Years? Three (expletive deleted) years?! No, oh no. That "weekend" in Tijuana was a terrible idea. I have to feed my fish! Why am I even writing this?
I'll tell you why; as we've discussed in previous articles, Packers' general manager Ted Thompson is a firm believer in building his team through the draft and rookie free agents.
Ask current free agent Duke Preston what Thompson thinks of veterans. Preston, who is a center/guard, signed with the Packers this offseason as Thompson's only veteran free agent offensive pickup in the last two years.
He was one of the first cuts made by the Packers this summer.
Thompson seems committed to keeping his team young, while increasing talent at the same time. The draft is essential to this, and luckily for Packers fans, it seems as if Ted has a real feel for it—especially in the later rounds.
The first round, however, has been a bit of a challenge. Paging Koren Robinson, Marcus Tubbs, and Chris McIntosh?
No response (these picks were all while Thompson was with the Seahawks and yes, yes, I know McIntosh was a Badger...Go Badgers, you guys are great, but it's still a bad first-round pick).
In 2006, Thompson found himself with the No. 5 pick overall.
Pick number what? Since when do the Packers draft in the top five?
Well, as Packers fans might not want to remember but probably do, the 2005 season didn't go exactly as planned.
Unless, of course, Mike Sherman's plan for his last season as Green Bay head coach was something like this:
Step #1: Be almost dead last in rushing (30th, bam!).
Step #2: Pass way too much to make up for this and force your all-world quarterback into at least nine more interceptions than touchdowns (Favre finished 20-29 that year).
Step #3: Make sure your defense plays really well for only 50-52 minutes a game. The eight or 10 minutes they take off should only be at really crucial times. If you can, see if you can finish the season first against the pass and 23 against the rush (check!). This last one should really screw with a guy writing an article three years too late.
Step #4: Go 4-12 (Done and done, and I mean that; I really, really do. Awful season).
This is part two in a five part series looking into all of Ted Thompson's drafts and their impact on the 2009 edition of the Packers; so if you want to hear it, here it goes.
First-Round, Fifth Pick: A.J. Hawk, ILB, The Ohio State University.
Packers fans are a unique breed. They seem like really nice folk, and for the most part, they are just that. But buddy, don't you go messin' with their football team.
Has A.J. Hawk messed with the Packers?
Of course not. He's shown some short comings in his game for sure—not looking so crisp in pass coverage from season to season and not showing the speed you'd expect from a top five pick seem to be the biggest knocks against him so far.
One thing you can say for sure is that he can tackle. Do Packers fans remember the missed tackles from the 2005 season? You should, because there were quite a few that burned the team pretty badly. Tackle—a linebacker has to do it and Hawk has. Four hundred and five times in three seasons to be exact.
He's also started 48 games. If Hawk keeps his nose to the grindstone, he should find himself a bright color in the renaissance painting Dom Capers is making of the Green Bay defense this season.
So why do some Packers fans dislike Hawk so much?
I believe they feel ripped off. They feel that a top five pick at the inside linebacker position should come in and reshape your whole defensive philosophy; like, say, Brian Urlacher did for the Bears.
That didn't happen, and while it kind of sucks, I don't really feel comfortable blaming A.J. Hawk for not being Brian Urlacher. If he was, he'd have a different name on the back of his jersey, and everybody would be really confused when they played the Bears.
Overall, Hawk has played fairly well for the Packers and shows more promise than some of the other projects still developing from the 2006 draft's first-round.
Iowa's Chad Greenway was another first-round linebacker drafted that year and has shown some good signs for the Vikings but hasn't played nearly as much as Hawk in the last three years (due mainly to injuries), and his numbers show that.
Ernie Sims of Florida State has been fantastic for a bad Lions team, and Houston made DeMeco Ryans one of the biggest steals in the draft by taking him first in the second-round from Alabama. At this point, it seems as if both of these guys would have been better picks than Hawk at No. 5, but that's the wonder of hindsight. Every team in the league passed on Ryans once.
Second-Round, 36th Pick.
The Packers traded this pick to New England for numbers 52 and 75. The Patriots used it to select wide receiver Chad Jackson out of Florida. The Patriots are awesome (ungh!); but a Florida WR? They should really have known better and got burned.
Second-Round, 37th Pick.
The Packers received this pick in a trade with the Broncos for Javon Walker. The Broncos should have known better and got burned.
The Packers then sent this pick to Atlanta with pick number 139 for three picks: numbers 47, 93, and 148.
The Falcons finally used the pick to select cornerback Jimmy Williams from Virginia Tech. They should have known better and were burned as well. Haha!
Second-Round, 47th Pick: Daryn Colledge, G, Boise State.
Thanks Atlanta. He's no Brett Favre, but he's also no Jimmy Williams.
The Packers needed some depth on the offensive line and some tattoos.
They got both in Colledge, who has done nothing but produce for the Pack. He has shown his value in three seasons as a starting guard. He is a lock at the left guard position coming into the 2009 season, and that makes him a great draft pick at number 47.
Second-Round, 52nd Pick: Greg Jennings, WR, Western Michigan.
Gee, thanks New England! In their rush to draft Chad Jackson they overlooked Mr. Jennings who, after three superb years in the NFL, is now a star.
At the time of this draft, I was in agreement with the pundits that trading Walker to the Broncos was a strange move and everybody knows how that train wreck eventually found its station. Bang, oww, my leg!
Pundits are stupid.
Jennings is far and away the best wide receiver to come out of the 2006 draft. Yes, Chicago fans, he is much, much better than Devin Hester. I know you love him, but that doesn't help with the hands.
Wide receiver is almost as difficult to draft for as quarterback, and with Aaron Rodgers the year before and Jennings in 2006, Ted Thompson worked magic.
Fantastic draft pick.
Third-Round, 63rd Pick: Abdul Hodge, OLB, Iowa.
I like Iowa, but to be honest, I don't really follow college ball much until the draft. When an Iowa player shows up on the Packers' roster I expect them to be good and to stick.
Hodge was often injured in his time with the Packers and is currently fighting for a starting spot on the Bengals. He did score a touchdown for the Packers in his first career start (against the Seahawks). Not a great draft pick for Thompson, but look at who he picked right before this.
Third-Round, 75th Pick: Jason Spitz, C/G, Louisville.
The final nail in the coffin on a brutal draft day trade by the Patriots. With his blend of nastiness and intelligence, it seems as if Spitz has finally unseated Scott Wells as the official center for the Green Bay Packers.
It took him three years, but he filled in a lot for Wells and started a ton of games at guard in that time as well.
Spitz is durable, tricky, and could possibly be the Packers' starting center for years to come.
Great pick, phenomenal trade for the Packers.
Fourth-Round, 104th Pick: Cory Rodgers, WR/KR, TCU.
Dacor Tremaine "Cory" Rodgers was an attempt to kick-start the Packers' return game. He is currently shagging passes for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. Burned.
Fourth-Round, 115th Pick: Will Blackmon, CB, Boston College.
In 2008 Blackmon took over Packer kick returns with 55 for 1157 yards, as well as showing himself to be a danger on punt returns with two touchdowns.
He's shown little as a cornerback, but the Packers don't need help there nearly as much as they do on special teams, and Blackmon has been reliable with some flashes of brilliance.
Fifth-Round, 148th Pick: Ingle Martin, QB, Furman.
Quarterbacks who are drafted to be backups aren't usually, umm, good. Martin played in one game for the Packers in 2006, I think it was the last one of the year. Then, he left.
The Packers thought that Brian Brohm was better than this guy and the Broncos are making him their No. 2? I already thought the Broncos were in trouble, but if Orton gets hurt their season is done.
Fifth-Round, 165th Pick: Tony Moll, G/T, Nevada.
Moll has played three years for the Packers, actually starting on opening day of his rookie year at the guard.
Moll is at his most valuable as a backup and special teams contributor and is currently behind veteran Chad Clifton at the right tackle position on the Packers' depth chart.
Depth on the offensive line is a must, and that makes Moll a great later round pick by Ted Thompson.
Sixth-Round, 183rd Pick: Johnny Jolly, DT, Texas A&M.
It seems a rare thing when the Packers take a flier on someone with character issues. John Jolly was rated a lot higher than a sixth-round pick based on his talent, and I'm truly surprised he didn't go earlier.
You'd think the Bengals would...n'ahh, too easy.
Anyway, while he has had some legal issues recently, Jolly is definitely in the game when he's on the field and is looking for a break-out season in 2009. If he can just play football this year, I think this'll turn out to be one of Thompson's best draft picks ever in the sixth-round.
Sixth-Round, 185th Pick: Tyrone Culver, S, Fresno State.
Culver never stuck in a developing Green Bay secondary. He is currently backing up Gibril Wilson in Miami in the free safety slot.
Seventh-Round, 253rd Pick: Dave Tollefson, DE, NW Missouri State.
Tollefson made the Packers' practice squad in 2006 and was signed by Oakland in early 2007. When the Raiders placed him on their practice squad, the New York Football Giants showed their keen eye for defensive line skill by snatching him up before the 2007 season could start.
Tollefson has proved a somewhat valuable backup and special teams performer for the Giants. Good pick by Ted Thompson, but he should have stuck by him.
Wow, I think that's about it.
As in part one of the series, I didn't include all the endless pick shuffling and compensations from three year old trades. Boring!
The 2006 NFL draft was quite successful for Ted Thompson, the Packers, and the NFL in general.
Thompson's eye for talent garnered the Packers seven players, four of who are starting. One of those four, Jennings, is a star.
Of the other five players drafted, four are with NFL teams and Abdul Hodge could start this year for the Bengals.
Dacor Tremaine "Cory" Rodgers is the only player of the twelve Thompson drafted in 2006 who isn't currently in the NFL, and Rodgers is still playing football, albeit in Toronto.
As a fan of NFL football, the draft is my favorite offseason activity. As a Packer fan, I'm grateful to Ted Thompson for making his drafts so interesting and roster-affecting. It makes it a ton of fun.
Join me soon for part three where we'll examine the Packers' 2006 regular season in brief and the 2007 draft in detail.
It's good to be back Packers fans!