Has Ted Thompson Been Lying About Best Player Available?

If you know the Packers and Ted Thompson, you know they always draft by the "best player available".  But Ted Thompson made a very curious statement after this draft that might turn that on it's head.

Love him or hate him, Packers general manager Ted Thompson does things his own way.  Fans are often infuriated with his complete disregard to free agency (especially towards top tier free agents) and drafting players who no one knows about in the “wrong spots” (at least according to Mel Kiper Jr.).  Plenty of fans will gripe about the best player available strategy, which often leaves perceived holes in the roster while creating log jams in others.  But perhaps worse of all is that fans know Thompson is stubborn and will do things the way he wants and given how successful the Packers have been under his tenure, he likely gets to set his own terms for retirement. 

So it was very interesting that Thompson was rather forthcoming with his rationale for trading up in the 2nd round to select offensive tackle Jason Spriggs from Indiana.  

“I will say this, and it’s probably always been this way.  When the players are valuable at our pick and somebody that we’re really zoned in on, it’s hard to get me off of it.  The way that happens, you can get me off it if there are a number or multitude of players and we don’t have to move too fare, that I know I’ll still get the same quality of player”

For those who don’t follow the NFL offseason or Ted Thompson that closely, this is something highly unusual for him to be admitting.  Thompson is famous for dodging questions, feigning ignorance and generally making reporter’s jobs nightmares with his incredibly abstract replies.  However in the 6 years that I have been covering the Packers on this website and allgbp.com before it, I have never heard anything from Thompson so counter to the best player available strategy that he preaches than this.

So how do we reconcile what we think we know about Ted Thompson and how he conducts the draft and the comments above?  Does Ted Thompson truly draft only by the best player available or has this been all a lie and he actually drafts on need often but covers it up to hide his intentions?  Or is it really that drafting is more an art than a science and is far more nuanced than just BPA versus need?

First off, it is possible that Thompson is following the best player available while being able to trade up and draft Jason Spriggs.  Say for instance the Packers have determined that there are less players with 2nd round grades than there are spots in the 2nd round.  As the 2nd round continues, Thompson sees every player they’ve graded as a 2nd rounder being selected by other teams outside of Spriggs.  Thompson also sees that since they have 3 4th round picks all in the same area of the draft he likely going to get good value with only 2 of those picks and none of the players he predicts to be there at the bottom of the 7th to be all that valuable (which is almost always the case), then it is logical for him to move up and grab the remaining “best player available” in Spriggs when he can instead of having no decent alternative should some other team draft him instead.  I will admit a lot of things have to happen contingent for this situation to occur but it is possible.  It wouldn’t explain his comments after the draft but it would reconcile moving up in the draft and the best player available strategy.

Another possibility is that Thompson is for once being truthful in his post draft conference and the Packers were targeting Spriggs from the get go.  Thompson knew that he had to move up to get ahead of the Bears and Seahawks, who were rumored to want Spriggs and gave up a 4th rounder and a 7th to get him.  The BPA talk afterwards is just a ruse to confuse other teams and the media, who he general dislikes.  While this probably makes the most sense based on this case alone, there have only been a handful of times that the Packers have traded up to grab a player and plenty of occasions where the Thompson has seemingly picked either unknown players or players in stocked positions, for instance drafting Khyri Thornton or Richard Rodgers in the 3rd round when both were predicted to be 6-7th rounders or this year with Trevor Davis, who enters a stocked WR position with plenty of realistic incumbents.  Also while Thompson does love to keep things close to the vest, I can’t imagine any team being fooled by preaching the BPA strategy while not using it, especially considering 3 of his former top lieutenants are now general managers of their own. 

The final option is that Thompson isn’t just this static white haired figure that follows some sort of formula when it comes to drafting.  While he has a core philosophy (BPA) and builds his board accordingly, he’s also flexible enough to break away from his plan when the opportunity arises.  My guess is that Thompson felt Spriggs was going to be picked at the end of the 1st round or the beginning on the 2nd and when Spriggs fell, he decided Spriggs presented more value than anyone that would be there at the Packers original pick in the 2nd round and therefore went up to grab him. 

Thompson may look like he hasn’t changed (seriously look at a photo of him when he became the GM versus now) but Thompson has subtlety altered his approach to building the Packers.  In the beginning, he was forced to trade down to acquire more draft picks to restore a decimated roster left to him by Mike Sherman.  Now he mostly stays pat and lets the draft happen as he has the roster than can weather any season to season fluctuations to the roster.  Perhaps Thompson says it best himself:

“I don’t know, it could be just be me, that I’ve changed and adapted over time.”

 

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Comments (60)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 13, 2016 at 12:25 pm

I think we disagree on the meaning of TT's quote. I read it as being in accord with a best player available approach. I see no references to drafting for need or positional value. I see the quote as being only a casual reference explaining why he trades back or up at times. It seemed to me that he said he trades back if he is not zoned in on one particular player (i.e. - a prospect that TT thinks is clearly BPA) or if there are multiple players with equal grades that will be available if he trades back, and the basis he gave for moving up or back seems to be determined by best player available rationale.

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hobbes's picture

May 13, 2016 at 01:04 pm

I guess the question becomes can you target a guy and move up to get him if you are truly following BPA, which almost by definition requires you to wait and make the decision when it's your turn.

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TarynsEyes's picture

May 13, 2016 at 01:10 pm

BPA would be waiting for your turn unless that player wasn't going to last and his position also met a need which no other eligible player was seen near comparable thus BPA takes on the need quantifier.

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Idiot Fan's picture

May 13, 2016 at 01:45 pm

I don't totally get why BPA requires you to wait until your turn. If you are in the second round, and everybody that you had ranked as a R1 prospect has been taken except for one, and you trade up in the second round to take that person because you think you're getting great value and the BPA on your board, is that not still a BPA approach?

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dpjossart's picture

May 14, 2016 at 01:12 pm

Could not agree more with Thegreatreynoldo. TT would never trade up to take a player who was not in his mind the BPA.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

May 13, 2016 at 12:25 pm

"Love him or hate him,"
Really? That's how you start an article?
Could not read beyond this cliche.

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hobbes's picture

May 13, 2016 at 01:01 pm

I like how you couldn't finish the article but you spent the time to comment

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jasonperone's picture

May 13, 2016 at 03:13 pm

The opinion is fine but....(hot take alert!) I doubt your sentiment makes much sense to nor is shared by most anyone else.

You come here to read the content provided by others. Everyone has their own style. Cliches are used all the time, that's not news. You don't like that one, fine. If you (or anyone else) aren't putting in the time to do the writing, research, etc but find the content so off-putting then I have good news! We won't make you read it! And if you didn't read it, please drive past the comment section and do not exit the highway

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ray nichkee's picture

May 13, 2016 at 03:51 pm

There will be dicks everywhere. The ones that come here to comment without reading the article need to get lost. That includes the always right so don't argue with strohker. While i don't always agree 100% with the authors here most of them are top notch writers except for the hot take coroner-thanks marpag, I stole it from you kind of. You guys get a round of applause. Untill we have to pay for this why be such an ass? I don't get it. I love the pack but i have more to complain about in life.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

May 13, 2016 at 04:26 pm

"That includes the always right so don't argue with strohker"

He might be back. If it's not him then it's his offspring.

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4thand1's picture

May 13, 2016 at 05:05 pm

Everyone has their own opinion of TT, but his record speaks for itself. It drives me nuts when these fair weather fans saying he's lucky the Packers have Rodgers. Who the hell drafted Rodgers. When you hit on a pick like this it makes every draft easier. IMO the o-line and d-line are in really good shape. It all starts with the big men up front. If we didn't have Rodgers there would be cap room to sign high price FA's. Don't know if it would happen but it might. TT is making the Packers a lot of money, and football is a business.

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Oppy's picture

May 17, 2016 at 04:55 pm

Yeah, Drealyn, I agree.. I'm pretty sure he's back and commenting, and has been for a while.

Pretty sure he already commented above..

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DrealynWilliams's picture

May 17, 2016 at 05:07 pm

I have an inkling on which name(s) he uses, so I just ignore him.

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MikeReuter's picture

May 19, 2016 at 02:53 pm

Agreed. It's just best to ignore the comment altogether.

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Cheesestradamus's picture

May 13, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Ted plays mind games with all of us. Hiding your intentions from other teams is an art. No one can read his mind because he has cultivated a scattershot persona to confuse his adversaries. He can't explain his choices other than "we liked him" because that will give other teams as clue to his reasoning.

Obvious holes in our team gives the impression that he will pick so and so. Maybe he will but he won't always do it because Best Player Available can be addendum'ed quietly with, "at this position." Picking each and every year at the bottom of the first round is a tough row to plow. Ted has done it well.

Ted may also be crazy? Anyway it turns out I will "Trust in Ted" I can never know what happens behind the scenes. Ted knows all and sees all or I just may be crazy too?

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hobbes's picture

May 13, 2016 at 01:05 pm

I wonder how much he can really hide though. Like I mentioned, the Thompson/wolf tree is pretty big at this point and he's been the GM long enough you have to figure other teams have an idea of how he will act.

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Idiot Fan's picture

May 13, 2016 at 01:48 pm

We all know he did, we're just not ready to write off the rest of his career because of it.

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ray nichkee's picture

May 13, 2016 at 04:05 pm

He didn't suck. Check out his stats. You have been blown away by previous years. One year under average for him? I say let it slide. I put the blame all across the offense. Three years in a row I will admit a decline.

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Bearmeat's picture

May 13, 2016 at 06:05 pm

Cow - Sometimes you are a nice guy. And sometimes... You're just an A-Hole.

Pick one or the other please. I'd like to be able to decide once and for all if I'm going to permanently decide never to read your posts or not.

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Since'61's picture

May 13, 2016 at 09:18 pm

Cow- the only stats that matter for a QB are wins, losses, TDs and picks. The rest of the stats are good for fantasy football but irrelevant otherwise. In spite of your list of meaningless statistics, Aaron Rodgers, essentially playing by himself with a wrecked OL, minus his top 4 receivers and a missing #1 RB for most of the season, went 10-6 with over 3800 yards, 31 TDs and 8 ints. 4 of those ints were not because of Rodgers with either passes off his receivers hands, tipped passes and one that was never caught to begin with. Add the 23 dropped passes by his receiving crew and you have a less than great season for Rodgers but still a season about 26 other QBs can only dream about. The rankings are for the media airheads. Try to focus on what matters to the results not what the media turkeys tell you what matters. Thanks, Since '61

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Tundraboy's picture

May 15, 2016 at 09:33 pm

Perfectly stated Since 61

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al bundy's picture

May 13, 2016 at 06:17 pm

You forgot to mention he totally lost the Seattle playoff game too. I mean really, at the 12 yard line, great QB and were running lacy left lacy right not once trying to get into the endzone with our receivers and putting a dagger into Seattle. It was Rogers failing to audible to a pass. Going with a bland run play called by mental midget mike.
I say Rogers goes to be known as the great choker. If he gets to the playoffs and goes one and done his star is gone.

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Since'61's picture

May 13, 2016 at 09:20 pm

Imagine what you say if you actually knew what you were watching. Thanks, Since '61

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Tundraboy's picture

May 13, 2016 at 07:20 pm

Exactly Nichkee

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zeke's picture

May 13, 2016 at 01:51 pm

Because that has everything to do with this article and why Thompson traded up for Spriggs.

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jasonperone's picture

May 13, 2016 at 03:03 pm

Anyone else want to vote to have "REBORN" removed from moo moo's handle? ;);)

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ray nichkee's picture

May 13, 2016 at 04:00 pm

I want to see him reach 10,000 dislikes first. It wont take long, less than 100 or something. Some people like the spice but I think he's an idiot. He sometimes gets likes for master of the obvious comments and then he goes back to being a cows ass. Feed him to the swine.

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4thand1's picture

May 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm

once a cow, always a cow. I'll bet cow that AR is in the top 3 this year and an MVP candidate once again. If I win he has to change his handle to "udder disaster".

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 13, 2016 at 06:33 pm

A healthy Rodgers with a Healthy Nelson is definately a top 3 in the NFC QB. This just stupid.

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4thand1's picture

May 13, 2016 at 07:57 pm

Rodgers
Brady
Big Ben
Newton
Wilson
Brees
Luck
Palmer is old and finished, utter.

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Since'61's picture

May 13, 2016 at 09:29 pm

Who? Who? And Who? Cow if youtake the 3 of them together they have one less MVP than Rodgers and the same number of SB wins. They will be middle of the pack QBs again in 2016. Each of their GMs has admitted several times over that they would trade their QB for Rodgers straight up every day and twice on Sunday. Case closed. Thanks, Since '61

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holmesmd's picture

May 14, 2016 at 12:31 am

Hahahahaha. Really?! Palmer is like 50 years old and a few sacks away from a nursing home. If you look at the entire body of work, neither Wilson or Newton have achieved the productivity AR has. The entire offense had a bad season. What don't you get? Why do you sound so bitter about the AR's relationship? I'm sure you would date Olivia Munn in a heartbeat?I know I sure would! Are you jealous dude?! Lol. Athletes and entertainers date each other all of the time. Who gives a shi*?! I'm sorry in your world that you're such a negative person that no player can have an off season. I would imagine you think Lacy should be jettisoned as well? Football players are human beings, not robots. They have bad games, bad years, and make mistakes . Would it kill you to try to be positive for once and see how the offensive unit might bounce back in 2016? It's not that hard. You can do it.

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4thand1's picture

May 14, 2016 at 07:36 am

Palmer had a great NFCCG, nuf said. AR will be talked about as one of the greatest EVER. suckutter.

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holmesmd's picture

May 14, 2016 at 05:04 pm

I think you're describing Jay Cutler dude? Sure Rodgers looked pissed at times! Who wouldn't?! The entire offensive unit was a dumpster fire compared to how it normally has been. He was getting crushed. No one could get open. They couldn't run it very effectively. Sorry Rodgers didn't pass your leadership academy COW. Lol. SMH. I guess no one can be frustrated? Why does he have to take a bullet for the entire unit? What if some of it wasn't his fault? I heard him say numerous times that HE needed to play better. WTF do you want him to do, hang on a crucifix?! LOL. Your boyfriend Newton sure showed "leadership" after they got smoked in the SB didn't he? I guess he sucks now to. Your assertions are reactionary, overblown, and ridiculously pessimistic as usual. You're a trip man

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

May 15, 2016 at 09:44 am

I actually laughed at this one, yeah he is one injury away from that nursing home.

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dobber's picture

May 14, 2016 at 02:07 pm

"Udder" disaster?

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4thand1's picture

May 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm

thanks dobber, fixed it

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holmesmd's picture

May 15, 2016 at 03:24 am

You should have left it as is. COW is an "udder" disaster!!;) Hahahahaha:P

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blue eyes's picture

May 16, 2016 at 04:44 pm

Cow you keep it real and i like it! When people constantly sugar coat stuff it gets old fast.
Keep it up brother!

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ray nichkee's picture

May 13, 2016 at 01:54 pm

I think he follows BAP but does this:

If a player is to risky to take where rated he passes. Exception- Justin Harrell.

If a player is rated similar he will pick for need.

If a player is targeted he will move to where his value is thought to be.

We will never know until its all over if TT admits he passed up on a player he regretted. Think Ron Wolf Randy Moss. How many draft picks were used to try and defend Moss?

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 13, 2016 at 02:02 pm

They don't grade players in a straight line form 1 to 256. They slot them into buckets (probubly quite a few buckets). They pick one of the guys from the highest bucket with guys in it based on who best fits the roster. If they are about to pick and the highest bucket is loaded with players they try to trade back.

There are more details involved at a low level but Thompson is never going to tell, and honestly who cares. It's just common sense. Nothing magical or inscrutable is happening here.

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Lphill's picture

May 13, 2016 at 02:39 pm

Rodgers had an off year for him last year but he far from sucked , a majority of NFL QB 's never put up the stats he did last year.

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Razer's picture

May 13, 2016 at 03:15 pm

I think you summed it up quite well with this:

... My guess is that Thompson felt Spriggs was going to be picked at the end of the 1st round or the beginning on the 2nd and when Spriggs fell, he decided Spriggs presented more value than anyone that would be there at the Packers original pick in the 2nd round and therefore went up to grab him. ...

Going up to get a great value (keeping your cost in mind) doesn't preclude you from a BPA philosophy. I think that people need to give Ted a little more credit for finding good value, good talent and filling some need in the process. Given that the draft has 31 other variables changing the BPA landscape, he did pretty well for us. And, he threw in a little Jared Cook and Lerentee McCray as icing. Thank you Ted

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Spock's picture

May 13, 2016 at 03:21 pm

"Or is it really that drafting is more an art than a science and is far more nuanced than just BPA versus need?" Yet another article at CHTV claiming BPA and need are mutually exclusive. As many here have pointed out in previous comments sections (including me) BPA does NOT mean you can only pick best player vs. best player for your need. BPA includes need and is really a way of moving up and down your draft board with trades to get the player you want for your team at the best VALUE. Why does this seem to be such a foreign concept here? I take strong exception to your saying "Another possibility is that Thompson is for once being truthful in his post draft conference". I think Ted is a very truthful man. He keeps his cards close to the vest, yes, but for you to imply that he is untruthful with the media I think is libelous and an unbecoming thing to say. I've read and watched many of Ted's media conferences; I don't know where you are coming from implying that this very truthful man is in any way deceitful! Shame on you!

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dobber's picture

May 14, 2016 at 11:33 am

"; I don't know where you are coming from implying that this very truthful man is in any way deceitful! "

Can you imagine TT (or any GM) stepping to the podium after taking player X and saying: "Yeah, we had about 20 players with much higher grades at that spot, but, instead, we took X" ?

TT might be god-awful at PR, but he's not dumb.

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Handsback's picture

May 13, 2016 at 04:57 pm

BPA can be preceived and influenced by a lot of things. For instance, none of the QB probably had any grades on them below 3rd round. For the Packers, could have been possible yet for the Eagles and Rams...they had 1st round grades on them. Who's right? Doesn't matter, each team will be different.
Makes any sense?

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al bundy's picture

May 13, 2016 at 06:02 pm

You guys are smart enough and know enough about football to figure out the BPA is bogus. First, how many people got drafted 224 give or take a team losing a pick. No gm or staff has the resources to know that much about all of them.
Second, BPA would work for a team deep in talent, having a couple of needs for back ups only and the luxury of actually picking the bpa just for the heck of it.
To me its a ruse by Ted. As in you can't guess what I'm going to do if I spout BPA since no one would know who BPA is going to be when he picks. If so that's pretty smart.
I do agree that you pick the BPA to fill a position of need. Need an ILB pick the Best one available, no brainer and something all the GM's are doing.

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dobber's picture

May 14, 2016 at 05:36 am

"No gm or staff has the resources to know that much about all of them."

All of them? No. Teams will take fliers on guys that don't make other teams's boards. Players don't make draft boards for many reasons (we presume, since we don't get to see or participate in the construction of draft boards). But they probably know a helluva lot about MOST of the players picked and they do know just about all there is to know about the players they do pick. Aren't those the ones that matter?

"Need an ILB pick the Best one available, no brainer and something all the GM's are doing."

When value meets or exceeds pick, yes. I don't believe that GMs just blindly say, "my punter sucks, I'm going to take the best one as soon as possible," on Thursday night. In the case of Spriggs, they must have felt that the value he represented in the middle of r2 exceeded the value they would have received from their r2 and r4 picks (or from players they thought they would get at those picks).

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MarkinMadison's picture

May 14, 2016 at 06:47 am

It is really hard to defend any kind of pure BPA when you look at the last two drafts. Last year: CB, CB. This year: DT, LT. The truth is he drafts for need. The other truth is that when he evaluates need he looks at next year as much as he looks at this year, maybe more. Otherwise, you really can't explain the first two rounds of the last two years. BPA is a factor. It is not the only factor, and it is not the most important factor UNLESS you have a team that is really shitty with too many holes to realistically fill.

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dobber's picture

May 14, 2016 at 11:28 am

Nice summary.

"...and it is not the most important factor UNLESS you have a team that is really shitty with too many holes to realistically fill."

Or unless you have a roster that is so amazingly devoid of holes that you can freelance and take fliers on potential.

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4thand1's picture

May 14, 2016 at 07:46 am

LMAO, we fell into the cowpie trap again. Once more he achieved the desired effect he wanted, attention. Better than nothing during the dark ages of football after the draft until training camp. I've done it many times before and so have a lot of others. Its like a bad drug, we can't stay away. He's like that snotty, obnoxious 7 to 8 year old kid, you just want to slap upside the head. You know, the one with the giant adult teeth that look 3 sizes to big for his face.

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4thand1's picture

May 14, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Your teeth are not to big for your face?

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dobber's picture

May 14, 2016 at 02:09 pm

I used to use that as a pick-up line...

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ray nichkee's picture

May 14, 2016 at 02:30 pm

When was the last time you saw a cow at the dentist? Maybe his teeth have withered away.

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LeagueObsrvr's picture

May 14, 2016 at 11:23 am

The BPA approach is best utilized when a team is rebuilding a roster from scratch as we saw Thompson do in his early years, when he had to clean up the mess left by Mike Sherman to both the teams roster and it's salary cap structure. But as the roster evolves and the team acquires the needed talent and depth in all the key positions, they then have the luxury of incorporating "need" into their approach.

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johnnyd17's picture

May 14, 2016 at 11:47 am

who is the big guy in photo w/ Ted?

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dobber's picture

May 14, 2016 at 12:00 pm

I'm going with Alonzo Highsmith.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

May 14, 2016 at 02:45 pm

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Spock's picture

May 14, 2016 at 06:53 pm

Wow, read a really interesting article about Ted on Packersnews.com, check this out: you won't believe all the comments about the outgoing, man about town Ted as a youngster! http://www.packersnews.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2016/05/13/stories-y...

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