Everyone who follows the NFL closely knows how much Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson values his draft picks. It comes as little surprise then that Thompson gives his drafted rookies plenty of opportunity to stay with the team. While many teams’ fans wonder whether the names called in the most recent NFL draft (especially those in the later rounds) will have any relevance to the team the following year, with the Packers, it is almost guaranteed that they will. Thompson keeps his draft picks around for at least a year.
Excepting those rookies vultured off of the Green Bay practice squad during their first season, who was the last player drafted by the Packers to not be present in camp the following year? One actually has to go all the way back to 2011 draft pick Ricky Elmore, a linebacker taken in the 6th round who was cut loose at the end of camp. Every rookie drafted by the Packers since Elmore has been either signed back to the practice squad or placed on injured reserve and brought back to camp the following year.
In 2015, defensive end Christian Ringo was the only draft pick cut, but he was signed to the practice squad and will be competing for a spot on the team in 2016. In 2014, all drafted rookies were signed except Khyri Thornton and Jared Abbrederis who were both placed on IR. In 2013, all drafted rookies were signed except for wide receivers Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey. Dorsey was put on IR while Johnson was signed off the Packers’ practice squad half way through the year by the Cleveland Browns. In 2012, offensive lineman Andrew Datko and quarterback BJ Coleman were cut at the end of camp but were resigned to the practice squad. In 2011, offensive lineman Caleb Schlauderaff was traded to the New York Jets, defensive lineman Lawrence Guy was placed on IR, and linebacker Ricky Elmore was cut. As stated previously, the Packers did not attempt to resign Elmore to their practice squad.
While most teams recognize the value in giving more leeway to guys into whom they have invested a draft pick, every offseason you see late-round cuts from around the league, guys who disappointed in training camp and are hoping to catch the eye of another team for a second shot at their NFL dream.
This has been a rare occurrence under Thompson’s regime. Some could argue that this reflects well on the Packers’ scouting team. Others might claim that it simply reflects an over-commitment to guys like Christian Ringo, a late-round pick who acquired the “bust” label from some analysts already in his first year of NFL training camp and preseason play. Whatever the case may be, the Packers commit to their guys. As much as possible, they like to give them a full year of NFL training and experience before parting ways.
Some of the six players taken by the Packers this past weekend will face an up-hill battle to make the final roster. Wide receiver Trevor Davis was added to an already young and crowded field of receivers. Dean Lowry will have to carve out a role for himself on the defensive line. Kyle Murphy will have to prove that he can beat out veteran back-up linemen like Don Barclay and Lane Taylor.
While not all of those camp battles will be won by the rookies, it’s exceedingly likely that each and every one of them will be given at the very least the benefit of a year of adjustment to professional football and another opportunity to prove themselves in camp next year.——————
Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.