Reviewing Thompson's first drafts

Packers GM Ted Thompson has hit more than he missed in the 2005 and 2006 drafts, especially last year, when he landed four legit starters in the first three rounds.

If you're going to build your team through the draft — making free agency no more than a supplementary way to improve the roster — then you had better be a pretty darned good evaluator of college talent.

So, how has Ted Thompson fared during his first two drafts?

Good enough that you'd have to say Thompson would be wise to stay the course.

Certainly, it's a bit early to call some of the draft picks hits or misses. It's impossible to say, for instance, whether drafting Aaron Rodgers was wise or foolish since he hasn't had a chance.

Still, it's interesting to look back at Thompson's first two drafts.

In 2005:

1st round: Aaron Rodgers, quarterback

2nd round: Nick Collins, safety

2nd round: Terrence Murphy, wide receiver

4th round: Marviel Underwood, safety

4th round: Brady Poppinga, outside linebacker

5th round: Junius Coston, offensive lineman

5th round: Michael Hawkins, cornerback

6th round: Mike Montgomery, defensive end

6th round: Craig Bragg, wide receiver

7th round: Kurt Campbell, linebacker

7th round: Will Whitticker, offensive lineman.

Summary: Of the five players selected in the first four rounds, four remain with the team. Only Murphy, who suffered a neck injury during his rookie season that led to fears about a long-term, catastrophic injury and, therefore, his release, is no longer on the team.

Of those five, though, only Collins could be considered at least an average starter today with major upside for the future. The Packers, though, remain high on Rodgers. Poppinga had a decent year as a first-year starter last season, getting better as the year went on. Underwood was challenging Marquand Manuel for a starting job at safety before a knee injury ruined his season before it began.

Of the final six picks, only Coston and Montgomery remain on the roster, and it wouldn't be surprising if Montgomery is the only one to get out of this summer's training camp.

In a nutshell, this class could earn a B grade if most of the "ifs" work out in the Packers' favor and Montgomery turns into at least a productive situational player. If not, Thompson could be in danger of landing exactly zero above-average NFL starters out of an 11-player class.

2006:

1st round: A.J. Hawk, linebacker

2nd round: Daryn Colledge, guard

2nd round: Greg Jennings, wide receiver

3rd round: Abdul Hodge, linebacker

3rd round: Jason Spitz, guard

4th round: Cory Rodgers, kick returner

4th round: Will Blackmon, defensive back

5th round: Ingle Martin, quarterback

5th round: Tony Moll, offensive lineman

6th round: Johnny Jolly, defensive tackle

6th round: Tyrone Culver, safety

7th round: Dave Tollefson, defensive end

Summary: What a draft, starting with the hard-nosed Hawk. Of the first five picks, four already are at least decent starters. This class would have to get an A-plus if Colledge and Spitz become above-average starting guards and Jennings continues to grow. From what we saw last season, that seems more likely than not.

Drafting Cory Rodgers is a black mark — from the first day in camp, even a casual observer could see he couldn't play — and it remains to be seen whether Blackmon was just snake-bit last year or whether he's injury prone and, therefore, unreliable.

Moll was a steal in the fifth round, even if he never becomes a full-time starter. Jolly and Culver seem to have futures as at least deep backups, and that's all you can ask for out of sixth-round picks. Finding three bona fide players that late in the draft is what separates an astute evaluator like Thompson from the draftniks and mediocre general managers.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.


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