Part 2 of the 10 Best and Worst Draft Picks by Green Bay Since 2000 visits the 10th through 6th positions in the 10 best choices made by Mike Sherman and Ted Thompson.
10. T.J. Lang (2009 4th Round, 1 Pro Bowl, 94 starts)
The sting from losing Lang to the Lions in free agency is still fresh. This guy was everything you wanted in a Packer. He was tough as nails, played damn well through injury, and his first order of business in Detroit would’ve been clocking Ndamukong Suh in the nose had he still been there. One thing Ted Thompson deserves credit for is finding gems on the offensive line in later rounds.
Lang played at a Pro Bowl level the past several years. He was one of those players who are casualties of an arbitrary voting system, but finally got his due this last year. Of course, the Packers let him go after that happened.
In seriousness, Lang made the best decision for himself and his family by taking the big money from Detroit. He earned it. I wish him the best of luck, except when they play Green Bay. We’ll miss you, T.J.
9. Chad Clifton (2000 2nd Round, 2 Pro Bowls, 160 starts)
When Chad Clifton was drafted, did someone tell him, “Hey, congratulations on getting drafted! Now you’re going to spend your entire career protecting the blind side of two Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Don’t let a guy’s career get ruined now. Thanks!” Clifton responded by starting in 160 of the 165 games over the next eleven years with the Packers.
What did Chad Clifton do after this cheap shot from Warren Sapp? He spent the better part of a decade protecting two of Wisconsin’s best imports in the past 40 years, culminating with a ring in 2010. Few things are better to have in football than a reliable mainstay at left tackle. This is why David Bakhtiari was given his extension last year.
8. Mike Daniels (2012 3rd Round, 22 sacks, 114 tacks, 3 fumble recoveries)
This man has only made the cover of Sports Illustrated as someone playing one of the more thankless positions in football. All he does is blow people up while the sexier positions garner all the headlines. The first thing almost every opponent does in their game plan (other than decide to expose the middle of the field on passing downs) against the Packers is assign multiple resources to containing Mike Daniels. Leave him with any opening, and he becomes a permanent resident of the backfield.
A lineman in a 3-4 scheme will almost never fill up the stat sheet. Daniels and his 22 sacks as a Packer are well above what anyone else on the defensive line has produced. With him extended through 2019, there’s the opportunity to move farther up this list. It should be enjoyable to see him muck it up at the line of scrimmage for the next several seasons.
7. Aaron Kampman (2002 5th Round, 54 sacks, 320 tackles, 4 FR, 2 Pro Bowls)
Aaron Kampman contributed immediately as a rookie in 2002, and made that a habit during his eight years with Green Bay. As a classic 4-3 defensive end, he made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2007 with 27.5 sacks over those two seasons. Who would’ve known Iowa would produce two in a row on this list?
Kampman was your classic “blue-collar/no-nonsense” player. In his last year as a Packer, he selflessly took a position move to OLB in Dom Capers’ first year with the team. For never playing that role, his inexperience was noticeable at first, but he quickly began to pick up and become a solid contributor for being thrust into an unfamiliar spot. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn knee, took the money from Jacksonville, and was out of the league by 2011.
6. Josh Sitton (2008 4th Round, 3 Pro Bowls, 112 starts)
Thompson hit again in the middle rounds in 2008 with Josh Sitton. Three of his last four years in Green Bay finished with a Pro Bowl appearance. Many of his peers argued he was the best guard in the game.
Shockingly enough, he was cut just prior to the 2016 season. The fact that a perennial Pro Bowler wasn’t even traded, but cut, will be on our minds for a long time. Perhaps the full story behind his shocking release will be known someday. And now, without Lang, the Packers have willingly dismantled arguably the best interior duo in the game.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.