Packers GM Ted Thompson was just a teenager the last time the Cowboys traveled to Lambeau Field for a playoff game. Fast forward a couple of years, Thompson is 61 and getting set for the next Lambeau postseason clash between the two teams. Just a few years ago, Thompson was dreaming of becoming an area scout and spending his off days on the beach. This is a far cry from that, but he tells Tom Pelissero of USA Today that he’s still extremely motivated by the hunt and happy to live a structured life, even if its a bit stressful. Here are some of the highlights from their chat..
On the GM candidacy of staffers like Eliot Wolf, Alonzo Highsmith, and Brian Gutekunst:
Oh, I would think so. There’s several guys, and some of the young guys — it’ll be a longer time before they reach that point. But yeah, I think they will. It’s the same way Ron taught us all, and what I mean is in the draft meetings — because you go through 17, 18 days before the combine, and it’s just a grind all the time — but it’s a remarkable learning tool for everybody. Then you have to be put in a position where you have to make a decision like ‘boom, boom,’ right now. And that’s a different thing. That’s something that needs more work.
On losing scouts to higher-ranked jobs elsewhere and replacing them:
Yeah, it’s the next man up thing. It works the same way as players. Obviously, it’s a different set of circumstances. But we go about our personnel department and college scouting, pro scouting exactly the same way that (former Packers GM) Ron Wolf taught us all to do it. You’ve got your 20 guys, counting your college scouts and pro scouts and whatever, and then you give them particular assignments. And if one leaves, then somebody else takes that chair and you go on. And normally, you’re adding young guys to train as you go along there, so you’ve got that cycle of guys coming through. We have had quite a number of them go through and become very successful.
With all the resources that teams put into scouting, how does someone like Tony Romo (undrafted in 2013) fall through the cracks?
It’s remarkable. Tom Brady going in the sixth round. Go figure. There are free agents, and we spend a lot of time on college free agents. But people also remember that there used to be 17 rounds in the draft, and there were guys that were getting drafted in the 17th round that wound up making it.
On his expectations for Aaron Rodgers after drafting him No. 24 in 2005:
I don’t know if you could ever predict that. I think you have high hopes for all the young men that you bring in. Aaron’s was going to be a different road than most in this day and age. Most people are not taken with the idea that, ‘OK, you’re going to not play for a couple of years,’ or something. Usually, they have to go play. We were fortunate to have a team with a quarterback that was established, and we didn’t have to throw him to the wolves. Who knows how it would’ve turned out? I think he would’ve still been a good player either way. There are other people that think if we’d have thrown him to the dogs, it might’ve ruined him. Who knows? But as it turned out, the way we did it, I guess I’m glad we did it, because it worked.