GREEN BAY, Wis. — Ted Thompson believes the key to late-round draft success is having as many picks as possible. The Green Bay Packers’ general manager likens it to baseball in that the more swings at the plate available, the more likely one of them will be a hit.
On the final day of the 2013 NFL Draft, Thompson exercised that philosophy to its fullest, selecting nine players in Rounds 4-7.
The Packers originally had only eight total picks in all seven rounds combined, but through a series of three trades, Thompson assembled 10 picks on Day 3 alone.
“We felt like the draft was pretty solid through the middle rounds, so we wanted to accumulate some picks in that area,” Thompson said at the conclusion of the draft. “I’ve always said the more picks, I think, the better.”
After drafting defensive lineman Datone Jones in the first round and running back Eddie Lacy in the second round, Thompson added two offensive linemen, two wide receivers, two linebackers, a cornerback, another defensive lineman and a second running back.
“We’re trying to help our team,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to find new people, some young guys that can come in and help these veterans and help us be a better team.”
Thompson started the day by drafting offensive tackle David Bakhtiari out of Colorado.
“I think that David can play multiple positions; He certainly is athletic enough to do so,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “He has good feet, but I think he’s very versatile. We’ll be excited to get him in here and see where we’re going to place him.”
The Packers didn’t stop there in addressing the offensive line, drafting Cornell’s J.C. Tretter.
“Tretter’s a very versatile player, a very smart player,” Campen said. “He has very good strength. He was 30-plus in the bench press. A very mature kid that understands the game of football and has a lot of upside.”
Though it’s unlikely Bakhtiari or Tretter will start as rookies, they will provide depth in an area Green Bay needed it.
“You try to create competition,” Campen said. “Certainly the competition barometer went up a heck of a lot, so that’s a good thing to have.”
Following those two picks, Thompson traded up for only the seventh time in his nine years of running the Packers to select UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin.
“I’ve watched Ted Thompson enough times in the draft room that when he goes up, it’s going up for something and it’s really good, and that was definitely the case,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “(Franklin) is a very dynamic player. I’m excited to work with him. I think he’s going to be an excellent fit for us.”
Every pick to that point in the draft made a lot of sense for Green Bay. Two top-tier running back prospects, two offensive linemen and a defensive lineman, all good value at need positions. Thompson’s next selection, however, didn’t seem to fit that same criteria, when he chose Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde.
With veteran Tramon Williams and young up-and-comers Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House all on the roster, the Packers seemed to be fairly set at that position. But Thompson and his staff liked what they saw in Hyde.
“I think he can play corner, he can play nickel, dime,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “That’s where his value is at because he’s a kid who can play a number of positions. So we’re going to bring him in and see what he can do.”
With Green Bay’s compensatory pick in the fifth round, the Packers then drafted defensive lineman Josh Boyd (Mississippi State), who’s a bit of an undersized nose tackle.
“I looked at tape this year, he’s obviously a big man,” defensive line coach Mike Trgovac. “He has some explosion to him. We think he has a little versatility to him, as well. I’m going to see if I can get some nose reps out of him. For a big man, he has some nice movement.”
With their only pick in the sixth round, Thompson drafted outside linebacker Nate Palmer out of Illinois State. Palmer admitted that he wasn’t even expecting to get drafted at all.
“I was just watching the draft as a fan,” Palmer said. “I was just relaxing and looking to see if any of my friends were getting drafted. I was honestly speechless. When I got the call, I saw the Wisconsin area code and when they said who they were, words couldn’t even come out of my mouth.”
The Packers then added two wide receivers in the seventh round, Charles Johnson (Grand Valley State) and Kevin Dorsey (Maryland).
“Both of them are impressive young men,” Thompson said. “Good-sized guys. They both run really well.”
With Green Bay’s 11th and final pick, Thompson selected linebacker Sam Barrington of South Florida.
“We were a little surprised that he was still available there in the seventh round,” Thompson said. “We were able to speak to at the Combine, and he’s a very nice fellow and carries himself well. We think he’s a pretty good player and we thought it was really good value.”
When Thompson has had a lot of swings in the middle to late rounds of the draft, he’s been quite successful. Starting left tackle Marshall Newhouse was a fifth-round pick in 2011, starting defensive end C.J. Wilson was a seventh-round selection that same year, and starting inside linebacker Brad Jones was picked in the seventh round in 2010. One of the league’s best offensive guards, Josh Sitton, was a fourth-rounder in 2009, and the team’s leading tackler in 2011, linebacker Desmond Bishop, was a sixth-round draft choice in 2007.
If a few of the newest Packers work out as well as some of the players from that group did, Thompson once again helped Green Bay improved its team on the draft’s final day.
“We feel very good about all the young men we’ve added to our class,” McCarthy said. “We’re excited about it. We feel it’s been a great weekend.”