As the team on the other side of Lake Michigan was opening eyes around the league by laying the foundation to a rather imposing draft class, Packers General Manager Ted Thompson stayed with his program of picking good guys and good football players from the top of his board, according to their value and regardless of their positions.
While NFC North rival Detroit was following up the selection of defensive tackle Nick Fairley on Thursday with the addition of a couple high-profile offensive players on Friday, causing mild tremors throughout the division, Thompson didn’t panic. He didn’t reach nor did he swing for the fence.
At the bottom of round two, Thompson grabbed one of the most versatile, instinctive and spirited players in the draft in Kentucky wide receiver Randall Cobb. He catches passes, he returns punts and he even runs as a quarterback out of the “Wildcat” formation and he does them all as though his hair was on fire.
You like guys who love football? You’re gonna love Cobb.
“He was kind of Kentucky’s offense,” Thompson said. “He’s an all-around player. His coaches at Kentucky can’t say enough about him.”
Cobb is big enough and fast enough to be a perfect enough fit for the slot receiver position. He’s tough enough to catch the ball in a crowd and he’s athletic enough to do something with it after he catches it. Cobb plays with an infectious spirit. He energizes crowds and his teammates.
“It matters to him. He wants to be the best,” Edgar Bennett, who will be Cobb’s receiver coach with the Packers, said.
Simply put, the Packers’ receiving corps got better on Friday. It was already good, but who doesn’t like better?
One more time, a third consecutive time, Thompson would have to wait until the final pick of the round to make his call. In round three, Thompson ended the proceedings for the second consecutive day, by looking at the top of his board and pulling off the name that sat there. The name belonged to Hawaii running back Alex Green.
Hawaii? Running back? Yeah, in 2010, the Warriors actually did run the ball and Green became the first Hawaii running back to rush for 1,000 yards in nearly 20 years. Green is so good at running with the football that he persuaded a school steeped in the art of throwing the ball to change its ways.
“He’s a big back,” Thompson said of the 6-0, 220-pound Green. “We saw him at the East-West game. He was clearly the class of the group. He’s a pretty impressive physical specimen.”
Oh, by the way, Green spent two seasons at Butte Community College. You might remember Butte as the alma mater of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Good program, Butte.
Simply put, the Packers’ running back corps got better on Friday. It was already showing promise with the emergence of rookie sensation James Starks and the return from a season lost to injury by Ryan Grant, but who doesn’t like better?
It’s the Thompson way. Draft players that upgrade your roster. Don’t take risks. Don’t swing for the fence. Draft talented, productive college football players that were impressive enough to be sitting at the top of your board when it was your turn to pick.
It appears Detroit might be having a blockbuster draft, Thompson was reminded.
“Looks like it,” Thompson conceded. “They’re a division rival so we don’t talk much about it.”
Hmmm, wonder what they’re saying about the Packers on the other side of Lake Michigan.
“We try to distinguish between good guys and bad guys and we think we added three good guys,” Thompson said.
Saturday, Thompson will do it one more time. He’ll have six picks in the final four rounds and he’ll fill out his complement of good guys and good players before turning the group over to Head Coach Mike McCarthy and his staff.
“There’ll be a lot of opportunities tomorrow. We think there are a lot of good players. We’ll try to stay with what we do and pick the best player. We won’t pick against value,” Thompson said.
It’s what works for him and his team. It’s what made the Packers Super Bowl champions.