Thompson's Black Mark: 2007

Avoiding free agency is fine if you hit it big in the draft, but Ted Thompson's 2007 draft class has provided precious little impact. Brandon Jackson and James Jones are role players ... and that's the good news.

"Fair and balanced" is the mantra of Fox News, and since Fox is paying for the mortgage and the diapers, it's time to provide some balance after defending Ted Thompson's free agency track record.

If the general manager of the Green Bay Packers chooses to ignore free agency, then he had better hit a home run, triple and a couple of singles in every draft. That's how Indianapolis' Bill Polian has made the Colts Super Bowl contenders year after year while signing even fewer unrestricted free agents than Thompson.

While Thompson must be commended for pulling the trigger and hitting a grand slam with Aaron Rodgers and proving the skeptics wrong with second-round homers with Nick Collins and Greg Jennings, his 2007 draft class looks like a "Casey at the Bat"-style strikeout.

Of Thompson's 11 picks, nine made the roster to start their rookie seasons and seven are on the roster today. By the end of training camp, that number could be down to just four.

Infamous first-round pick Justin Harrell, with the additions of second-rounder Mike Neal and seventh-rounder C.J. Wilson, looks like no better than a 50-50 bet to make the roster. Harrell looked great at defensive end last training camp. Problem is, he was only healthy for a week. Bad backs are as fickle as a colicky baby.

Fourth-rounder Allen Barbre, who played about as bad a right tackle as possible during the first half of last season, has almost no chance of making the roster. And if rookie fifth-rounder Marshall Newhouse shows some promise, then Barbre's chances will go from slim to none.

The Packers almost certainly won't keep three fullbacks again, which means sixth-rounder Korey Hall will have to fend off John Kuhn and Quinn Johnson.

While he's in no danger of being released, second-rounder Brandon Jackson, who got a career-low 58 touches in 12 games last year, could see the ball even less often with the addition of sixth-rounder James Starks.

The roster locks are Jackson and wide receiver James Jones (third round). Linebacker Desmond Bishop (sixth round) and kicker Mason Crosby (sixth round) look like pretty sure bets based on the lack of competition on the roster. Hall and Harrell look like coin flips, and Barbre is on life support. Aaron Rouse (third round), David Clowney (fifth round), DeShawn Wynn (seventh round) and Clark Harris (seventh round) already have been given the heave-ho.

The Class of 2007 — which included four of the first 89 picks in the draft — should be core players as they enter their fourth professional seasons. Instead, the Packers have two role players on offense (Jackson and Jones), a scattershot kicker and a couple role players.

Put it together, and that's no doubles, triples or home runs. Only a couple bloop singles and too many strikeouts.


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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. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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