Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson has got to be sleeping well these days.
Not only did he position his team well during the early days of free agency, but he also put his franchise into excellent position as the 2014 NFL Draft approaches. With the re-signings of cornerback Sam Shields, tight end Andrew Quarless, OLB Mike Neal, LB Jamari Lattimore, defensive lineman B.J. Raji, and running back James Starks, as well as the signings of defensive linemen Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion, the Packers have addressed some of their major positional needs heading into 2014.
However, not all needs have been met – for instance, safety, inside linebacker, center, and possibly even wide receiver.
While the Packers have made more free agent signings than in past years, the team is still sitting well financially. After signing rookies to new contracts (estimated to be about $4-$5 million), the Packers will still be about $10 million under the salary cap. What to do with that money? Well, there are a couple of free agents still out there – John Kuhn and Matt Flynn, specifically – and the Packers are also looking at trying to sign wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to contract extensions before they hit the open free agent market in 2015.
Those are issues that need to be resolved soon.
But in the meatnime the Packers are looking at a total of nine selections in the Draft – with two compensatory picks being awarded to the team this week. It’s pretty clear that Thompson should be pleased.
Here’s a rundown of the Packers drafts by round:
First round: 21
Second round: 53
Third round: 85, 98
Fourth round: 121
Fifth round: 161, 176
Sixth round: 197
Seventh round: 236
Thompson’s happiness isn’t just because the Packers have nine selections, but because this is probably the deepest draft across the board in many years.
Here’s what draft guru Mike Mayock said the other day about this class:
“From my perspective, this is the deepest and best draft class I’ve seen in probably 10 years,” Mayock said. “That’s been reinforced by most of the general managers and scouts I’ve talked to throughout the league. I had one GM tell me the other day that having a Top-20 pick this year is very similar to having a Top-10 pick last year.”
With the Packers selecting twenty-first this year, they are right on the cusp of that first round talent that will most likely spill over into the later portion of the first round and into the second, third and fourth rounds. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see TT give up that first round pick, trade back, and pick up another one or two selections.
But with such diverse talent that will most likely be staring him in the face at #21 – possibly players like TE Eric Ebron, LB C.J. Mosely, Safeties Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – it will be difficult for Thompson to think about a trade at that point. But given his ability to pull off trades and still get his guy (think Eddie Lacy), Thompson may look to a tactic like that in the second or third round.
And while there’s still plenty of time between now and the Draft, we only speculate.
One thing is for certain: Thompson should be really looking forward to May 8.
And that’s why he’s probably sleeping pretty well these days.