For Green Bay Packers fans, the second round of the 2012 NFL draft became a bit like a twilight zone. The first round of the draft was normal. General manager Ted Thompson stayed put like he always does and took the best player available, which happened to be USC defensive end Nick Perry with the 28th overall pick.
However, once the Round 2 hit, Thompson transformed from his usual patient, conservative self, into a bold, aggressive decision maker that brilliantly used an extra allotment of draft picks to rebuild the talent level of a defense that gave up more passing yards in 2011 than any other team in NFL history.
The action started when the Packers moved up to the 51st spot by trading the 57th pick and a fourth-rounder to the Eagles to get their hands on talented Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, who provides the long-term solution at defensive end the team desperately needed.
Worthy, who was expected to come off the board much earlier, is stout against the run and is a skilled interior pass-rusher. In three seasons in East Lansing, he notched 12 sacks to go along with 27.5 tackles for loss and should be able to compete right away for a starting position on Dom Capers' defense.
Anyone who's studied the way Thompson drafts knows how truly rare it is for him to aggressively move up in the draft. He does only when he finds a player he can't live without, so when the news broke that Green Bay traded up a second time, it was jaw-dropping.
Thompson, the man who once guarded his draft picks like gold, traded his third- and fifth-round selections to the Patriots in a rare instance of impulsiveness in order to draft Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward with the 62nd overall pick.
Apparently, Hayward—who started 37 consecutive games and intercepted 15 passes to end his college career, while also posting an impressive 19 tackles for loss—was too good to let get away.
In a year when the Packers desperately needed to upgrade their defense, Thompson placed all his chips on the table, gambling the fate of the franchise on his ability to judge talent.
If he's right on Worthy and Hayward, the trades and picks surrendered will be well worth it and Green Bay may be back on track for the Super Bowl. If not, can we really blame Ted for finally being bold.
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