The 2009 season was a resurgence for the Green Bay Packers, improving by 5 games to 11-5 and taking the Cardinals to the limit in one of the most exciting playoff games of recent memory.
2009 rookies Clay Matthews and BJ Raji each made an impact, while Matthews became an instant star, so the Packers looked to get a similar impact, drafting the Best Available Player, and so far it has worked. Let’s take a look at the 2010 draft for Ted Thompson and the Packers.
ROUND 1 (23) – Bryan Bulaga, OL. Iowa
Seen in draft circles as a top prospect, some mocks had him going in the Top 10. However, he fell due to concerns about arm length and where he would play in the NFL. Coming in early on, he eventually became a starter at Right Tackle and he has held the job since then. A key piece of the 2010 Super Bowl team, he was seen as an elite right tackle by publications such as Bleacher Report and has been anything if not consistent, great in run blocking and slowly improving in pass protection. He did battle injuries in 2012 and 2013, but bounced back nicely last season. A priority free agent for Thompson, he re-signed this offseason and will remain in green and gold for a while to come.
ROUND 2 (56) – Mike Neal, DE. Purdue
BAP: Jared Veldheer, OT. Hillsdale
With his second pick Thompson went for athleticism and potential, taking the insanely strong yet unproven Neal from the Big Ten. Neal needed some work on his game, and battled injuries for the beginning of his career, but he emerged once he was moved to linebacker a few years ago. A classic ‘tweener for a 3-4 defense, Neal has been a solid rotational player ever since and is similar to Julius Peppers in his size and build, however he is not as explosive.
ROUND 3 (71) – Morgan Burnett, S. Georgia Tech
BAP: Kam Chancellor, S. Virginia Tech
A trade up from Thompson, Burnett was a turnover machine for Georgia Tech and was seen as a potential star at safety. He made some huge plays as a rookie before injuring his knee and missing his rookie season. He came back in 2011 and has started ever since, becoming a leader in the locker room and on the field. He hasn’t made the impact plays that he did in college but he has been assignment sure and a good tackler for the team. He got a lucrative extension in 2013 and struggled but he bounced back nicely in 2014. He will open the season again at strong safety.
ROUND 5 (154) – Andrew Quarless, TE. Penn State
BAP: Reshad Jones, S. Georgia
Another potential talent, Quarless didn’t necessarily have the production of a typical NFL tight end at Penn State, but he was an intriguing blend of size and speed who could run the seam well. A good blocker early in his career, he has since regressed after a series of shoulder injuries that sidelined him. The starter in the Super Bowl, he got the job back in 2013 and held it for the entirety of 2014. He was brought back and appears to have the staring job again. A solid player to be sure but not a star.
ROUND 5 (169) – Marshall Newhouse, OL. TCU
BAP: Greg Hardy, DE. Ole Miss
An athletic specimen at tackle, he was described as a potential Pro Bowl left tackle after training camp after seeing nimble feet from Newhouse. He eventually got a starting job due to injuries to the starters, starting 13 games in 2011 and all 16 in 2012. As a starter, his potential was just that as he struggled mightily. Relegated to the bench in 2013 in favor of David Bakhtiari, he signed with Cincinnati in 2014, and now plays for the Giants.
ROUND 6 (193) – James Starks, RB. Buffalo
BAP: Antonio Brown, WR. Central Michigan
He would have been a much higher pick if he hadn’t gotten hurt as a senior at Buffalo, and he got a late start to his NFL career due to the wound. Getting the starting job at the end of the season after an injury to Ryan Grant and the struggles of Brandon Jackson, he exploded in the playoffs, setting a team rookie record with 123 yards against Philadelphia. However he could never seize the starting job due to injuries and has settled in as the backup to Eddie Lacy. For his career he has averaged 4.3 yards per carry.
ROUND 7 (230) – CJ Wilson, DL. East Carolina
BAP: Victor Cruz, WR. Massachusetts
Seen as nothing more than a depth player, Wilson emerged as a two down starter for the Packers, excelling in run defense. He never brought much of a pass rush but was dependable and a team player. He left the team after the 2013 season, signing with Oakland.
Notable UDFA – Sam Shields CB. Miami (FL)
Shields was a revelation, a speed prospect who had only switched to corner the year before. A playmaker as a rookie, he recorded two interceptions in the NFC Championship and emerged as a legitimate starter at corner, getting a massive extension before the 2014 season. He is still young and remains a key part of the defense.
UDFA – Frank Zombo, LB. Central Michigan
A solid player for 3 years in Green Bay, he started and had a sack in Super Bowl XLV, but could never quite stay healthy. He left for Kansas City in 2013 and remains there in 2015.
Home Runs (3) – Bulaga, Burnett, Shields*
Average (6) – Neal, Quarless, Newhouse, Starks, Wilson, Zombo*
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.