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Did Ted Thompson Miscast Damarious Randall?

It is highly unusual for an NFL team to use both a first and second-round draft choice in the same draft on players of the same position. So why did the Green Bay Packers go with two cornerbacks with its first two picks in 2015?

Actually they didn’t. First-rounder Damarious Randall was a safety. And therein might be the source of the deficiency that the Atlanta Falcons exploited last weekend.

Ted Thompson and his scouting team were not the only ones who thought Randall was too small (then at 196 pounds) to be a safety. From the beginning, Thompson planned to convert Randall to a cornerback.

Following the draft, Thompson had this to say:

“I don’t know how that will work, but I’m looking at him as a corner today. If next week we decided he’s a safety, then it doesn’t matter. He’s still going to be on the field a lot of the time.”

Here are some weaknesses of Randall that were posted on the NFL’s web site at draft time: instincts as a free safety are average… needs technique work in coverage… must learn line-of-scrimmage skills and work on coordinating feet and hips… allows wideouts to eat up cushion.

I would add that a few days ago a TP commenter noted that Randall rounds off his movements when his defender changes direction, rather than making sharp and quick directional changes — an accurate observation.

On the other hand, a number of scouts projected Randall as the top safety in the 2015 draft.

I’ve compared Randall’s NFL Combine scores with the nine cornerbacks chosen in rounds one and two of the 2015 draft. Those chosen ahead of Randall were Trae Waynes by the Vikings (11th), Kevin Johnson by the Texans (16th), Marcus Peters by Kansas City (18th), and Byron Jones by the Cowboys (27th).

Randall’s 40-yard dash time (4.46), his 10-yard split time (1.58), and his 20-yard short shuttle (agility) time (4.07) are right in there with the others.

While Minnesota’s Waynes had a blazing dash time (4.31), the star who has emerged from the group is Marcus Peters, who was the league’s defensive rookie of the year, made the Pro Bowl both years, and was named first-team All Pro this year. Those who hate all this metrics stuff will be glad to know Peters had only a 4.53 dash time.

Though Randall has the raw physical attributes to play the position, maybe he has failed to learn or utilize the necessary cornerback techniques in the two years he’s had to make the conversion.

In college at Arizona State, Randall was considered physical, aggressive, and a great tackler despite being undersized. Now he plays soft, looks timid, and seems to actually go out of his way to avoid contact. For sure, he never puts up any line-of scrimmage resistance.

Almost certainly there is a mental component to Randall’s problem – or how could he have had an adequate year as a rookie cornerback in 2015? He looks like one who has completely lost his confidence, but that can be harder to cure than trying to learn new techniques.

Whatever the explanation, in the NFC Championship game we had strong, but horrifying visual evidence of how Thompson’s risky choice has played out.

In my opinion, two years should be enough time to have gotten Randall up to speed regarding the cornerback position. I can see taking a chance with, say, a fifth-rounder, but not using the 30th overall pick of the draft for experimentation. The effort must be deemed a failure.

Randall’s inadequacies were fully exposed by the Falcons’ receivers, as well as by the Cowboys a week before. Randall was the Achilles’ heel of a team that had gotten pretty good by year’s end.

Given Randall’s poor play, keeping him in there at cornerback for both of the team’s last two games also constitutes a vote of non-confidence by Mike McCarthy for Quinten Rollins. He’s the cornerback the team chose right after Randall in the second round of that same draft. That makes the cornerback situation — and Ted Thompson’s choices — doubly disturbing.

The Packers ought to switch Randall over to being free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s backup, or cut their losses entirely – though experience tells us that Ted never admits failure regarding a high draft choice in fewer than four years.

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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18 Comments

  1. KILLER January 25, 2017

    The answer is YES.

    While corner is the more important or valuable of the two positions, safety is actually more difficult to fill with a superior player. It is hard to find really good safeties because faster players get moved to CB and WR and bigger ones to RB, just naturally, as players progress through high school and college. A high school / college coach with a 5/11, 215 lb. guy runs a 4.55? He will move him to running back. A high school / college coach with a 6’1″, 200 lb.er who runs 4.45? He will move him to WR. A player who is 6’0″ and runs a 4.4? Gonna be a CB.

    Most of the true talent gets fitted into CB, WR, and RB. So, it is hard to find a really good safety. They are exceptions. That is why so many safeties get pushed up in the draft and taken much earlier than they should be. For instance, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Should have been a 3rd rounder. Vaccarro for the Saints and Reid for the 49ers they traded up to take in the middle of round one but really were 2nd round talents.

    Randall was a great play-making safety in college. A great safety talent. 196 lb. is not too small at all, especially for a free safety. His speed was exceptional for a safety but is pedestrian for a CB. Most WRs run faster than him. Not a good situation.

    His stats put him at the upper levels among safeties as per athleticism. Then you add his experience and play-making ability and instincts and you have a real good candidate to be a top tier safety. What does TT and the Packers coaches do? Well, let’s just move him to CB where his size is average and his speed below average and his experience — that being NONE — is in the lowest 1 percentile. Not smart.

    Why the foolishness? Well, at first it was situational. They did not want to pay Tramon Williams. Williams deserved a good contract based on past play and accomplishments but the Packers have no loyalty to players, much less than other teams even in a cut-throat what have you done for me lately sport. And TT won’t utilize free agency and looks down on players from other teams anyway. So… desperation took place.

    The desperation was exacerbated by arrogant self-deception. Like this: “OK, OK, we need a CB now that Tramon Williams — screw that guy — actually wanted to be paid fair money. Now, I should have had guys ready to step up because I am such a draft mastermind but so many of my draft choices were so bad I had to keep using picks for the same positions and never got around to quality CB replacements. But, thank God I am a mastermind. I’ll just take the best available player in round 1 who I will make certain is a safety, then I’ll move him to CB, then I’ll take the best available player in round 2 who I will make certain is a CB, and then I’ll draft that guy and make sure he is a small college CB with barely any experience. OK, that way my #1 and #2 picks will have a total of one year of CB experience. Perfect! I feel the master plan all coming together! Then, we’ll just put them out there and they will be pro bowlers because I am Ted “Mastermind” Thompson. Once they are both All Pro the world will finally bow to me as the greatest football mind ever of all tiiiiiiiiiiiiime…..!”

    At this point, even Browns or 49ers coaching staffs would, next year, move Randall back to safety. Interesting to see if the Packers coaches can rise to the level of Browns or 49ers coaches common sense.

    Also, any GM worth a darn would this off season utilize their extra just laying around 10 million to get an excellent CB in free agency — and also draft another in round 1!

    1. Ted Hawthorne January 25, 2017

      Great post, Killer. You really get inside Thompson’s head. What a rigid, cheap weirdo he is. He doesn’t
      want to pay his own players (Williams), he doesn’t want to pay other players (free agents), he doesn’t
      want to let draft choices play their natural positions (Perry, Jones, Randall), he refused to trade up
      and draft CJ Mosley, and when he does find a raw talent (Janis) he refuses to play him! A totally
      fucked guy who needs to be fired by Murphy TODAY!

  2. PF4L January 25, 2017

    I’d like to say this….for the last time…but who knows….

    We keep reading about a players combine stats, his 40 time, his burst time, his shuttle time, he benches this much, his metrics are like Julio Jones, etc.

    Guess what? They aren’t Julio Jones, they’ll never be Julio Jones. Who gives a flying fuck about metrics, and shuttle and 40 times comparing them to blue chip NFL players. I don’t give a fuck, and neither should you.

    I don’t give a shit if a corner runs a 40 at 5.5 seconds. I don’t give a shit if a def. lineman can run a 40 in 4.5 seconds. I don’t give a shit if a linebacker can only press 225 lbs 7 times.

    Here’s what i give a shit about…….

    A player actually…MAKING PLAYS. If a linebacker or Def. lineman can rush in and lay the wood on Matt Ryan and get a sack, i don’t give a shit what their metrics say.

    If a safety can lay out a receiver on his ass, so hard that that receiver wants no part of that ever again. Then i don’t give a shit what that safety’s 40 time is, or his shuttle time.

    In summary……

    We don’t need players with great combine stats and metrics, we need players who can play football. we need players who can make a fucking play in a NFCCG.

    In last weeks NFCCG, not 1 defensive player made a play. NOT FUCKING ONE OF THEM.

    O SACKS
    O Forced fumbles
    0 interceptions

    Here’s what they did do….493 yards given up and 44 points.

    One of us knew the outcome in the playoffs, awhile back, it’s well documented.

    1. Colorado Pack Attack January 25, 2017

      And yet all I hear about is how Rodgers was off his game… ugh I am so sick of bad defense

  3. Howard January 25, 2017

    I have a friend who is a total bears fan. During the 2015 draft he was concerned the bears couldn’t get a top safety with their high second round pick. He thought Collins would be gone. I told him don’t worry there is a debate about who is the best safety and if your looking at a free safety a guy named Randall will be there. So to say the least I was shocked when the Packers stole Randall from the Bears and decided to project him to corner. I guess the good part about that move is TT blocked the Bears from reaching the Super Bowl. The bad news is TT also reduced the Packers ability to reach the same goal.

    1. PF4L January 25, 2017

      lol….I’m not so sure the 2015 bears team were in any danger of reaching the Super Bowl.

      1. Howard January 25, 2017

        Neither was I ;-).

        1. PF4L January 25, 2017

          lol…good, i thought you lost if for a second…my bad :)

  4. Empacador January 25, 2017

    You know this is all fine and dandy that Thompson projected Randall as a CB. Did he demand that Randall become a CB, or did the coaching staff acquiesce? I have a hard time believing that Thompson dictates who plays what positions and also tells McCarthy he has to maintain 7 WRs, 2 FBs, etc. If that is in fact how the Packers are run, the dysfunction, she runs deep.

    1. PF4L January 25, 2017

      Dysfunction in any organization usually starts at the top.

      The fact that Murphy is on record saying he won’t 2nd guess Ted, sets the stage for a lack of accountability, starting at the top. Shit falls downhill.

      What cause’s a team to fail for the last 6 seasons, largely for the same reason? Lack of accountability.

  5. PF4L January 25, 2017

    As far as Ted’s drafting…..Signing picks, and moving those players from their positions..

    Is because, (i’m guessing) he thinks he’s outsmarting the rest of the league, and he thinks it’s a “value” pick.

    We’re paying the price for that now, and in the immediate future.

  6. Icebowler January 25, 2017

    I still have believe that both Randall and Rollins can develop into excellent CB’s. Randall played CB in Junior College. When he went to Az. St he moved to Safety because the other CB’s weren’t strong enough to play Safety. This obviously hurt Randall’s development as a Corner. Rollins was a basketball player who only played one year of football. He’s going to need a lot of further development. Letting Heyward go and not signing another “bridge” CB this year was a major mistake. Throwing Randall and Rollins into starting positions, considering their inexperience, was risky beyond words. They both had groin injuries early in the year, which arrested their development big time, just like Adams ankle injury did last year. Now TT is going to have to sign a quality free agent CB this year to make up for last years blunder. TT needs to swallow his pride and just do it. I don’t necessarily disagree with the picks, but when you pick two “project” players that high, you can’t just throw them to the wolves so soon. Maybe it is time for TT to “step down”!

    1. Kato January 25, 2017

      You have more faith than I do.

    2. Gort January 25, 2017

      Did you watch the same guys that I did?

      Do they play for the Green Bay Packers and wear uniform number 23 and 24?

  7. MJ January 25, 2017

    Never fear! Ted is going to find the next basketball player that will lead us to glory.

  8. Gort January 25, 2017

    Really sucks that the Packers have become a developmental organization for college basketball players who are “wannabe” NFL players. I don’t want any more fucking projects taken before the 3rd round. First and 2nd round draft picks should be essentially ready to start. Yeah, I know that Rodgers was a first round pick and didn’t start immediately. Dak Prescott was taken in the 4th round and he fucking A performed for Dallas. WTF? We can’t get 1st or 2nd round picks to perform at a marginally acceptable level after 2 years? WTF? If you are a top draft pick I expect you to start in the season opener. If you aren’t ready, then you shouldn’t get one dime of your multi-million dollar contract. You are not doing your job! Yeah, I know that ain’t gonna happen, but these “grown man” get paid a shit load of money up front based on their draft position and therefore their potential impact on game day. The 2015 and 2016 draft classes (1st and 2nd rounds) haven’t performed at a level commensurate with their compensation. There really isn’t a way to get anything back from the players, so the anger and rage should be focused on the source of the problem, TT and his personnel department.

  9. Icebowler January 25, 2017

    Sorry, I guess I was trying to be devils advocated and ended up just putting lipstick on a pig.

    1. Gort January 25, 2017

      I was with you at this point a year ago. Chalked it up to a couple rookies making rookie mistakes. Now they are veterans and still making rookie mistakes is no longer tolerable.