Thompson Must Take Dive Into Top Tackle Class

Draft history does not lie: If you want a quality offensive tackle, you take him in the first round. Packer Report delves into Ted Thompson's draft history and NFL draft history to add perspective to the importance of finding an heir to Chad Clifton.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Friday said he wants Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher back for the 2010 team.

Good thinking. It's not like there's a Plan B to replace them.

McCarthy, general manager Ted Thompson and the entire coaching and personnel staffs are in Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine. The Packers hold the 23rd pick of the first round. The Packers have needs. They don't have anyone to cover opposite Charles Woodson. They don't have anyone to rush the passer opposite Clay Matthews III. They don't have a running-mate opposite Greg Jennings for the day when Donald Driver starts losing his one-on-one matchup with Father Time.

Whatever. Draft an offensive tackle.

In his five drafts, Thompson never has drafted an offensive tackle with his first-round pick.

He's drafted only one in the second round. His only attempt, Daryn Colledge, is at left guard.

He's never drafted one in the third round.

He's drafted only two in the fourth, bombing with Allen Barbre and, maybe, hitting on T.J. Lang.

He's drafted three in the fifth round. Tony Moll and Jamon Meredith aren't on the team and Breno Giacomini couldn't even get on the field in place of the bumbling Barbre.

That's it. Five drafts. With 18 picks in the first three rounds, Thompson's only offensive tackle is a mediocre left guard. With 51 total picks, only Lang and Giacomini — with zero regular-season snaps in his two seasons — are offensive tackles on the Packers' roster.

It's no wonder why McCarthy is clinging to Clifton and Tauscher like a life preserver. In the last 10 drafts, 32 offensive linemen have reached the Pro Bowl. Of those, 14 were selected in the first round and 10 in the second — 75 percent. Of those 32, 18 were among the top 38 selections of the draft.

Furthermore, to the Packers' predicament, 16 offensive tackles have been selected in the last 10 drafts and played in at least one Pro Bowl. Seven were top-eight selections. Take away Jason Peters ascending from undrafted tight end to Pro Bowl tackle, and the other 15 Pro Bowl tackles were drafted with an average overall pick of 20.7.

Clifton played in one Pro Bowl, following the 2007 season. He was a second-round pick in 2000, No. 44 overall.

"You don't have to (be an early pick) obviously, the tackle position is a critical position, but I have found most critical positions are critical because you need some," Thompson told reporters on Friday. "So, I don't know. Probably most of the great left tackles in the league were taken early, but probably most of the great running backs in the league were taken early too, or quarterbacks, but not necessarily."

The great ones, however, are taken early.

The NFL's all-decade team was released last month. The four tackles — Orlando Pace (first), Jonathan Ogden (fourth), Walter Jones (sixth) and William Roaf (eighth) — were taken among the first eight picks. The all-decade guards — Steve Hutchinson (17th), Alan Faneca (26th), Larry Allen (46th) and Will Shields (94th) — were taken with an average pick of 45.8. The all-decade centers — Kevin Mawae (36th) and Olin Kreutz (64th) — were taken with an average pick of 50.0.

In all, that's six first-round picks, three second-rounders and one third-rounder.

In just less than eight weeks, the Packers will be on the clock. This is a tremendous class of offensive tackles. Russell Okung, Trent Williams and Anthony Davis are potential top-10 picks, and Iowa's Bryan Bulaga probably will be gone by No. 23, too.

But there's a good chance that USC's Charles Brown and/or Maryland's Bruce Campbell will be on the clock. Both are athletic left tackles. Brown, a former tight end, played in a zone-blocking scheme at USC and didn't allow a sack all season. Campbell is set to blow away scouts by running the 40 in 4.8 seconds on Saturday. He didn't allow a sack, either. Rising small-school star Jared Veldheer will run in the 4.8s and has played in a zone scheme, as well.

McCarthy is right. The Packers need to bring back Clifton. The future doesn't have to be now, but it's long past time that Thompson began planning for it.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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