Ted Thompson’s eighth draft as Packers GM may have been the most interesting of them all, adding six straight defensive players before capping off the weekend with an O-lineman and QB. While both Thompson and McCarthy maintained the notion that selection was based on best player available, the selections fell suspiciously in line with the Packers’ direct needs. Further, Thompson traded up an uncharacteristically high three times.
With several elite pass rushers to choose from at pick 28, Thompson went with USC defensive end Nick Perry. While Perry’s big frame and favoritism toward the 4-3 defense left some fans scratching their heads, Dom Capers and the Packers coaching staff are convinced that his transition to outside linebacker will be natural.
Barring an injury in training camp, there is little reason to think Perry can’t land the starting outside linebacker spot opposite former Trojan Clay Matthews. However, don’t expect error-free performance in Perry’s first season with Green Bay; he’ll be learning to play in space as well as in Dom Capers’ complex system. However, once Perry has settled in, he could very well be the bigger sack threat of the Trojan duo.
On Friday of draft weekend, Thompson followed prior-day suit by adding two more defenders, Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward. Worthy was projected to come off the board in the late first to early second round but slid due to concerns over a failed drug test while at Michigan State. Thompson saw the opportunity to add a top-notch end and moved up to pick 51 to snag the former Spartan.
Shortly after his selection of Worthy, Thompson sent the Packers’ third and fifth round picks to New England in exchange for the 62nd overall pick, proceeding to draft Vanderbilt ball hawk Casey Hayward. Thompson’s selection of Hayward marked only the second time the Packers GM selected a cornerback that early in the draft. The expectation is that Hayward will compete with Sam Shields for a starting job after Charles Woodson retires.
Thompson bolstered his defensive line depth further by adding Iowa defensive tackle Mike Daniels at the end of the fourth round. One pick later, Thompson found a potential gap-filler in the secondary in Maine safety Jerron McMillian. Nick Collins’ sudden release has left the Packers’ safety depth in a barren state. McMillian should have a fair chance at competing for the starting strong safety job.
Thompson’s trading frenzy wasn’t over until the fifth round when the Packers GM moved up for NC State linebacker Terrell Manning. Manning figures to push A.J. Hawk at inside linebacker the same way D.J. Smith did last season. Finally, Green Bay went offense with their last two picks of the draft, nabbing Florida State tackle Andrew Datko and Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman. Coleman, raw and talented, is the perfect developmental project for McCarthy and new offensive coordinator Tom Clements.