2011, 2015 Draft Classes a Reminder That Thompson Had His Flaws

With the likelihood that Randall Cobb does not return to Titletown, coupled with the departure of linebacker Jake Ryan to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who is currently rehabbing his torn ACL he suffered while in a Green Bay Packer uniform, and the last remnants of both the 2011 and 2015 NFL draft classes have left the building. Both classes, hailed as decent victories at the time, both now resemble flops.

Both Cobb and Ryan were the final pieces still on the team, and both were seemingly the classes’ best members in their entirety, not good takeaways.

The 2011 draft was 10 people deep, and besides Cobb, cornerback Davon House (4th round, New Mexico State) and Lawrence Guy (7th round, Arizona State) were the only players who ended up having decent careers so far. Cobb was selected in the second round out of Kentucky, where he was the team’s best receiver and carved out a solid college career helping lead gadget plays out of the backfield too.

Cobb was on the roster the longest, signing an extension and being a Packer since he was drafted. One of the franchise’s most well known receiver, he was a part of the offensive onslaught that the team had, with Aaron Rodgers having weapons like Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Cobb and Jermichael Finley, all in their primes.

House was with the team until 2015, when he signed a big-money, three-year deal, which was cut short after two seasons after House did not live up to how well he performed in Green Bay. He resigned with the Packers in 2017, playing two more seasons with the team. There are reports that the team has no interest in bringing back an old veteran who played in three games last season before being shut down due to injuries.

Guy, who had become a career journeyman by playing for four different teams, never suited up for the Packers in a regular season game and was cut in the preseason. He went on to record solid seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Padres, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, with whom he currently plays for.

Other draftees in the 2011 draft are (in order): Derek Sherrod (1), Alex Green (3), D.J. Williams (5), Caleb Schlauderaff (6), D.J. Smith (6), Ricky Elmore (6) and Ryan Taylor (7). Sherrod was the biggest flop, as he broke his leg early on and never recovered to make an impact for this team.

In 2015, Ted Thompson decided to turn out yet another draft flop, selecting eight players who never made a huge impression on the Packers. The first six players selected, including Ryan in the fourth round, are more household names to a casual Green Bay fan.

The likes of Damarious Randall (1), Quinten Rollins (2), Ty Montgomery (3), Brett Hundley (5), Aaron Ripkowski (6), Christian Ringo (6) and Kennard Backman (6) were the eventual failures that comprised this year’s draft class, which was not highly regarded even after it happened.

Regarded as one of the league’s best talent evaluators and drafters, Thompson sure did have a lapse in judgement in these two drafts, helping bring critics into the conversation early on to question if he was the correct guy for the job to lead Green Bay. While he did draft other values and find diamonds in the rough, every general manager has those moments, and it just seems that the media lauded him more than his counterparts for the moves that he made.

With Brian Gutekunst being a part of the same thought tree, it will be interesting how much he values certain drafting analytics and tests. His first draft in 2018 was quite successful to this point, having found Jaire Alexander as the team’s next stud cornerback, pairing him with rising corner (eventual safety) Josh Jackson in the secondary. Other selections like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Oren Burks have the tools to break out and overplay their draft slots.

An interesting development in the evaluation process for Gutekunst is the health of potential selection Montez Sweat, who was flying up draft boards.

A report came out Sunday that Sweat was found to have a pre-existing heart condition, with a lack of specifics provided. Doctors have deemed it a low-risk diagnosis, but still required an extra evaluation by the medical staff at the combine.

Even with Preston and Za’Darius Smith being signed in free agency, edge rusher is still an area of need for this team, something that Gutekunst seems to understand. By selecting an edge rusher early on, it would help with the prospect’s development, and Sweat could fit that mold.

But does his health comprise his draft stock? Only time will tell.           

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Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23

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