Ted's Top 10 Draft Finds

We all know about Ted Thompson's first-round jewels — Aaron Rodgers, B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews. But what the GM has done for the Packers after the first round might be just as important. Matt Tevsh lists his top-10 Thompson picks from the second round on.

10. Mason Crosby — 2007, Round 6 (193rd overall)

Crosby was the ultimate value pick of the Green Bay Packers' 2007 draft as a two-time All-American out of Colorado. The problem was that the Packers already had a young kicker with a strong leg — Dave Rayner — coming off a solid first season in Green Bay.

Despite that disadvantage, Crosby won a heated training camp competition with Rayner for the kicking job. He has held the job ever since. And though he has yet to rise into the elite class of NFL kickers, he has been far from a slouch, connecting on 78.1 percent of his field goals.

As a free agent, he is a good bet to return to the Packers in 2011. In early March, the Packers offered him a second-round tender that is pending based on the league's labor dispute.

9. Jordy Nelson — 2008, Round 2 (36th overall)

After Thompson traded away his first-round pick, he began a string of three surprising second-round selections in 2008 with Nelson.

While Nelson's resume at Kansas State was impressive — going from freshman walk-on to 122 receptions and 1,606 yards his senior year — he joined a crowded and talented group of receivers in Green Bay including Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Koren Robinson and Ruvell Martin. That group had established themselves as the Big Five in 2007. So, where in the world would Nelson fit in?

Well, Nelson made the team in 2008 (Robinson was gone) and has gotten better ever since — proving to be a good long-term investment. He reached the height of his career last month as a Super Bowl hero with nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown.

8. James Starks — 2010, Round 6 (193rd overall)

The ultimate verdict is out on Starks, but for now, Packers fans know him as the darling of a playoff run to the Super Bowl. After sitting out all of training camp with a hamstring injury and 13 games of the regular season, he led all rushers in the playoffs with 315 yards, including 123 in his rookie debut at Philadelphia.

Starks was a bit of a gamble in the draft considering he missed his entire senior season at Buffalo with a shoulder injury, but the Packers took a chance on his potential, and at least for now, it has paid off.

Starks was the 13th of 15 running backs selected in the 2010 draft.

7. James Jones — 2007, Round 3 (78th overall)

One of the Packers big offseason questions as a free agent, Jones finds himself in a position similar to when he entered the draft — fighting for respect. What Jones lacks in ball security, he makes up for in talent. It was in that same vain coming out of the draft, when many thought he lacked the speed to be a top-notch receiver. But Jones has overcome his supposed flaws to put together a pretty good four-year career with 149 catches and 13 touchdowns primarily as a backup receiver. Now he wants to be a No. 1 guy.

6. Johnny Jolly — 2006, Round 6 (183rd overall)

For his troubles off the field (he's seeking reinstatement after a one-year league suspension), Jolly just makes plays when he is on the field. Few could have predicted his impact when the Packers took him out of Texas A&M in the sixth round.

After Jolly fought just to make the team his rookie season — competing amongst a group of interior lineman that included Ryan Pickett, Colin Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Kenny Peterson and Corey Williams — he became a full-time starter in his third year, recording a career-high 82 tackles.

5. Desmond Bishop — 2007, Round 6 (192nd overall)

Desmond Bishop whacks Matt Ryan.
Patrick Semansky/AP Images
Bishop never lacked for confidence. He just needed his chance. He finally got that this season when Nick Barnett went down. The results were impressive — so much so that coach Mike McCarthy has made him the long-term starter, leaving Barnett's future with the Packers in jeopardy.

Bishop called himself the best run stuffer coming out of the 2007 draft but slid because of perceived weaknesses in other areas, including pass coverage. In the NFL, however, he has proven in his brief time as a starter to be an all-around playmaker on defense, not to mention special teams. He has an outspoken belief in himself, and the Packers' defense has a different attitude with him in the lineup.

For his efforts, he received a four-year contract extension this past offseason, and headed into his fifth season, he has never played better.

4. Jermichael Finley — 2008, Round 3 (91st overall)

The Packers got first-round talent in a third-round pick when they selected Finley. Raw and unpolished as he might have been at 21 years old, it was easy to see his unique ability. "When you start watching guys, obviously you look for things you can't coach, and I think he has a few of those qualities," said tight ends coach Ben McAdoo after the selection of Finley. "He's someone who was intriguing the minute you turned the tape on."

While Finley has seen his past two seasons interrupted by injury, his talent has come to the forefront when he has been on the field. Games at Minnesota, home against the Ravens and at Pittsburgh in 2009, and a playoff conquest at Arizona that same season, give Packers fans reasons to believe that Finley could become the best tight end in team history.

3. Josh Sitton — 2008, Round 4 (135th overall)

Pegged by many publications as a possible undrafted free agent in 2008, Sitton developed into one of the NFL's best guards in 2010 in just his second year as a starter. For that reason, he was one of the most overlooked linemen of the 2008 draft, which may be hard to believe considering he helped block at Central Florida for Kevin Smith, who posted an NCAA-best 2,567 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns in 2007.

2. Greg Jennings — 2006, Round 2 (52nd overall)

While Jennings put up gaudy all-purpose numbers at Western Michigan, including his senior season, when he led the nation in catches per game (8.9), he flew under the radar as one of the elite receivers projecting to the pro level. Perhaps his size (5-11, 191 pounds) and competition (playing in the MAC) had something to do with that.

There was talk that Jennings would be an all-purpose guy with the Packers, too, returning punts and kicks, but instead he became one of the NFL's best receivers and deep threats. He was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2010 on the strength of his second 12-touchdown season.

Receivers that went ahead of Jennings in the second round of the 2006 draft included Chad Jackson (Patriots) and Sinorice Moss (Giants).

1. Nick Collins — 2005, Round 2 (51st overall)

A safety out of Bethune-Cookman? In the second round? That was the prevailing feeling on Day One of the 2005 draft when Thompson dropped his second bombshell in a span of hours. The first was selecting Aaron Rodgers in the first round. And while Rodgers made sense as a value pick dropping to No. 24 overall from a potential No. 1 spot, Collins was a huge head-scratcher.

Few scouts had Collins rated as one of the top safeties or even an early-round pick. He had a low Wonderlic score, and there was even talk of him playing some cornerback for the Packers.

Six years later, he is a perennial Pro Bowler, most recently showing his skills by returning an interception for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLV.

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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com

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