cap? It’s gonna happened to somebody after Rodgers get signed. If there were that team I would certainly take a QB in the first round if one fell to me.

  5. FITZCORE1252

    Shawn – I mean this in the nicest possible way – you’re high. I agree with the idea of BPA… within reason. You don’t draft a guy in the first if you know he will not have a chance to contribute relatively quickly. We have the best QB in the game. He’s not yet 30. He’s got a good 5 years left. You don’t “intentionally ” draft backups in the first. Period.

    • Vijay

      But we have…so, your point? Or I should say…the guys we’ve drafted of late would backup on a real contender and start for us. Sound better???

  6. Shawn Shawn

    You mean like when the Chargers had Drew Brees and drafted Eli Manning to trade for Phillip Rivers?

    So, it does happen. Your back up QB COULD contribute right away, depending on events. See Kirk Cousins….

    Otherwise, I think we both agree that we would definitely prefer that the Packers draft someone with a reasonable chance of starting on opening day and contributing immediately versus later.

    And I wouldn’t mind being high right now.

  7. FITZCORE1252

    “Your back up QB COULD contribute right away, depending on events.”

    – No shit. Which is why I specifically stated that ” You don’t “intentionally ” draft backups in the first.”

    Anyhew… I think we both agree the GBP won’t be selecting a QB with their first pick… Or second… Or third. And I accept your apology for saying a scenario exists in which they should .

  8. CB

    As usual,,,bear with me,,,a little long winded here….

    Tough, tough call on this discussion. Recent high round picks do not appear to be busts as far as poor picks. They have just been so damn injury prone.
    For sake of discussion, how are things looking right now IF,,,
    Sherrod, Bulaga, Worthy, and Perry are healthy.
    ODDS are,,,
    Our pass game gives up far less sacks(Sherrod/Bulaga)
    Our run game is far better(Sherrod/Bulaga)
    Our pass rush is far better(Perry)
    – which makes our secondary look far better(Perry)
    Our run defense is probably stronger.(Worthy)

    SHerrod, is a bit of a mystery,,,outside of that, the other 3 WILL BE BACK, and I still feel pretty good about their prospects.
    I look at this from a bit of an optimists perspective. You take almost any other team in football and stack the injuries that the Pack fought last year,,,and I would put them at about 6-10 or less. I think it’s a hell of a job of the Pack of battling through a tough run of injuries.
    And again, short of Sherrod’s injury, none of these injuries are career threatening.

    Its a bad run of injuries,,,but these were not injury prone guys coming out of college like Justin Harrell was.

    If you judged Drew Brees’s career up to and including his season ending injury in San Diego, he is probably a bust. He seemed to have a pretty good draft grade since then.
    I would hold out on passing judgement on these draft picks until we have a little more data to assess.

    In a nutshell,
    If even half of the Devon House, Perry, Worthy, Sherrod, Bulaga, Bishop, DJ Smith, Alex Green, James Starks contingency get healthy and contribute,,,all of a sudden, a lot of these drafts and this team looks pretty damn good.

    As for our training and medical staff and the massive injury history we seem to have….that is a different topic. And one I do not have any basis to judge what is being done right or wrong. All I do know is that we seem to be showing a LOT more injuries than most teams.

    My 2 cents.

    • Vijay

      Meh, that’s a lot of “if’s”…most of the smart people on here don’t think we should have to face the painful “if’s” exercise year after year with some of our high selections (save for Matthews, Rodgers & Raji of course)…”it” just plain sux.

  9. Vijay

    REAL Mock draft Rd#1

    1. Chiefs – Eric Fisher
    2. Jags- Sharrif Floyd
    3. Raiders – Star Lotulelei
    4. Eagles – Luke Joeckel
    5. Lions – Dee Milliner
    6. Browns – Chance Warmack
    7. Cardinals – Lane Johnson
    8. Bills – Cordarrelle Patterson
    9. Jets – Dion Jordan
    10. Titans – Kenny Vaccaro
    11. Chargers – Jonathan Cooper
    12. Dolphins – D.J. Fluker
    13. Bucs – Arthur Brown
    14. Panthers – Sheldon Richardson
    15. Saints – Jarvis Jones
    16. Rams – DeAndre Hopkins
    17. Steelers – Barkevious Mingo
    18. Cowboys – Ezekiel Ansah
    19. Giants – Bjoern Werner
    20. Bears – Manti Te’o
    21. Bengals – Jonathan Cyprien
    22. St. Louis – Eric Reid
    23. Vikings – Desmond Trufant
    24. Colts – Jesse Williams
    25. Vikings – Johnathan Hankins
    26. Packers – Datone Jones
    27. Texans – Keenan Allen
    28. Broncos – Cornelius “Tank” Carradine
    29. Patriots – Sylvester Williams
    30. Falcons – Xavier Rhodes
    31. 49ers – Tavon Austin
    32. Ravens – Alec Ogletree

    Draft Day Predicted Story Lines –

    Great news for Packers fans if we stay in Rd#1, we can get Datone Jones (or Sly Williams) and improve our run defense.

    It will be a very long day for Geno Smith and the other QBs, unless predictably, a shitty team trades back into round #1 (let’s hope with us) to grab one of these future starting QB busts.

    Damontre Moore from Texas A&M will also have a much longer day than expected as he falls out of the Top 32 picks.

    The Bears shock the world when they take Manti at pick #20!

    The Vikings will kick our ass in the first round of this draft with 2 picks (in front of us) no matter what the real outcome.

  10. cd4packers

    I totally and emphatically agree with the premise of this article. There are 32 teams in the NFL..( I think, but I am a girl so I could be wrong about that…since I don’t pay attention to those kind of details). Lol. Anyway, how many of them would be considered successful? To me, you are a successful franchise when you win games obviously…but it’s more than that. Teams that have “impact” players as the writer implies…….are the teams that are usually in it to win it..and even if they don’t win in the end…they were definitely in the game..and those types of games can go either way. The point is…impact players will always give you a chance to win. That’s their nature…they are extremely competitive people…and they don’t like to lose. For is not just about money, it’s about the game and playing to the best of their abilities. In this day and age in competitive is of utmost importance to have players on your team that are actually play makers…game changers. Otherwise, you end up being in the middle of the crowd…suffocating from mediocrity. The Packers must stay ahead of the game…and in order to do so…they must draft highly talented and qualified players…if they don’t, welcome to dullsville very Sunday…which really sucks.

  11. Lars

    If the Packers take the undersized 4/3 DE Jones or 25 year old Williams to fit a perceived need I’m going to slit my wrists. Stop drafting for position and take an impact player.

    Here are some:
    Tyler Eifert—solves the Finley problem once and for all.
    Johnathan Hankins—solves the Raji problem if you need a better run defense there must be something wrong with your fatties—Raji, Pickett, Wilson.
    WR DeAndre Hopkins. Think WR isn’t a need? Think again. One of Jones, Nelson will be gone soon re: cap constraints.
    Ogletree—sure, he’s an idiot, but he will be an impact player.
    Arthur Brown—Might help stop the Read Option a little better than Sly Williams?

    • Vijay

      Agreed that Team Speed on Defense is key–but really, they could go offense as you suggest. Let’s define speed, however, I’m looking for girth but short area quicks which is what my prospects Jones and Williams provide. They can anchor against the run and provide some pass rush. These are prospects so you never know what you’ll really get till after they start practicing and beyond, but I do like your TE idea in the first couple rounds. I prefer Travis Kelce or Gavin Escobar though because I think they are gifted at least in one way or another (Kelce–run blocking, deceptive speed and catch ability and Escobar the best natural hands of the bunch, not a good blocker though).

      I think Arthur will be long gone by pick #26, just my gut feeling. And we don’t bring Ogletree “types” into Packerland usually, so I passed on him for our system. He is a playmaker though with incredible speed. I think he’d be better outside in a 3-4 personally.

      As far as Hopkins, I think the receiver class is talented with a bunch of complementary receivers but no legit stars and think you can grab a guy like Stedman Bailey or Josh Boyce even later and get good value.

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