Trader Ted Puts His Eggs Into Saturday Basket

In a bizarre day at Lambeau Field, Ted Thompson added four picks to give himself 10 shots at hitting the lottery on Saturday. He also "lost" on his three trades and made two deals with rival San Francisco, which took four players in the first three rounds compared to the Packers' two.

Green Bay Packers general manager accumulated draft picks as if he were hoping to be profiled on the A&E program, "Hoarders."

On Friday, Thompson turned his pre-draft allotment of eight picks into 12, giving himself 10 swings of the bat in Rounds 3 through 7 on Saturday. The turning-water-into-wine part will have to come on Saturday.

Thompson might come across as Mr. Vanilla but on Draft Weekend he's Mr. Unpredictable. As he built the roster early in his tenure, he added draft picks in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2009, he pulled off a stunning trade up to get Clay Matthews, and he traded up again in 2010 to land Morgan Burnett. In 2011, three trades led to one additional pick. Last year, he traded up three times to acquire Jerel Worthy, Casey Hayward and Terrell Manning.

Thompson went back to his trade-back roots on Friday, trading back in the second round and twice and ultimately out of the third round.

A logical conclusion would be that Thompson wanted more draft picks to plug holes on a roster with needs at just about every position.

"I don't look at it that way," Thompson said. "It's more kind of a function of the board. Is this a guy you really want to go up and get and you're 15 picks away and you get nervous that you're not going to be able to get him? If there are a number of players that you feel comfortable in taking, then you're not as apt to move up."

Indeed, there is a ton of talent left on the board. Eleven selections will be made on Saturday before the Packers are up at No. 109, and another dozen picks will be made before Green Bay is up against No. 122. The Packers should get an impact player with at least one of those selections.

Instead of looking ahead, it's interesting to look back.

First, Thompson made two trades with San Francisco – in essence, allowing a key NFC rival to jump ahead to select a better player.

"It's just numbers," Thompson countered. "It's not like you're trading guys. I don't look at it like that. It's more a function of numbers and what they might see in a player, then you're trusting your own scouting department in terms of what we see and how we've built the board."

Second, the Packers came out on the losing end on the draft value chart. Thompson said he uses a "fairly standard chart," which puts a numerical value on each pick, with an earlier pick worth more points than a later pick. In the first trade, the Packers lost 350 to 314.2, a difference of 36 points. That's the equivalent of the 12th pick in the fifth round; the 49ers, however, hung onto the 24th selection of the fifth round. In the second, they lost 150 to 133, a difference of 17 points. In the third, they lost 128 to 111, again a difference of 17 points. A 17-point difference is the equivalent of a late sixth-rounder.

"If you feel good about a trade and being comfortable that you'll be able to get a player or a group of players at a later time, then so what if you're five points below or something like that," Thompson said. "Most of the time everybody tries to be kind of fair about it."

Third – and this is what will matter this season and in future seasons – the Packers missed out on some good players by moving back.

In the second round, the Packers probably got the player they wanted all along in Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, who had 613 fewer touches in college than Wisconsin's Montee Ball. The intrigue came in the third round. Two sources told Packer Report that the Packers were extremely high on West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey, a sublime route-runner who piled up yards after the catch. ¬If they wanted him, they could have gotten him at No. 88. Instead, by trading back to No. 93, the Rams snatched him at No. 92. Whether the Packers bailed out of the third round because they lost out on Bailey is anyone's guess – it's a question Thompson wouldn't answer in a million years.

The Packers then lost out on one of the top nose tackle prospects, Brandon Williams of Missouri Southern, who went 94th to Baltimore. It's a potential position of need with B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett entering their final seasons under contract. While the Packers traded out of Day 2, San Francisco wound up landing four of the top 88 players.

Only time will tell if the Packers made the right moves to keep pace with their Golden Gate rivals. When he left the stadium surprisingly early on Friday night, Thompson looked like a man content that with 10 swings of the bat on Saturday that he'd find a few gems to make everyone forget about the players that got away.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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