John Schneider has been Director of Football Operations for the Green Bay Packers since 2008. Prior to this he spent six years as Personnel Analyst to GM-VP-Director of Football Operations Ted Thompson.
Schneider describes his job in his own words in a 2009 interview, saying "My primary focus is working closely with our GM, personnel staff, and coaching staff in order to put the best product on the field to compete for a world championship year in and year out. I work closely with Russ Ball our cap guy as well. I scout both at the college and professional levels. I probably visit between 20 – 25 schools per year. In this current role, I tend to concentrate on strategy as well. I also work on trade negotiations."
Prior to his recent promotion, says Packers.com, Schneider's Personnel Analyst job included addressing and evaluating the needs of the team in both the draft and free agency, incorporating a long-range planning process that examined the Packers' roster, as well as the rosters of all NFL teams, and taking into account the potential effects of injuries and salary cap issues, and exploring possible trade scenarios.
Schneider has worked most of his career under Ron Wolf and/or Ted Thompson. Thompson should be familiar to Seahawks fans as the V.P. who oversaw Seattle's draft board with GM Mike Holmgren from 2000 through 2004.
Schneider began his NFL career as an intern with intern under Ron Wolf in 1992, and served as a Packers' Pro Personnel Assistant through the 1996 season when Mike Holmgren coached the team to its Super Bowl victory. After a three-year stint with the Chiefs organization, Schneider rejoined Thompson and Holmgren in Seattle in 2000 as Director of Player Personnel for the Seahawks, before leaving in 2001 to serve to be V.P. of Player Personnel under the Redskins' Marty Schottenheimer. When Redskins' owner Dan Snyder fired Schottenheimer a year later, Schneider was hired back to the Packers by Ron Wolf.
The Packers are the second-youngest team in the NFL, and this is no surprise once you look at their roster. Very few of their draft picks from the 2006 through 2009 drafts have washed out. They drafted 39 of the players that finished 2009 on the active roster or injured reserve list (3 others came through trades, 20 as free agents). On opening day 2009, 14 out of 22 Packers starters were players drafted by the club.
When Schneider was rejoined in Green Bay by GM Ted Thompson in 2005, they began a period of rebuilding. This period should be of most interest to Seahawks fans as Seattle's team is in a similar position.
As part of that rebuild, Thompson stockpiled draft picks. In the drafts of 2005 through 2008, Thompson made 14 draft-day trades, and all but one of these were trades down for more selections. He turned 31 picks into 43, while Schneider helped him prioritize the players to draft.
Their 2006 draft was also strong, with 4 of the top 5 draft picks becoming starters, including OLB A.J. Hawk (2006/1), OG Daryn Colledge (2006/2), WR Greg Jennings (2006/2), and OG Jason Spitz (2006/3). The 2007 draft brought RB Brandon Jackson (2007/2) and WR James Jones (2007/3). 2008 brought WR Jordy Nelson (2008/2), and TE Jermichael Finley (2008/4).
2009 saw the Packers change their defense to a 3-4 alignment and seek to fill needs through the draft, selecting huge, run-stuffing NT B.J. Raji (2009/1), sack-master OLB Clay Matthews (2009/1), and OT T.J. Lang.
Throughout these drafts, Thompson and Schneider developed a reputation for ignoring pre-draft hype and often surprising the pundits and their own fans with selections of relatively unknown players.
When asked to name the most memorable moment of his NFL career, Schneider mused "watching Desmond Howard return that kickoff for a touchdown in the Super Bowl vs. New England." Yes, Schneider was a member of that Packers' Pro Personnel Staff that had targeted the free agent Howard the year before.