Expect the unexpected on draft day

There are NFL mock drafts and there is the Green Bay Packers draft board. During the Ted Thompson era in Green Bay, Thompson has routinely made selections that only few from the media predicted during the NFL draft. Packer Report's Matt Tevsh explains.

For those looking for the lock of all locks regarding who the Green Bay Packers will secure in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, the answer is easy.

It will be someone no one is predicting the Packers to select.

So disregard who ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. or Todd McShay may say. Consider the hundreds of Internet mock drafts for entertainment value only.

And even take scout.com's and packerreport.com's draft forecasts with a grain of salt (I hope I still get a paycheck after saying that).

Simply put, the NFL Draft is a unique animal, which is probably why it garners so much interest. With each team's pick so dependent on what happens before it (especially in the first round), every general manager after the one that has the No. 1 overall pick deals with uncertainty.

Packers' general manager Ted Thompson is no different.

If Thompson is unsure who he will be getting with the No. 30 overall pick, how in the world can anyone else know?

Three years ago, Aaron Rodgers was probably the last player on Thompson's mind when the draft began. Sure, the Packers scouted the California quarterback, but only as a matter of procedure. No one saw Rodgers falling to No. 24 after he was being strongly considered for the No. 1 overall pick. Among that group of surprised onlookers were the Packers, taking the opportunity to snatch Rodgers even though they still had Brett Favre.

Rodgers fulfilled Thompson's mission for selecting value over need, but other than that, Thompson has been as unpredictable as the draft itself on draft weekend.

Last year, defensive tackle Justin Harrell was the shocking pick. By all accounts, it was believed that only one national reporter saw Harrell going to the Packers at No. 16 overall. Not even the most senior and studious of local reporters in and around Green Bay got the indication that Harrell was on Thompson's radar. More of that could be coming later this month, especially considering the Packers are scheduled to make their latest pick in the first round since 1997.

Surprises have gone beyond the first round, too, since Thompson took over in Green Bay:

Safety Nick Collins was a virtual unknown coming out of Bethune-Cookman, yet Thompson took him in the second round in 2005.

Guard Daryn Colledge and wide receiver Greg Jennings came from small schools, still Thompson waited before the sleeper rounds to nab the duo with the No. 47 and 52 picks overall in 2006.

And last year, running back Brandon Jackson (second round) and wide receiver James Jones (third round) were plucked by Thompson much higher than the majority of draft publications and mock drafts had forecasted. Even sixth-round pick Mason Crosby was a surprise considering the Packers had a promising young kicker in Dave Rayner, who had just finished a highly-productive first full season in the NFL.

All six of the above-mentioned later draft picks have started for the Packers. No one could have predicted that either.

For as vanilla as Thompson may seem at the podium addressing the media, he has conversely provided some excitement in late April, able to adjust to the curve balls that the draft has thrown at him. In the process, he has made his selection as unpredictable to the masses as it has been to him.

Maybe Thompson's staff has a different way of evaluating players or maybe they just make the best of what the draft gives them. By any form of analysis, expect the unexpected when the draft begins on April 26. That means the Packers getting a player or two that no one sees coming.


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