Green Bay Packers’ Ted Thompson shows us the advantages of being homegrown


A gang of homegrown Green Bay Packers talent swarms around Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson as the Packers defeat the Vikings last week, 44-31. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports photograph

We all saw the statistic last Sunday night: The Green Bay Packers, because of Ted Thompson, boast a league-high 50 of 53 players on the active roster who have never played a down for another NFL team.

That is pretty incredible. No other NFL team has more than 40 on their active roster.

How does this factor into the continued success of the Green Bay Packers over the years? I’m glad you asked … you see, it’s time fans of the Packers realized a couple of things:

It’s time we realized that Ted Thompson knows what he is doing.

A lot of fans want to play GM, especially in the offseason when free agency rolls around. There are always going to be big name guys on the market with which teams will attempt to temporarily plug holes. If you are a fan of the Green Bay Packers, you can shut off your phone alerts during this time; there will be no updates to the roster through free agency.

No, Ted Thompson is not going to go out and sign Steven Jackson. No, he isn’t going to trade away draft picks for Tony Gonzalez or Larry Fitzgerald.

Why would he do that?

Eddie Lacy

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Fans were irate when Jackson was signed to the Atlanta Falcons this offseason. Thompson is such an idiot to let that guy get away, right? Well, maybe he was holding out for a true franchise running back like … oh, I don’t know … Eddie Lacy? His midseason accolades have already been sung a thousand times. Where has Jackson been this season? On the bench, sidelined by injury. Can we let Thompson do his job now?

Oh, we’re having a crisis at wide receiver?

You’re kidding … Thompson didn’t prepare for this? I guess we better go out and trade away our future draft picks for … aging veterans in the middle of their last rodeo. If fans were the GM, we’d have traded away our will-be’s for a team of has-beens.

But Ted Thompson does his job once again – and plugs in homegrown kids like Jarrett Boykin, Myles White, Andrew Quarless, Jake Stoneburner who, well … seem to be getting the job done alright.

Here are the reins … back to you, Ted.

It’s time we realized that homegrowns are better than plug-ins.

Why would you want a temporary fix to a problem? The Packers organization is draft and develop. They draft young kids who will be future stars. Look what happened with Aaron Rodgers. Drafted in the late first round in 2005 to be the future replacement for Brett Favre. He studied under Favre for three years, under the tutelage of Mike McCarthy and his quarterback school, learned the playbook and got some valuable experience watching players make plays.

Counter that with free agent acquisitions like Vince Young over the offseason who would be a temporary plug-in at a position of need. A veteran with experience winning in this league, Young didn’t have time to grasp the playbook like he would need to, didn’t have time to develop a rapport with receivers, didn’t have time to really learn the Green Bay Packers system enough to be successful.

Look at Jeff Saturday. A rare free agent signing last year, he was filling in an immediate need after Scott Wells moved on as our veteran center.

Evan Dietrich-Smith

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He had significant experience, but he absolutely struggled. Halfway through the season, homegrown prospect Evan Dietrich-Smith took over at center and has been the permanent fixture since. EDS wasn’t ready to claim the job at the start of last season, but with more preparation, more practice, more learning from the sideline, he has become a mainstay in this Packers offensive line.

It’s time we realized that the future of the Packers is already here.

When The Big Three was decimated earlier this season, fans panicked. I’ll be the first to admit that I was worried. But future stars are already here, people. They are already in the system, already learning the playbook, already gaining confidence and rapport with Rodgers during practice.

Jarrett Boykin has become an overnight sensation in Green Bay. His breakout game against the Cleveland Browns proved that draft and develop is the way to go. I don’t want to go out and sign a one-year cap hit to a big name … I want the answer to reside in Green Bay, and it always does.

Depth has been proven at every single position this year, and it’s the most telling sign of all. At running back, Lacy goes down and James Starks and Johnathan Franklin are right there to step in. At linebacker, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Brad Jones take a seat and guys like Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, and Jamari Lattimore step up. In the secondary, Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward miss significant time, and we got a chance to see the diamond in the rough that was waiting on the depth chart: Micah Hyde and Davon House are showing their future worth.

When the time comes for holes to be filled, they won’t just be patched up by temporary plug-ins who will affect our cap limit and age our team. They will be filled by young guys who were drafted by the Packers and developed by the Packers. They won’t know any other playbook, they won’t wear any other colors but Green and Gold.

Isn’t that more exciting than watching another team’s castoff until the injury bug hits … again?