Ex­pe­ri­ence in late f irst round a benef it

Ex­ec­u­tive as­sesses needs en­ter­ing draft

Packer Plus - - Extra Point - By BOB McGINN

Green Bay — That 21⁄ 2- to 3-hour wait in the first round of the NFL draft has be­come stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure for gen­eral man­ager Ted Thomp­son and the Green Bay Pack­ers.

In chrono­log­i­cal or­der, the Pack­ers’ open­ing se­lec­tions were picks 24, five, 16, 36, nine, 23, 32, 28, 26, 21 and 30 in Thomp­son’s 11 drafts.

Green Bay’s sched­uled choice at 30 in 2008, Thomp­son’s fourth year, be­came 36 when the Pack­ers traded down with the New York Jets.

When the first round con­venes, the Pack­ers are sched­uled for the 27th se­lec­tion.

“Twenty-sev­enth, huh?” an NFL ex­ec­u­tive in per­son­nel said last Fri­day. “Boy, it must be nice pick­ing down there every year. I would say he has tremen­dous ex­pe­ri­ence pick­ing in the bot­tom half of the first round.”

Be­tween Aaron Rodgers in 2005 and Da­mar­i­ous Ran­dall last April, Thomp­son has had his share of hits and misses with his open­ing move.

As usual, the Pack­ers have more se­lec­tions than their gen­eral al­lot­ment. The count this year is nine, in­clud­ing two com­pen­satory choices in Round 4. A year ago, the Pack­ers had their orig­i­nal seven plus a pair of com­pen­satory picks in Round 6.

Even­tu­ally, the Pack­ers drafted eight play­ers, de­vi­at­ing from the script only by trad­ing their sev­en­thround choice to New Eng­land for the right to move up in the fifth and take quar­ter­back Brett Hund­ley.

Af­ter study­ing the Pack­ers’ cur­rent depth chart, the per­son­nel man viewed the front seven on de­fense as the fore­most need.

“Their big­gest needs to get to the Su­per Bowl would be to ad­dress the de­fen­sive line with the 27th pick, whether it’s an out­side rush guy or a 5-tech­nique,” the ex­ec­u­tive said. “Pass rush is re­ally key for these guys, but they need to ad­dress the of­fen­sive line and the de­fen­sive line.

“They can get by at the skill po­si­tions, although I do think they need to ad­dress run­ning back. In my mind, I’m ad­dress­ing the de­fen­sive line, run­ning and of­fen­sive line, in that or­der.”

With the same gen­eral man­ager, coach and quar­ter­back for more than a decade, the Pack­ers are seek­ing their first cham­pi­onship since the 2010 sea­son.

“If Green Bay is healthy and with Jordy (Nel­son) com­ing back, and they ad­dress some of the things they need to ad­dress and they hit on them, they’re in line to com­pete for a Su­per Bowl,” the scout said. “When you look at the starters there’s no voids.”

The ex­ec­u­tive agreed to as­sess the sta­tus and de­gree of need at each of the Pack­ers’ po­si­tions:

Wide re­ceiver: “Let’s see. Jordy comes back. The one thing about last year with Jordy go­ing down is they were able to get some guys play­ing that oth­er­wise wouldn’t have been able to play. They’ve ad­dressed it with Da­vante Adams and Ty Mont­gomery, he’s sup­posed to be mov­ing up. If Jordy’s 100%, I think they’re good.”

Tight end: “When you pick a tight end in the third round, that’s a starter. Richard Rodgers isn’t re­ally the ver­ti­cal threat that they’ve had in the past. They signed Jared Cook so they got ahead of the po­si­tion. The draft is very thin at tight end. They prob­a­bly knew that and signed Cook be­cause they don’t feel they’re go­ing to be able to ad­dress that need in the draft. They still could if it falls right. Best man avail­able. But at least they’ve got it cov­ered if the draft doesn’t fall their way. The Pack­ers paid him a lot of money (one year, $2.75 mil­lion) to fill a need.”

Tackle: “Orig­i­nally I was think­ing maybe Tay­lor Decker would be there at (No. 27). I see him mov­ing up now. Peo­ple are re­al­iz­ing there’s no tack­les af­ter the (top) ones. There’s de­vel­op­men­tal guys but not guys you think can come in and start. Very thin on the OL. I don’t see any of­fen­sive line­man wor­thy of that high of a pick (No. 27).”

Guard: “Get­ting a lit­tle old in the tooth with (Josh) Sit­ton and (T.J.) Lang. They’re pick­ing an of­fen­sive line­man right in that third-fourth range. It’s just a mat­ter of who they come up with.”

Cen­ter: “They’ve got­ten away with just av­er­age cen­ters in their scheme. It’s not a press­ing need when you just took a guy (Corey Lins­ley) in the fifth round. I think they’re OK. (JC) Tret­ter walks next year and they try to ex­tend Lins­ley.”

Quar­ter­back: “I loved that kid (Scott Tolzien). They picked a guy (Hund­ley) last year. If they like him, they could cut to two. They might be think­ing about sav­ing a po­si­tion there.”

Run­ning back: “They’re get­ting a lit­tle old there with (James) Starks. (Ed­die) Lacy’s con­tract will be up. In the draft it’s a very weak po­si­tion. They could ad­dress it in the sec­ond, third or fourth round to get some depth. I just don’t think the value is there. Maybe they do. I think they’re wor­ried at run­ning back. I just don’t know if this is the year they can get it done at the right price.”

Full­back: “Full­backs are like fine wine. They drafted a guy last year (Aaron Rip­kowski). I guar­an­tee he’ll be bet­ter this year. That po­si­tion is be­ing de­vel­oped in the pros, not col­lege. Once you go that route, this guy should be the next (John) Kuhn. Kuhn is emer­gency. Peo­ple get through the draft and then if they re­al­ize they haven’t ad­dressed their needs there’s an­other wave (of free agency).”

De­fen­sive end: “They’re look­ing at (Josh) Boyd and (Da­tone) Jones. Isn’t he a first-round pick? They can’t get him in the start­ing lineup? This is the year of the 5-tech­nique. You need a de­fen­sive line­man, they’re go­ing to get a pretty damn good player at the 27th pick. They can ad­dress 5-tech.”

Nose tackle: “I would say it’s a need. I don’t know how you play the run if you don’t have a good nose tackle. To me, once a guy (B.J. Raji) says he’s done, do you re­ally want that guy on your team? Aren’t you look­ing to move for­ward? How can I rely on a guy who has no de­sire to play? This is a tough game. Look. Ob­vi­ously, he’s got a lot of per­sonal is­sues, and he’s got to sort through it. If he says men­tally he’s not there, you can’t count on him.”

Out­side line­backer: “I think they’re go­ing to try and hold the fort out­side with Julius Pep­pers and (Clay) Matthews and (Nick) Perry. Pep­pers is a freak, man. Freaks go for­ever. How long did Charles Wood­son go af­ter he left (Green Bay)? Could (Pep­pers) get a new con­tract? He doesn’t look like he’s 36.”

In­side line­backer: “They took Jake Ryan last year. It’s not the year for in­side back­ers. They’re go­ing with what they got. I like Ryan. He had a knee so he’s go­ing to be stronger, more phys­i­cal. I think they’re fine with him in­side. I don’t re­ally know Sam Bar­ring­ton. Is (Carl) Brad­ford do­ing any­thing yet? I loved that kid com­ing out. This is a very, very thin year for in­side line­backer. It needs to be ad­dressed, there’s no ques­tion.”

Cor­ner­back: “I think they’re as solid as any­body in the league. (Da­mar­i­ous) Ran­dall is a first-round pick. (Quin­ten) Rollins should come into his own and push Sam Shields. I’m sure they’ll add an­other one.”

Safety: “They ad­dressed it the year be­fore with Ha Ha Clin­ton-Dix. You picked Mor­gan Bur­nett. You got Micah Hyde. They’re in po­si­tion that if they draft a guy it’s only to push the guys ahead of them. They have to feel com­fort­able with their sec­ondary.”

Kicker: “Same kicker (Ma­son Crosby) they’ve had for (a long time). No change.”

Punter: “You can al­ways bring in com­pe­ti­tion. But I was at that com­bine, boy, it was ugly. Might have been the worst (punt­ing) I’ve ever seen.”

Re­turn spe­cial­ist: “They’ve got Ran­dall Cobb, (Jared) Ab­bred­eris, Hyde. It’s not a good year in the draft for pri­mary re­turn guys, ei­ther.”

Long snap­per: “I ac­tu­ally thought (Rick) Lo­vato was one of the top guys last year. It’s hard to bring com­pe­ti­tion in but (Brett) Goode has got to get healthy. That’s No. 1. Goode be­comes Lo­vato, an emer­gency guy.”

MARK HOFF­MAN / MHOFFMAN@JOURNALSENTI-

The Pack­ers are ex­pected to move on af­ter nose tackle B.J. Raji an­nounced he’s tak­ing a football hiatus.

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