It seemed to make all the sense in the world at the time. The Green Bay Packers would shore up their pass rush by taking Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt in the 2017 draft.
Instead, Ted Thompson decided to trade back to pick up an extra fourth-round pick and took cornerback Kevin King to open the second round. It’s hard to argue that the Packers didn’t fill a need in taking King. Their pass defense was atrocious in 2016.
However, the story is a bit more interesting than that. It seems pretty much everyone wanted to take Watt. Ted Thompson decided to go in another direction.
“Just about everyone was on board with Watt,” one source familiar with the Packers’ draft-room discussions said. “The only reservation was some people thought he was a one-year player [in college].”
Watt went to Pittsburgh at pick No. 30. He has six sacks this season. All four of the Packers outside linebackers have 7.5 combined.
The other interesting thing to come out in this story is what we had long suggested. That Thompson was losing it.
“Ted was one of the best in football at running a draft,” one longtime NFL personnel executive said. “But he wasn’t in the same mindset those last few years.”
That’s for sure. Thompson’s more recent drafts were some of his worse. There’s only one player remaining from his 2015 draft class — Ty Montgomery. The 2016 class was better, most notably for producing Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez. But it was also littered with guys like Jason Spriggs, Kyler Fackrell and Trevor Davis.
And as we’ve always said, it hard to employ the draft and develop philosophy when you don’t draft well. It was past time that Thompson was pushed out.