The Packers have been out-manned and out-classed each of the last three weeks. That’s in large part to a significant injury at quarterback, but their problems run deeper. Much deeper.
If you’re a regular reader of The Packer Perspective, you know I’m as big of a Ted Thompson defender as you can be. I think generally he does the job the way it should be done. He’s calculated, well-reasoned, and generally has a plan for everything he’s doing. But Ted Thompson’s failures at the top of the draft board are a big reason the Packers are in the predicament they’re in today.
If a team is going to succeed in the NFL, it has to draft well. This much should be obvious. But more specifically, a team is under tremendous pressure to pick well with its high picks, formerly called the “Day 1″ picks. Though the structure of the draft has changed in recent years, the Day 1 picks can generally refer to picks in rounds one through three, or the picks that used to take place on the entire first day of the draft.
Since 2009, the Packers have picked 13 players in rounds one, two, and three of the draft. On Sunday, those 13 players combined for nine tackles, two sacks, 27 rushing yards, and one touchdown.
Aside from the touchdown, that’s pitiful.
Injuries are an excuse, but only to a point. Coach Mike McCarthy regularly says the best ability a player can have is availability, and right now, almost none of the Packers recent high draft picks are available. Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod, Randall Cobb, Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, and Casey Hayward were all out due to injury this week. Alex Green was cut this summer. Aside from that, everyone else was either ineffective (Datone Jones, B.J. Raji), asked to carry the burden with no help from anybody else (Eddie Lacy), or, perhaps surprisingly, one of the few people who actually accomplished anything (Clay Matthews, Mike Neal, Morgan Burnett).
Now, I’ll maintain that Ted Thompson is a good drafter after seeing some of the things that he’s accomplished in later picks and even with undrafted free agents. But the lack of production from the top of the draft is alarming. There is hope, however.
This Sunday marked the first time in two years that Derek Sherrod was active and ready for action. That in itself is significant progress, but Jerel Worthy is practicing again and may see the field soon. On top of that, Nick Perry’s injury may not be a long term problem. Time will pass. Players will heal.
And to that point, Datone Jones has been playing better recently, although he didn’t crack the stat sheet this week. Eddie Lacy, too, has been an enormous force for the Packers and this Sunday probably represented more of a bump in the road due to factors outside his control than any sort of a trend.
So while the draft picks all have their reasons for a lack of productivity (some good, some less good), there is hope. If not for this year, then for the future.