Wednesday was the last time Packers general manager Ted Thompson would address reporters before the 2017 NFL Draft, and in "typical Ted" fashion, he didn't offer many details.
Aside from the occasional jokes - and even a confrontation with an older woman at a restaurant who was shocked beyond belief at how much better Thompson looked in person, Thompson stuck to the script for the duration of his presser. That script being very few looks into just what the Packers' plans may be.
Green Bay is on the clock at 29th overall. Its position being almost protocol late in the first round after repeated shortcomings in the post-season. It's also a spot in the first round where the Packers have selected weaponry for the defensive side of the ball every single year since 2012. Their 2012 selection, Nick Perry, was just re-signed after leading the team in sacks coming off of a one-year "prove it" deal.
Many are critical of Thompson's draft strategy, especially as of lately. However, his process, as well as his scouts', remained true to form, and he acknowledged their ongoing efforts.
"What needs to be known by everyone out there in Packerland, is that it takes an extraordinary number of people to put together the working mechanism of the draft," Thompson said on Wednesday. "Everybody in our personnel department, they just have endless hours they're spending in a dark room. Often times, away from their families. Either up here or on the road.
"The entire company, for that matter, that is the Green Bay Packers, contributes to the draft itself."
After losing cornerbacks Davon House and Tramon Williams at the culmination of the 2014 season, the Packers were awarded two fourth-round compensatory picks. Picks they ended up using on linebacker Blake Martinez and defensive end Dean Lowry, tallying 596 defensive snaps between the two in their rookie seasons. It isn't the first time Thompson has taken advantage of compensatory picks during his tenure.
Mike Daniels has become one of the more renowned compensatory selections in the Thompson era in recent memory. Josh Sitton, Richard Rodgers and current Packers defensive tackle Christian Ringo are among others. The Packers were given one fifth-round compensatory pick this year.
"(Compensatory picks) are no different than regular picks," Thompson said. "This time last year, you can use the pick to draft somebody, but you can't move if you decided to make a trade. In that regard, it is helpful. It's better to have that option than to not have it."
Defensive end Kenny Clark, however, wasn't a compensatory pick.
After a rookie season where he didn't highlight the stat sheet, but still provided extra force in Green Bay's pass rush, Clark helped solidify Thompson's motive in 2016 with selecting Clark with the 27th overall pick - another late-round selection following the team's loss in the NFC Divisional playoffs.
"Decisions like that are not made during the draft normally," Thompson said of picking Clark 357 days ago. "There's been a couple in my lifetime where 'boom,' something changed and I had to make a decision. Most of the time you sit there and you kind of know who you want to take. Everything falls the way it's supposed to fall. It doesn't necessarily mean your thought process was correct, but it means you never wavered."
Clark's small sample size of success doesn't mask Thompson from the fact that the Packers' defense was sub-optimal a season ago and fell far below expectations. Going into the following campaign, there's optimism, but still a clear need for improvement.
"We feel pretty good about our roster as a whole. From a numbers standpoint, we're going to have to increase and add some players.
"We're hopeful to do that during this process and through the rest of the process in the spring and the summer."
If there's any certainty, it's that the skepticism of Thompson has never been higher amongst fans since he took his positional role in 2005. Specifically, the crowd who feel strongly of the general manager "wasting" Aaron Rodgers' prime with his lack of free agency roster building as opposed to his yearly draft and undrafted free agent hauls.
The Packers have been on the clock since late January, but they'll officially be making their selection in the 2017 NFL Draft a week from tonight.
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