GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ted Thompson had his choice of pass rushers T.J. Watt, Jordan Willis and Tyus Bowser; his choice of cornerbacks Kevin King, Quincy Wilson, Chidobe Awuzie and Sidney Wilson; his choice of inside linebackers Reuben Foster and Zach Cunningham; his choice of running backs Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and Joe Mixon plus the top-rated guard, Forrest Lamp.
All of them stared the Green Bay Packers general manager in the face on Thursday night when it was his turn to pick at No. 29 in first round of the NFL draft.
And almost all of them will be there again for Thompson at No. 33 on Friday with one significant exception, Watt, and one risky player, Foster, whom Thompson may not have wanted anyway.
“We felt like the board was strong enough to absorb it, and I think it did,” Thompson said late Thursday after he traded out of the first round. "We’re looking forward to picking tomorrow, so I don’t think it’s just one name that we would consider.”
If Watt or Foster end up being stars, Thompson will forever be criticized for his trade out of No. 29. He sent that pick to the Cleveland Browns for the first pick of the second round plus a fourth-round pick (No. 108 overall, which is also the first pick of Day 3). The Browns selected Miami tight end David Njoku.
Watt, the University of Wisconsin pass-rusher, went at No. 30 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Foster, whose off-the-field question marks caused him to fall, came off the board at No. 31 to the San Francisco 49ers. The final pick of the first round, Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk to the New Orleans Saints, would not have interested Thompson.
Thompson wouldn’t say how many of his preferred players still needed to be available for him to make the move back four spots, but he would not have made this move if there weren't at least five players he still coveted.
“In this particular instance, when you’re in the first round you’re kind of zeroed in on a couple, three or four guys,” he said. “But like I said, the board held up pretty strong. So yeah, we felt pretty good about it.”
Yet as Thompson stood in front of reporters after the first round, he claimed he didn’t know who he was going to pick or whether he would even pick at No. 33. Yes, he said the phones still are open for trade calls, and perhaps a quarterback-needy team would make him an offer he can’t refuse.
“There were lots of things going on right there at the very end, so I would like to look at that board a little bit more right now,” Thompson said.
It’s just the second time in Thompson’s 13 years in control of the Packers’ draft that he didn’t make a first-round pick. He traded back from No. 30 to 36 -- and also picked up a fourth-round pick -- in 2008, when he took Jordy Nelson in the second round.
“Some things fell what we felt like was advantageous to us, especially for the next couple of days, and we didn’t actually have to give up a whole lot to get a couple of breaks,” he said. “That’s kind of where we are. Like I said, we feel good about where we are, but we didn’t draft anybody, so we’ll see about that tomorrow.”