I friend and I were talking about the success of Ted Thompson in the draft. This conversation centered mostly on the 2012 draft and the lack of production from that draft, in light of the release of safety Jerron McMillian.
He suggested that the departure of personnel execs John Schneider to the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 and the departure of John Dorsey to the Kansas City Chiefs after this past season have played a role in that. After all, both of those teams are very successful right now.
Reggie McKenzie also left for the general manager’s job in Oakland, and although they’re not successful right now, the departure had to hurt the Packers’ front office.
But back to Schneider and Dorsey.
The Seahawks are the best team in the NFL right now. The Chiefs, a year after winning two games, are 9-3.
That’s not all because of the GM, but while those teams have few personnel issues, the Packers have a lot. And since the Packers only build through the draft, that falls at the feet of Thompson.
By the way, neither Schneider or Dorsey have followed that philosophy. They sign free agents, much like the architect of this whole team of personnel guys did. If you didn’t know, that guy was Ron Wolf.
In any case, it’s interesting to look at these guys’ moves to see if maybe, Thompson relied on them more than anyone else in the Packers’ next-man-up organization would like to admit.
In his first draft in Seattle, Schneider landed Russell Okung, a stalwart left tackle and one-time Pro Bowler; safety Earl Thomas, a two-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All Pro; Golden Tate, a starting receiver; and safety Kam Chancellor, who’s made one Pro Bowl.
Schneider also traded for All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch during the 2010 season. The Packers were in the conversation for Lynch, but Thompson didn’t pull the trigger.
In 2011, Schneider landed linebacker K.J. Wright, a starter who has 77 tackles so far this season; and Richard Sherman, who’s widely considered the best defensive back in the game.
Okay, so that wasn’t a huge draft, but Richard Sherman.
And how about 2012? Defensive end Bruce Irvin, who had 10 sacks as a rookie; linebacker Bobby Wagner, who has 80 tackles this season and two picks; oh, and some guy named Russell Wilson.
In the 2013 draft, Schneider doesn’t have much to speak of, but let’s be honest. Seattle was a Super Bowl favorite coming into the season AND they signed some prime free agents in the offseason. Namely, defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
Bennett has 6.5 sacks so far and scored a touchdown on Monday night. Avril has 7.5 sacks thus far.
There’s something Thompson would never do. And damn their production! We build from within!
Now, Dorsey has had just one draft class and we’ll be honest, he isn’t getting a lot of production from that class.
Dorsey did make the trade for quarterback Alex Smith, though. While you can argue that Smith hasn’t been spectacular, he never was. He’s exactly what the Chiefs needed, though.
He makes smart decisions and doesn’t turn the ball over.
Dorsey also wasn’t afraid to sign some free agents. He signed or re-signed 22 guys — only five of them being re-signings — to remake the interior of the roster.
How do the Packers remake the interior of their roster every season? Undrafted free agents.
You know, so they can remain the youngest team in the league. And DEVELOP FROM WITHIN!
So really, this wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t look at Thompson’s drafts since 2010. And we already know he hasn’t signed any free agents who’ve made a contribution since then. So, here we go.
There have been zero Pro Bowls among the Packers’ 2010 draftees. The most notable of those guys are tackle Bryan Bulaga, who’s been pretty average; safety Morgan Burnett, who’s getting paid like a Pro Bowler, but isn’t; outside linebacker Mike Neal, who’s a situational pass rusher; and tight end Andrew Quarless, who’s an NFL backup.
There are only four guys from the 2011 draft class still on the Packers’ roster. Only one of them is a starter — Randall Cobb. Cornerback Davon House, tackle Derek Sherrod and tight end Ryan Taylor are the others still on the roster. Only House plays any sort of somewhat-major role at this point.
We’ve been over the 2012 draft. Four guys who didn’t make it through their second season. At this point, there are two sometime-contibutors — defensive tackle Mike Daniels and outside linebacker Nick Perry, when he isn’t injured. Cornerback Casey Hayward may become a stalwart, but we don’t know that right now because he’s out for the season.
So, let’s be honest. Where did Ted really hit since Schneider left?
Two times: Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy, his second-round pick prior to this season.
In that same period, Schneider hit on eight guys, and we’re leaving out Golden Tate because we don’t believe he’s top-level talent.
What’s more, both Schneider and Dorsey have taken the Wolf approach. That is, we’ll acquire talent however we can to make our team better, while Thompson has stood by the draft-and-develop philosophy.
It seems pretty obvious how that’s playing out.
Draft-and-develop only works if you draft well and the Packers haven’t done that very often in recent seasons.
Maybe it’s time for another philosophy.