Timing Is Ripe To Trade Up

Trader Ted no doubt will be on the loose this weekend during the NFL Draft. But his approach this time, with a Super Bowl championship in his back pocket, might just follow the exception rather than the norm.

Timing is ripe for a trade up If Ted Thompson has shown anything in his six NFL Drafts running the Green Bay Packers, it is his willingness to make trades. In fact, they are all but a guarantee from the Packers' guarded general manager.

Since taking over the Packers' top post in 2005, Thompson has made at least one trade in every draft. In five of six drafts, he has made multiple trades.

So, with nine picks entering this draft, which begins Thursday night and concludes Saturday afternoon, much of the same can be expected. The only difference this go-around is that the timing is ripe for Thompson to pull off one of his more rare maneuvers.

For the Packers, not even three months removed from a Super Bowl championship, the depth never has been better. They have a roster full of talent, not to mention 14 more players coming off injured reserve and 12 unrestricted free agents in limbo due to the lockout. Spots will be tough to come by when and if training camp rolls around later this summer.

Such impressive depth could influence how Thompson looks at the draft, at least in terms of numbers. While he was building a championship roster during his first four years in Green Bay, his team is in a much different position now. Although depth is always welcome and necessary due to injuries, it is no longer priority No. 1 when it comes to the draft.

As the Packers have ascended in recent years and secured the core of their roster, Thompson has shown more of a tendency to take a risk in the draft. He has traded up in each of the last three drafts while not doing it once in the previous three among 10 draft-day trades.

In 2008, he moved up in the fourth round to nab defensive end Jeremy Thompson, who was the Packers' starter at outside linebacker in training camp in 2009 before a neck injury sidelined him and eventually forced him to retire.

In 2010, he made a trade with the Eagles to move up in the third round to get safety Morgan Burnett, who was a starter for the first four games last season before an ACL injury sent him to the injured reserve list.

And in 2009, Thompson surprised just about everyone by giving a second-round pick and two thirds to the Patriots to move back into the first round to land linebacker Clay Matthews at No. 26 overall and an additional fifth-round pick (tackle Jamon Meredith). This transaction came just hours after Thompson had selected nose tackle B.J. Raji at No. 9 overall.

Proactively going after that player he really covets, like Matthews and Burnett, especially, is a luxury Thompson can afford this year. And because his track record over the past two years has served him so well, he can find comfort in making another such move should the opportunity present itself in the days ahead.

Perhaps another sign that a trade up is a good possibility is that the Packers draft last in each round (not counting compensatory selections). While Thompson said last week at his pre-draft press conference that he likes what picking last in the first round means, it gets a little tougher in subsequent rounds.

"The later rounds, it's not quite as much fun," he said. "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."

While Thompson did go on to say "there's going to be a good player to pick every time it's our turn," his patience will be tested like never before.

Unless, that is, he makes a move up to get the guy he really wants.

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

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