Ted Thompson is entering his eighth draft as the Packer Czar. His approval rating among Packer fans is incredibly high and perception of the GM, front office brass and organization could not be more different from this time, eight or even four drafts ago. Busts like this first round whiff, this United Football League star and this second round cornerback have been forgiven if not forgotten about. Outside of Bill Belichick, Thompson may be on the coldest seat (I am hoping it’s a thing like the proverbial hot seat) of all NFL decision makers. He could come out of the 2012 draft with Andrew Luck’s dad and he’d be given the benefit of doubt:).
This post is not about predicting specific players that the Packers will draft. While I play a scout/draftnik/GM in my daydreams all the time, I am not one and do not feel qualified to critique or judge specific Ted Thompson moves. However, I do feel comfortable making some generic predictions on the overall nature of the Packer draft 2012 based on the current roster, current contracts and available draft picks. I am also looking at recent Packer drafts, the vast barrage of opinions on my Twitter feed and mock drafts from internet draftniks such as this to make what I think are educated guesses. Ted Thompson probably gets piss drunk and streaks down Holmgren Way if he hits on just 50% of draft picks in a year. I, on the other hand will gladly take that success rate for the following six predictions on the 2012 Packer draft –
1. James Jones will be traded before or during the draft
James Jones is the fourth best receiver on the Packers right now behind Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley. It was a minor shock that no team paid him more than the three-year 9.4 million dollar contract the Packers offered him last summer. Going in to the 2012 season, I think James Jones is a luxury the Packers can afford to get rid of for the right price. Between 35 and 40 Wide Receivers are expected to be drafted this year in an insanely deep and quality class. Ted Thompson will believe that James Jones’ production can be matched by a combination of a productive player from this class and the continued development of Randall Cobb.
Also, there’s at least a half-dozen teams for whom James Jones can step in as a starter right away. Miami’s new coach, Seattle’s new quarterback and Cleveland’s talent-bereft West Coast Offense could all use James Jones tomorrow morning. I believe one of these teams will offer up a pick that the Packers will value as adequate for Jones. This makes too much sense in my head and here’s hoping I am right.
2. The Packers will not draft a Tight End this year
The Packers have five tight ends on their roster already. Three of them were drafted the last two years. While Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy love themselves some athletic multi-dimensional Tight Ends, the supposed lack of quality in this year’s class plus the abundance on the roster indicate to me that the Packers will not draft one this season. Makes sense, right?
3. The Packers will draft at least one Running Back (RB) in the first four rounds
Three mock drafts I saw gave 4’th round or higher grades to ten different running backs in this year’s draft pool. No one including Ryan Grant himself expects the Packers to re-sign Ryan Grant. I don’t believe the Packers will want to go into the regular season with a combination of Alex Green and James Starks. And while chanting Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhn is one of the most fun things to do as a Packer fan, entrusting him with more workload than he currently shoulders borders on wishful thinking. All signs point to an early addition at the RB position.
4. The Packers will draft a quarterback This one seems like a no-brainer to me
A couple of mock drafts I perused, had up to 15 quarterbacks being drafted this year. While Graham Harrell is signed thru 2014, I think the Packers would like to have someone they can groom, develop and do the dirty job of playing eight quarters in the pre-season:). I hope Seahawks fans pay attention to whoever this ends up being. He will after all be their starter in 2017.
5. The Packers will trade out of their first round pick
This one’s pure gut feel. Ted Thompson loved trading down in his first few drafts and has refrained from doing so of late. Obviously it takes two tango and I think this is the year where there’s teams needy enough for Brandon Weeden or Mark Barron will take the Packers’ first round pick for Ted Thompson’s asking price. Unless one of the three cornerbacks projected to go in Round 1 are still around, I do think this is the likely outcome late Thursday night.
6. The Packers will draft at least one Wide Receiver in the first four rounds
Like I mentioned earlier, most experts think this is an insanely deep Wide Receiver class. Ted Thompson has gauged and drafted this position better than most other teams. He’s found a Jordy Nelson in Round II and even a fairly productive Brett Swain in Round VII. i will be shocked if a quality Wide Receiver is not unearthed here by Mr Thompson.
I will update this post after the draft to grade my predictions. Until then…..