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Ted Thompson Made an Imprint on the Current Green Bay Packers

Ted Thompson and his moves have a lot to do with the success of the current Green Bay Packers, who are 5-1 so far this year.
Ted Thompson

The name Ted Thompson brings up mixed emotions to Green Bay Packers fans. As the Packers general manager from 2005-2017 Thompson did a superb job of building the Packers roster. However, his resistance to utilizing free agency to improve the Packers drew the ire of fans. While it is a mixed bag, the positives outweigh the negative ones. The proof is this year’s 5-1 Packers. Thompson and his moves have a lot to do with the current Green Bay Packers success.

Ted Thompson Made Imprint on the Current Green Bay Packers

Thompson hasn’t been the Packers general manager since 2017. Because of an illness, Thompson was moved to an advisory role after 2017. While he hasn’t been in charge since 2017, Ted Thompson and legacy continues on with this year’s Packers.

On offense, there are currently six starters that Ted Thompson was a part of bringing in. Defensively, there are just two starters that Thompson drafted. But those two starters are vital pieces to the Packers defense. You can’t forget about the special teams. Thompson selected a very vital piece for that unit as well.

Here is a look at the current Packers that Ted Thompson was a part of bringing in.

Ted Thompson’s Best Selection

Ted Thompson and Aaron Rodgers will always be linked together. Rodgers without a doubt is Thompson’s best draft pick. It was Thompson who selected Rodgers with the 24th pick in the 2005 NFL draft. The Monday morning general managers will tell you it was a no-brainer, but it wasn’t.

The Packers already had Brett Favre when Thompson stuck his neck out and selected Rodgers. Looking back, it was a miracle that Rodgers slid down to the Packers in the first round. But with Favre entrenched as the quarterback, it was also a miracle that Thompson selected Rodgers.

Thompson’s decision of selecting Rodgers has paid off in a big way. It continues to pay off. Rodgers continues to be the engine that pushes the Packers offense. To date, Rodgers has won one Super Bowl, two NFL MVP’s, thrown for over 48,000 yards, 381 touchdowns, and only 86 interceptions.

The selection of Rodgers brought a Super Bowl to Titletown. It also continued the streak of successful quarterback play for the Packers.

Weapons in the Passing Game

When it comes to selecting wide receivers in the second round, Ted Thompson had the Midas touch. Under his leadership, he selected standout wide receivers Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson, all in the second round. Included in that stellar group, is the current standout wide receiver, Davante Adams.

In the 2014 NFL draft, Thompson selected Adams with the 53rd overall pick in the second round. While Adams career started off a little shaky, he has made himself into one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.

Along with being one of the best wide receivers, he has become Rodgers go-to weapon in the Packers passing game. Without having any proven talent playing opposite of him, Adams is still putting up big numbers. He missed one game this season but still has caught 36 balls for 449 yards with four touchdown catches.

Adams isn’t the only pass catcher that Thompson brought in. Starting tight end Robert Tonyan is also a product of Thompson. Tonyan originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions in 2017. After being released before the season, Thompson and the Packers signed Tonyan to their practice squad.

Packers Offensive Line

Three out of the Packers five starting offensive linemen are products of Ted Thompson. The standout being their starting left tackle.

In 2013, Thompson selected David Bakhtiari in the fourth round of the NFL draft. The former University of Colorado product has been a standout throughout his career. When Bryan Bulaga went down with an injury in the 2013-2014 training camp, it was Bakhtiari who stepped in as the starter at left tackle. Bulaga was expected to be the starting left tackle that season and for the future. However, those plans changed after Bakhtiari played so well in his rookie season. When Bulaga came back the following season, he shifted back to the right side. He and Bakhtiari became one of the best starting tackles combinations in the NFL.

Bulaga is now gone and Bakhtiari has become the leader of the offensive line. His leadership and his play, has made the Packers offensive line very successful. He is arguably one of the best-left tackles in the NFL. Thompson’s selection of Rodgers might be his best. But Bakhtiari is a close second.

A year after taking Bakhtiari, Thompson selected center Corey Linsley out of Ohio State. As was the case with Bakhtiari, Linsley became a starter his rookie season and continues to be the starting center for the Packers. Linsley’s ability to be available and hold up the middle of the offensive has made him a valuable piece to the Packers offensive line.

Ted Thompson loved signing undrafted free agents in hopes they would become contributors. One of those players he signed was Lucas Patrick. He signed as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Patrick’s work ethic made him into an NFL caliber offensive lineman. He is now the Packers starting right guard and has played well. Patrick joins a long list of undrafted free agents that Thompson signed who became contributors.

On the Defensive Side of the Ball

Throughout Thompson’s career as the Packers general manager, his eye for talent seemed better on the offensive side of the ball. However, Thompson selected two defensive players who are key pieces for the Packers current defense.

The last first-round selection Ted Thompson made as the Packers general manager was on Kenny Clark. Clark’s play has shown that he was worth the 27th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Clark is the Packers best interior defensive lineman. Entering this season, he had sacked the quarterback 16 1/2 times. What makes that even more impressive is that he has done that while playing next to the subpar talent on the defensive line.

Prior to this season, Clark signed a new contract. It was a contract that was well overdue.  At only 25 years of age, Clark has a lot of good football ahead of him. Thompson might not have done the best selecting defensive players, but selecting Clark was a feather in his hat.

When you talk about cornerback Kevin King, instantly people will bring up T.J. Watt. Yes, Thompson passed on selecting Watt in the 2017 draft, instead choosing to trade out of the first round and selecting King in the second round. Watt has been the better player, but King has been a key contributor to the Packers secondary.

King has had issues with staying healthy. But when he is healthy, him and cornerback Jaire Alexander make up a strong cornerback combination. In 2019, King had a career season. He started in 14 games and had five interceptions.

Still Kicking After All These Years

Mason Crosby has been the Packers starting kicker since 2007.  That was the same year Ted Thompson selected him in the sixth round of the NFL draft. While Crosby has had to deal with some down seasons, for the majority of his time in Green Bay he has been reliable. He has also kicked some clutch field goals at very important times during his tenure.

Selecting a punter or a kicker is never an easy task. Current Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is currently learning that.  He selected JK Scott in his first draft as the general manager. Similar to Thompson and Crosby, Gutekunst has had to deal with the ups and downs. The Packers can only hope that Scott turns out half as well as Crosby has.

Ted Thompson Legacy Continues

Many Packers fans are still upset about Thompson rarely dipping into free agency. They have a good point. It did hurt their chances of advancing in the playoffs. However, you can’t say that Thompson failed the Packers as a whole. He drafted players that continue to contribute for the Packers. In fact, you can make an argument that if not for the players Thompson brought in, who knows where this Packers team would be.

Gutekunst has done a nice job of utilizing free agency to improve the Packers. But so far, his drafts aren’t nearly what Thompson did during his time. Gutekunst learned from Thompson, so hopefully, his drafting improves as he continues to learn on the job.

As you watch the Packers play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, make sure to remember the players Thompson brought in. They are the ones that will decide if the Packers come away with a victory on Sunday.

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