Three GMs, three important drafts

Looking back at Ron Wolf's incredible third round in 1995, Mike Sherman's horrible third round in 2004 and Ted Thompson's second round in 2008, which netted Jordy Nelson, Brian Brohm and Pat Lee.

The Packers' last three general managers each wheeled and dealed his way into monopolizing an early round of the draft.

When Ron Wolf did so in 1995, it helped the Packers win the Super Bowl the following season.

When Mike Sherman did so in 2004, it played a large role in him losing the GM tag following the next season.

Ted Thompson's fate very well could be linked to the success or failure of what he did in 2008.

In 1995, Wolf traded back in the first round to acquire an extra third-round pick from Carolina, dealt quarterback Mark Brunell to Jacksonville for a third-round pick and gained another third-rounder for losing restricted free agent Corey Harris to Seattle.

Not only did Wolf net cornerback Craig Newsome in the first round, but he landed Colorado defensive tackle Darius Holland in the Carolina deal, fullback William Henderson in the Brunell deal, linebacker Brian Williams as compensation for Harris and receiver Antonio Freeman with the Packers' own third-round pick.

Holland was a bust, but Henderson, Williams and Freeman were key cogs as the Packers became a perennial championship contender.

Fast forward nine years, and Sherman tried to take a page from Wolf's playbook.

Sherman traded out of the second round and acquired two third-round picks from Jacksonville, and he traded fourth- and fifth-round picks to move back into the third round again.

But, while Wolf plucked three above-average starters with his four third-round picks, Sherman went 0-for-3.

The first of the third-round picks, cornerback Joey Thomas, lasted just a season-and-a-half with Green Bay. In 20 career games with the Packers, he didn't intercept a pass.

Compared to the others, however, Thomas was a Hall of Famer.

Donnell Washington, a 330-pound defensive tackle, spent his rookie season on injured reserve and was deactivated for 15 of 16 games and never played a snap in 2005. When he showed up out of shape for a minicamp in 2006, he was sent home by new coach Mike McCarthy and released.

The last of the third-round picks was Sherman's infamous decision to trade up to select B.J. Sander. The decision was practically unprecedented. No team since 1985 had traded up to draft a punter, regardless of round. Sander spent all of his rookie season watching Bryan Barker handle the punting duties, then ranked 30th in the NFL in punting in 2005. He was given the boot after being outclassed by Jon Ryan during the 2006 training camp.

In 2008, Thompson wound up with three second-round picks. The first came when the Packers traded out of the first round in hopes the man they wanted, receiver Jordy Nelson, would be available at No. 36 overall. The offseason trade of defensive tackle Corey Williams — a sixth-round pick in Sherman's ill-fated 2004 draft — netted hotshot quarterback Brian Brohm. And the Packers' own pick landed them cornerback Pat Lee.

Even if Nelson drops all 100 passes thrown his way this season, the 2008 draft will never reach the depths of Sherman's 2004 debacle. The Class of 2004 should be part of the core of the team by now. Instead, only center Scott Wells, a seventh-rounder, remains on the roster.

Nonetheless, Thompson has only one winning season and a 31-33 record in his four years running the team. For the Packers to emerge as the kind of consistent winners they were during the Wolf era, Brohm must develop into a quarterback with good trade value and Lee must blossom into a starting-caliber cornerback. At this point, neither career appears to be on that track, though it's far too early to reach a conclusion. Brohm remains the third-string quarterback while Lee could be challenged by rookie sixth-rounder Brandon Underwood for a roster spot.

The Packers won 13 games in 2007 but only six in 2008. More than likely, their talent level lies somewhere in between. The rise or fall of Thompson's second-round shopping spree will go a long way toward determining the team's long-term future.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.


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