Where Are They Now? The Green Bay Packers 2009 Draft
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A disappointing 2008 season saw the Green Bay Packers finish a lackluster 6-10. This was good for the second to last spot in the NFC North, in front of only the lowly Detroit Lions who finished without a win that season. There is always an upside, and for the Packers their dismal 2008 showing positioned Ted Thompson with the ninth pick in the draft.
With that ninth selection Ted Thompson took B.J. Raji, a 6’2,” 337-pound defensive tackle from Boston College. Raji has proved to be a very good nose tackle for the Packers, the anchor of the defensive line. The 2010 Super Bowl season was Raji’s breakout year. He recorded 39 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and defended three passes. Despite the impressive numbers in 2010, Raji’s most memorable moment that season was a “hula” dance that he did in the end zone following an interception against the Bears in the NFC Championship Game. At the conclusion of the 2013 season, Raji is due a new contract.
If there is one draft in which Thompson displayed his genius, it was in 2009. One thing that was omitted in the opening paragraph, was 2008 was also the year Brett Favre retired and then un-retired and then traded to the New York Jets. Provided Favre took a majority of the snaps for the Jets in 2008 the Packers would be awarded the Jets’ 2009 third round pick. Favre did take the majority of snaps. Ted subsequently packaged the Packers’ second round pick with the third round pick from the Jets, number 83 overall, for the New England Patriots’ first round pick, number 26 overall. With that selectin the Packers took Clay Matthews III.
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Matthews for the aging gunslinger – some might say that Brett Favre is the gift that keeps on giving for the Packers. I mean all Matthews has done since his arrival in 2009 is record 204 tackles, 42.5 sacks, four interceptions, seven forced fumbles and score three defensive touchdowns. Not to mention the accolades – four-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro, Super Bowl Champion and 2010 NFC Defensive Player of the year.
If Favre had just stayed retired, all the Packers would have gotten is a retired number and most likely some public relations.
Without a second or third round pick the Packers didn’t make another selection until the fourth round. With that pick they chose T.J. Lang. Evidently Ted was fond of players that went by initialized first names in 2009. Nonetheless Lang has evolved from a scrappy, undersized tackle with a frat boy mentality to a mauling guard who is yet to reach his suspected ceiling. Lang is a solid starting guard on an average offensive line with a knack for attracting attention on twitter – @tjlang70
Per usual, Thompson hit on about 50 percent of his draft selections in 2009. After selecting Lang in the fourth round, Ted didn’t snag another true keeper until the seventh round, when he selected linebacker Brad Jones from Colorado. Jones has been up and down, battling injuries, and learning multiple positions during his time in Green Bay. Last season was arguably his most productive. As a result he may very well make some money in free agency this offseason.
Quinn JohnsonFull BackLSU
Jamon MeredithOffensive TackleSouth Carolina
Jarius WynnDefensive EndGeorgia
Outside of the aforementioned players, the Packers had two fifth round picks and two sixth-rounders. None of the four developed into players for Green Bay. Defensive end Jarius Wynn played quite a bit, including the 2010 Super Bowl run, but was released in 2012 during training camp and later signed by the Indianapolis Colts. Fullback Quinn Johnson from LSU also played on the Super Bowl XLV team. The Packers thought they had a bruising fullback who could block and run. Johnson was cut in 2011 after demonstrating that he could not do either exceptionally well. The biggest disappointment of these four was Brandon Underwood. An immature cornerback who you suspect the Packers thought they could capitalize on his potential and assist in his maturation process. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Underwood had multiple scrapes with the law and did not produce on the field. Another guy Thompson missed on was fifth round selection Jamon Meredith, a big offensive tackle from South Carolina.
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Ted Thompson’s 2009 draft was very solid. He selected two guys who became Pro Bowl-caliber and one of them is multiple hamstring injuries from being a perennial All Pro. Six of the eight players selected were contributors on a Super Bowl team. Four years after the draft and having four players starting is a sign of success.