"I know at this thing you guys get frustrated with me because sometimes I'm not very forthcoming on who we're going to pick, or give you any ideas of who we might pick," Thompson, the championship architect of the Green Bay Packers, said before fielding questions on Thursday at his never-enlightening predraft news conference. "That will continue, I'm sorry to say. I'm not trying to be insulting, it's just that I would not be doing my job if I gave up some sort of advantage that we would have or give somebody else an advantage."
Frustrated? No, though with gas prices at $3,89 a gallon, you wonder why you made the trek to Lambeau Field for the predictably uninformative question-and-nonanswer session.
In fairness to Thompson, there's really no point in saying anything informative if it could potentially cost the team a player, regardless of it's the first round or the seventh round. His job is to pick the best players, not provide the best quotes so we can write the best stories. "Loose lips sink ships" doesn't just apply to the Navy, though if there were a million Ted Thompsons at the Pentagon and the branches of the military, Wikileaks might as well be a plumbing company rather than a national controversy in which embarrassing secrets were made public and untold lives put at risk.
So, questions good and bad were swatted away as if Earl Boykins were going one-on-one against Dwight Howard.
— Because of the labor strife, free agency will come after the draft rather than before it. Does Thompson prefer it one way or the other?
"I do whatever the rules tell us to do. I can understand the pros and cons. Not having done it the other way, we're used to it the way it was, but I haven't thought about that, it's never even crossed my mind."
— OK, next up: Can the team have any contact at all with a player after he's been drafted?
"I think it's going to be different than it has been in the past. The specific rules on what you can and can't do, it'd probably be a little bit … I wouldn't be honest if I told you something that's not for sure. There are going to be different rules in place, I think."
— Really, you don't know? OK, fine. My question on University of Buffalo running back Brandon Thermilus, who is the son of the Packers' Southwest scout, former NFL running back Alonzo Highsmith, caught Thompson off-guard to such an extent that he dropped the cap from his water bottle. After picking up the cap, Thompson said discussion of Thermilus takes place "like anybody else." So, Highsmith is allowed to throw in his two cents and not asked to leave the room to get coffee?
— Great, thanks for ruining my feature. Even a question as tame as asking of Thompson's favorite draft memories went nowhere. Cue the "Price Is Right" music when a contestant loses a pricing game.
"I enjoy the whole part of it. I do enjoy the preparation very much because of the guys I work with and the actual implementation of all that work into the draft. There are anxious moments when you're hoping a guy gets to you and sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. There have been some good times. But I can't really single out one, but I really enjoy the environment that we work under here. Everybody knows it's tense times, but everybody understands our system, they know how we do this, everybody's involved in the process. But like I've said before, it's not a democracy, at some point I will make that call and I appreciate the work that we do together."
And if all of that was predictable, so is this: Exactly one week from today, sometime around 10:30 p.m. on April 28, Thompson will make the Packers' first-round pick (barring a trade). And that player will be just the guy the Packers wanted and they were surprised that he was still available.
"I love picking at 32. I love what that means," Thompson said of the pick that goes to the Super Bowl champion. "The later rounds, it's not quite as much fun, because you're sitting there and now you're picking at 64 instead of 40, and 96 instead of 70, so you've got to watch 28 names come off, or 30 names come off, or something like that. But there's going to be a good player to pick every time it's our turn to pick. Our job is to make sure we find that player and call his name."
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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.