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Packers Need to Reverse Recent Trends in Draft

Ted Thompson

The Green Bay Packers haven’t drafted that well in the past couple years. Earlier this week, I made that statement and didn’t think twice about it, but apparently some of you disagreed.

Yeah, I get it, Ted Thompson is a master drafter who can do no wrong. He picked Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews and blah, blah, blah. Matthews made an almost immediate impact and there are several other guys that fit that bill — Nick Collins, Morgan Burnett, Bryan Bulaga, etc.

However, most of Thompson’s draft picks don’t fit that bill. That’s been especially glaring in the past two drafts. In those two drafts, Thompson’s picks have actually missed more games than they’ve started, whether by injury or coach’s decision. You can chalk that up to whatever you want, but as Shawn pointed out recently, the Packers haven’t been drafting impact players.

In two seasons, the Packers draft classes of 2011 and 2012 have started a combined 45 games, while they’ve sat out a combined 124. And yes, I’d love to break it down even further.

The 2011 draft class produced just one guy who started any games that season — linebacker D.J. Smith, who started just three (he was also the only guy to play in all 16 games). Meanwhile, that class missed a combined 58 games in their rookie season and that doesn’t include the two guys who didn’t even make the team. Seventh-round pick Ricky Elmore didn’t make the final roster and sixth-round pick Caleb Schlauderaff was traded prior to the season because he wasn’t going to make the final roster.

In 2012, the 2011 draft class stepped it up slightly. They accounted for 26 starts, but still missed a combined 41 games. Randall Cobb led the way with eight starts. Tight end Ryan Taylor is the only member of the 2011 class to play in all 16 games in 2012. However, this class also lost another member when seventh-rounder Lawrence Guy was relegated to the practice squad and later signed by Indianapolis.

Sure, the Packers got Cobb in the 2011 draft, but he has literally been the only impact player from that class thus far. And, he wasn’t an offensive impact player until his second season.

In 2012, the Packers went defense heavy in the draft largely because they had to. Since they refuse to participate in free agency, the only way to improve their historically bad defense was to draft a bunch of defenders. As such, the 2012 class actually registered more starts than its predecessor, tallying a total of 16.

Of course, that class also sat out a combined 25 games. Second-rounder Casey Hayward, the draft class’ top performer, led the way with seven starts. First-rounder Nick Perry was close behind with five, but he also missed 10 games. Hayward joined fourth-round pick Jerron McMillian as the only guys to play in all 16 games.

The Packers two seventh-round picks, Andrew Datko and B.J. Coleman, failed to make the active roster.

The Packers actually succeeded in improving their defense in 2012, but Hayward was the only draftee to make a real contribution to that improvement. In fact, that starts to illuminate the fact that the Packers have gotten next to nothing out of Thompson’s last two first-round picks.

Derek Sherrod, the 2011 first-rounder, hasn’t started a game in two seasons and missed all of 2012 because of injury. Last year’s pick, Nick Perry, was given a starting job in training camp. He started five games and played in six, recording 18 tackles and two sacks before going on injured reserve.

You can point to them injuries all you want, but the fact is the Packers haven’t gotten any impact from their past two first-round picks.

In fact, in those two drafts, I’d argue they’ve only selected two impact players — Cobb and Hayward. In addition to those guys, the only guy who has any claim that he’s actually a starter when the season opens is Perry.

Two drafts, three starters.

I’d say that’s fairly pathetic.

Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. Tim V April 19, 2013

    I agree. In order for a draft to be good you need to get three starters.

  2. GrnMAchineCrushesQueens April 19, 2013

    Bollocks…you’re still wrong, Monty. Firstly, Hayward and Cobb aren’t just “two starters”. Hayward led THE LEAGUE in interceptions for most of his rookie year and its not even necessary to comment on what Cobb has done/will do for this offense. You ask a thinking man NOT to consider injuries as a factor as to why the early round draft picks haven’t panned out YET, but expect us to give a shit that 6th and 7th rounders couldn’t make the roster… Perhaps its due to the fact that TT drafted/acquired a lot of really good, young, talented players throughout his tenure that weren’t likely to be unseated. Aaanndd continues to do so. Truth be told, we went 15-1 in 2011 and won a game in the playoffs the next. Mark my Murphys, you will rescind these foolish allegations after he tears shit up next wknd..

    1. Mike R April 19, 2013

      Have to agree with what everyone is saying here Monte. I think you are reaching with the 6th and 7th round drafts picks. Seriously who gives a shit. And I really don’t see how injuries has anything to do with the drafting of TT. The one argument you could make is Justin Harrell who did have a history of back problems before the draft. Probably his worst pick ever. As Packer Bob says, there is always room for improvement. But, my guess is we will be begging for another TT when he retires.

  3. Packerguy April 19, 2013

    Its still really early to evaluate those drafts. After this year, we can start to fairly evaluate 2011’s class, and we gotta give 2012 two more years. This analysis is based on horribly flawed expectations and baselines. You especially have to give the injured guys time to prove themselves, kind of a dick move for crucifying drafts because guys got injured.

  4. GBslacker April 19, 2013

    I think part of the lack-of-draft-impact is due to McCarthy and Capers — they make things pretty complicated, and you’re on the bench until you figure it out.

    The real downside to this situation we’ll see in the near future, as mega-contracts prohibit signing veterans and team fortunes are placed in the hands of two or three mega-paid superstars and a team full of draft picks.

  5. Packer Bob April 19, 2013

    Ted Thompson has had his hits and his misses in the last three years, and he certainly needs to do a better job with drafting players that have been know to take plays off. And yeah, I’m gonna blame the last two first round picks on injuries. How can you not? He can’t predict the the future. Can you?

    Is Thompson a draft genius? No. Jack Vainisi was probably a genius. But I think he’s done an excellent job. There’s a lot of NFL draft analysis that would back that up too.

    I’m not expecting you to praise Thompson but I fundamentally disagree with you that he needs to “reverse this trend”. Is there room for improvement? Always.

  6. lars1 April 19, 2013

    You makea good point about the last two drafts,but way overplayed your hand. Cobb isan impact plaer andwas from the ge-go on special teams in year 1. He was a spectacular pick.

    It’s not “two starters”, Hayward as the nckel bacl and Cobb are starters and so is Perry. Worthy is essentially a starter in the sense of rotational DLine player. You also need to givea draft more than 1 year to guage its effectiveness. At leas two inthe case of 2012.

    Your strongest point was “since they refuse to take part in free agency” they were forced to blow an entire draft of defense. Well said and they ight do it again. That’s the real crux of the issue—Thompson hates FA’cy. He hasn’t had a decent FA year since 2006 so he’s given up. With so much riding on each draft Thompson can’t just be good he has to be the best. And, despite the homer cheerleading, he isn’t the best at drafting in the NFL. Maybe top ten, but not clse to the best after the past 2 years and 2007.

  7. Iltarion April 19, 2013

    Everyone can get better and no one is above criticism. I agree that the Packers need to start getting some production out of their first round picks.

    The benchmark for the top echelon of GMs in the NFL is 30%. You hope to hit on 30% of your picks. So, like in baseball, even for the best GMs, they are striking out more often than they are getting hits.

    Is it a surprise that a couple 6th and 7th round picks couldn’t make a team that went 15-1? No.

    Of course, Monty leaves out the 2010 draft, where in 7 picks, TT grabbed 5 starters and 2 back ups that played key roles in the Super Bowl.

    The 2011 draft has 4 potential future starters in Randall Cobb, DJ Smith, Derek Sherrod, and Davon House.

    The 2012 draft also has 4 potential future starters in Casey Hayward, Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, and Jerron McMillian.

    So, until we see who is actually starting this season, it is difficult to call these two drafts poor drafts. Getting 4 starters out of draft is a very good draft.

    1. Jessica Tandy April 19, 2013

      Iltarion menioned the 15-1 team… Drink!

      1. Iltarion April 19, 2013

        It is relevant when talking about the 2011 draft.

        You sound familiar.

  8. john April 19, 2013

    sheesh, and you blame Thompson for injuries

  9. E. Wolf April 19, 2013

    I belive THE POLAR BEAR is a genius. Overall he has done an exemplary job in recalibrating this team from the disaster Sherman created. No GM ever bats 1000. I fear that Sherrod is a bust but I think Perry will work out.

  10. Patrick April 19, 2013

    Its not just about bringing in someone who will start, its also about keeping a roster young /cheap while also making every position competitive. The great GMs keep teams competitive without allowing them to slip into rebuilding seasons. I think that is what makes what he does work. I mean how mad was I when he traded out of the first round to move back and pick a receiver, but fast forward, Jennings wants too much money, he leaves and we are still set at WR. What he does works.

  11. Iltarion April 19, 2013

    And lookee here… This month’s ESPN the Mag covers the NFL Draft. They have a statistical analysis of the best drafting teams in the league.

    Who is ranked #1?? Your GREEN BAY PACKERS

    It says- “Since 1994 the Packers have drafted 22 Pro Bowlers despite averaging the second lowest first round slot in the NFL. Their knack for finding contributors in later rounds, notably Matt Hasselbeck in the 6th and Donald Driver in the 7th, is a big reason they’ve won the second most games of any team over this span.”

    The top 6 teams in the rankings are the Packers, Steelers, Colts, Ravens, Patriots and Giants- winners of 11 of the last 13 Super Bowls.

    That ranking is especially impressive for Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson when you consider that it includes picks by Mike Sherman.

    1. TyKoSteamboat April 19, 2013

      Amen, Iltarion.

      Nice, concrete #’s.

      You can’t control injuries. Mike Neal, Morgan Burnett, Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy & Derek Sherrod will all have something to prove.

      Ted Thompson has very little to prove.

  12. I’m just that good.

  13. Savage57 April 20, 2013

    Monty, and I think I speak for everyone here, I think it shows incredibly bad taste for you to show up here and have the nerve to voice an opinion that doesn’t pray at the altar of “Let’s Suck Ted Thompson’s Dick”.

    How dare you? And on your own website!

    1. Iltarion April 20, 2013

      There is a difference between not praying at a guy’s altar and being more cynical than the objective media.

      I find it curious. If you are a Packer fan, then shouldn’t you be more optimistic than those paid to be objective?

      I laugh at these haters who try to say they are the “realistic” Packer fans. Because according to non-fans who really have no vested interest in the Packers, the haters aren’t realistic at all.

      The reality is these “fans” obviously have some personal issue with TT, usually related to a certain traded QB. An issue that the winning of one Super Bowl won’t cure. Now that a couple years have passed since they embarrassed themselves by claiming “we won’t win a title with this guy!” They are now bold enough to chant – “Yeah, but we won’t win TWO with this guy!”

      When we do win another, the chant will merely be- “Yeah, but we won’t win THREE!”

      And so on…

      1. Savage57 April 21, 2013

        Iltarion, I’d like to congratulate you on a well thought out, congent and relevant argument and rebuttal.

        But I can’t because it’s not.

  14. Doug April 20, 2013

    This is the most negative fan page I’ve ever seen. Nothing supportive about the articles written here. Apparently Ted knows something about doing his job, otherwise I really doubt we would be consistent contenders every year. As far as how many games guys play in, injuries strike no matter who you draft. And how many people were begging to have Nick Perry last year? TotalPackers.com was one that predicted the pick. Ted Thompson is widely regarded as one of if not the best at picking players and we numbers in the win column to support that. Last thought, if the writer of this article is more qualified to make the calls, why doesn’t he have Ted’s job?

    1. nurseratchett April 21, 2013

      We bitch because we LOVE. I can’t stand fan opinion sites that are all sweetness & light! Spirited debate is what TP is all about.

      1. Savage57 April 21, 2013

        Right on, Ratchett!!

        Packer fans that are willing to voice their doubt and dissent are the metaphorical patriots of this proud fan base.

        Besides, by raising questions it gives “true Packer fans” something to get their underwear in a knot about.

  15. vj April 21, 2013

    Agreed. Ted even said he was cocky and confident when he first came in, but has since been humbled a bit by the draft process. Look, he has done well in the past, but the NFL is like all sports, what have you done for me lately? The good news is that because of drafting and developing a ton of guys on the current roster we do have good football players all the way around. The bad news is that we’ve had significant impact player attrition in the last few seasons: Woodson, Collins, Clifton, Culken Jenkins, Drive, Jennings, etc and have only done a good job reloading at the WR and Corner positions. That’s troubling to say the least.

    I hope Ted and Co. have some hits this draft season.

    RB La’veon Bell
    TE Travis Kelce
    DT Slyvester Williams
    DE Datone Jones
    Safety DJ Swearinger, Bacarri Rambo

    If they land a couple of these guys, I will call it a better draft than recent history dictates, save for Cobb and Hayward.

  16. vijay April 21, 2013

    The Packers should draft this way:
    Trade out of Rd#1 and grab another 3rd Rounder.
    First pick in Rd#2 – Select Best available D Lineman
    Trade up to middle 2nd Round with extra 3rd round pick, 5th round compensatory pick and pick #23 to select RB La’Veon Bell before the Steelers can pick him (they love him).
    3rd Round selection – take best OT prospect or best TE prospect (hopefully Travis Kelce or Reid Fragel/ Terron Armstead)
    4th Round selection- Bacarri Rambo (ball hawking safety) or best TE prospect if missed in 3rd Round
    5th Round selection- Best WR Prospect (Josh Boyce?), another fat DL/OL lineman, or best LB prospect
    6th round – Fat lineman DL/OL, TE Prospect or QB project
    7th Round – same as 6th…best available/ potential.

    Cross your fingers.

  17. vijay April 21, 2013

    I meant trade up with the 5th round non-compensatory pick because we can’t trade 5th round picks which are compensatory…oops.

  18. Jon Mallaber April 21, 2013

    So let me get this straight: you question why guys from the last 2 drafts haven’t started for a team that won a Super Bowl with one of the youngest teams in the league and followed with a 15-1 season? Maybe because the had excellent players that didn’t need replacing genius. Calling guys like, Sherrod, Green, House, Smith, Williams, Taylor, Perry, Worthy, Daniels, McMillan. Manning, and Datko poor draft picks at this point in their career is not only short sighted, its ignorant. Did you have the same point of view when Ted drafted Rodgers in the first round and didn’t start in his first 3 years?

  19. Stephen April 24, 2013

    a lot of dissent on here which is ok. I think the important part of this criticism that is left out is that fact that the Packers now have to rely solely on draft picks for success. Of course, this is their modus operandi anyway, since its the only real way to keep your roster in tact. One bad (free agent) contract can set a team back. However, with large chunks of money going to Matthews and Rodgers eventually, I think they have to have a larger percentage of rookies making immediate impacts. I’m not sure where you could find such information. But most people say you can’t judge a draft until the third year. The only problem is they won’t be able to wait three years especially if the guys from three years ago didn’t pan out.