One year after Ted Thompson set the foundation for the future of the Green Bay Packers, the team hit rock bottom. A 4-12 season marked the worst record since 1991 and the end of the Mike Sherman era. This season truly marked the beginning of Thompson’s Packers.
His first move was to hire an unknown offensive coordinator from San Francisco named Mike McCarthy. From that date until today, their relationship is linked with the success of the franchise over the past nine seasons. Following McCarthy’s hiring, Thompson went back to his draft and develop ways and focused on the 2006 NFL Draft.
Holding the fifth pick, Thompson looked for immediate help and drafted a class of players with the skill set to get the team back on the right track. From this class, 3 of the players started in Super Bowl XLV and a couple more were key rotational pieces on the offensive and defensive lines. Let’s take a look at them.
ROUND 1 (5) – AJ Hawk, LB. Ohio State
Best Available Player (BAP): Haloti Ngata, DL. Oregon
AJ Hawk was seen as easily the most pro-ready prospect in the entire draft class, a building block for a defense. This was a no-brainer pick at the time for the Packers and was lauded far and wide after it occurred. Starting on the weak side as a rookie, Hawk impressed early on his Packer career as he led the team in tackles as a rookie and continuing that trend for most of his career. The all-time leading tackler in team history, he has been consistent and durable, while being a leader on the field for the team. The only knock on him has been the lack of game-changing plays, but his consistency has been a benefit for the team in the long run. That was shown as he was named a captain for the 2010-2011 Playoffs which culminated in a Super Bowl Title.
ROUND 2 (47) – Daryn Colledge, OL. Boise State
A tackle in college, Colledge as seen as an instant starter for the Pack, and he was just that. The starter at left guard for most of his tenure in Green and Gold, we was a good pass blocker who was slightly undersized in the running game, but like Hawk was durable and consistent. Never a Pro Bowler in Green Bay, he was nevertheless a good piece to have protecting Favre and than Rodgers. he left after the Super Bowl, signing with Arizona and then Miami in 2014, but he hasn’t yet duplicated the success he had in Green Bay.
ROUND 2 (52) – Greg Jennings, WR. Western Michigan
A true home run pick for Thompson, Jennings was a revelation as a rookie, moving from a middling conference in college to the highest professional level and not missing a beat. The recipient of the 400th, 420th, and 421st touchdowns of Brett Favre’s career, Jennings was a consistent starter and leader of the receiving core. Teaming up with Donald Driver, Jennings exploded in 2007 with 12 TDs, and followed that up with 3 consecutive 1000 yard seasons. He may be most well known for his third down catch that clinched the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh. After an injury-plagued 2012, he was let go and signed with the rival Vikings. While this soured relations with some fans early on, his career in Green Bay will get him into the Packers Hall of Fame as soon as he retires.
ROUND 3 (67) – Abdul Hodge, LB. Iowa
Coming out of Iowa, Hodge was the Big Ten’s leading tackler, basically what AJ Hawk would become in Green Bay. He was a thumper in the run game and a decent coverage guy. Most people, myself included, saw this as a steal in Round 3, figuring Hawk and Hodge would team up with Nick Barnett and set the linebacking core up for a decade of success. He would start his career out on a solid note, playing special teams. He got a start late in November against Seattle and scored his only career touchdown on a fumble recovery. However, he would be plagued with injuries to his knee and shoulder and would only last one more season in Green Bay. He played six more NFL games as a Bengal.
ROUND 3 (75) – Jason Spitz, OL. Louisville
BAP: Owen Daniels, TE. Wisconsin (98th)
Thompson believes in drafting up the middle as a philosophy usually and thus we see “Spitzy” here at 75th overall. A big mauler in the run game, he was the opposite of Daryn Colledge, yet they were partners at guard for Colledge for their tenures in Green Bay. A solid, unspectacular player, he did his job well enough to not be recognized. He left after the 2010 season for Jacksonville, but never regained the heights he had as a Packer. He last played in 2013 for Seattle.
ROUND 4 (104) – Cory Rodgers, WR. TCU
BAP: Jahiri Evans, OL. Bloomsburg (108th)
A true failure of a pick, Rodgers was seen as a possible deep threat and kick returner, but there was one problem: he couldn’t hang on to the ball. The top kick returner in the country at TCU, his skills never translated. He was cut in the final day before the season, and never caught on anywhere else. He remains the highest pick by Thompson to not make the roster.
ROUND 4 (115) – Will Blackmon, CB. Boston College
BAP: Brandon Marshall, WR. UCF (119th)
Blackmon was as explosive as they came in college, making his mark as a corner, receiver, and returner. He found most of his success in Green Bay as a returner, consistently making his mark and giving the Pack great field position. His career highlight was against Oakland in 2007 when he returned a kickoff and a fumble for touchdowns, becoming the fourth player ever to accomplish that feat. He would score two more return touchdowns in Green Bay before being released in 2010. He has bounced around the league ever since, but appears to have found a home in Jacksonville, starting at corner for the past couple of seasons.
ROUND 5 (148) – Ingle Martin, QB. Furman
BAP: Mark Anderson, DE. Alabama (159th)
Martin was a developmental prospect with a huge arm and a backup job as a punter. He made the team as a rookie as the third string QB behind Favre and Rodgers. He didn’t develop as fast as McCarthy would like and was cut in 2007. He bounced around practice squads for a couple of years, but never got into a regular season game.
ROUND 5 (165) – Tony Moll, OL. Nevada
BAP: Delanie Walker, TE. Central Missouri State (175th)
A developmental prospect, no one (including McCarthy) saw him as a starter early on, but he started 10 games on the right side as a rookie. A good athlete for the line, he started 8 more games in two years before he was traded to Baltimore for safety Derrick Martin. He lasted a little more than a year in Baltimore and bounced around the league until 2012.
ROUND 6 (183) – Johnny Jolly, DL. Texas A&M
A player with character concerns coming out of college, Jolly dropped due a lack of trust in his maturity. While Jolly struggled to get on the field as a rookie, he took over as a starter in 2007 and had three solid seasons holding down the middle for the team. However, his off field concerns returned and he was arrested and suspended for drug charges in July 2010, missing three seasons, including a Super Bowl title. He was reinstated in 2013 and made the team despite long odds and was a productive member of the team. He faded down the stretch and ended the season on IR with a neck injury. He hasn’t played since but has been a good turnaround story for the NFL.
ROUND 6 (185) – Tyrone Culver, S. Fresno State
BAP: Antoine Bethea, S. Howard (207th)
Culver was seen as a special teams only prospect who could step in for a spell and hold his own. He was a Packer for the 2006 season, playing in 14 games and recording 9 tackles. After his departure he found a home in Miami, sticking the Dolphins from 2008-2012, starting 6 games at safety during that stretch. He was an average NFL player, and not bad for a sixth round pick.
ROUND 7 (253) – Dave Tollefson, DE. NW Missouri State
BAP: Brent Grimes, CB. Shippensburg (UDFA)
Tollefson was drafted as a camp body who had a chance to make the team after a year on the practice squad. After the 2006 season he was claimed by Oakland, but didn’t make the team. In October of that year, he was picked up by the Giants and became a productive piece for both Super Bowl teams. He ended his career after the 2012 season with 10.5 career sacks and two rings.
That was the 2006 NFL Draft for Green Bay. There were some solid picks, a home run, and one colossal mistake. We’ll take a look at the Ted Thompson drafts every Monday until we catch up with this season. Stay tuned.
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.