The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl two seasons ago, and by just about every account, they were a better team in 2011 than they were when they won the championship.
A return to health for many key players allowed the Packers to make a run at a perfect season, yet they were still one and done in the playoffs. How would team mastermind Ted Thompson address that immense disappointment in this year's draft?
The Packers hold the pass rush responsible at least in part for their defensive collapse in 2011
It's hard to read the selections of Nick Perry in the first round and Jerel Worthy in the second round any other way.
Yes, the outside linebacker position opposite Clay Matthews was a sore spot. Yes, defensive end has been a problem since the loss of Cullen Jenkins in free agency and the increasing likelihood that 2010 second-round pick Mike Neal is a bust. However, the Packers are in a win-now championship window, so you have to ask, what can they provide this year?
Neither Perry nor Worthy have extensive experience in a 3-4 defense, so a lot of 2012 will be a learning experience. What they can do right away is get after the passer. Perry will be an upgrade from any edge rusher on the roster not named Matthews, and Worthy's strength at Michigan State was beating guards one-on-one off of the snap and getting into the backfield.
The complexion of the Green Bay defense changes greatly if Worthy and Perry can make a difference on third down.
Thompson understands the negotiating position of his trade partners
When the Patriots were down to their last pick in the entire draft in the late second round and looking for trade partners, Thompson picked up the phone. He was able to steal the 62nd pick for the 90th pick and the 163rd pick—a massive win on just about any pick value chart.
To put the trade in perspective, the Jets paid the 154th pick and the 232nd pick just move up from 47 to 43. The Bears gave up the 150th pick to move up from 50 to 45. And the Packers themselves gave up the 123rd pick to move up from 59 to 51.
Maybe Casey Hayward wasn't an essential player on the Packers' draft board, but at that price, moving up 28 spots to take the top-ranked player left on the board was a smart move no matter who it was.
The Packers use of late picks in 2012 should be a model for all teams
The Packers had two of the last 13 picks in the draft, and both could end up being very valuable picks.
The 241st selection was used on Andrew Datko, a first- or second-round-level offensive tackle prospect before a rash of shoulder injuries. As reported on Packers.com, Datko is already drawing praise and could start for the Packers sooner than later.
The 243rd pick was used on B.J. Coleman, an upside quarterback prospect. This is important to note because the Packers successfully developed 2008 seventh-round pick Matt Flynn into a possible starter for the Seattle Seahawks.
Both Coleman and Datko came extremely cheap, but there's reason to believe that they could eventually start at very difficult positions to fill.