The nine-week path to the draft begins in earnest on Thursday with the start of the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
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For the Packers, who hold the 32nd pick in each round, plus what could be a third-round compensatory pick for losing Aaron Kampman and an extra pick to lead off the seventh round for the 2009 trade of long snapper J.J. Jansen to Carolina, the value of this week goes beyond 40-yard dash times and bench-press numbers.
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Thompson – a former NFL role player -- values character, intelligence and being a good teammate perhaps more than any general manager in the league. Thus, the chance to interact with the players is the major asset this week. But that's not to say 40-yard times and vertical jumps aren't important. Millions of dollars can be made or lost based on a tenth of a second here or an inch or two there.
"There's certain minimums that you look for that you feel like you have to be able to do it at least that well or maybe you can't play," Thompson said at last year's Combine. "At the end of the day, we tell these guys when they get here, 90 percent of their work in terms of where they're going to get drafted and what they're going to be as an NFL player has already been done. This last part, the testing and making sure you're the right kind of person for the locker room, make sure that you can run as fast as maybe we think you need to be able to run to play that position, that's that last little bit that they have to finish. This is the finishing part."
While media sessions begin on Thursday, the on-field workouts begin on Friday with the specialists. The offensive linemen work out on Saturday, the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs on Sunday, defensive linemen and linebackers on Monday and defensive backs on Tuesday.
Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy will hold press conferences on Friday.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.