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This isn’t about the best players the Green Bay Packers have drafted, but rather the smartest choices GM Ted Thompson has made. It’s dependent on the draft rounds in which the choices were made and whether the draftees met or exceeded the expectations for that round.

I created a methodology to determine this.

To start with, I’ve excluded all first-round draft choices, as they all come with high expectations. Here’s the chart I used to pick out draftees in rounds two through seven who seemed to meet or exceed expectations:

2nd Round – multiple All-Pro teams or starter 8 years or more
3rd Round – one All-Pro team or 7 years as a starter
4th Round – multiple Pro Bowl teams or 6 years as a starter
5th Round – one Pro Bowl team or 5 years as a starter
6th Round – 4 or more years as a starter
7th Round – 2 or more years as a starter

From 2005 through 2014, I’ve searched for drafted players who have been an All Pro or Pro Bowl selection, or who have been a starter in the league for a certain number of years. I’ve also projected the number of years some of the current players will likely be starters.

About 60 NFL players are named All-Pro each year – I’ve included both first- and second-team All-Pros. In 2016 there were 118 Pro Bowl designates.

I haven’t included draftees from 2015 or 2016, as it’s still too early to see how they will pan out. I’ve included not only how players performed with the Packers, but also how well they’ve done on other teams. There will likely also be a few current players who will eventually become Pro Bowl or All-Pro players.

When the smoke cleared, 15 of Ted Thompson’s draftees met my requirements.

Ted Thompson’s Top Draftees

  • Eddie Lacy (Rd. 2 in 2013) – All-Pro in 2013
  • David Bakhtiari (Rd. 4 in 2013) – All-Pro in 2016, projected starter for 6+ years (currently 4)
  • Mike Daniels (Rd. 4 in 2012 – projected starter for 6+ years (currently 3)
  • Randall Cobb (Rd. 2 in 2011) – Pro Bowl in 2014, projected starter for 8+ years (currently 3)
  • Morgan Burnett (Rd. 3 in 2010) – projected starter for 7+ years (currently 6)
  • James Starks (Rd. 6 in 2010) – starter for 4 years
  • T.J. Lang (Rd. 4 in 2009) – Pro Bowl in 2016, starter for six years
  • Brad Jones (Rd. 7 in 2009) – starter for 2 years
  • Jordy Nelson (Rd. 2 in 2008) – All-Pro in 2014, projected starter for 8+ years (currently 5)
  • Josh Sitton (Rd. 4 in 2007) – All-Pro 2013-15, Pro Bowl 2012, 2014-16, starter for 8 years
  • Mason Crosby (Rd. 6 in 2007) – “Starter” for 10 years as a kicker
  • Johnny Jolly (Rd. 6 in 2006) – starter for four years
  • Greg Jennings (Rd. 2 in 2006) – (Pro Bowl in 2008-10), starter for 8 years
  • Daryn Colledge (Rd. 2 in 2006) – starter for 9 years
  • Nick Collins (Rd. 2 in 2005) – All-Pro 2008-10, Pro Bowl 2008-10

From this list, I’ve picked out the five players – and added two bonus picks – who have most exceeded their expectations. Use your arrow keys to see who Ted Thompson’s smartest picks have been.

Rob Born

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



  1. Howard February 24, 2017

    O.K, I like your articles Rob, but I had to stop to throw up after I read that Brad Jones is on a list of TT best draft choices. Then I shed a few tears for the Packers future. I understand why you had to put Brad Jones on your list, as he met your methodology. I would say that if Brad Jones is on a list of best draft picks then that says all that needs to be said about TT as a drafter, or your methodology.

    Does anyone notice how the largest group of best draft picks are before 2010? It is time TT.

  2. Robert Porter February 24, 2017

    Ted Thompson has done an excellent job in the draft department. He can become even better by drafting one of the top cornerbacks in the first rd (29th) and another one (Fabian Morneau) in the later rds if available. And, finally taking Jamaal Williams running back.

  3. PF4L February 24, 2017

    Ted Thompson has done an excellent job in the draft department.

  4. Cheese February 24, 2017

    “None of his other first rounders even come close, the next in line being Bryan Bulaga and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix”

    Am I the only one that finds this laughable/ alarming? The next best 1st round picks after #12 are Bulaga and Dix? I know he left out Matthews but even he hasn’t been worth his weight lately..

  5. Savage57 February 26, 2017

    Help me out here. Article title is TED THOMPSON’S BEST DRAFT PICKS.

    First sentence starts, “This isn’t about the best players the Green Bay Packers have drafted, but rather the smartest choices.”

    Now, I’m not a journalist and I slept at home last night, but wouldn’t a headline that read, TED THOMPSON’S SMARTEST DRAFT PICKS have been a little tighter.