The NFL Draft looms just over a week away. Which picks represent Ted Thompson’s best selections over his 12-year tenure as GM?
The Green Bay Packers have earned a reputation as a draft-and-develop team under Ted Thompson. They rarely make big splashes in free agency, instead choosing to address needs with talented rookies.
While that strategy has received criticism recently, it has undeniably proved successful in Green Bay. The Packers remain perennial contenders, and have been one of the league’s best teams over Thompson’s tenure. So who are his best draft picks (by round) since taking over as GM?
Fourth Round: OL Josh Sitton (2008)
The fourth round has been one of Thompson’s best spots in the draft, especially at offensive line. He’s landed Sitton, T.J. Lang, David Bakhtiari, and Mike Daniels in the fourth. While it’s difficult to crown one of them Thompson’s best fourth-round pick, Sitton gets the edge here. He played eight seasons with the Packers, anchoring the offensive line and developing into one of the NFL’s best guards. He made three Pro Bowls as a Packer (and one more since joining Chicago), while earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2014 and second-team honors in 2013 and 2015.
Honorable Mentions: Lang, Bakhtiari, Daniels
Fifth Round: C Corey Linsley (2014)
Thompson doesn’t have nearly as many fifth rounds hits as he does with the fourth. Despite playing for just three years, Linsley already looks like the best fifth rounder of the Thompson era. He filled a hole immediately after J.C. Tretter went down in 2014, and played like one of the best centers in football. Injuries slowed him last season, but he’s poised to be the full-time starter again in 2017.
Honorable Mention: S/CB Micah Hyde
Sixth Round: K Mason Crosby (2007)
In terms of long-term productivity, no former sixth round pick can top Crosby’s contributions to the Packers. Desmond Bishop and James Starks also have cases as solid picks, but Crosby reigns supreme from this round. He ranks as the team’s all-time leading scorer, and after a shaky 2012 emerged as one of the league’s most reliable kickers. He’s made more than 75% of his kicks in every year except ’12, and has topped 80% in each of the last four seasons. His two clutch kicks in the playoffs against Dallas solidified Crosby’s place in Packers’ history forever. The only pick Thompson ever used on a kicker was one well spent.
Honorable Mention: Starks, for his role in the 2010 Super Bowl run
Seventh Round: QB Matt Flynn (2008)
Yes, Flynn played backup to Aaron Rodgers for most of his career, but Flynnsanity could sure be fun to watch. Unsurprisingly, the team hasn’t really hit on any seventh rounders since 2005, with Flynn and LB Brad Jones making the biggest contributions. Flynn earns the nod based on a few great games during his time with Green Bay. He nearly beat the Patriots in 2010, set Packers’ passing records with 480 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2011, and tied the largest comeback victory in Green Bay history against the Cowboys in 2013. Even as a backup, Flynn has consistently etched his name into the Packers’ record books.
Honorable Mention: Jones