The 2006 and 2007 Packers were the youngest teams in the NFL. That will probably be the case again this year after seeing Favre and longtime long snapper Rob Davis retire. That, and adding some more youth to the roster. But the draft was surprising in more respects.
Many draft experts and scouts expected the Packers to go after more help in the defensive secondary, perhaps a linebacker and a running back. Only one CB was taken, and the Packers did not draft either a LB or RB. But the Packers did draft two quarterbacks.
When it was all said and done, this was the 2008 Packer draft.
After selecting wide receiver Jordy Nelson, quarterback Brian Brohm and cornerback Patrick Lee on the first day, Green Bay made three trades on Day 2 and wound up with six players, plus a sixth-round pick in the 2009 draft. The Day 2 picks were headlined by Texas tight end Jermichael Finley.
The Packers appear set at QB, with Aaron Rodgers, Louisville's Brohm and LSU's Matt Flynn. It doesn't look like the Packers will sign Daunte Culpepper or bring back veteran Craig Nall either. Especially after taking Flynn in round 7.
"We were in the seventh round, and we liked Matt quite a bit," Thompson said. "He's a gamer. Obviously, the predominant amount of his play was this year, the first time he's been a full-time starter. But he's had to play in place of JaMarcus Russell in the past. We just liked him. He's the kind of guy, he kind of grows on you, and we just think he has a chance. It's an important position to shore up in terms of depth, and we felt like adding these two guys helps our team in that regard."
Thompson also likes Brohm, who he tried to trade up and get earlier in the second round. "A good, solid guy to have behind Aaron," Thompson said. "We'll get him ready to play, but Aaron's the guy."
Coach Mike McCarthy also sees the attributes of Brohm.
"The thing I like about Brian is the consistency," McCarthy said. "He does everything good. He gives us a quarterback that's played a lot of football in college. When you go across scoring his grade — in the pocket, out of the pocket, fundamentals of throwing, his ability to slide, to make hot throws — I thought he did everything good. He might not have been the fastest guy. He didn't have the strongest arm. I thought he was accurate. I thought he was just very consistent."
Can the Packers survive with three young quarterbacks on their roster? They have done it before. In 1993, in Mike Holmgren's second year as coach, the QBs for the Packers were Favre (his second year in Green Bay), second-year backup Ty Detmer and rookie Mark Brunell.
One of the positions the Packers didn't appear to have to shore up was wide receiver. Going into the draft, the Packers were five-deep at WR, with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Koren Robinson and Ruvell Martin. But the Packers drafted two receivers in the draft, including their first pick, Nelson.
That tells me something. Either the Packers are going to go six deep at WR this year, or perhaps the team wants more production from guys like Robinson and Martin. Either way, Nelson looks to be a weapon. And Thompson knows weapons, based on his track record of drafting Jennings in 2006 and Jones in 2007.
"I don't know if we'll use him as a punt returner, but that's the kind of playmaking ability and after-the-catch (ability) we're looking for," Thompson said. "The more you watch of him, the more you like him. He had a phenomenal year as a senior. He's fast, big, tall and knows how to play contested balls."
The selection of Lee was a good one, based on his skill sets. He is the type of cornerback that is a natural in the defense that the Packers play.
"He's a tough guy," Thompson said. "He likes to play bump-and-run (coverage). I think he's going to fit well with what we try to do on defense, in terms of putting these guys in a lockdown situation."
But the fact Lee was the only DB selected by the Packers should tell you Thompson and the defensive coaches feel comfortable with Al Harris, Charles Woodson, Will Blackmon, Jarrett Bush and Tramon Williams at cornerback, and Nick Collins, Atari Bigby, Aaron Rouse and Tyrone Culver at safety.
Finley got the attention of Packers fans at the scouting combine in February, when there appeared to be mutual interest by the Packers and Finley. Finley is a good athlete with great hands, but needs to refine his skills after starting only one season at Texas.
"He's a very young man, a true junior," Thompson said. "It wasn't overly concerning to us. With juniors, you have to be a little bit cautious, because you don't scout them as much as you do seniors. Seniors, you scout them for a whole year coming up. Juniors, you start looking at in January, so sometimes you have to worry about that. But we felt like he was a talented kid that can get up the field. He's got excellent hands, very athletic, and our coaches were very excited about him joining Donald and Tory."
"He's got good size, good length, he can run," Ted Thompson said. "We liked him, and we were surprised he was still there, which was the impetus for us to try to make a move to go get him."
Time will tell whether or not Thompson hit on all of his 2008 picks. Beyond that, we'll find out if players from previous drafts will continue to develop, like DT Johnny Jolly did last year. The future of the Packers will depend on it.
Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org