Packers general manager Ted Thompson met with the media on Wednesday morning to preview the 2016 NFL draft. Here are some highlights from his news conference:
Good morning, I’d like to start off saying that the draft, as we can see today, is a very popular thing. I want to make sure people understand my appreciation for this organization, our coaching staff. Everybody works so hard to try to help us put it all together. Obviously, the personnel people, the football operations people, all the coaches, player personnel, video people – all those people are directly involved in the actual draft process whether it be helping in terms of logistics or arranging for travel for guys we bring in for visits. It’s an enormous amount of work. It seems like most of the attention is direction is directed to me – that’s not warranted because we have a whole team of people who help put this on. We still have a week to go, but we think we’re close to be about where we need to be. I was thinking about this – when we played Washington in the playoffs, we were staying downtown. I went out for a walk. It turned dark. It was 8:30 in January in Washington D.C. and I’m walking along, I’m trying to dodge traffic – there’s a grass area and there’s cars going this way and this way and I’m in this grass area. Right there is the Capitol building and it’s under construction. I just stopped there in the middle of it – I didn’t go out for a purpose, but when I got there I said this is the reason I went out for a walk. I hope the same thing happens with the draft. That when it’s done we’ll say this is the reason we put in all this work.
On how the first round plays out:
Parts of it do and parts of it don’t every year. I don’t know if one is any more than another. There’s always surprises. I guess it’ll be a little bit of both.
On if they do mock drafts:
No, we don’t. We’ve tried to, but we’re so personal with it and so locked into it, we make it up.
On draft-room emotion:
There are gut-wrenching times to where you’re so close to getting the perfect player for your time and they might get picked right in front of you. As it happens, you were better with that happening than the first place.
On picking 27:
It depends. When you’re picking 27, it’s much more difficult to come up with the actual 27 names. It gets to be a little bit mathematically difficult to predict. You have groups of players. You try to say these guys are pretty close. It’s constantly evaluating.
On Leventee McCray:
We thought he had some good snaps in Denver. We think he has a nice body type. He has good athletic ability. He’s shown the ability to be an outside backer.
On the roster:
I think it’s a good roster. I feel pretty good about it going in. We have a number of players we’ll add to our roster.
On inside linebacker:
We think it’s a pretty good group. They’ve been able to get some experience. Sam’s experience got thwarted a little bit with an injury.
On drafting best player available:
We try to draft the best player available. We think it’s important to stay focused and try to take the best player. I think that from a personal standpoint. Situation about needs isn’t normally a temporary one. As long as you’re taking really good players and best players you can identify, then you’re in some respects you’re able to stay a little bit in front of the curve. There can be some of both. You can be in a position where this solves problem A on our roster, but he’s also the best player available. If you get lucky where you can address both – if it comes to one or the other, I prefer to take the best player.
On excitement of draft time:
I don’t know if excitement is the word I’d use. This was the first week our players were back and it’s certainly good to see them in the building and moving around, and that sort of thing. The draft thing gets dragged out so long that you’re kind of ready to do it one way or another.
On changes in the pre-draft process:
There’s been some. There’s a lot more information now. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s not so good. There’s all kinds of analytical stuff you need someone paying attention to. It’s more work. It’s more comparisons. Because there’s more time, I feel like it kind of evens the playing field. Most teams are probably similar.
On if defense has what it needs to move Matthews back outside:
We’re not playing anybody tomorrow. I hope not. I think there are places on our rosters where we’re relatively thin when looking at the 90-man roster. We have a number of guys who were on the team before this spring and going forward.
On Jared Cook:
He’s very athletic. Great catch radius, big target. We think he’ll add some stuff to us athletically of the offensive side of the ball.