Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson spoke to the media on Friday morning at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The highlights:
On losing Charles Woodson, Jeff Saturday and Donald Driver, are you concerned about leadership losses?
"That is a lot of veteran leadership that wonít be with us, so youíre always a little bit concerned about that. We have a strong locker room, strong leadership foundation. In the nfl the wheel keeps turning and thatís what weíre about, trying to get ready for the next game. we feel confident in the leadership in our locker room."
Is that similar to losing front-office guys to GM jobs?
"Weíve had some losses in terms of guys taking really good jobs around the league. We encourage that, we foster it. itís something Ron Wolf started back in the day. Thatís the reason I was able to go out to Seattle and work with coach (Mike) Holmgren. But yeah, itís next man up. You try to train your players and you try to train your personnel staff and coaching staff to take the next step and be able to grow and evolve. The NFL is all about evolving. The Baltimore Ravens, world champions, they would like to hold all that together and keep it and go forward like the í29 or í30 Yankees or wherever it was. You canít do that in the nfl anymore, the nfl is always evolving, so you have to continue to evolve. I think our players do a good job of that, theyíve had to do it because of injuries and things like that a little bit more abnormal than normal. I think our personnel staff does the same thing. We put some people in position to take on more leadership and itís the next man up. But weíre very happy for all those guys that have gotten those good jobs, and theyíre going to do a great job around the league and kind of carry on probably much the way Ron Wolf taught us all."
On taking a sense of pride that:
"Iím certainly happy for them, theyíre all really good friends of mine. I just saw them all downstairs, and weíll see a lot of each other this week. Weíre not going to have a reunion, so to speak, but weíre very good friends. I think all those guys have a little bit more appreciation, as did I when I first got this job, of the responsibility and enormity of the task and the need to have good people around you and all that sort of thing. But theyíre doing a good job and Iím proud of them. they donít need me to be, but I am."
On expectations for linebacker Nick Perry:
"I expect him to get through this injury bug and come back and play be a good player for the Packers."
Whatís your position on injured tackles Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod coming back this season?
"Weíre expecting them back. I donít really have any injury updates at this point, because the offseason is the offseason. But we expect those guys to be able to come back and play."
Interested in bringing back receiver Greg Jennings?
"Iím not going to talk about specifically about any of our scheduled to be unrestricted free agents other than to say it is our policy, we think itís a good way to manage the nfl if youíre able to retain your own players. Weíd very much like to do that, and that includes greg."
Advice for new Kansas City Chiefs GM John Dorsey, a longtime Packers personnel man:
"John doesnít need my advice. But we talk. Like I said, I saw him earlier today. Heís going a million miles an hour because heís trying to get up to speed and he and Andy both are both really good football people. Iíve worked with both of them and the Chiefs are in good hands. I promise you on that. We will all talk. I talked with (Seahawks GM) John Schneider, I talked with (Raiders GM) Reggie McKenzie, other people around the league that I worked with. Youíre always bouncing ideas off of people and trying to figure out the right thing to do because sometimes it gets lonely when youíre the person making that pointed decision. We talk from time to time. I havenít given him any real advice other than to be himself."
Whatís Dorsey getting himself into there?
"Surprisingly, Iíve been spending most of my time worrying about the situation in Green Bay. Iím not quite as versed as I should be. The NFL is a tough business. Everybody knows it, and the higher you get, the tougher it gets. John knows that. He knows whatís going on in the real world. But theyíll do a good job. Thatís a good group."
Dorsey is an ex-player, so are you. Does that help at all?
"I donít know, I think thereís some advantage. We have scouts that have played the game, both collegiately and professionally; we have scouts who have never played the game. I personally think thereís an advantage, but itís not an end-all, be-all. it doesnít mean you canít be a good scout. Ron Wolf, one of the best scouts Iíve ever been around, never really played. But I think thereís an advantage, but Iím not sure you can look back on it after 30 years and say, ĎThis is the reason this happened.í"
On running back DuJuan Harris:
"He did a good job. And weíre looking forward to having him here for the whole thing, because when you come in in the middle of the season, you donít go through the offseason, you donít get to see them in training camp and the stress times and things like that. Youíre already in the regular season. So thereís a lot more that we need to get to know about him. But he did a nice job for us."
What's most underrated indicator of success in NFL at the scouting combine?
"I think a lot of people focus on the 40-yard dashes or the jumps or the physical testing. Some people focus on the interviews. At the end of the day, all of us, all 32 teams, all the 32 people that are in my position at other places are going to have to, when they make that decision on the player they bring in, itís, can that player help them win games? Does he have this inside thing that allows him to go beyond what he maybe normally would do? Thereís an Ďití factor. I donít know how to quantify it, to use your term, I donít know how to quantify that, and you canít find it. You donít really know it until you see it, and usually itís already too late, if you know what Iím saying. Itís hard to do that just from going to the school, watching tape, talking to the coaches, seeing the player practice, writing a report that night. Itís hard to find that Ďití thing. But you know it when you see it, when you have him on your team you know those guys with the Ďit.í"
Was that something Ron Wolf was good at?
"Ron was very good at that. Like I said, heís the best scout Iíve ever been around and he taught us well. but thereís an instinctive quality of finding that that Iíve seen it from time to time but I donít see it as much as I wished I could. And I wish I had more illumination, so to speak."
Are the 49ers the wave of future offensively?
"Donít know. History will determine that. There are several teams that are doing maybe not exactly the same thing the 49ers are doing but something similar or maybe akin to it."
On tackle Don Barclay:
"Don did a very good job. He was forced into action before he thought he was probably going to be forced into it and before we thought he was going to be forced into it. He held his own. The value of that is to see some of the things that heís going to have to work on in the future. I think itís also an indication of how our coaches are willing to put young players in, and if they can do the job, theyíll be the ones to play."
On drafting receivers, has scouting changed?
"No, I think you still look for big, fast guys, but guys that catch the ball, guys that are instinctive, guys that have the ability to run after the catch. All those things are the same as they were in 1992, when I first started scouting and I suspect is the same as it was always. Youíve got to be able to catch the ball.
On the NFC North:
"I wish it would not get better. I wish it would get less. This is a competitive business. The NFL, it doesnít matter what the records are. This division has always been tough. There have been times when weíve been fortunate enough to win all of them but every one of those games was tough because itís like brothers playing brothers. We know each other so well. Weíve never gone into a game since I started in this business in 1992 playing a divisional rival that we thought it was going to be easy or anything like that. Itís a whole different focus."