ARLINGTON TX - FEBRUARY 06: Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson celebrates after winning Super Bowl XLV 31-25 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
John Schneider took the call he was looking for.
On Day 2 of the 2011 NFL Draft, Schneider found the willing counterparty seeking to move up and grant him the extra 4th round pick he desired in Day 3. He moved out of the 2nd Round - Pick 57 - down to the 3rd Round - Pick 75. He netted an extra 4th round pick for his efforts and a few slots up the board in Round 5.
Detroit walked away from the 2011 Draft with 5 picks. The top end looked pretty solid with DT Nick Fairley in Round 1, WR Titus Young in Round 2, and the afformentioned Mikel Leshoure. Detroit was saying, 'we want impact players,' not just bodies. They knew with Stafford healthy, they could compete with Megatron, Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril, Louis Delmas, Jahvid Best and more. In 2010 Detroit traded up into the bottom of Round 1 for the speedy Best in a similar style move.
Trades can be a beautiful thing. A team that has many holes to fill can trade down and add more players to fill the many holes. A team that feels like it would rather have fewer, but likely more talented and higher impact players, can move up.
Atlanta felt that Julio Jones was an explosive talent that could vault them into the arena to battle Green Bay. Cleveland - a team in rebuild said - 'a first, a second, a fourth, another first, and another fourth...ok...done.' That trade may turn out to be a win-win if Julio can help Atlanta over the hump in the playoffs, and Atlanta looks to be headed to the playoffs in 2011.
Green Bay had waxed Atlanta in their house, putting the Falcon's balanced/ball control offense in a bind by being behind several scores. Green Bay, fresh off a Super Bowl victory, walked into the 2011 Draft with nine picks. They had one in each round plus an extra 4th and an extra 7th. They had the worst possible draft position, the last pick in every round. This was a team without many holes, yet instead of walking off with five really good players (which I probably would have done) Ted Thompson walked out of the draft with ten picks.
In fact - Ted Thompson TRADED DOWN 3 times.
The final result of the Draft (again, in theory the Packers should have the worst draft in the NFL because they are picking last in every round):
Rd 1- Derek Sherrod OT
Rd 2- Randall Cobb WR
Rd 3- Alex Green RB
Rd 4- (Traded pick 129 to Denver- basically traded a 4th and a 7th for a 5th and a 6th- or put another way- they moved down 12 slots from the bottom of round 4 into the top of round 5 and moved up 18 slots from the top of round 7 to the bottom of round 6)
Rd 4- Davon House CB (pick 131)
Rd 5- D.J. Williams TE (pick 141- this is the 5th they got from Denver- and DJ Williams was the 2010 John Mackey Award Winner)
Rd 5- (Traded pick 163 to San Francisco for a 6th and a 7th)
Rd 6- (Traded pick 174- which they just got from San Francisco to Miami. GB moved down from 174 to 179 in exchange for a swap of 7th rd picks, GB moved up in Rd 7 from 231 (which they just received from San Fran) to 218)
Rd 6- Caleb Schlauderaff G
Rd 6- D.J. Smith LB
Rd 6- Ricky Elmore DE
Rd 7- Ryan Taylor TE/FB
Rd 7- Lawrence Guy DT
I checked today - Lawrence Guy and Alex Green are on the IR. Ricky Elmore was cut. Schlauderaff was traded to the Jets in September for an undisclosed draft pick (wondering aloud what the Jets paid for this). All the rest of the players are on the Active Roster - and Ryan Taylor was a guy the Seahawks were interested in pre-Draft as well.
I mean, check this out - who trades DOWN 12 slots in Rd 4 to move up 18 slots in Rd 6? I wouldn't! But Ted Thompson did, why? He knew his draft board inside and out. Did Thompson know that D.J. Williams would still be sitting there at pick 141 instead of pick 129? We will never know for sure, but that is my bet. And 2011 was not the first time Thompson has done this.
Ted Thompson took over the Green Bay Draft in 2005. He had previously set up the Draft Board for the Seahawks and Mike Holmgren for a few years, and bagged players like Shaun Alexander, Steve Hutchinson, and Marcus Trufant.
In 2004, pre-Ted Thompson, Green Bay had 6 draft picks.
In 2005, Green Bay was drafting late as the 2004 Packers had gone 10-6 and won the division under Favre. They walked out of that draft with 11 picks. (two 2s, two 4s, two 5s, two 6s, two 7s- they only had one pick in round 1, but made that one count). One of the 2s was Nick Collins.
In 2009, Green Bay drafted 8 times. This was the draft where GB was converting to a 3-4 defense and needed to get their edge rusher, so they traded up back into Round 1 to get Clay Matthews. They had previously selected B.J. Raji in Round 1. They also obtained T.J. Lang.
In summary - under Ted Thompson, Green Bay has averaged 9.7 picks per draft over seven drafts. (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 11, 12).
John Schneider has referred to Ted Thompson as more of an "older brother" figure. The "father figure" to Schneider has been Ron Wolf. Yet, part of the appeal to Paul Allen, I assume, was that Schneider would bring to Seattle the Green Bay philosophy.
In the end, we all know that Pete Carroll makes the final decisions, but I think Pete Carroll wants the Green Bay philosophy to bleed through. They will be more active in free agency than Green Bay, but I believe there is still a strong emphasis on the Draft. In fact, in 2010 and 2011 PCJS drafted nine times each. Throw in Charlie Whitehurst, Lendale White, and Leon Washington and we are pretty close to the Green Bay average of 9.7. Charlie and Lendale are worth half a player each. (That was a joke- it's ok to laugh).
In part II I will explore trading up for a Quarterback and what it takes to stay "Forever Young" as a roster. Stay Tuned.