It’s fine to be a draft and develop team like the Green Bay Packers if you can draft and develop quality players. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened nearly enough since winning the Super Bowl in 2010, and it’s why a franchise with an all-time great quarterback hasn’t been back to the big game in seven years. It’s also why that franchise now looks like the Cleveland Browns without Aaron Rodgers.
In his first six drafts from 2005 to 2010, general manager Ted Thompson acquired 17 players who, by my subjective count, went on to become at least above average starters for Green Bay. Those players would be Rodgers, tight end Jermichael Finley, wide receivers Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jordy Nelson, offensive linemen Daryn Colledge, Josh Sitton, T. J. Lang and Bryan Bulaga, defensive linemen Johnny Jolly and B.J. Raji, linebackers A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop and Clay Matthews, defensive backs Nick Collins and Morgan Burnett and kicker Mason Crosby.
Of those 17 players, a whopping nine played in at least one Pro Bowl. That’s a pretty darn good haul for six drafts, and it’s a big reason why the Packers won their fourth Lombardi Trophy in 2010. Of course, so was the signing of stud unrestricted free agents Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, but that’s a post for another day.
In his six drafts from 2011 to 2016 – it’s too early to judge this year’s class – Thompson acquired only 12 players who, by my subjective count, went on to become at least above average starters for Green Bay. Those players would be running backs Eddie Lacy and Aaron Ripkowski, wide receivers Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, offensive linemen David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley, defensive linemen Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark, linebackers Nick Perry and Blake Martinez and defensive backs Casey Hayward and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Of those 12 players, only four played in at least one Pro Bowl. That’s not much of a haul for six drafts, and it’s a big reason why the Packers haven’t been back to the Super Bowl in six seasons (very soon to be seven).
Thompson and the rest of the front office obviously deserve to be blamed for the dramatic drop-off in drafting since 2010, but a finger must also be pointed directly at Mike McCarthy and his assistants, whose job it is to develop the young players. Watching Hayward and safety Micah Hyde become legit stars the minute they left the Packers says something about the coaching staff – and it sure as heck ain’t good.
The astute realized this problem a few years ago, but many others were blinded by the team’s success. After all, the Packers made the playoffs every season from 2011 to 2016 and even took part in a pair of NFC Championship games. But that can happen when the incomparable Rodgers is playing quarterback. The two-time MVP and future Hall of Famer has proven to be the best deodorant since Right Guard. Unfortunately, with him now on IR, the stench of recent drafts and a stale coaching staff can no longer be covered up.