In what has become an expectation during the reign of Ted Thompson, the Green Bay Packers were awarded a compensatory pick after losing a free agent the year prior. This year, the loss of Casey Hayward to the team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers led the NFL to award the Packers a fifth round selection.
An interesting twist on the compensatory draft model this year will be the ability to trade those picks, which NFL teams were previously unable to do with their awarded selections. Since the inception of the compensatory draft pick program in 1994, the Packers have received the second most picks (38) of any team, save only the Baltimore Ravens (48).
Over the years, Ted Thompson has been able to turn some of these third through seventh round picks into valuable talent. Here are some of his best selections with the 17 compensatory picks he has made since 2005:
Guard Josh Sitton (2008), fourth round, 135 overall – Sitton became a mainstay on the offensive line for much of his eight-year Packers tenure. He earned three Pro-Bowl nods with the Packers and was named NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year by the NFL Alumni Association in 2010. Sitton was released by the Packers prior to the start of the 2016 season and signed by the Chicago Bears, where he was named to his fourth Pro Bowl.
Cornerback Davon House (2011), fourth round, 131 overall – House was never quite given the opportunity to grow in a secondary which was once deeper than it found itself at the end of 2016. He intercepted two passes in four seasons as his playing time steadily increased. However, he would move on to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency to earn his first starting role in 2015, where he intercepted four passes and deflected a team record 23 passes in his first season.
Defensive Tackle Mike Daniels (2012), fourth round, 132 overall – Daniels has been an excellent fit in the Packers’ 3-4 system since being selected with a 2012 compensatory pick. After totaling 6.5 sacks in a reserve role in 2013, he earned a starting spot on the defensive line and has not looked back, reaching at least four sacks and 30 tackles in 2014-2016. He was also recognized by his peers as the 95th best player in the league in the annual countdown of 100 best players. Those are significant totals and a good return on investment for the fourth round pick.
Tight End Richard Rodgers (2014), third round, 98 overall – Thompson took a chance on another guy named Rodgers from the University of Cal-Berkeley in 2014. Although he will never live up to his legendary predecessor Aaron, the two will always share one of the more miraculous plays in Packers history. Rodgers to Rodgers, as it came to be known, was one of eight touchdowns in may very well be the peak year for the young tight end in 2015. Despite his good hands, Rodgers lacks the athleticism and run-after-catch ability of Jared Cook, and may continue to lose playing time to Cook if is re-signed.
Linebacker Blake Martinez and Defensive End Dean Lowry (2016), fourth round, 131 and 137 overall respectively – The jury is still out on the Packers’ most recent compensatory selections, but both had strong NFL debuts considering where they were selected. Martinez tallied 69 combined tackles, a sack and an interception while seeing significant playing time at inside linebacker. He projects as the starter alongside Jake Ryan next season unless any newcomers should arise. Lowry played sparingly as a backup pass rusher, but had two sacks in consecutive weeks against the Texans and Seahawks in the midst of Green Bay’s “running of the table” for the final six weeks of the season. He shows promise as a pass rusher in the 3-4 system and could prove to be another hit on a compensatory pick.
Who is your favorite of these compensatory picks? What position should the Packers look to address with their 2017 pick? Let me know in the comments below.