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2013 NFL Combine: Packers GM Ted Thompson Transcript

Packers GM Ted Thompson addressed the media today at the scouting combine. Thompson spoke briefly about his thoughts on the draft and the Packer's plans in free agency.

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Lost Woodson, Saturday, Driver concerned about leadership losses?

That is a lot of veteran leadership that won’t be with us, so you’re always a little bit concerned about that. We have a strong locker room, strong leadership foundation. In the NFL the wheel keeps turning and that’s what we’re about, trying to get ready for the next game. we feel confident in the leadership in our locker room.

Something about losses on scouting staff to GM jobs.

We’ve had some losses in terms of guys taking really good jobs around the league. We encourage that, we foster it. it’s something Ron Wolf started back in the day. That’s the reason I was able to go out to Seattle and work with coach Holmgren. But yeah, it’s next man up. You try to train your players and you try to train your personnel staff and coaching staff to take the next step and be able to grow and evolve. The NFL is all about evolving. The Baltimore Ravens, world champions, they would like to hold all that together and keep it and go forward like the ’29 or ’30 Yankees or wherever it was. You can’t do that in the NFL anymore, the NFL is always evolving, so you have to continue to evolve. I think our players do a good job of that, they’ve had to do it because of injuries and things like that a little bit more abnormal than normal. I think our personnel staff does the same thing. We put some people in position to take on more leadership and it’s the next man up. But we’re very happy for all those guys that have gotten those good jobs, and they’re going to do a great job around the league and kind of carry on probably much the way Ron Wolf taught us all.

Question inaudible but a follow up to the previous question.

I’m certainly happy for them, they’re all really good friends of mine. I just saw them all downstairs, and we’ll see a lot of each other this week. We’re not going to have a reunion, so to speak, but we’re very good friends. I think all those guys have a little bit more appreciation, as did I when I first got this job, of the responsibility and enormity of the task and the need to have good people around you and all that sort of thing. But they’re doing a good job and I’m proud of them. they don’t need me to be, but I am.

What to expect from Nick Perry next season?

I expect him to get through this injury bug and come back and play be a good player for the packers.

What’s your position of injured tackles Bulaga and Sherrod coming back this season?

We’re expecting them back. I don’t really have any injury updates at this point, because the offseason is the offseason. But we expect those guys to be able to come back and play.

Inaudible mostly but about free agent WR Greg Jennings.

I’m not going to talk about specifically about any of our scheduled to be unrestricted free agents other than to say it is our policy, we think it’s a good way to manage the NFL if you’re able to retain your own players. We’d very much like to do that, and that includes Greg.

What advice have you given Dorsey?

John doesn’t need my advice. But we talk. Like I said, I saw him earlier today. He’s going a million miles an hour because he’s trying to get up to speed and he and Andy both are both really good football people. I’ve worked with both of them and the Chiefs are in good hands. I promise you on that. We will all talk. I talked with John Schneider, I talked with Reggie McKenzie, other people around the league that I worked with. You’re always bouncing ideas off of people and trying to figure out the right thing to do because sometimes it gets lonely when you’re the person making that pointed decision. We talk from time to time. I haven’t given him any real advice other than to be himself.

What’s he getting himself into there.

Surprisingly, I’ve been spending most of my time worrying about the situation in Green Bay. I’m not quite as versed as I should be. The NFL is a tough business. Everybody knows it, and the higher you get, the tougher it gets. John knows that. He knows what’s going on in the real world. But they’ll do a good job. That’s a good group.

Dorsey is an ex-player, so are you, does that help at all.

I don’t know, I think there’s some advantage. We have scouts that have played the game, both collegiately and professionally; we have scouts who have never played the game. I personally think there’s an advantage, but it’s not an end-all, be-all. it doesn’t mean you can’t be a good scout. Ron Wolf, one of the best scouts I’ve ever been around, never really played. But I think there’s an advantage, but I’m not sure you can look back on it after 30 years and say, ‘This is the reason this happened.’

Some guy says something about quantifying.

See, that’s the way to put it. I’m not smart enough to know that.

DuJuan Harris last year, plan.

He did a good job. And we’re looking forward to having him here for the whole thing, because when you come in in the middle of the season, you don’t go through the offseason, you don’t get to see them in training camp and the stress times and things like that. You’re already in the regular season. So there’s a lot more that we need to get to know about him. But he did a nice job for us.

Most underrated indicator of success in NFL at Scouting combine.

I think a lot of people focus on the 40-yard dashes or the jumps or the physical testing. Some people focus on the interviews. At the end of the day, all of us, all 32 teams, all the 32 people that are in my position at other places are going to have to, when they make that decision on the player they bring in, it’s, can that player help them win games? Does he have this inside thing that allows him to go beyond what he maybe normally would do? There’s an ‘it’ factor. I don’t know how to quantify it, to use your term, I don’t know how to quantify that, and you can’t find it. You don’t really know it until you see it, and usually it’s already too late, if you know what I’m saying. It’s hard to do that just from going to the school, watching tape, talking to the coaches, seeing the player practice, writing a report that night. It’s hard to find that ‘it’ thing. But you know it when you see it, when you have him on your team you know those guys with the ‘it.’

Was that something Ron was good at.

Ron was very good at that. Like I said, he’s the best scout I’ve ever been around and he taught us well. but there’s an instinctive quality of finding that that I’ve seen it from time to time but I don’t see it as much as I wished I could. And I wish I had more illumination, so to speak.

Science of figuring out what other teams are thinking, and is that the reason you won’t confirm that your hair is gray, today is Friday and that the roads are icy in Indianapolis?

Not very. There are different reporters like yourselves around the country that are pretty good at it because they have different contacts around the league. We have friends in different positions like the ones I talked about – John Schneider, John Dorsey and Reggie McKenzie – there’s conversations going on so you kind of bounce things off, but nobody really tells the truth, so you have to discern what’s truth and what’s the untruth and what’s the truth that he’s trying to get me to buy into so I’ll believe the untruth. It’s all a mess. You don’t know. So at the end of the day, you’ve got to think, ‘Can this guy help us play or win games, or can he not?’

Follow-up of third-round grade.

If he can play, he can play. Yeah, you’d like to think, ‘I’d hate to pay more.’ I’m my father’s son and he’s a very frugal man and if I can buy a Coca-Cola for 25 cents instead of 50 cents, I’m going to go the store that’s 25 cents, but it’s not that way in the draft. You can’t always shop bargain-basement practices.

49ers are wave of future, and Kaepernick will shove Rodgers into dustbin of history.

I don’t know. History will determine that. There are several teams that are doing maybe not exactly the same thing the 49ers are doing but something similar or maybe akin to it.

This guy cuts off Thompson to ask if that means he’ll l draft 11 A.J. Hawks as an answer.

Not really. You find good players and good players can figure out a way to do the other stuff. I don’t think you’re going to make a personnel decision based solely on that. It’s like the old argument of 4-3 players vs. 3-4 players. I think, if you find a really good defensive player that’s played against top competition and you know he’s going to be that same kind of player in the NFL, just take him and figure out how you’re going to use him or what position you’re going to put him at.

Don Barclay Mandrich.

Don did a very good job. He was forced into action before he thought he was probably going to be forced into it and before we thought he was going to be forced into it. He held his own. The value of that is to see some of the things that he’s going to have to work on in the future. I think it’s also an indication of how our coaches are willing to put young players in, and if they can do the job, they’ll be the ones to play.

Drafting receivers …. Is it helpful if they can catch?

No, I think you still look for big, fast guys, but guys that catch the ball, guys that are instinctive, guys that have the ability to run after the catch. All those things are the same as they were in 1992, when I first started scouting and I suspect is the same as it was always. You’ve got to be able to catch the ball.

Will you re-sign Cedric Benson’s dogs. They might help vs. Kaepernick.

Cedric is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. We don’t discuss specifically those guys other than to say that we think it’s our best practice to try to retain as many of those guys as we can.

The NFC North, aka the Mid-American Conference.

I wish it would not get better. I wish it would get less. This is a competitive business. The NFL, it doesn’t matter what the records are. This division has always been tough. There have been times when we’ve been fortunate enough to win all of them but every one of those games was tough because it’s like brothers playing brothers. We know each other so well. We’ve never gone into a game since I started in this business in 1992 playing a divisional rival that we thought it was going to be easy or anything like that. It’s a whole different focus.