Ted Thompson says he’s fine with waiting until after the draft to sit down with safety Nick Collins to discuss his future.
The 28-year-old three-time Pro Bowl selection hasn’t received all the medical opinions he needs to decide whether to continue playing or retire following the single fusion surgery on his neck last September after he sustained a herniated disc in Week 2. Collins didn’t play the rest of the season and has said if he’s at greater risk of injury, he would retire.
His agent, Alan Herman, told the Press-Gazette earlier this week that Collins probably won’t meet with the Packers until after next week’s draft.
That could be viewed as a complication for Thompson unless he’s already made up his mind whether he’ll let Collins play again for the Packers.
“I think it’s more important to make the right decision at the end of this,” Thompson said Thursday during his annual predraft news conference. “I’m sure he’s anxious, and all of our people are anxious. I think it’s more about being right than being fast. We’ll see.”
The Packers return Charlie Peprah, who replaced Collins, and the other starting safety, Morgan Burnett, but have no experienced players behind them. When asked if he felt he needed to address the safety position in the draft in case Collins doesn’t return, Thompson said: “We feel like our roster is balanced enough overall. … We don’t feel like we have to target a particular position in the draft. That’s not what we do, and we won’t do it this year.”
Still, the Packers have obvious needs on defense after finishing last in the NFL in yards allowed and passing yards allowed despite going 15-1 last season. They may need a starter on the defensive line, at outside linebacker and at safety. Yet Thompson insisted that this year will be no different when it comes to his best-player-available philosophy.
“We won’t (draft for need) intentionally; maybe subconsciously,” Thompson said. “We don’t draft that way. You draft for the long-term investment for your team. We don’t draft for the immediate need or perceived immediate need.”
As has been his custom, Thompson would not discuss certain players in the draft or even specific position groups.
In his 21-minute session with reporters, Thompson discussed:
• What he’s learned about the draft: “You can’t predict it. You can worry yourself sick about what’s going to happen, who’s going to be there when it’s our pick and that sort of thing. The more you get back to the base that Ron (Wolf) taught us is to evaluate players individually, (and) don’t get too whacked out one way or the other in terms of position. Just make sure you have the players ranked correctly in terms of what you think they can do in the NFL.”
• What, if anything, he learned after the Justin Harrell first-round pick of 2007 didn’t work out: “We did our research with that pick, too. The fact that it didn’t work out is my responsibility.”
• Picking underclassmen versus seniors: “I do think there’s a difference. That’s not to say the juniors can’t come in and play because a lot of them do and a lot of them have long careers and do just fine. I think, as a rule, most people in my position would prefer that everybody fulfill their entire playing time in college. We feel then we get a more mature, more developed person. But we’ve taken juniors, and we don’t hold it against them.”
• Not having an experienced backup quarterback behind starter Aaron Rodgers: “I’m fine with it. It’s good.”
• Whether Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson’s height (5-foot-10 5/8) is a problem: “I don’t know how to say this without violating one of my rules. I think people make compensations for certain things as they go along in life, and I don’t think you ever say never. There are defensive linemen that come into the league, and they happen to be 6 feet tall and people say, ‘he can’t play,’ and they wind up having a long career. … I don’t think Russell Wilson’s worried about any of that.”
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