GREEN BAY – Ted Thompson would take an oath that he drafts based upon his board, rather than need, but nobody seems to believe it.
Well, believe it.
The Packers’ general manager drafted for defense, defense and more defense in last weekend’s 2012 NFL draft. The picks weren’t based upon need, though, because Thompson was aggressive.
He didn’t reach for a position of need. He simply traded up to the point in the draft where the Packers’ need and his board merged. It didn’t make a liar out of Thompson, and it may have cured what ails the team.
In the first round, Thompson sat tight and waited for USC linebacker Nick Perry to fall to the 28th pick. By refusing to panic, or worse, to reach, Thompson acquired a top 20 talent at the team’s most critical position of need. And he did it by being patient.
Perry, at 6-3 and 271 pounds, is a beast. He ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, and he tossed up 225 pounds an impressive 38 times without breaking a sweat. He can rush the passer, and he can set an edge, and most important he can play.
Perry is strong enough to avoid being steamrolled by opposing offenses, and he is fast enough to chase down plays from behind should they choose to attack Clay Matthews.
He gives Packers’ defensive coordinator Dom Capers options, and he makes it really difficult for offenses to load up on Matthews.
The Packers’ likely selection, according to nine out of 10 mock drafts, was Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin. Six weeks ago, reports said Thompson was high on McClellin. My guess is that prompted several NFL teams to take another close look at McClellin. The Chicago Bears must have liked what they saw and selected him at No. 19.
The Bears may have reached given McClellin’s serious concussion history. Frankly, I was glad the Bears took him and Thompson didn’t have to make that call. In fact, I believe Thompson would have selected Perry over McClellin anyway, based on the fact that Thompson DID TAKE PERRY at No. 28.
Then, in the second round, Thompson got acutely aggressive.
He traded up not once, but twice to ensure quality over quantity.
The first came when Thompson traded up to get the 51st pick, which guaranteed the Packers one of two players: Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead or Michigan State defensive lineman Jerel Worthy. Pead went to St. Louis at No. 50, so Thompson jumped on Worthy.
Worthy, a 6-foot-2, 308-pound stud, was projected by many so-called experts to go in the mid- to late-first round. Worthy has strength and power against the run, and definite pass rush capability. One of the knocks was against his motor, which some believe runs hot and cold.
I will say this for Worthy: Twice against the Wisconsin Badgers’ highly rated offensive line he was dominant. He stood out against the best competition, which means he loves to rise to a challenge.
Then, in the second round, Thompson traded up to acquire the 62nd pick, meaning he would get either Oregon running back LaMichael James, or Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward. When the San Francisco 49ers took James, the Packers countered with Hayward, who was highly regarded by a significant number of scouts.
Again, it is my guess that Thompson could have been happy with either.
The Packers’ one need on offense – a speed back – didn’t get satisfied. But an occasionally woeful Green Bay defense got a terrific infusion of youth, speed and strength in the first two rounds.
Obviously, any GM can trade up to acquire a specific player. The trick is to get the correct player. By being aggressive, Thompson parlayed 12 picks into presumably a handful of quality players.
In the final analysis, the Packers were fortunate USC’s Nick Perry was there for the taking at No. 28. Then, they relied on their scouts’ talent and hard work to target high second-round players to stoke the defense.
Now that Thompson’s and his scouts’ work is done it is time for Phase 2 of the Packers’ operation to kick in: The player development side.
Rest assured Dom Capers and Co. can’t wait to get to work.
Chris Havel is a Packers News expert and national best-selling author. His latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’ Player Autograph Parties the evening before home games.