The Green Bay Packers, with an abundance of options available with the 29th pick, traded out of the first round in a deal with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.
In moving back four spots, Green Bay received the first pick of Friday’s second round (No. 33) and the first pick of Saturday’s fourth round (No. 108).
With Green Bay on the clock, general manager Ted Thompson had numerous options on defense alone, including outside linebackers T.J. Watt of Wisconsin, Tyus Bowser of Houston and Jordan Willis of Kansas State, inside linebackers Reuben Foster of Alabama and Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt, and cornerbacks Kevin King of Washington and Chidobe Awuzie of Colorado. Pleased with the number of options, he moved back four spots.
“You could tell tonight that the board was pretty strong there at the end and we felt good about where we are,” Thompson said. “We were fortunate to have a team or two that was interested in doing something with us. You’ve got to have a dancer to dance.”
That dance partner, Cleveland, used No. 29 on Miami tight end David Njoku. Thompson then lost two of the aforementioned players, with Pittsburgh taking Watt at No. 30 and San Francisco, which moved up in a deal with Seattle, taking Foster at No. 31. The first round ended with New Orleans grabbing Wisconsin left tackle Ryan Ramczyk.
“Great player,” Thompson said of Watt, the most-mocked first-round option for Green Bay. “If he wasn’t a Wisconsin guy, I wouldn’t say anything at all because I don’t talk about players on other teams. But good for him.”
The Packers will go into Friday with No. 33 and No. 61 of the second round and No. 93 of the third round. On Saturday, they are scheduled to have two picks in the fourth round (Nos. 108 and 134) two in the fifth round (No. 172 and compensatory No. 182) and one each in the sixth (No. 212) and seventh (No. 247).
With the Packers being a perennial Super Bowl contender, Thompson hasn’t had the luxury of batting lead-off to start the day. If Thompson were simply taking the best available player, he would have made his decision before he reached the podium on Thursday night. Instead, he’s going to reassess his draft board and wait by the phone to see if there’s another trade to be made.
“There were lots of things going on right there at the very end, so I would like to look at that board a little bit more right now,” he said. “The reason we were doing some of that trading was we felt like the board was strong enough to absorb it, and I think it did. We’re looking forward to picking tomorrow, so I don’t think it’s just one name that we would consider.”
This is the first time the Packers didn’t have a first-round pick since 2008, when they moved back from No. 30 to No. 36 and wound up with receiver Jordy Nelson.
Thompson traded up in the fifth round to get quarterback Brett Hundley in 2015 and offensive tackle Jason Spriggs in the second round in 2016. The last time Thompson traded back was in 2013. He moved back twice in that draft. The first was moving back six spots in the second round to get running back Eddie Lacy -- bypassing another former Wisconsin star, running back Montee Ball, in the process. Later in 2013, Thompson moved out of the third round and accumulated three picks, the first of which was used on left tackle David Bakhtiari in the fourth round.
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.