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It has almost been a week since the 2010 NFL Draft and most fans have had a chance to cool down. While the week after the draft is dubbed by some as "the most optimistic time of the year", it seems as though some Packers' fans are less than enthused about how this year's draft turned out. Who can blame them. The lack of a cornerback and an outside linebacker have left glaring holes on the Packers' defensive bench.
So, to lighten the mood a little, I've decided to focus on some of Ted Thompson's success and compile a list of his Top 10 draft picks with Green Bay. It must be noted that this year's draft class will not appear on this list, as they have yet to even make the roster. Here are picks 6-10.
10. BJ Raji - 9th overall, 1st Round, 2009
This 337-pound behemoth was taken by Ted largely because of a need for a nose tackle to anchor the new 3-4 defense. In his rookie year, BJ only started one game but was able to get one sack in a game against San Francisco. Ryan Pickett is now 30, and will eventually need a solid replacement. BJ Raji will almost certainly fill that role and has shown tremendous promise to stay there for a long time.
9. TJ Lang - 109th overall, 4th Round, 2009
With another two-letter-named draft pick, we have TJ Lang. After giving up a second- and third-rounder for a rookie of the year candidate that will be named later, TJ Lang was the third pick in the Packers' 2009 draft class. Coming out of the fourth round, little more than a seat on the bench was expected of Lang. But after a horrid (and I mean horrid) showing by newly appointed starter Allen Barbre, and an injury to Chad Clifton, Lang received the call. In, arguably, the biggest game of the year against the Vikings and in a game that featured enough sacks to surprise even David Carr, Lang restored order and allowed a late comeback. Lang started three games after that, and looks to become a surefire starter in the future.
8. Brad Jones - 218th overall, 7th Round, 2009
When it comes to the seventh round, most teams just pick the best player available, regardless of their draft strategy. Brad Jones fell into this category for the Packers in 2009. Seventh round picks are barely expected to make the 53-man roster, let alone be a starter in their rookie year. But when Aaron Kampman went down with a season-ending knee injury, Jones was asked to fill the void. A void, however, that had been taken up be one of the most prolific pass rushers of the past five years. Good luck, seventh rounder. But in the five games that Jones replaced Kampman at the end of 2009, he was able to record four sacks—not bad. With no linebacker taken in the 2010 draft, Jones looks to be the starter and with worse options to consider, he should be able to impress.
7. Johnny Jolly - 183rd overall, 6th Round, 2006
2009 was a breakout season for Jolly as he played a large role in the league's top ranked run defense. Jolly's 2009 stats look more like a defensive back than a 3-4 defensive end. He had a staggering TEN pass defenses, one amazing one-handed interception (almost had a second that didn't count), and a blocked field goal which was the second of his career. Jolly is what I like to call one of those miscellaneous stats players. You know, the "he isn't supposed to do that" type. For being found in the sixth round, Jolly has far surpassed expectations and, if he can get his attitude under control, will be a strong contributor for years to come.
6. AJ Hawk - 5th overall, 1st Round, 2006
Another two-letter-named draft pick—interesting trend. Anyways, AJ Hawk was the Packers' one consolation for having a dismal 4-12 season. Most of the casual Packer faithful believe he's been underachieving, but just because he's not making the flashy interceptions or sacks, doesn't mean he's underachieving. Over the last four years, AJ has been one of the Packers' most consistent tacklers, being in on 399 tackles over that span. He's a quiet workhorse that doesn't make stupid plays and is in on almost every play. Since 2006, Hawk has been a solid starter and expect him to be for many years to come.
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