Thompson Put Team in Quarterbacking Pickle

Ted Thompson hit a home run with Aaron Rodgers but is guilty of ignoring the position in too many drafts and swinging and missing on the likes of Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman, Vince Young and Seneca Wallace.

For 22-plus seasons, the Green Bay Packers have benefitted from practically unparalleled stability atop the quarterback depth chart.

This season has been a reminder of that good fortune.

The guys in charge of creating the nameplates for above the lockers and putting the names on the back of the jerseys should get a raise.

Aaron Rodgers is still here, serving as the highest-paid quarterbacks coach in NFL history.

Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman traded ugly passes and bad reads throughout training camp. Their ineptitude necessitated the signing of Vince Young, the world's shortest 6-foot-5 quarterback. How Young got by for so many years without a single quarterbacks coach bothering to rework his awful mechanics is an indictment of just about every coach along Young's path.

By the end of training camp, it was out with the old and in with the new.

First out the door was Harrell, the physically limited college legend who had no more room to grow after three seasons with the team.

Then it was Young, another college legend. Poor Ben McAdoo didn't have a prayer to salvage that mess in their three weeks together.

Then it was Coleman, an incredibly talented prospect with a go-getter attitude who never got close to putting it all together.

In came Seneca Wallace, the 33-year-old journeyman with a 6-15 career record who was out of the league in 2012. Scott Tolzien was added to the practice squad just in time to provide some intelligence on the 49ers, with whom he had spent his first two seasons in the league.

And now, the Packers are turning back the clock to Matt Flynn, who has fallen on his face three times since his record-setting game in the 2011 finale.

The blame falls on general manager Ted Thompson, a point that he wouldn't argue.

Thompson was guilty of putting too many eggs in the Harrell/Coleman basket. What the Packers saw in Harrell in 2010, 2011 and 2012 that gave them confidence that he could win a game in 2013 is beyond belief. As for Coleman, there's plenty of blame to go around. A seventh-round pick in 2012, a scout told Packer Report after the draft that Coleman had the talent to get the Packers two first-round picks in a future trade. Another scout laughed at that statement but didn't scoff at Coleman's talent. "No way, but a two? Yeah, I could see that," he said. "There's a lot to like."

There wasn't nearly enough to like in two training camps and two preseasons. Coleman had the talent and the attitude but something never clicked. He telegraphed too many passes and never played at NFL speed. Thus, like Harrell, Coleman is out of the league.

With that as a backdrop, it's interesting to contrast the quarterback-procurement philosophies of Thompson and his predecessor and mentor, Ron Wolf.

Wolf landed his franchise quarterback in 1992 by acquiring Brett Favre. That didn't stop Wolf from drafting Ty Detmer (ninth round, 1992), Mark Brunell (fifth round, 1993), Jay Barker (fifth round, 1995), Ronnie McAda (seventh round, 1997), Matt Hasselbeck (sixth round, 1998) and Aaron Brooks (fourth round, 1999).

All told, Wolf drafted six quarterbacks in his nine drafts. Five of them came from big-time college programs.

Thompson landed his franchise quarterback in 2005 by using a first-round pick on Rodgers. Thompson would add Ingle Martin (fifth round, 2006), Brian Brohm (second round, 2008), Flynn (seventh round, 2008) and Coleman (seventh round, 2012).

All told, after grabbing Rodgers, Thompson drafted four quarterbacks in his next eight drafts. Brohm and Flynn came from big-time college programs; Martin and Coleman came from Division I-AA/FCS.

Drafting a quarterback, regardless of round, is the ultimate roll of the dice. There are as many first-round busts as first-round success stories. It's almost humorous to recall the "experts" saying Brohm might eventually take the starting job from Rodgers.

Because of Wolf's draft success, the Packers always had a talented quarterback on deck. Brunell, Hasselbeck and Brooks all went on to become starters, and Doug Pederson went on to start for the Eagles.

Because Thompson ignored the position for three consecutive drafts, missed on Coleman and ignored the position again in April, the Packers' season is on the brink and in the hands of a player who was on the practice squad a week ago.


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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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