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Drafting For Need: Good Football Players

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Drafting For Need: Good Football Players

With the draft starting in a little over a week, you can be assured the NFL's Draftnik Industrial Complex will be working overtime in getting to us, the football-loving-public, all the latest on supposed "risers and fallers". Information on who is rocketing up and plummeting down draft boards will be coming at us fast and furious.

Let me tell you right now - any rising and falling on teams draft boards right now are nothing more than two things: 1) Blatant misinformation being peddled by teams in hopes of influencing other draft boards and 2) Draft nerds with way too much time on their hands.

This is particularly true when it comes to the Packers and Ted Thompson. The Packers set their board prior to the Combine and then, with a couple of exceptions made for medical discoveries, they leave it alone.

As for the draft itself, the one thing you can take to the bank is that, at some point - maybe Thursday or Friday night, maybe on Saturday - Packer fans everywhere will say "Who?" or "Huh?"

Look no further than last years draft and the second round selection of Mike Neal. You would have thought Ted Thompson had taken a punter in the third round with the way Packer fans overreacted. As I said at the time, the pick made perfect sense when you stepped back and looked at all the mitigating factors.

Fans get all sorts of ideas going over draft guides and websites, about who the Packers will target, what positions they "need" to target. And that's fun - but it bears no resemblance to what is going on at 1265 Lombardi.

For instance - last year the media, fans and the Draftnik Industrial Complex were convinced that the Packers needed to take both a cornerback and an outside linebacker.

Thompson took neither.

This year, the media, fans and the Draftnik Industrial Complex are convinced the Packers need to take a defensive end...and outside linebacker. And quite possibly a receiver. What they aren't taking into account is the "Improve From Within" mantra that the Packers have made their lifeblood. Yes, the Packers could use reinforcements at all those positions, but if the right value doesn't present itself during the draft, Thompson won't have a problem taking the better overall player even if its at a supposed position of strength.

It's a cliche, but Thompson truly adheres to the line "You can't have too many good football players". And it's true - you can't. It matters very little what the teams positional "needs" are. There is one all-encompassing need for every football team ever assembled - good football players. That's what Thompson sets out to find, and more often than not that's what he ends up with at the conclusion of the draft.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (40) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ryan's picture

The last sentence of this (and every post) should say, "Oh yeah, and, THE PACKERS WON THE SUPER BOWL!!!"

Kathy's picture

Once again, Aaron, you hit the proverbial nail on the head -- squarely and with force. If last season proved anything, it's that Ted Thompson and his staff (mainly Thompson) are clearly at the head of the NFL class when it comes to evaluating and developing players. Who'd a thunk an assemblage such as the Packer's roster last season would have overcome all odds and gone on to, perhaps, the most exciting finish to a season ever recorded in NFL annuls. Many proclaimed the team toast after just four games.
So as this draft approaches, I, for one, will be sitting and listening intently for who Thompson chooses. THEN and only then will I get out my draftguides and watch with wonder as the so-called experts are proven wrong.
What a fun time of year.
Now let's get this pesky CBA crap done with so we can go forward with the quest for a repeat!

lebowski's picture

In an unrelated note, when the hell will the Patriots stop owning 8 of the first 60 picks in every draft??!

packeraaron's picture

When Bill Belichick retires.

PackersRS's picture

While it is all true, it is also true that everyone was right that the Packers needed players to contribute well and early at CB and OLB. They were wrong in the venue, but how often an undrafted FA is able to contribute, let alone 2 of them (plus Walden), and to the extent that Zombo and Shields did?

Without them, we don't win the SB.

BTW, you waited this long to take that shot at TotalPackers, right?

TOTALLY deserved BTW. What a bunch of morons...

Nerdmann's picture

Last year we need a LT. And Uncle Ted got a great one. This year I don't really think we need help on the DL, per se. I think we're pretty good.
The only real WEAKNESS I see is at punt returner.

aussiepacker's picture

How can you say we don't need help on the Dline. Jenkins is pretty much gone, Picket is another year older, Neal is still unproven, Wilson and Wynn would have to step up considerably to be starters Green is servicable but no all pro, Jolly aint comin back and Justin Harrell will be on IR by the third pre season game. So i think at least two more big bodies in this draft is needed?

PackersRS's picture

2 big bodies if NOBODY pans out.
If everybody (Wilson, Wynn, Neal) pans out, we don't need anyone.

I think it's fair to say that we should target one DL, with both Jenkins and Jolly gone.

And Jenkins isn't gone yet, FYI.

aussiepacker's picture

I understand Jenkins isn't gone yet but if you had to wage money on it you would bet he was gone. I also hope everyone pans out but i think that hope is to risky to not at least draft one in the first three rounds and maybe one in the seventh or a UDFA or two to come into camp?

WoodyG's picture

Couldn't agree more ...... If there's a run on QBs in the 1st round by some of these 'foolish & desperate QB starved teams', TT will be able to pluck a damn good player at #32 ...... The lockout & zero FA movement are working to GB's advantage .......

packeraaron's picture

"The lockout & zero FA movement are working to GB’s advantage" - totally agree.

jeremy's picture

"For instance - last year the media, fans and the Draftnik Industrial Complex were convinced that the Packers needed to take both a cornerback and an outside linebacker."

Great post!

I think one very important thing to take into consideration is that TT values positions in the draft based on what positions he thinks he can fill with street and undrafted players. Why draft a CB or OLB high if you feel the talent available early in the draft isn't way better than what you can get elsewhere.

For instance the first CB and OLB picked after GB took Bulaga were Kyle Wilson (21 tackles and 5 pass deflections) and Jerry Hughes (read BUST, 3 tackles). Compare that to Sam Shields (2 ints 1 forced fumble 1 sack in the NFC Championship game alone) and Frank Zombo (28 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles).

BubbaOne's picture

I agree wholeheartedly w/ your premise Aaron. That's why I'll reiterate an earlier post. I wouldn't be surprised AT ALL if TT in the first 4 rounds (5 picks) drafted two players from the following positions: QB, TE, S, and ILB. If I include RB then it goes to 50% (3 out of the first 6 picks).

...and one more thing...

“Oh yeah, and, THE PACKERS WON THE SUPER BOWL!!!”

Chad Toporski's picture

I agree with most of this.

But all you have to do is look back to last year's drafting of Morgan Burnett to see that Thompson does take need into consideration. After all, he drafted *up* over a dozen picks to get him.

BPA is certainly the crux of their strategy, but I contend that what the team needs isn't quite as worthless as you make it seem.

packeraaron's picture

I hear you there - but at the time Bigby was the presumed starter (it was before he stayed away from an entire summer of offseason activity). It's not like Thompson was jumping up for some dire need. He saw a player he really liked at a position they were a bit thin at. Much different than the desperate "they HAVE to get a corner" talk that was going on leading up to the draft.

BubbaOne's picture

Takin Burnett served another purpose. I still have Bear fans telling me how pissed they were that TT jumped ahead of Dud Bears taking Burnett and leaving them w/ Minor Wrong aka Major Wright.

PackersRS's picture

I agree in the sense that it's not true that TT traded up because Burnett was a S.

He traded up because Burnett was a great value in that pick, and was going to get picked by the Bears if he hadn't.

I disagree, as I stated above, that the Packers didn't need to get a CB. They absolutely needed to add a quality CB to their roster, and it's more than proven by the fact that Roethlisberger shreded our D to pieces once Shields and Woodson went down.

It doesn't make TT's moves wrong. It was absolutely the right move to pass on the CBs available.

In summary, we did need a CB, but there simply weren't quality ones available (might be disputed with the fact that Shields went undrafted. Does it constitutes as a right move that we got him, or as a bad move, draft wise, that we passed on him 7 times?).

packeraaron's picture

"Roethlisberger shreded our D to pieces once Shields and Woodson went down." Huh? He went right at Shields for a TD.

Cole's picture

True Sheilds was beat a few times, but it appeared that he was hurt badly.

PackersRS's picture

Nicked up, like Cole pointed out.

Before they went out, there was only 3 points on the board for the Steelers.

Still, the broader point is that we needed to add a quality CB to the roster to make the run. You don't agree with that?

packeraaron's picture

Who's to say Pat Lee couldn't have made the jump with regular playing time? Or Brandon Underwood? I don't think either are as talented as Shields, but both are more than serviceable. They needed an upgrade from Jarrett Bush at nickel, yes.

Also, yes Shields was "nicked up" - on a play where he gambled and under cut a pass trying to pick it off - and got beat bad. He's got a ton of talent, but he's got a lot of area to grow in both technique and recognition. And yes, he's got the potential to be a great starter for years to come, but the NFL is populated with veteran players with unachieved potential. I love his upside, but he's got to keep growing.

PackersRS's picture

Lee or Underwood panning out is more of wishful thinking, as they couldn't beat an UDFA that didn't get much playing time in the offseason, and was brought in to be the kick returner.

As for Shields using terrible technique on the TD he got beat, using his hands too low and losing in the LOS, it's very true.

It's also true that his technique was sloppy all year, but he made up for it with his outstanding athleticism. I know that Wallace is a lot faster than almost every receiver he faced, but Shields couldn't make up for the lack of technique due to injury.

I don't know if he would've been able to prevent the TD if he was healthy, I know that he did it in previous games.

packeraaron's picture

"Lee or Underwood panning out is more of wishful thinking" - and pinning hopes on the development of Graham Harrell isn't?

PackersRS's picture

It is akin, but the need for a CB was much deeper than a need for a 3rd QB.

That's not the point, though. You are changing your approach. You are preaching in the article, which I agree, that you pick the best player available, and not for need. Yet you hope they draft a QB. As I hoped they would draft a CB very early.

Chad Toporski's picture

"Much different than the desperate “they HAVE to get a corner” talk that was going on leading up to the draft."

I concur wholeheartedly. Anyone with that kind of sense would end up reaching for a lot of different players.

Silly fans. Drafts are for GMs.

some guy's picture

i really hope they don't draft a QB or RB. solidly 2 deep there and young (assuming Flynn stays).

I'd go at least 2 OL's (for the love of God protect Rodgers) a CB, LB, WR and DE

oh and it would help if they got someone who could return a punt or kickoff

packeraaron's picture

With a starting quarterback who sustained two concussions last year, one of which caused him to miss a start, who is backed up by a guy on the last year of his contract - I hope they DO draft a quarterback...

lmills's picture

So you're thinking Flynn will be getting a pay raise somewhere else when his contract expires?

PackersRS's picture

Aaron Rodgers
Games the Packers have played since he was named starter: 52 (including playoffs)
Games he started: 51
Games he started and finished: 50

He has missed a grand total of 1 1/2 games in 52 games... Much ado about nothing.

Besides, are you completely discarding Graham Harrell already? But what about, ahem, "Improve from Within"???

packeraaron's picture

Where did I discount him? Is it not more prudent to draft a qb this year for if/when Flynn leaves than to go into 2012 with Harrell and a draft pick backing up Rodgers? Of course it is.
Yes, I'd much rather draft a quarterback I don't end up needing than needing a quarterback I didn't draft.

Chad Toporski's picture

"Is it not more prudent to draft a qb this year for if/when Flynn leaves than to go into 2012 with Harrell and a draft pick backing up Rodgers?"

Ummm... that's pretty much what they've done the past three years.

2008: Rodgers, Flynn (rookie), Brian Brohm (rookie)

2009: Rodgers, Flynn, Brohm / Chris Pizzotti (UDFA rookie)

2010: Rodgers, Flynn, Harrell (undrafted/CFL)

PackersRS's picture

With 70+ players on the roster, it's very possible that we can't carry 3 QBs on the roster, let alone 4.

Harrell will have 3 years in the system by next year. Even with a rookie QB being drafted this year, chances are Harrell is going to be the immediate backup, if Flynn leaves.

If, indeed, Flynn leaves, we can get a QB next year, where the chances of said QB making the roster will be bigger than now.

packeraaron's picture

You're assuming Flynn will be on the roster opening day 2011 - I'm not so sure. ;)

PackersRS's picture

Well, with no trades permitted before the draft, I am. Makes no sense to trade Flynn NOW for a 2012 pick. Why not trade him later?

Cole's picture

Is there any chance Cameron Jordan falls to late teens and we trade up? Guy is gonna be a star.

Abraham's picture

I agree with your premise, Nagler, but I still think the main idea is that the idea of need or strength is a complete misnomer and has no barring in what a team will do in the draft. I think most people would agree that the Packers were if not the best team, certainly up there, and considering the absurd amount of injuries have quality depth. Lets look at this grand depth chart position by position and see where the Packers needs are.

QB: 1) Aaron Rodger 2) Matt Flynn 3) Graham Harrell.

Rodgers is a top 3 NFL QB but suffering 2 concussions in the same seasons rises some concerns about his ability to stay healthy. Matt Flynn played well in the Patriots game, but was poor in the Det game and is certainly a question mark. Solid backup but questions about how good of a long term starter he would be. Harrell, well, he's Harrell

overall: Not a need

RB: Grant, Starks, Jackson, Kuhn, Nance

With Brandon Jackson a FA, and Grant and Starks pass blocking questionable, not to mention Grant's likely declined contract after this year. Starks is still an unproven quantity.

overall: need

FB: Hall, Kuhn, Johnson

WR: Jennings, Driver, Nelson, Jones, Swain

Jennings is a stud. Driver is aging, not done but certainly getting up there in age. Jones is a FA, Nelson is a FA after next season. Swain is a body.

overall: need

TE: Finley, Quarless, Crabtree, Lee

Finley is a stud, but a FA after next season. Quarless is talented but raw. Crabtree is a good blocker, but advanced metrics show him to be poor. Lee is most likely cut

overall: need

OL: Clifton, Colledge, Wells, Sitton, Bulaga, Spitz, Lang, McDonald, Dietrich-Smtih

Clifton is good, but certainly aging. Colledge is a FA and below average. Wells is highly thought of but a FA after next season. Sitton is a stud but FA in 2012. Bulaga good 1st round pick. Spitz likely gone. Lang will vie for LG or RT spot but seemed to take a step back. Rest seem like just guys.

overall: needs all across the board

DL: Jenkins, Neal, Raji, Pickett, Green, Jenkins, Wynn

Jenkins is a FA, Neal is coming off a nasty injury but should fit in well. Raji is a stud, Pickett is good but getting up a bit in age and him and Green haven't been monitored b/c of the lockout :) Wynn is just a guy.

overall: need to replace Jenkins, if not directly, than at least depth wise

OLB: Matthews, Walden, Briggs, Zombo, Francois

Matthews is a stud. Walden and Zombo are a decent platoon but have their flaws and could be exposed by opposing offenses. Briggs and Fancois are just guys

overall: need a talent infusion opposite Matthews

ILB: Bishop, Hawk, Barnett?, Wilhelm, Francois

Bishop and Hawk are studs and signed to long-term deals. Barnett will likely be traded, cut or restructured, and if kept, is gone after this year. Wilhelm and Francois are guys

overall: need depth

CB: Tramon, Woodson, Shields, Underwood, Lee, Gordy

Tramon is a stud. Woodson only has a couple more years. Shields showed a lot last year. Underwood is a big ?. Lee played well in the superbowl. Gordy is a guy

overall: could use a talent infusion in the Nickle/Dime

S: Peprah Bigby Collins Bush Burnett

Collins is a stud. Peprah is a solid starer but more an in the box. Bigby is gone. We all know Bush. Burnett has questions about his in the box capabilities.

overall: could use a stud but assuming Burnett comes back strong aside from a stud no real need here.

K: Crosby

free agent. decent

overall: need, but its a kicking specialist and Shermmy isn't our GM anymore.

P: Mahstay

stud

overall: strength

So the team that just WON THE SUPER BOWL and most league analysts would say have one of, if not the deepest team in the league, have needs all over except for punter, Quarterback and safety. Bottom line: BPA and need hardly even exists. Everything can be considered a need. So who wants to be TT takes Locker or Mallet at 32?!?!

aussiepacker's picture

Dude D Lee is already cut and you forgot Brandon Chillar in the mix. But a fair analysis none the less.

cow42's picture

and you forgot brad jones

Bomdad's picture

I just wonder about how much more value the 7th round will have because there is no UDFA signing allowed. Did they consider expanding the draft this year? The value chart should be balanced to the later rounds at least. Then next year with a rookie cap on place it will shift more value to the first round than current.

Abraham's picture

Definitely expect TT to trade down to try to gain extra really late picks since generally at least one undrafted FA makes the opening week roster.

Thanks for the corrections guys. My bad.

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