Of those four classes from 2001-04 the 2006 team has only three starters out of 27 players selected. Three! Defensive end Aaron Kampman, the first of two fifth round picks in 2002, linebacker Nick Barnett, the team's first-round pick in 2003, and center Scott Wells, the final pick of the 2004 Packers draft, are the only three reliable starters from the last four classes. Wide receiver Javon Walker was the only player to make it to the Pro Bowl (after the 2004 season), but he, of course, is now catching passes for the Denver Broncos.
Why does Thompson continue to inject youth around selected veterans on Green Bay's current roster? Because he's trying to clean up Sherman's mess. Thompson is trying to fix mistakes such as the first four picks of 2004, when Sherman selected cornerbacks Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas, defensive tackle Donnell Washington, and punter B.J. Sander. None of those players are with the Packers anymore. In fact, none of those four players are on a current NFL roster right now, though some team probably will take a look at Carroll, who was released by the Packers on Tuesday.
Wide receiver Robert Ferguson (2001), tight end David Martin (2001), and defensive tackle Corey Williams (2004) are the only other players from the past four drafts on the Packers' roster. They play mainly as backups, though, Ferguson and Martin have been injury prone since the day they were drafted.
So, in reality, the Packers have come up with three quality football players out of 27 selections from 2001-04. That's disappointing and why the Packers are starting from the bottom up. Teams hope to get a couple of starters and solid backups out of each class within two to three years of each draft, but the Packers' lack to get little productivity from those four draft classes has set the team back.
Ron Wolf, in one of his final drafts, struck gold in 2000. That class has four starters currently on the team, including two Pro Bowl players – tight end Bubba Franks, offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, and defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. From that point on under Sherman, Green Bay's future took a downhill slide, beginning with the selection of Jamal Reynolds with the 10th overall pick in 2001.
Packers fans, when you get irritated at Thompson for whatever reason this season, remember that he is reconstructing a team that was decimated by poor choices of his predecessor.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.