GREEN BAY — On Thursday, April 26th, the Green Bay Packers will add a dozen players in the NFL draft. Ted Thompson, the man who will choose those players, isn’t tipping his hand.
The new decision maker for the Chicago Bears, Phil Emery, held a pre-NFL draft news conference on Monday, April 23rd during which he spelled out which positions are strong in this year’s draft class. Emery also said his team is targeting seven specific players for its first-round selection at number 19.
Emery is no Thompson. The Packers’ general manager is famously evasive in his pre-draft sessions with the media. “I’m not trying to be slick, but from a league-wide standpoint, this is a really good draft and everybody will be happy, and all the teams will draft well. I think that’s the message everybody wants,” Thompson said.
What just about any Packers fans want is some defensive help – particularly pass rushing help to balance what Clay Matthews can do from one outside linebacker position, but Thompson doesn’t always address need.
Thompson’s first pick ever in 2005 was Aaron Rodgers – a quarterback the Packers didn’t need at the time, with Brett Favre still unretired. In 2008, the team’s top pick was receiver Jordy Nelson, who only added to a position of strength. By this past season, Rodgers and Nelson were two of the biggest cogs in one of the league’s top offenses. Would talent trump troublespot for Thompson?
“We won’t do it intentionally. We don’t draft that way. Draft for long-term investment, not immediate or perceived need,” Thompson said.
Regardless of when they are targeted, Green Bay’s needs include outside linebacker, defensive lineman, safety, cornerback, offensive lineman and possibly running back — more spots than would be expected for a 15-1 team last year.
“We’re always trying to add quality and class and competition to our team. Things happen. People get hurt. I don’t think you ever have too many guys, so we’re not concerned about having too many,” Thompson said.
Thompson starts naming names at number 28 in the first round Thursday night.LeRoy Butler will represent the team in New York and announce the team’s second round selection on state. Butler was a second round pick for the Pack in 1990.