Wolf's advice invaluable for Thompson

Strategy has paid off for Packers general manager in Seattle and Green Bay

Ted Thompson answered questions for about 20 minutes from members of the Wisconsin media on Monday afternoon on the upcoming NFL draft and free agency. As expected, the Packers general manager was not specific in any of his comments regarding individuals in the draft, but you can expect that from a NFL GM days before the biggest weekend of the off-season.

Thompson, however, did appear more confident than ever that the Packers will acquire some football players who can either make an immediate impact this season, or within a season or two. That is if he can resist the ever-lasting temptation of taking the best player available against a player who might fill a specific need.

So, he will do his best to adhere to the words of wisdom from former Packers general manager and mentor Ron Wolf:

"Stay true to yourself and true to the board," Thompson said. "Part of that is all this work that we've done, putting together the board, that's staying true to yourself. But once you put it up there, and you believe in your heart that's the way it should be, then you stick with the board."

From about Friday afternoon till the time that the draft begins, the Packers will have set their draft board, ranking the top players available in the collegiate draft by round. Then when all heck breaks loose Saturday morning for the two-day procedure, Thompson will use the board, established in conjunction with the team's scouting staff, top aides and coaches, as his guide.

All too often, however, when a team is ‘on the clock,' it will be faced with the decision of picking a player that fills a need, or picking a player that is a better athlete but not necessarily to fill a position of need. Wolf and Thompson have each been successful more often than not in the draft by opting for the best player available over the player that might fill an immediate need.

When it comes right down to it, that is the key between a successful draft and mediocre, or poor draft class. Thompson gave every indication that he has the right approach to selecting players in the draft. Expect Thompson to take that approach this weekend, but even he will admit that he's never been perfect in that area.

"A draft is an investment in a player that's going to be here for a number of years, and when you don't take the best player, it'll just come back and bite you every time," he said. "And we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I've taken players based off need, or what I perceived to be a need, and passed on another player that was really a better player. But we try not to do that, and I have people that keep reminding me of that all day long."

Though the Packers have immediate needs at running back, wide receiver, and safety, Thompson may select a player who is rated higher, according to the team's draft board, at a different position when the Packers are ready to select with the 16th overall pick in the draft.

That, however, doesn't mean he will ignore positions where the team needs a better starter, or better depth. Though many draft experts are predicting the Packers to select Marshawn Lynch in the first round, it is very possible that they will pass on him if there is a player rated higher than Lynch at a different position on their board.

"There are scenarios that I would prefer have happen much more than other scenarios that could happen, but there's not anything you can do about it," Thompson said. "So you just have to be prepared to do what you have to do, and pick the player that you think can help the Packers the most."

That approach helped Thompson turn the Seattle Seahawks into a Super Bowl contender within five seasons. As long as he adheres to it with the Packers, Green Bay will continue to improve through the draft.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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