Sydney Speaks! Inside the Packers' draft room

In his column today,'s Harry Sydney sets the scene for what it will be like this weekend in the Packers' draft room. Sydney, a former fullback and assistant coach for the Packers, has been in the room during the draft and knows the feeling - intense!

With the NFL draft being this Saturday and Sunday, I thought it would be a good idea to take you through the week of the draft and give you a glimpse of what will be going on this week and during the draft at Packers headquarters. Because just as much as the draft will affect the future of the Green Bay Packers, the signing of the free agents that are draft eligible should have an effect as well.

The coaches and scouts will probably be together all week watching film on potential picks to make sure that they have their draft board in order and this is essential because most coaches and general managers select players based on the board.

I'll describe the draft room for those of you that have never been in one on draft day. In the Packers' draft room on one wall you have every one that the Packers believe are draft worthy. They are listed not only by position but by what round they have the player slotted. They have name tags for every player and every player is color coded which means they have different colors depending on that player's history of injury and the risk involved with drafting them. The other wall features logos for every team. During the draft, and every time someone is drafted, his name is removed from the Packers draft board and put underneath the team that has drafted them. Also under the Packers draft board is a list of the free agents that they are interested in pursuing. On another wall is the previous year's draft of the other teams in the NFL and on the fourth wall is where all the films are stored. These are the films that all the coaches watched on every player. Some organizations are watching them this week. I'm not sure how Mike McCarthy is doing it but rest assured the whole staff including the coaches, the scouts, Ted Thompson and all of his guys watched every play of Vernon Davis, Mario Williams, Vince Young, A.J. Hawk and everyone that might fall to them at the fifth pick. But then again they have watched every play of anyone that might get picked in the first three rounds.

In front of the draft wall is a giant table and looking at that wall will be Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and the two coordinators, along with College Scouting Director John Dorsey and Pro Personnel Director Reggie McKenzie. In front of Ted Thompson will be two phones with several lines. He's the one that handles all the calls on these phones. Ted's the one that does all the trade talks; he's the one that wheels and deals; him and only him. There will be another phone that Dorsey will have or had which is a direct line to New York and the Packers Draft table to let those at the other end know who they will select. They record it and give the slip to the right people. The rest of the coaches and scouts will be seated in chairs surrounding the room.

Of course there will be several televisions place in different corners so that everyone can see what's taking place. Also in the room with be the team doctors especially around when it's time for the Packers to pick so that if there are any medical questions they can answer them. Bob Harlan, as well as other board members, usually attend the draft just to see what's going on.

Understand this: Most of the decisions on who to draft and all the different scenarios will take place well before the draft ever happens. All the "WHAT IF'S" have been answered or should have been by the start of the draft as best they can. Thompson and McCarthy will have visualized everything that could happen. As the time of the draft nears everything gets tight. You can feel the pressure starting to build because this is where the scouts earn their stripes. They wait all year for this moment. Coaches want certain players and they depend on the scouts and people in player personnel to come through, especially in the early rounds because at this point they are the team's picks on the first day. The second day and free agents signed after the draft concludes are coaches' picks.

As the draft begins some of the coaches will go to their offices and relax until it's time to be in the big room, or they will go to the coaches' meeting rooms to watch the draft to get away from all the intensity. By this time, the draft starts, the phones start to ring, and when that happens everyone takes a breath and shuts up. Someone turns the television down and you can hear a pin drop, except for Ted Thompson. If he hears something he likes he will usually say, or at least Ron Wolf would say, ‘I'll get right back to you' and get up go to his office. Sometimes he would ask Mike Holmgren to meet with him, and other times he wouldn't. This is the way it was during the Super Bowl era so I can't imagine it being much different since Ted Thompson is from Wolf stock.

The first day of the draft is more like a team draft because most of the coaches and scouts usually agree with the first-day picks. On the second day I would call them the coaches' picks because even though there might be a need at a position the guy they pick will be a guy that the position coach really wants. He most likely has worked this guy out and really feels strongly that he could make the team, or at least challenge for a roster spot. Now after everything I've said about what happens INSIDE THE DRAFT ROOM, there are no guarantees on wins and losses. However, it does guarantee they have done the best they can!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to managing editor Todd Korth at, and he will forward it to him.

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