Over the last five years, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson hasn’t been shy about moving up in the NFL draft if it’s meant getting the right player under the right circumstances.
During Friday's second round, both of those principles aligned on two separate occasions, with Thompson moving up to draft Michigan State defensive end Jerel Worthy with the 51st overall selection before trading back into the round to take Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward at No. 62.
After not trading up in his first three drafts, Thompson has moved up in four of his last five. Friday was the first time he’s traded up twice in the same draft.
It began when the Packers moved up eight spots to draft Worthy at No. 51 after sending their second-round pick (No. 59) and a fourth-rounder (No. 123) to the Philadelphia Eagles. Moments later, they traded back into the second round to select Hayward after sending their third- (No. 90) and fifth-round (No. 163) picks to the New England Patriots.
“As a matter of practicality, you have to let a few picks come off the board before you look up there and say, ‘Well, the guy’s still up there,’” Thompson said. “We started working and sometimes you can move up and sometimes you can’t, and sometimes you can move down and sometimes you can’t. It worked out here and we did a couple times.”
Before Friday, Green Bay had traded up only three times, all coming in consecutive years with defensive end Jeremy Thompson (fourth round, 102nd overall) in 2008, linebacker Clay Matthews (first, 26th) in 2009 and safety Morgan Burnett (third, 71st) in 2010.
According to NFLDraftScout.com’s draft-pick value chart, the Packers received good value in the first trade (a plus-31 differential) and made out like bandits in the second (plus-116.8 differential).
Green Bay’s allotment in the first trade that led to Worthy’s acquisition was worth a combined 359 points to the 390 points of the Eagles’ 51st overall pick. In the second trade, the Packers’ third and fifth round picks were worth a combined 167.2 points to the 284 points of the 62nd pick.
“We thought it was pretty good value,” Thompson said of the team’s second trade. “We felt like we had a guy who we definitely had targeted and was worthy of pulling that trade off, so it just worked out that way. It was a good trade for us.”
The Packers will have seven picks on Saturday with two compensatory fourth-rounders (132nd and 133rd), a sixth (197th) and four sevenths (224th, 235th, 241st and 243rd). The latter two sevenths also are compensatory picks.
With Mike Neal set to serve a four-game suspension at the start of the 2012 regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the Packers are looking to make the most of their offseason with the oft-injured defensive lineman.
Neal is eligible to participate in all offseason activities, preseason practices and games, but won't be able to return to the Packers’ active roster until Oct. 1, the day after the team hosts the New Orleans Saints.
During the start of offseason workouts, Neal has spent most of his time working out and in meetings. He'll begin short on-field drills on Monday. The 2010 second-round draft pick has been limited to nine regular-season appearances over the last two years because of injuries.
“I’m just kind of coaching the kid, trying to get him better,” defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. “He’s missed some time here, he’s missed a lot of time here, so I’m just trying to get as much knowledge into him as I can right now. He’ll have to make sure between now and training camp that he gets it all because then he’ll miss some time.”
Clifton, Collins departures
Thompson got a little emotional when discussing the departures of veteran left tackle Chad Clifton and safety Nick Collins, both of whom were released last week.
A 12-year veteran, Clifton started more than 160 games before being released on April 23. He was limited to only six games last season because of hamstring and back injuries.
The team parted with Collins, a three-time Pro Bowler, two days later after deciding they weren't comfortable clearing him after single-fusion surgery on his neck. Collins sustained a herniated disc in a Week 2 game at Carolina.
“They are the epitome of our franchise,” Thompson said. “Chad Clifton came in as a second-round pick and has played for a very long time at a position that’s of premium value in the National Football League, the left-tackle position. … Nick Collins came from a small college in Bethune-Cookman by NCAA standards. There were people who doubted him when he came in and did nothing but impress us. He started from Day One. In a very shortened career, he went to three Pro Bowls and would’ve been many, many more. Both were good men, both were good family men and they’re what we’re looking for.”
It's another Rodgers
After being teammates with one Rodgers brother at Vanderbilt last season, new Packers cornerback Casey Hayward is excited to team with another next season.
Hayward, the second of the Packers’ two second-round draft picks, was teammates with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ younger brother, Jordan, the Commodores' quarterback last season. He also noticed the MVP quarterback at one of the team’s games last season.
“I’m pretty excited about that, too,” Hayward said. “Jordan is a great guy and I know Aaron is a great guy, as well, so I’m pretty excited and pretty sure I’ll learn from him, too. I’ll try to pick his brain, as well.”
Peprah joins Tailgate Tour
Packers safety Charlie Peprah will join teammates Jordy Nelson and Mason Crosby for the upcoming Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour from May 15-19.
The tour, which raises money for charities in five cities over five days, will make stops in La Crosse (May 15), Madison (May 16), Kenosha (May 17), Cedarburg/Grafton (May 18) and Sturgeon Bay (May 19).
Others taking part include Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy and Packers Hall of Famers William Henderson, Larry McCarren and Marco Rivera. Each Tailgate Tour will run from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and includes Lambeau Field tailgate food, giveaways, question-and-answer sessions and autographs.
Official tailgate party tickets are $30. General admission tickets are $5, and include access to Q&A sessions and tailgate party activities.
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