The Green Bay Packers' Best and Worst Draft Picks of the Last Decade
Over the last decade of NFL drafts for the Green Bay Packers, general manager Ted Thompson has been in charge of nine of them. The last nine, as a matter of fact. In the 2004 NFL draft, it was then head coach and general manager Mike Sherman who ran the draft for the Pack.
In 2005, then President Bob Harlan of the Packers removed Sherman from his job as general manager and brought in Thompson to run the front office. After the 2005 season, Thompson fired Sherman as head coach and brought in Mike McCarthy.
Sherman was not a bad head coach, as he had 57-39 record in the regular season, along with three NFC North titles, but his postseason record was not good (2-4), and he was a terrible general manager for the most part.
In this slideshow, I am going to name the top five drafts picks of the past decade for the Packers, and also the worst five.
Sherman is responsible for three of those bad picks, which all occurred in the same draft, if you can believe that.
Thompson has also had a blunder here and there as well, but nothing like what Sherman did in the 2004 NFL draft.
The criteria I'm using is to look at early draft picks, from Round 1 through the third round. These are considered premium selections in the NFL.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers: Best Pick Since 2004
I don't think that there is any question that the best pick Ted Thompson made in his career running the front office for the Packers was his first pick in 2005—quarterback Aaron Rodgers from Cal.
Thompson selected No. 12 with the 24th pick of the first round.
Rodgers sat on the bench for the most part of his first three years in Green Bay behind legendary quarterback Brett Favre. In 2007 against the Dallas Cowboys when Favre was injured, Packer Nation got a glimpse of how great Rodgers might be in the future with his performance that night.
Starting in 2008, Rodgers became the man in Titletown, even as the messy divorce between Favre and the Packers were ongoing. Rodgers withstood that firestorm and has developed into arguably the best player in the NFL.
Rodgers has been a NFL MVP (2011), a Super Bowl MVP (Super Bowl XLV) and has been named to three Pro Bowls.
Rodgers is also the second-rated passer (103.1) in the history of the NFL in the postseason, only behind Bart Starr (104.8).
Defensive Lineman Justin Harrell: Worst Pick Since 2004
Yes, even Ted Thompson stubs his toe once in awhile in the draft. In 2007, Thompson stubbed his toe big time when he selected defensive lineman Justin Harrell with the 16th pick of the first round.
Thompson should have known better, based on Harrell's final season at Tennessee when he played in only three games due to a torn biceps tendon.
Yes, Harrell had shown he could be pretty dominant when he was healthy, as he was second-team All-SEC in 2005. But the problem was actually staying healthy, as Harrell also had ankle issues at Tennessee.
The injury cloud followed Harrell to Green Bay, as he was always hurt with back and knee issues. I remember interviewing Harrell on the first day of training camp in 2007, and it was obvious to me that Harrell was not in very good shape.
In his career as a Packer, Harrell only played 14 games (two starts) and had just 28 tackles and no sacks.
Outside Linebacker Clay Matthews: Second-Best Pick Since 2004
In the 2009 NFL draft, Ted Thompson threw caution to wind, as he paid a big price to trade-up back into the first round of the draft.
The Packers had already selected nose tackle B.J. Raji from Boston College with the ninth pick of the first round, when Thompson made his move to get another player he had targeted.
Thompson traded one second-round pick, along with two third-round picks to the New England Patriots to be able to select outside linebacker Clay Matthews from USC with the 26th pick of the first round.
Thompson definitely struck gold with that gamble. In his five-year career with the Packers, Matthews has been phenomenal. No. 52 has 245 tackles, 50 sacks, four interceptions (two for touchdowns), three fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) and 10 forced fumbles.
Matthews has also been named to four Pro Bowl teams.
Cornerback Ahmad Carroll: Second-Worst Pick Since 2004
The early part of the 2004 NFL draft turned out to be a disaster for Mike Sherman and the Green Bay Packers. The latter part of the draft wasn't too bad, as the team was able to draft a couple of pretty good players when they selected defensive tackle Corey Williams and center Scott Wells.
But the first four selections were just horrible, starting with cornerback Ahmad Carroll from Arkansas, who was picked with the 25th pick of the first round.
Carroll was hot and cold in his time with the Packers. He looked good on some plays and then looked completely lost on others.
In his less than three-year career with the Packers, Carroll started 28 games. No. 28 has three sacks, three interceptions, 21 passes defended, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for a touchdown.
But more times than not, Carroll would get burned in coverage a number of times, would miss multiple tackles on the field and just wasn't a very good teammate.
Safety Nick Collins: Third-Best Pick Since 2004
In the 2005 NFL draft, Ted Thompson's first selection was quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His second pick in that draft was also a very good pick when he drafted safety Nick Collins from Bethune-Cookman.
Collins turned out to be one of the better safeties in the NFL until a neck injury ended his NFL career in 2011.
In his career in Green Bay, No. 36 had 417 tackles, one sack, 21 interceptions (four for touchdowns), 63 passes defended, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown).
Collins also had a crucial interception early in Super Bowl XLV, when he picked off a Ben Roethlisberger pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.
Cornerback Joey Thomas: Third-Worst Pick Since 2004
After Mike Sherman selected cornerback Ahmad Carroll in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft, he also selected another cornerback when he picked Joey Thomas from Montana State in the second round.
Training camp did not start out to well for either Carroll or Thomas, as both players got into a scrap after a meeting when Carroll sucker-punched Thomas.
Things didn't get much better for Thomas after that in Green Bay, as he was waived the following year.
In his career as a Packer, Thomas played in only 20 games (one start), with 33 tackles, zero interceptions, four passes defended and one forced fumble.
Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson: Fourth-Best Pick Since 2004
In the 2008 NFL draft, Ted Thompson traded out of the first round of the draft (30th pick) back into the early second round (36th pick). With that selection, Thompson drafted wide receiver Jordy Nelson from Kansas State.
Nelson has turned out to be a very good selection. In his six-year career with the Packers, No. 87 has had 302 receptions for 4,590 yards and 36 touchdowns.
In the postseason, Nelson has also flourished, as he has 40 catches for 495 yards and four touchdowns.
In Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Nelson had nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown in the 31-25 win by the Packers.
Punter B.J. Sander: Fourth-Worst Pick Since 2004
When Mike Sherman selected punter B.J. Sander from Ohio State in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft, I was flabbergasted. Not just because Sherman has selected a punter, but that he also traded-up to select him.
Is it any wonder that Bob Harlan replaced Sherman as general manager the next year?
Sander didn't even punt for the Packers his rookie season, as Bryan Barker was the punter for the Packers in 2004.
Sander was the regular punter in 2005, but he had a tough season, especially as the weather got more frigid in Green Bay. Sander had a 39.2 average and only a 33.9 net average.
Sander was released the following season in 2006.
Running Back Eddie Lacy: Fifth-Best Pick Since 2004
Yes, I know. Running back Eddie Lacy has only played one year in the NFL. That's true, but what a year it was for No. 27.
Lacy was picked in the second round with the 61st pick of the 2013 NFL draft.
Lacy became the first member of the Packers to win the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, since running back John Brockington won that same award in 1971.
Last year, Lacy rushed for 1,178 yards (4.1 average) and 11 touchdowns. Lacy also had 35 receptions for 257 more yards.
The Packers had their best rushing attack since 2004 last season, behind the running of Lacy and company in the backfield.
In his one postseason game last year, Lacy had 81 yards rushing against the San Francisco 49ers, plus had two catches for seven yards.
Lacy was the lone Pro Bowl participant for the Packers last season.
Quarterback Brian Brohm: Fifth-Worst Pick Since 2004
When Ted Thompson selected Brian Brohm from Louisville with the 56th pick of the draft in the second round in 2008, it was his second-worst drafting mistake since he selected Justin Harrell in 2007.
Brohm just never showed enough ability on the field to become the main backup quarterback to Aaron Rodgers. No. 11 was beaten out for that job by another quarterback who was selected in the 2008 draft. That would be Matt Flynn, who was selected in the seventh round.
Brohm never played in a regular-season game with the Packers and was placed on the practice squad in 2009. The Buffalo Bills signed Brohm off of the practice squad that season. Brohm played two years in Buffalo (starting two games), and never threw a touchdown pass, compared to five picks.
Brohm is currently with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.
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