Let the Ted Thompson Debate Begin in Earnest
Though Green Bay Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson has been a lightning rod for team critics, I’ve never been a major participant. But I now think that his time has come and gone.
Why? Because he’s 64 going on 80. I just don’t see the mental sharpness, the energy, or the rigorous mind needed to make complex analyses of player talent. I used to think his “Aw shucks” country bumpkin manner was just an act. Now I think it’s what he has become. I view good communication skills as a requirement for the job.
I’m not trying to be unkind. I’ve been there, age-wise, and I don’t have half the acuity I used to possess. In fact, some of you have pointed that out.
For most readers, however, I suspect your rating of Ted will be based on his 12-year record of personnel dealings.
Thompson joined the Packers in 2005. His first draft choice ever was Aaron Rodgers with overall pick number 24 – good start! You’d have to agree that things could only go downhill from there.
You can follow almost every move of Thompson’s career via his Wikipedia entry. It contains a year-by-year accounting of his moves, and there are charts showing notable high and low draft picks, major and minor free agent signings, and the three trades he has made (including trading away Brett Farve in 2008). The chart entries aren’t complete, but they present much of his work at a glance.
Unfortunately, Wikipedia’s narrative section stops at 2012 – about when some critics think the Packers’ draft decisions started to rapidly go downhill.
Below is my quick effort to list some of Thompson’s more successful picks as Green Bay’s GM. Below that is a list of several of his more questionable picks, though I’ve confined that to only the first three draft rounds. I generally haven’t taken into account players’ injuries. I haven’t listed the draft years, but the names are mostly in chronological order.
I’ve also excluded the picks of 2015 and 2016, as being too new to reach any conclusion. However, the 2015 lineup is: Damarious Randall (Round 1), Quinten Rollins (2), Ty Montgomery (3), Jake Ryan (4), Brett Hundley (5), Aaron Ripkowski (6), Christian Ringo (6), and Kennard Backman (6).
The 2016 draft picks were: Kenny Clark (1), Jason Spriggs (2), Kyler Fackrell (3), Blake Martinez (4), Dean Lowry (4), Trevor Davis (5), and Kyle Murphy (6).
Thompson’s Draft Successes
First rounders: Aaron Rodgers, A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji, Bryan Bulaga, Nick Perry, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Second rounders: Nick Collins, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Casey Hayward, Eddie Lacy, Davante Adams
Third rounders: James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Morgan Burnett
Fourth rounders: Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Mike Daniels, David Bakhtiari
Fifth rounders: Micah Hyde, Corey Linsley
Sixth rounders: Mason Crosby, Desmond Bishop, James Starks
Thompson’s Draft Failures
First rounders: Justin Harrell, Derek Sherrod, Datone Jones
Second rounders: Daryn Colledge, Brian Brohm, Mike Neal, Jerel Worthy
Third rounders: Abdul Hodge, Jason Spitz, Aaron Rouse, Patrick Lee, Alex Green, Khyri Thornton
Thompson’s free agent signing successes include: Ryan Pickett, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, John Kuhn, Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers, Letroy Guion, and Jared Cook.
The Thompson portfolio is not complete without including all the players he has released (often out of salary cap considerations) and those who have let their contracts expire and gotten better deals elsewhere.
I leave it to readers to consider or debate Thompson’s legacy as a draft guru.