GREEN BAY—The Packers’ draft class motivated the team’s head coach, Mike McCarthy, to utter words on Saturday that’ll warm the hearts of Packers fans everywhere.
“We’re going to be a better defense this year. You can write that in big letters. We’ll be a better defense this year,” McCarthy said in his draft-ending address to the media.
You might remember McCarthy used similar language last spring to predict his team’s running game would be improved in 2013. Improved would be an understatement.
You weren’t sure how you felt about the draft class General Manager Ted Thompson assembled over the past three days? How do you feel now?
“If the perception is we relieved a need, that’s fine, but that’s not how we build our team,” Thompson said in his draft-ending press conference.
Somewhere between fan perception and Thompson’s rigid adherence to drafting the best available player lies the truth. Whatever that truth is, here are the undeniable facts:
When the draft began on Thursday, the Packers were perceived to have distinct needs at safety, center, linebacker, tight end and wide receiver. When the draft concluded on Saturday, all of those needs had been addressed, one of them three times.
The Packers have a better roster today than they did when the draft began because Thompson was able to address need without sacrificing quality. As much as fans will complain that Thompson reached for Khyri Thornton and Richard Rodgers in the third round, it should also be noted that Thompson selected Carl Bradford, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis later than they were projected to be picked.
Three wide receivers?
“We saw it as a very deep (WR) class. We try to go toward quality. It’s definitely how the board worked out,” Thompson said.
The key pick, of course, is the Packers’ first pick, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He’s the highest-rated player in this class and he addresses what was perceived to be the Packers’ greatest need.
“We felt very good about Ha Ha. That sounds funny to say it. We feel fairly certain Ha Ha will be able to contribute,” Thompson said.
Here’s another bold statement: Packers safeties won’t go another season without an interception. You can also write that in big letters.
The Packers drafted another pass rusher, Bradford, a player draft analyst Tony Pauline described as playing as though his hair is on fire.
The Packers drafted an honest-to-goodness center, not a former guard or tackle or tight end. Fifth-round pick Corey Linsley was an All-Big Ten center at Ohio State.
“It’s good to finally draft one that’s played the position before. It’ll be good to have a natural center,” McCarthy said.
Third-round pick Richard Rodgers is a developmental tight end. Maybe we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel better just yet.
Focus on the big picture. The Packers are a better football team as a result of what happened the last three days.
“Absolutely. There isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t feel better about their team today than they did on Wednesday. There will definitely be a shot in the arm when these guys get here. It’s all about getting better,” McCarthy said.
Go ahead, feel better.
Complete coverage: Meet the Draft Class