The One Draft Day Trade Ted Thompson Should Be Exploring

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The One Draft Day Trade Ted Thompson Should Be Exploring
MORRY GASH/Associated Press

Ted Thompson began his watch as general manager of the Packers in 2005. When it came to making draft day trades early in his regime, Thompson initially traded back to get more and more draft selections.

He did that three times alone in just the 2005 NFL draft. But even with the trades, Thompson hit on a bonanza when his first two selections in that draft class were quarterback Aaron Rodgers and safety Nick Collins.

Thompson traded back four more times in the 2006 NFL draft. He then traded back two more times in the 2007 NFL—he did that again three more times in the 2008 NFL draft.

Thompson would also trade players to get more picks in the draft. Thompson did this in 2006 when he traded wide receiver Javon Walker to the Denver Broncos for a second-round pick.

Again, he dealt for picks twice in 2008, when he traded defensive lineman Corey Williams to the Cleveland Browns for a second-round selection and legendary quarterback Brett Favre to the New York Jets for a third-round pick.

That being said, the year before in 2007, Thompson traded a sixth-round draft pick to the New York Giants for a little known running back named Ryan Grant. Grant paid dividends from 2007-2009 when he rushed for 3,412 yards and had 23 rushing touchdowns.

Thompson first dipped his toes in the trade-up waters in 2008 when he traded up with the New York Jets to select defensive end Jeremy Thompson in the fourth round. Thompson looked to have a bright future, but was forced to retire due to a spinal cord injury in 2009.

But in 2009 NFL draft, Thompson really became a gambler. First he selected defensive lineman B.J. Raji with the ninth pick of the draft in the first round. Later in the first round, Thompson traded up to get the 26th selection in the draft, which turned out to be Clay Matthews.

However, it came at a cost. The Packers traded their second-round pick (pick No. 41), as well as two third-round picks to the New England Patriots (one of which was from the Jets for Favre), which were picks No. 73 and No. 83.. The Packers also received a fifth-round pick from the Pats as part of that trade.

But has that trade ever paid off? Matthews has had a stellar career in Green Bay, as he has been named to four Pro Bowls and has 50 sacks so far in five years. In addition, No. 52 has three defensive touchdowns in his career.

Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

But the biggest play Matthews ever made was in Super Bowl XLV versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was the start of the fourth quarter and the Steelers were driving in Green Bay territory with the Packers leading 21-17.

Matthews sensed that the Steelers would try and run in his direction. He told defensive lineman Ryan Pickett what he expected to happen and sure enough Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall was headed his way.

Matthews and Pickett hit Mendenhall almost simultaneously and forced a fumble which was recovered by linebacker Desmond Bishop of the Packers. The Packers went on to score another touchdown on the ensuing drive to go up 28-17, and ended up winning the biggest of games 31-25 to be able to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Since that trade-up to get Matthews in 2009, Thompson has traded up three more times. He did it in 2010 to select safety Morgan Burnett in the third round (from Philadelphia), in 2012 to select defensive lineman Jerel Worthy in the second round (from Philadelphia) and in 2012 again to select cornerback Casey Hayward in the second round (from New England).

If there was ever a time to try and trade up in early the draft, the 2014 NFL draft is the one to do it in. But to trade up, the Packers would need to have some ammunition to do so.

Currently, the Packers have all seven of their draft picks available this year. In addition to that, the Packers will probably receive a couple of compensatory picks because both wide receiver Greg Jennings and outside linebacker Erik Walden left via free agency in 2013.

Jennings will probably net the Packers a third-round pick, based on his very productive career in Green Bay. I can't see the Packers getting anything worse than a fourth-round pick for Jennings, at least in my opinion.

Walden played in 40 games for the Packers from 2010-2012 and started 26 of them. He will probably in my opinion be worth a sixth-round compensatory pick.

If that happens, the Packers would now have nine draft choices, with two each in the third round and two each in the sixth round. It's important to remember however that compensatory picks cannot be traded.

But all the other selections are on the table for trades.

Because of the excellent talent available in this draft, especially through the first 40 picks or so, the Packers will need to move up from the No. 53 pick, which is their selection in the second round. To move up around 15 spots will probably cost the Packers their second-round pick, their regular third-round pick and maybe even a later-round pick in the draft.

Who would be the trading partners in that case? Perhaps the Tampa Bay Bucs. Why? The Bucs do not have a third-round selection in the draft.

To move back 15 spots and get a second-round pick, a third-round pick and perhaps a sixth or a seventh-round pick would be important to a team like the Bucs who are looking to start a new chapter with their franchise after bringing in a new head coach (Lovie Smith) and a new general manager (Jason Licht) recently.

Now who would the Packers be looking to select at pick No. 38 in the draft? There are a number of possibilities. Most likely it would be a defensive player due to the shortcomings on the defense of the Packers in 2013.

It all depends on who the Packers acquire in free agency and also who the Packers select in the first round with pick No. 21.

Assuming the Packers select either a safety or a defensive lineman with their first-round selection, the Packers could be looking at a number of linebackers early in the second round.

The Packers may be able to choose between inside linebackers Chris Borland of Wisconsin and Shayne Skov of Stanford.

Paul Vernon/Associated Press

I had the Packers taking Borland in the third round in my first mock draft, but Mike Mayock thinks Borland will probably go as early as the second round and will start for whichever team selects him. That was noted by Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week.

Mayock also has Borland rated as the fourth-best linebacker in the draft.

I had the Packers selecting Skov in the second round of my second mock draft.

The Packers desperately need a tackling machine on the inside at linebacker and a player who meets ball carriers at the line of scrimmage or behind it with force. Causing turnovers would be a key as well, as Borland (14 forced fumbles) was very good at that when he played for the Badgers.

There is also the possibility of selecting one of two outside linebackers who also may still be available.

One would be Trent Murphy, also of Stanford, who I had the Packers taking in the second round of my third mock draft.

Another possibility would be outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy of BYU, who I had listed on my recent big board article.

Could you imagine either Murphy or Van Noy on the opposite side of Clay Matthews at outside linebacker?

Plus, if the Packers draft a defensive lineman in the first round, and they haven't helped themselves at safety in free agency, they might also consider Deone Bucannon of Washington State if they trade up in the second round.

I had the Packers picking Bucannon in the second round in my first mock draft.

Bottom line, the Packers need to get aggressive in both free agency and the draft, as Rodgers will turn 31 years old in December. The window isn't necessarily closing quickly for the Packers to get back to the Super Bowl, but it's also not wide open either.

Besides, if the Packers can trade up to select another dynamic player like Matthews, than what is wrong with that scenario?

It certainly made a huge difference just a year after the Packers drafted No. 52, when they ended up winning Super Bowl XLV.

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