Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson didn't go into much detail about his plans for next week's NFL draft, but he did say Thursday that the team signed highly-regarded free agent Julius Peppers because "there's no evidence of any decline in his play."
Other highlights from Thompsonís pre-draft press conference at Lambeau Field:
On adding a fourth quarterback to the roster: We kind of work out 90-man roster thing during draft itself, or before, in terms of what would be ideal, how many quarterbacks to carry, etc.
On usually picking late in draft every year: You don't worry about picking late. You do best you can where you're picking.
On being in charge of the draft room: Ron Wolf was marvelous at projecting leadership. You have to understand the GM chair. I am the leader. Have to project confidence, understanding.
On anticipation of draft: We're ready to go. They used to have it on Saturday-Sunday. Next Thursday, waking up early like I do, waiting all day, it will be like a night game.
On how he gauges the success of the draft: During draft weekend itself, at end of it, if we've been able to sign some good college free agents, you can rest at night, and feel like youíve done OK.
On doing only a mock draft: We don't do our own mock drafts. (Other) mock drafts don't interest me. People who do them donít have any inside information.
On what he looks for in safety prospects: Look for athletic traits, good character. Last year, we had too many bumps and bruises (at safety).
On compensatory draft picks: I think compensatory picks help you a lot. Ours were pretty good. You can't trade them so they're a little different.
On picking late: When you're picking in the 20s, you kind of let it come to you.
On overall depth of draft class: I never get in business of evaluating overall draft class. Need three, four years to do it.
On having high picks early: It's good to have four picks in the top 98, more is better, it gives you better odds.
His opinion of the draft: The draft itself is a fun thing.
On his personnel staff: Our front-office chemistry is good. Our guys now have certain strengths. We try to play to that. Dynamics of the room haven't changed a lot. It's not difficult to stick to best player available.
On importance of having quality safeties on the team: You need good safety play to be a good defense, but you did 10 years ago, 20 years ago also. It's good to have that.
On whether some positions donít merit first-round picks: I don't subscribe to that theory. You want to pay quarterbacks, pass rushers, offensive linemen, but it doesn't mean you don't need other players at other positions.
On having so much turnover at center: Four different starting centers in four years, that's the way it works out sometimes.
On his physical condition: I'm fine physically. (He had a cough drop.)
On the offseason schedule: (Coach) Mike McCarthy is revising the training camp schedule to reflect desire to limit our players a little bit and prevent injuries.
On injury concerns and factoring that into making draft picks: We've had some bad luck on injuries. We haven't stretched what our beliefs are in terms of bottom line on medical side for draft picks.
On the overall draft approach: We try to stick to best player available. We feel like the draft is a long-term investment. We don't get too carried away with what our perceived needs are at the moment.
On signing free-agent linebacker/defensive end Julius Peppers: 34 is not so old. There's no evidence of any decline in his play, in our opinion. He still has same athletic traits coming out. Peppers' signing happened fast, very quietly. The thing was put to bed and done, everybody back home, before anybody knew about it. Refreshing.
On free-agent signings: People who say we don't use free agency are wrong. Almost every offseason we try to do something.
On the draft being two weeks later: I don't have any say in the matter of when the draft is. We work in a popular league, the NFL does a great job of marketing. The draft is popular. The last three, four, five days we're sitting around with not much to do. Draft is two weeks later, so a lot of our stuff started two weeks later. Had a little extra time.