Ted Thompson has his work cut out for him. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Getting Into the head of Ted Thompson

 

It’s that time of year when we read this one’s and that one’s prognostication on the draft. After getting to know 200,000 college senior football players, well, maybe a few less than that many, it gets tiring.

Most good followers are in agreement the team needs a few positions right away through the draft, yet the number of players makes it tough unless one sifts through the writers, then makes their own judgment picks.

The Green Bay Packers have Ted Thompson behind the wheel that guides the talent farm up at Lambeau Field, and he’s known around the league as one of the shrewdest who acquired a style that allows him get more bang for his dollar.

Clay Matthews' return will help solidify the Packers' defense. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Clay Matthews’ return will help solidify the Packers’ defense.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

The whole crew of Packers Backers, from sea to sea are in agreement on a few positions, including defensive backfield help, a tight-end or two, more friends to help linebacker Clay Mathews run wild behind enemy lines at linebacker, a center, and in my own world some say I live in, the whole line of scrimmage needs help.

I say that after a few years of keeping an eye on Ted Thompson, trying to get into his head to figure out just how  he works things.  Being a descendant of Ron Wolf, you could say he he’s been to the best school in the country, as a scout a few years back.  Thompson has a keen eye for talent, and that’s the easy part.

You see him bring in players who could go to other clubs and make a half million dollars, but TT will sign them for $380,000 as an example. That takes bargaining skills. Not only is he consistently saving a few dollars here and there on personnel, but he can hold them in waiting, until the perfect timing to bargain comes around, then, on the best day possible, round up the agent and player to wrap up the deal.

That is a skill only a select few possess, and Ted’s on the top of the list in this department. Sure, critics claim he missed the boat on one player or another, but that can happen to anyone in his shoes. Injury or illness can come on unexpected, so forgetting to ask if a player gets sick or injured before signing is forgiven.

To get into Ted’s way of thinking, I believe there are only a few simple things to remember. Get the best talent. Get the best personality, and get them for the best price. To put the frosting on the cake, add in what the team’s needs are. We saw him go out and address the defensive front issue raised just before free agents came out. It was plain and simple, he wanted the best talent available for the best price.

I, for one, was crying the blues for my favorite DE, but all that happened is the player made a comment to the press that he’d love to play in Green Bay.  He signed a contract for more than $30 million, and that while that cost would not have put the team in financial difficulties, the signing of Julius

Julius Peppers will wear number 56 in 2014 with his new team - the Green Bay Packers. Photo courtesy of packers.com

Julius Peppers will wear number 56 in 2014 with his new team – the Green Bay Packers.
Photo courtesy of packers.com

Peppers brought the best personality in and down the road, in signing rookies or replacements for players out of action, will be allowed without going south with the team budget.

Like I said, he saves a little and gets a little more bang for his dollar. Buying contracts puts the team in the red, simply is not good management. So, he waited while y’awl were screaming bloody murder to grab someone at DE (myself included), and he goes under the radar for a week. The next thing you know, in comes the Chicago nemesis to play for a better price than the other top names.

Let’s hope Peppers plays out of his mind. He’ll be in good company with Clay Mathews and I really think A.J. Hawk will put up some big numbers to be playing with more of an all-star cast on the D.

I’d have to think the deal, if a couple good tight ends are on the table at 21, would be to trade down and get more picks. It may be the year for it, the way the talent is loaded in heaps at some positions. Four second-rounders can prove out better than one first and two second round draft choices, and with that first pick, the TE position will be filled with a good match.

In the second round, I’d look for Ted to go back to defense, and pick up some back fielders or inside, even outside linebackers. But if a top shelf offensive lineman is out yet, he might grab him, most likely a center. Whichever position does not get addressed in rounds one and two will be flooded in the third round. I mean if the linebackers are not picked up early, look for more than two in the late rounds.

Did you ever notice that happens? Day one goes by and I’m asking why didn’t they get X position drafted? Day two comes around and X gets filled with three rookies. I’m no Sigmund Freud, but that sounds like Ted’s way of doing things.

Good luck to Jermichal Finley, his days with Green Bay are over, and we wish him the best of health in his future. I see a tight end coming in who will excel at Finley’s position. Will it be in the first round? Most likely not, because there’s a nice crop this year at tight end.

It's time for Jermichael Finley to fulfill his destiny. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

It’s time for Jermichael Finley to fulfill his destiny.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

A torn disc is a scary thing, I am well aware of, having lost my trade job due to nearly the same level going out among several others rendering a problem that will last a long time.

It sounds like Finley’s healed but the biggest problem is what will happen if he gets popped illegally again from the same or another direction? It’s a serious problem.

One youngster, A.C. Leonard, stands out for several reasons. The product of Florida who had trouble with a girlfriend and wound up dragging her across the floor by the hair! He was charged with a misdemeanor battery, and Ted & Co. like clean slates for their players.

If he shows true desire to change, maybe he will be considered. A.C. wound up going to Tennessee after that incident. Leonard looks like a natural runner on film, who can fly after the catch, reminding me of Cobb, whose blazing speed put fear in defenses with amazing runs.

A.C. ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, and together with Cobb who is just as fast, Jarrett Boykin can fly at 4.39, and then Nelson at 4.51 give the Packers “Blazing Saddles” that will give any defense trouble if they get behind the defender with the ball. That has to be one of the fastest groups in the NFL.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you these speeders are higher maintenance than most other football players. The great Willie Wood was the fastest Packer for quite a few years and went around eight years without missing a game, and many others in the game have done well staying on the active list.

Aaron Rodgers Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Aaron Rodgers
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Let’s just hope if such a list comes to be, with another burner ball receiver, the team utilizes the confusion a balanced attack can bring. It’s nice to be able to run the ball, but let us remember the evolution of the game has changed from “run to daylight” to “pass to daylight” which opens the running game up when defenses key on passing.

It almost seemed at times, that Coach McCarthy was trying to imitate the old days, of grind out 3.3 yards per carry. That doesn’t cut it anymore in the NFL, as the change went into full gear during the early 90s. Looking back at what is on paper now for the team, it looks like Aaron Rodgers will be seeing a lot of three and outs this coming season.

Let’s hope so.

You know more improvements are coming. Just how much better, time will tell.  One thing I can say I know for sure with Ted Thompson, is that he’s not going to stand still on improving last year’s team – not just yet, and September is still some 20 weeks away.

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