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Will Thompson’s last draft cost the Packers another Watt All- Star?

2017 was Ted Thompson’s last draft as Packer General Manager. He held the 29th pick in the first round. Local hero and sack artist T.J. Watt was available. Pundits and Packer fans saw the Watt selection meeting a big need for the Packers. But Thompson traded down. He gave up a player who last year was discussed as a potential NFL defensive player of the year. He received a 2nd round and 4th round pick in return. His two picks, Kevin King and Vince Biegel have not fared as well. King will go down in Packer history as a trivia answer to the question; “What Packer defensive player had the worst performance in the 2020 NFC Championship?” Odds are he has played his last game in a Packer uniform. Biegel, also a local Wisconsin product, played the same position as Watt. Biegel injured his foot as a rookie, which was the beginning of the end of his nonproductive Packer career.

The 2020 Packers came up short of beating the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship. Tom Brady, a brilliant quarterback has a single Achilles heal: Pressure. The Packer defense forced an interception out of Brady from a blitz pressure. But the Packers could muster only 1 sack and 4 QB hits. The sack was by Kenny Clark. The Packers of 2020 had two players the Buccaneers had to game plan for to protect Brady. Clark and Za’Darius Smith. Neither Rashan Gary or Preston Smith require a planned double team to slow their pass rush. Za’Darius Smith and Clark combined for one sack and 2 QB hits. The Buccaneer’s plan was, for the most part, successful. Over the last few years the Packers have never lined up 4 players that struck fear in an offense that they could all stop the run and deliver a fierce pass rush. No matter what defensive front the Packers lined up in 2020, none was as intimidating as the potential of Z. Smith, Clark, T.J. Watt and J.J. Watt lined up side by side.

If the Packers had drafted T.J. Watt in 2017, that front four potentially could be the Packers starting front in 2021. J.J. Watt has been released from the Texans. Wisconsin is still home base for the Watts, but the Packers had to spend big, 16 million a year, for Preston Smith to fill the draft failure of 2017. If that free agent deal had not been made, the Packers would not only have T.J. Watt as a recruiting tool, the Packers might have the financial flexibility to seal the deal. But this fantasy will always remain the type of, “What if ?” scenario that makes losses like the 2020 NFC Championship harder to swallow.

Sometimes it is better not to dream. The reality you awaken to can be a bitter disappointment.

Jan 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) misses a catch against Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (20) during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is a lawyer, victim advocate, writer, and long term Packer fan and Packer history enthusiast.

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20 Comments

  1. Cheese February 16, 2021

    Vince Biegel, LOL. Holy crap… what a waste of a pick. Add it to the list,eh.
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    I too, have wondered how GB not taking TJ Watt would affect JJ Watt’s decision for his next team. You’d think if TJ played for the Packers it would be a no brainer for JJ to follow him there, in his home state playing for his favorite childhood team.
    .
    Instead, TT (or probably Gute) tried to outsmart everyone and picked Kenny King. Unfortunately, the only people they ever outsmart is themselves. If JJ ends up going to Pittsburgh, the catastrophe of picking King over TJ Watt is going to magnify 100 fold.

    Reply
  2. PF4L February 16, 2021

    “Sometimes it is better not to dream. The reality you awaken to can be a bitter disappointment.”
    See 2011-2020.
    .
    Stay tuned for a future article titled ” Packers Decline Love’s 5th Year Option.
    .
    Followed by the article ” Top 5 Reasons Gutenkunst Was Let Go”
    .
    Followed by the article “Top 5 Reasons The Packers Only Won 2 Super Bowls In The Last 32 years With 2 HOF QB’s”.
    .

    Reply
  3. Howard February 16, 2021

    I’m not sure how healthy JJ Watt was when the Packers played Houston in week 7? I do know that Watt was for the most part matched up against Wagner and Wagner held his own quite well against Watt. Wagner didn’t fair so well against Barrett (TB). In fairness the Packers put TEs along side Wagner, but the Packer TEs did not give Wagner much help against Watt in the pass game.
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    I really believe the Packers need upgrades along the front 3, if the Packers keep a 3-4 base. Clark and Keke are the only front three I think the Packers should keep. The Packers should draft an interior defensive lineman, but as TB showed veterans along the defensive line can be a positive. TB also paid out 8 million to Suh last year. Is Watt worth more or less than Suh?
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    With the Packers salary cap the way it is the Packers may not be able to sign Watt, if they want to. One thing the Packers could do if they find the right player(s) and want to go all in, is follow a script similar to what the Rams did with Leonard Floyd last year. The Rams gave Floyd a three year contract for ten million (5 mil.signing, 5 mil.salary) with some incentives and the final two years being void. The Rams could push 2/3rds of the bonus money to the two voided years and any of the achieved incentives to 2021. Floyd gets 10 million plus achieved performance incentives, and the Rams get to move some of the money to later years.

    Reply
    1. PF4L February 17, 2021

      The Packers could make a play and sign Watt with the interest of giving Packer fans the warm and fuzzy’s.
      But when is the last time they gave us the warm and fuzzy’s? I’ll contend they have no interest in that at all.
      See…Jordy Nelson…See Aaron Rodgers…”players play, managers manage” ..”be seen and not heard”.
      See draft picks…no explanation needed.
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      The Packers probably don’t have any interest in Watt. If they did, i’d be shocked (and disappointed). Not that i don’t want to see Watt wearing Green and Gold…i do.
      But it isn’t in the cards, not this off season. He made 17.5 million last season, how much of a pay cut is he willing take?
      IF….I could get a guarantee Watt can duplicate his 2018 season…fine, sign him.
      BUT….in the last 5 seasons he’s missed 32 games, and in the last two seasons only has 9 sacks.
      10, 12, 14 million?……PASS. I’d rather re-up for Aaron Jones if i had to make a choice.
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      If we’re going to sign a free agent, how about a corner, maybe a slot receiver? Something we really need. Also…always be on the lookout for cheaper veteran O lineman who will be cut for cost saving moves that want to play for another year or two…Think Veldheer mold.
      .
      Am i a NFL General Manager, no. But i play one on tp.com, plus i just slept at a Holiday Inn Express recently.
      .

      Reply
    2. stiggy February 17, 2021

      Howard…I dont see Watt coming to GB…I see this more of the Gute Mo…of leak a story they are “in the hunt” etc… only for it to not manifest. Gute is better at PR than Thompson…ill give him that. Besides i see watt getting a past performance or high value short term deal somewhere.

      That being said…from a football standpoint…at 5-7 mill for 2 years or something like that…he would be a SUBSTANTIAL upgrade from the scrubs like Lowery and Lancaster. Even as he enters the decline of his career I think he could be counted on as a reliable above average starter.

      Reply
      1. Howard February 18, 2021

        Stiggy, don’t take my above comment to think I believe Watt is coming to the Packers. Watt may or may not come to the Packers. I hope he doesn’t at the salary I believe Watt wants. As I said above Wagoner handled Watt very well in the Texans game and I think Wagoner is on the bubble to be with the Packers in 2021, at least at his current salary.
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        Your 5-7 million total for 2 years sounds close to reasonable to you and me, but I don’t think it would sound reasonable to Watt and his agent. I don’t think Gutekunst leaked anything about the Packers being in the hunt for Watt. The leaks you see about all the teams having interest in Watt are coming from Watt’s camp/agent to try and raise Watts next contract value.
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        Agents leak information all the time about all the teams interested, even if it is just a phone call from the agent to the team. The agents want as many team names out there as interested in order to show a strong market even if that strong market doesn’t exist. The more teams perceived to be involved or interested the higher the potential offers. Get teams to bid against each other in order to raise the salary, even if some of those perceived competitors don’t really have any interest other than accepting a call. The more team names Watt’s camp put out in the media the more you can expect Watt not being a Packer. They want the money as most players do.

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        1. PF4L February 18, 2021

          The leaks….or “links” having Watt joining the Packers to me are based on the emotional aspect of him being born and raised here in Wi.
          .
          Look at any Packer website articles about the matter, and it’s all about him being raised here, nothing more.
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          Howard is also correct about a 5-7 million dollar contract….lol
          Watts new contract will have a signing bonus larger than that.

          Reply
        2. Stiggy February 18, 2021

          I know they aren’t getting watt at that rate. As I said he’s gonna get a “past performance” type deal…not his actual value as a player today.
          **
          I realize the watt to gb story basically writes itself but since gute has taken over there all stories all over about the packers being “in” on every free agent fans want…but they end up signing people you don’t read about ahead of time like z smith…Ricky w…Billy t etc.

          Reply
  4. Ferris February 17, 2021

    We all remember that draft….not believing Watt was still available…then hearing those words we were all so used to with TT. The Green Bay Packers have traded…bad memories.

    Reply
  5. Mick February 17, 2021

    Signing JJ Watt would be a feel good story for the fans but, I don’t think it would be best for the team. If they were to acquire him at whatever price he is willing to settle for, his best position might be inside alongside Clark in a 4-3. He still has power but I think he’s lost agility and speed to be outside in a 3-4. Spending a lot of money on a player that has injury concerns, not to mention his age; and then probably having to address the position again in a couple of years——– just doesn’t make sense. I like JJ in that he would bring leadership to the squad, but, at what price? However, I’m with you guys concerning the D-Line. It has to be addressed somehow, someway; and not in the rounds 5 thru 7; or UDFA. It has been for years and still is a priority. If you look at the best defenses in the league, they all have a good front seven.

    Reply
  6. PF4L February 17, 2021

    Am i crazy, or…….
    .
    What about trading a draft pick for Stephon Gilmore?
    .
    How crazy would our Def. backfield be with Gilmore and Alexander?
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    Maybe this trade should have happened before the season. If we gave up a 1(Love) or a 2 (Dillon) or a 3 (Dequara) for Gilmore. would we have made the Super Bowl?
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    I can’t say for sure either….but i would have liked the odds!!
    Plus…..Gute might be called a “man” for making a “win now” move like that.
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    Some might think trading a 1st round is too high.
    I don’t know about any of you…..but i’ll trade both Love and Gary for a 2x All Pro, 4x Pro Bowler, DPOY (2019)
    YEA…..i’ll trade those two 1st rounders for a shut down corner who……..can START and contribute, in Rodgers last couple of seasons.
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    Some may say (cough) that it would be,… (cough) going all in to win a Championship while we have a HOF MVP QB….Gee!
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    What a (cough) concept huh Gute?
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    But hey…maybe Gute is right, maybe Jordan Love is our next MVP QB? Pro Bowl QB?…HOF QB?…Maybe
    Oops…my doorbell just rang, I think it’s the Easter Bunny.
    .
    I know, i know……lets just sit…and wait….to give Jordan Love a shot in 2 years…i hear ya, i hear ya. (sniffle)
    MEANWHILE…as we wait to give Love a chance…..
    Drafting Love (and others)….gave/gives Aaron Rodgers (Packers) less of a chance of a SB.. Need that explained?
    K M A!!!
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    Figure it out.
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    2011 – ??
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    I decided some years ago to relax, and wait out….the changes that were desperately needed.
    BUT…..bad upper management….it just doesn’t fucking stop.
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    When does it all end? I’m afraid it ends when we see Rodgers walking off Lambeau Field for the last time without another SB win.
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    The disease is still in the building.
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    I haven’t supported the Packers monetarily for years, and until they can show me a serious attempt (mindset) to go for a SB, my cash stays with me.
    I don’t pay up, just because you got to the playoffs with a HOF record setting QB.
    .
    BROKEN

    Reply
  7. PF4L February 17, 2021

    “Will Thompson’s last draft cost the Packers another Watt All- Star?”
    .
    That’s a interesting headline to post in 2021.
    I have a better idea for a headline.
    A headline where nobody is pissing on the grave of a man recently deceased and laid to rest. Really?
    There is a enough information out there, that we can’t even say for 100% certainty that it was even Ted Thompsons call (pick) in the 2017 draft.
    Even if it was his pick….let the man rest!!
    .
    How about…we examine the current General Managers drafts and what it potentially cost us?
    I”ll contend it cost us more than a bad draft pick from 2017.
    I’ll contend and make a valid argument that it cost us a SB appearance and possible SB victory.
    .
    Worse yet….I’ll contend that IF our General Manager had the mindset of “winning now”…he fooled everyone, and should be fired immediately.
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    There isn’t enough kool aid in the world, for anyone to try to make the case (with a straight face) that Gute drafted…..to win now.

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  8. KILLER February 17, 2021

    Look, no doubt taking King over Watt was a draft mistake. Absolutely. But, look at the cap mess Gute the Bad has the Packers in. Quite simply, with or without T.J. Watt, there would never be a J.J. Watt coming to Green Bay. It was a mistaken pick but did not cause the loss of the second Watt. Gute’s cap management is to blame.

    Easily proven as well. Watt is considering signing with the Browns and thus working against his own brother. Why? Money. If the Packers had the money they could have Watt. They do not have the money and that is not Thompson’s fault, that is Gute the Bad all the way.

    You guys can piss and bemoan the Thompson drafts but he actually looks great compared to Gute the Bad. First, who can be sure that this whole King instead of Watt scenario was really Thompson? No one. Gute was involved or even running it by then with Thompson as a front man.

    Look at Gute’s last draft. My God. A third string QB in RD 1, trade up for (!), and a 3rd string RB in RD 2!

    Gute had to select Dillon in the SECOND ROUND (!) last year. We all know RBs need a year on the bench before they can hit the field and we all know that you can’t get a decent running back after the SECOND ROUND (!).

    Also, if Gute had not taken Dillon in the SECOND ROUND (!), then we all know that Dillon would have been scooped up by some other team in the 5th or 6th round.

    Reply
  9. Mick February 18, 2021

    Let’s take a look at how Gutey acquires talent to help the needs on this team. According to BLUE-58, Gutey was high on drafting both Kizer and Hundley; trying to convince the organization that they were worthy of high draft pick consideration. Well, that didn’t work! Next, he spends a boat load of money for the Smith brothers, Turner and Amos. Those moves were made to upgrade the talent at those positions, even at the expense of over paying. The team gets blown out in SF last year, twice; and it was obvious the Niners provided a blueprint on how to attack the Packers. Surely, the Packer brass must have seen the weaknesses on the team to address in the upcoming draft- FA to beef up those weaknesses. NOT! Gutey wastes an entire draft on picks that didn’t make a difference in 2020, opting instead, to draft for the future. Now, they get beat again in the NFCCG, exposing the same damn weaknesses that haunted them the year before! So now, they are at a crossroads here; do they continue to plan for the future; or break the plan and make moves to win now? Kind of makes Gutey and his 2020 draft look even more head scratching. Belicheck and Saban (two of the greatest coaches in modern history) realize that you draft to fill holes that are on your present team, and as you lose players to the draft or FA, you replenish what you’ve lost, as a priority. Most of the time, drafting the best player available, which is GBs’ forte; doesn’t fix the obvious need. Instead, they try to fix that obvious need by filling it with sub-par talent and expecting it to be the answer. Again- NOT! So,,,,,,,, what is the plan, GUTEY? It is just gut-wrenching to see the same thing happening to this team in the championship games (4 in a row); that they don’t upgrade the front 7 on D, and give Rodgers another dependable WR threat on O; AS A PRIORITY!

    Reply
    1. PF4L February 18, 2021

      Looking at it at a different angle…..
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      The same i said after the 2020 draft, some of what i said after the 2019 12th pick of Gary.
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      He simply…..gave up on this team and the fans. When you have Rodgers, and you don’t draft to get him help (offense or defense) with all your resources. You’ve given up.
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      When you are one win away from a SB in 2019 and you draft for the future, You gave up.
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      When drafting to “win now” is ignored…you gave up.
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      When spending a 1st and a 4th round pick to draft a QB who is going to sit for years…..you gave up.
      .
      When drafting a rb in the 2nd, when you don’t need one yet…you gave up.
      .
      When drafting (another tight end) in the 3rd round….you gave up.

      In Gutes 3 drafts….he has accumulated 3 starters. Zero in 2020.
      That’s a Tim Tebow Triple A batting average.
      **************************************************

      PF4L April 24, 2020
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      “This is 100% a factor of building for the future vs. winning now. There is no gray area here. Gute just showed what’s more important to him. He showed us something of the same with the 1st pick of last years draft (or maybe that was just a hint of brain damage.
      ****************************************
      “PF4L April 24, 2020
      “I don’t always have two 1st round picks riding the bench
      But i do when i’m the General Manager” – Brian Gutenkunst
      ******************************************************
      How did i know…………………………..?
      “PF4L April 16, 2019
      .
      Ok…lets pretend i’m smart enough to be an NFL GM….

      I’m going to extend our franchise QB 4 years, throw him a 57 million signing bonus, guarantee him over 98 million, have him signed through 2023.

      Then, some months later….i’m gonna make ya’ll notice me and find my new franchise QB in the first round.

      ^This post was made a year before Love was drafted.^

      Reply
      1. PF4L February 18, 2021

        Kato April 24, 2020
        .
        Right. It is a coin flip. Which is why it’s asinine to suggest drafting Jordan Love results in a 0% chance to win with Rodgers.
        ……………………………………….
        PF4L April 25, 2020
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        Let me ask you this Tiger….How does drafting Love increase our chances of winning?
        ****************************************
        PF4L April 25, 2020
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        So we have a first round pick who can maybe play in 3 years or so.
        *
        Cool, he can take a seat next to Gary.
        *************************************************
        rebelgb April 25, 2020
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        Well this draft sealed it. I am now a Bucs fan. Love the uniform and its always warm in Tampa. Go Gronk and Tom!

        PF4L April 25, 2020
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        Brady has to be in heaven, he has enough weapons for 2 NFL teams.

        Reply
  10. PF4L February 18, 2021

    Devon Funchess………am i reading this right?
    .
    Spotrac has Funchess collecting 1.2 million.
    His 1 million dollar signing bonus, and a $150,000 covid stipend against his 2021 salary, plus a $50,000 workout bonus. 1.2 million without taking a snap, who does this guy think he is, Cole Madison?
    .
    To anyone….Is this a fair and accurate assessment as i read it?

    Reply
    1. Mick February 18, 2021

      Yea, I cringed when they signed Funchess thinking that he would be the missing piece to help Rodgers win another super bowl. They already have big and slow off the line of scrimmage WRs’ in Lazard , St. Brown and occasionally M. Lewis. Ya, I know; big and tall receivers are helpful in the red zone, but cannot get separation off the line of scrimmage or downfield for that matter. These kind of receivers have been the choice since McCarthy was in charge. The game has changed, the linebackers are bigger, more agile and faster. You need receivers who are speedy and can create separation against those linebackers and secondary. Scantling has that ability, but isn’t trustworthy. Adams is crafty and reliable. So, with only those two threats, along with Jones’ ability; if I am a DC; I can double team Adams and Jones and snuff out those threats, and take my chances on those big, slow– can’t get separation type receivers to beat me. I’m not that smart but, I can understand how the Bucs attacked our offense, and it worked to perfection.

      Reply
      1. Mick February 18, 2021

        I have a few other questions about the Bucs game. They spent a 2nd round pick to get a battering ram RB and don’t use him in that game in the 2nd half. Why? Jones got hurt, Adams was double covered and the other WRs’ couldn’t get separation. They get a few interceptions on D and not one time did they run the ball to at least make the Bucs D respect the run; maybe taking away a double team here or there. Now, I think LaFleur is a good coach but; he gives up on the vary plan that makes his offense work, too easily. Dillon proved in the Titans game that he is capable of handling a big load. Dillon was fresh and with the game in the 4th quarter, the Bucs D should have been getting a little tired. What better time to use a battering ram RB to wear them down and help the receivers out? Another question! They picked up T. Williams as insurance for the secondary. Why didn’t they put him in when Redmond and Sullivan were being toasted towards the end of the 1st half? Surely, he would have been better than those two in that game because of his experience. It might not have made a difference in the end, but, we don’t know for sure. He knew the defensive scheme inside and out. It just boggles the mind what management and coaches have as far as a plan for the future. In the next 2 months, we’re about to find out!

        Reply
        1. PF4L February 18, 2021

          Without going back, my guess is T Willy was inactive.
          .
          You are also correct about Dillon, he should have been used more, and not just in that game. But in other game short yardage situations….like …1st,2nd,3rd and goal?

          Reply

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