The Green Bay Packers’ family lost one of the greats yesterday. Ted Thompson was the general manager who constructed the Super Bowl XLV winning team. He brought in big name free agents like Charles Woodson and Julius Peppers. Where he made his real mark, though, was in the draft. Like all general managers, Ted missed on some picks; but he hit more home runs than almost any in the league. 19 of the players Thompson picked went on to make at least one Pro Bowl in their careers. 19 players in 12 seasons. Some of them are still on the roster, playing a role in perhaps another Super Bowl run. Here, we countdown the top ten draft picks of his brilliant career.
From Aaron Rodgers in 2005 to Aaron Jones in 2017, Ted Thompson made his mark in the draft.
19 players drafted during his tenure went on to make Pro Bowls, with superstars such as Rodgers, OT David Bakhtiari, WR Davante Adams and WR Jordy Nelson amongst his many notable picks. pic.twitter.com/OYf85236oC
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 21, 2021
Ted’s Best Pick: #10- Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby was drafted by Ted Thompson in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. After Ryan Longwell, the team’s all-time leading scorer, left Green Bay, the Packers had a tough year with Dave Rayner at kicker.
Ted Thompson remedied the situation with Mason Crosby. Why is a kicker on this list? Because Mason Crosby is the Packers’ all-time leading scorer now, and it is not even close. When Longwell left, he owned the Packers’ record with 1,054 points. Mason Crosby now has 1,682. With two years left on his contract, this number is going to keep growing.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted the Packers’ all-time leading scorer
Ted’s Best Pick: #9- AJ Hawk
AJ Hawk was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He spent nine of his 11 years in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers. While some fans may consider Hawk some kind of a bust, he did have many, many productive seasons for the Packers.
AJ Hawk never made a Pro Bowl team, but was a very effective tackler for the Packers. So effective that when his stint with the Packers ended, he was the Packers’ all-time leader in tackles. He still is. In Super Bowl XLV, Hawk chalked up five tackles and deflected a pass in a key moment of the game. When his playing career was over, he was signed to one-day contract to retire as a Packer.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted the Packers’ all-time tackles leader
Ted’s Best Pick: #8- Aaron Jones
In his last draft as general manager, Ted Thompson drafted one of the most popular players on this present Packers’ roster. Aaron Jones was a fifth round pick, taken 182nd overall.
Aaron Jones has had a brilliant early career as a member of the Packers. In his sophomore season, he led the NFL in yards per carry (5.5). The following year, 2019, Jones led the NFL in rushing touchdowns (16) and total touchdowns (19). He also became the first Packers rusher to run for over 1,000 yards since 2014 (Eddie Lacy). Jones’ 1,000 yards also made him the second back that Thompson drafted who went over 1,000 yards in a season (Lacy).
This year, Jones was named to his first Pro Bowl. He also eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark again with 1,104 yards. Again, he averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Should the Packers win the Super Bowl this year, Aaron Jones will be a key reason why.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted two 1,000 yard rushers, one of which is this year’s team’s leading rusher
Ted’s Best Pick: #7- Kenny Clark
Kenny Clark was Ted Thompson’s first round pick in the 2016 Draft. Clark has lived up to the hype, becoming of the most important players on this Packers’ team. As a rookie, Clark learned the defense as a second string player, but still recovered two fumbles on the year.
In 2017, his first as a starter, Clark recorded 4.5 sacks, 55 tackles, and forced two fumbles. He was even better in 2018, recording six sacks, 55 tackles, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
His best year as a pro was last season in 2019. He matched his career high with six sacks and set a new career high with 62 tackles. His constant presence in his opponents’ backfield earned him a Pro Bowl nomination. His production also earned him a new contract with the Packers, ensuring he will be in the Green and Gold for his prime years.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted a Pro Bowl Nose Tackle
Ted’s Best Pick: #6- Randall Cobb
The fact that Randall Cobb is only sixth on this this list goes to show just how great Ted Thompson was at finding great players in the draft. Randall Cobb was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft following the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV win.
Randall Cobb became one of the most popular players on the Packers’ roster, in large part due to his timely catches in big moments. As a slot receiver, he was not a regular deep threat, but was great and reliable in the short pass game. His best year came in 2014 when he had 1,287 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to his first and only Pro Bowl that year.
Randall Cobb is still in the NFL as a member of the Houston Texans.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted [another] Pro Bowl Wide Receiver
Ted’s Best Pick: #5- Jordy Nelson
As with Cobb, the fact the Jordy Nelson is so low on this list goes to show just how great Ted’s drafts were. Also like Cobb, Nelson is one of the most popular Packers’ players in recent memory.
Jordy Nelson was taken in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. While it would take a few years of development for him to reach his full potential, the wait was well worth it. Nelson’s breakout game came in Super Bowl XLV. He had 140 yards receiving and two touchdowns in that game.
Nelson would go on to have four 1,000+ receiving yard seasons. In 2014, Nelson had a career-high 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was named to his only Pro Bowl that year. In 2016, after missing 2015 with a knee injury, Nelson led the NFL with 14 touchdown receptions and won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted [another] Pro Bowl Wide Receiver
Ted’s Best Pick: #4- Clay Matthews
Another one of the most popular Packers’ players of the last decade, Clay Matthews was drafted by the Packers in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He made an immediate impact, making the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. In 2010, the year the Packers won the Super Bowl, Matthews was also an All Pro selection.
An electrifying pass rusher, Matthews recorded 10 or more sacks in four separate seasons. When his time with the Packers ended in 2018, he was the Packers’ all-time leader in sacks. His 83.5 sacks as a Packer is still the team record.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted the Packers’ All-Time Sack Leader
Ted’s Best Pick: #3- Davante Adams
Continuing his string of finding great wide receivers in the second round, Ted Thompson drafted Davante Adams in the second round of the 2014 draft. Like Jordy Nelson, it took a couple of years for Adams to develop. However, the patience the Packers showed is paying high dividends now.
Davante Adams made his fourth straight Pro Bowl this year and his first All Pro team. In addition, Adams set the franchise record for receptions in a season (115) while tying the record for touchdowns in a season (18). He did all of this despite missing two games with a hamstring injury.
To give an idea of just how good Davante Adams is, take a look at the last Packers’ wide receiver to make four consecutive Pro Bowls. That would be Hall of Famer James Lofton.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted an All Pro Wide Receiver
Ted’s Best Pick: #2- David Bakhtiari
Ted Thompson selected David Bakhtiari in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. With that pick, Ted selected the man who would become in best left tackle in the NFL today.
David Bakhtiari may very well be on the path to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is a three time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All Pro. Earlier this year, the Packers made Bakhtiari the highest paid lineman in NFL history. With this new deal, Bakhtiari will remain with the Packers during his prime years.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted a two-time All Pro Left Tackle
Ted’s Best Pick: #1- Aaron Rodgers
Ted Thompson’s best draft pick was his first pick as Packers’ general manager. Famously, Aaron Rodgers fell all the way to 24 in the 2005 Draft, and Thompson jumped at the opportunity. Not only was the pick a sign of great foresight, but Thompson also showed great leadership as he guided the franchise through its transition from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers.
The accolades that Rodgers has accumualted throughout his storied career could take up pages and pages. In short, Rodgers is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time All Pro, and soon to be three-time MVP. He hold numerous NFL and team records, and became the first player ever to throw 40 or more touchdowns in three separate seasons. There is no doubt that when it is all said and done, Aaron Rodgers will be in the Hall of Fame.
Bragging Rights for Ted: Drafted a Hall of Fame Quarterback