Welcome to the fourth edition of looking back at Ted Thompson's draft selections, round by round since his appointment as Green Bay’s General Manger in 2005.
With 29 days until the 2010 NFL Draft, it’s time to look back at Green Bay’s fourth round selections.
Each round is graded A-F and in a nut shell will be looking back at Thompson's hits, misses, busts and gems of his five year tenure at Green Bay.
Round four (number selected)
2005—S Marviel Underwood, San Diego State (115) & LB Brady Poppinga, Brigham Young (125)
2006—WR/KR Cory Rodgers, Texas Christian (104) & CB Will Blackmon, Boston College (115)
2007—T/G Allen Barbre, Missouri Southern State (119)
2008—DE Jeremy Thompson, Wake Forest (102) & G Josh Sitton, Central Florida (135)
2009—G/T T.J. Lang, Eastern Michigan (109)
Starters in 2009—3 (Josh Sitton, T.J Lang and Allen Barbre)
Roster made in 2009—6 (Josh Sitton, T.J Lang, Allen Barbre, Brady Poppinga, Will Blackmon, Jeremy Thompson)
Round four has been somewhat of a mixed bag for Green Bay since Ted Thompson’s arrival in 2005. Six players found themselves on the opening 53-man roster back in August last year and all promised shed loads of potential.
Many of Thompson’s young selections were expected to have a successful 2009 campaign. Converting to the new three-four scheme, Jeremy Thompson was being touted by many to be Green Bay’s dark horse of 2010, fitting well as a flashy pass rusher. Allen Barbre on the other hand was seen to be the successor to veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher. And kick/punt return specialist Will Blackmon, who emerged in 2008 as a dominant threat, was expected to repeat his heroics come 2009.
Serious injuries to Thompson and Blackmon restricted their playing time last season and the return of these young Packers in 2010 is questionable. Thompson suffered a frightening neck stinger late in the season, which many feared early on may have paralyzed the former Wake Forest defensive end.
Blackmon’s inability to remain healthy for Green Bay is a major disappointment as he gives the Packers that much needed return specialist. The return game was a major disappointment when Blackmon went down and Green Bay’s starting field position suffered severally.
Jordy Nelson filled in well for Blackmon on kick-off returns and actually outperformed the cornerback, averaging 25.4 yards per attempt. Blackmon’s presence was missed more on punt returns, as Nelson showed his vulnerability under the high ball with oncoming tacklers.
Tramon Williams has showed numerous flashes since joining Green Bay with a memorable return against the Panthers at home in 2008; however with the injury of Al Harris, Williams became the starting corner and wasn’t risked on special teams.
Last year Nelson and Williams had 30 punt returns between themselves for only 225 yards, averaging a dismal 7.5 yards per attempt. In comparison Blackmon in 2008 had 36 punt returns for 396 yards, averaging 11.1 yards per attempt, recording two touchdowns in back to back divisional games against the Minnesota Vikings.
Thompson has undeniably got his best production from offensive linemen T.J Lang and Josh Sitton in the fourth rounds. Sitton was Green Bay’s best offensive lineman this past year, showing great consistency in pass protection and in the run game. When the Packers offensive line was coming under national scrutiny for their shoddy protection of franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it was Sitton who provided a silver lining.
T.J Lang was an extremely interesting prospect coming out in the 2009 draft. A tackle throughout college, Lang played both right and left tackle, and was projected by scouts and pundits to be Green Bay’s future right tackle.
Lang was thrown in at the deep end many times this season and stepped up admirably. Lang’s most notable performance came when he was forced to play left tackle at Minnesota for the injured Chad Clifton and underperforming Daryn Colledge. Going up against Jared Allen in the hostile Vikings environment, Lang gave up only one sack and will be a better player for the experience.
Brady Poppinga has been a solid linebacker for Green Bay and a player favorite inside the locker room. Green Bay’s starting outside linebacker for three seasons in the four-three scheme, Poppinga was set to compete for the role in the new three-four scheme in 2009. The former Brigham Young defensive end won the starter's job at the beginning of the season, however he eventually lost his starting role to Clay Matthews III.
In five seasons with Green Bay Poppinga has played in 75 games (63 starts), recorded 230 tackles with four sacks and two interceptions. His role for the Packers will for now be as a backup and on special teams.
Right tackle Allen Barbre was Green Bay’s most disappointing player in the 2009, being embarrassed nationally on Sunday Night Football. Chicago Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye recorded two sacks and gave Barbre a night to forget at Lambeau Field.
It was obvious that Barbre wasn’t ready to step up into a starter’s role and his weak competition against Breno Giacomini clearly wasn’t testing him enough. Maybe Ted Thompson was to blame for exposing Barbre too. It looks as if Barbre will be back next year, but many Packer fans will be hoping it is in the capacity of a backup role.
Other notable selections come in the form of wide out Cory Rodgers and safety Marviel Underwood, who didn’t feature much for Green Bay. Rodgers failed to make the 53-man roster in 2005 and was claimed on waivers by the 49ers that same year. Rodgers failed to impress in San Fran and was later released. He hasn’t played a down in the NFL since.
Underwood spent three years in Green Bay, playing backup to Nick Collins and later joined the Denver Broncos in 2008. Underwood recorded 35 tackles and forced a fumble in his rookie season, however he was rarely featured by the Pack.
The fourth round has proved a solid hunting ground for Ted Thompson and his Green Bay scouts. His inclination for selecting versatile lineman in the fourth round may prove to be evidence for which direction the savvy GM may go this year.