Trader Ted Preps for Draft
Saturday, April 25th: 2009 National Football League Draft
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Packers general manager Ted Thompson plans to stick with the draft strategy he's spent five years creating -- trading down when the time is right to garner more picks and players.
Thompson, about to begin his fifth draft Saturday, has traded down more than a dozen times as a way of building depth and replenishing a roster that went 4-12 in his first season in Green Bay.
"I thought when we first came here that we needed to build up the core of our team a little bit, that we were a little short in that regard, so in order to do that, we started trading down," Thompson said Monday. "It's all a question of supply and demand."
The Packers have made 43 picks in the past four years and have nine more to start the weekend's draft -- including the ninth and the 41st pick in the first two rounds on Saturday.
Thompson has made first-round picks that include starters Aaron Rodgers (2005) and A.J. Hawk (2006), but he also picked Justin Harrell (2007), who has languished in his first two seasons. Last year, he traded out of the first round.
Without a lot of major holes to fill, Thompson could choose a smaller number of players who fit well in the new 3-4 defensive scheme that new coordinator Dom Capers is installing.
But Thompson said Monday that the team was not yet so heavy with talent that it required a change in his draft strategy.
"At some point, if everything worked perfectly and all your picks worked perfectly and they were all really good players and that sort of thing, then I think after a while you'd have diminishing returns," he said. "I don't know that we're at that (point). I like our team, I've said that before, I continue to say it. I think we have a sound foundation and some core players here. I don't think you can ever get in a position where you stop trying to get better."
Green Bay went 6-10 last season, losing seven games by four points or less, after reaching the NFC title game in 2008 with Brett Favre. Thompson traded Favre last offseason to the New York Jets for, what else, a draft pick (third round, No. 83 overall).
The Packers haven't been major players in free agency recently, passing up numerous opportunities to chase big names for the security of building from within. The majority of players now on the roster have been drafted by the team, although the Packers have signed free agents that include cornerback Charles Woodson, defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, linebacker Brandon Chillar and offensive lineman Duke Preston.
"The draft is the biggest way you build a team, and I think it's the best way to build a team for the long run, because you have a draft every year, and you can work at it that way," Thompson said. "But, having said that, I still think free agency is a marvelous tool to address specific needs that you think you might have."
Green Bay also holds four picks of the first 83 with two third-round selections to begin Sunday. The last time the Packers had that many high picks was 2006, when Thompson selected Hawk (fifth overall), guard Daryn Colledge (47th), wide receiver Greg Jennings (52nd) and guard Jason Spitz (75th).
All four of those players were primary starters in their rookie season and remain with the team. Heading into this draft, Thompson is confident the Packers have done a good job in adding depth that will allow this year's draft class to develop.
"This is a cumulative effort. It's not just me. I think we have done OK," Thompson said. "Again, this is not an exact science and it's people trying to predict the future of another person, but I think we have added a lot of core value to our team. I think we are pretty solid."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)