Sunday, April 24, 2011

Draft upcoming...but who's doing the scouting for Packers?

With the 2011 NFL Draft ready to start this Thursday evening, and the Packers picking last in each round as a result of being Super Bowl Champions, one might well wonder: we know GM Ted Thompson pulls the trigger, but who are the guys scouting the troops, so to speak?

In answer to that question, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has written a great article about the Packers' scouting operation. The influence of former Packers GM Ron Wolf is still felt loud and clear, as the following paragraphs from the article point out:

"Most of these guys grew up together in the business, all under the tutelage of Wolf, whose influence on the Super Bowl champions remains strong today because of the staying power of the scouting department.

"Of the 11 scouts who handle college scouting, Thompson has hired only two, and both are in the beginning stages of their careers. The nine veterans - two of whom, Jon-Eric Sullivan (Midlands) and Lee Gissendaner (Northeast), were hired under Mike Sherman - average 15 years of service with the Packers.

"If you included John Schneider and Lenny McGill, two Packers mainstays who recently left for higher positions with other teams, the group responsible for drafting most of the Super Bowl XLV team was made up of nine Wolf hires."

Also of interest is that all the scouts, Thompson, John Dorsey, director of college scouting, and Reggie McKenzie, director of football operations, gather in a room in Lambeau Field over the atrium for a 17-day prospect review marathon that leads up to the draft. The group basically has whittled down the more than 1,500 college players to about 125 who will go up on the Packers' draft board. And in the course of the pre-draft meetings, they review tape, reports, etc. on each of these players, to arrive at a consensus as to who the Packers should target. In addition to the last pick in each of the seven rounds, the Packers also have two additional picks for a total of nine going into this year's draft.

While the Pack may not have many needs given the apparent depth on the team, they do have some wants. And it's the job of everyone in that room to find the best players available for those wants.

Check out the article for some really great insights into who the folks are that keep the Packers stocked with quality year in and year out.

Oh, yeah, there was that Mandarich guy...oops

While the Packers' run on talent has been pretty good since the Ron Wolf era, before that...hmmm...not so good for some years (decades?). Perhaps the biggest bust of all for the Packers, and the second-biggest bust of all time at least as judged by Sports Illustrated (QB Ryan Leaf rated as #1 bust), was Tony Mandarich. Yes, I know, for many that is the Name of Him That Shall Not Be Spoken. But if you care to see what he's up to these days, you can read an article about him on Yahoo Sports here. Or...maybe not. Oh, you do remember that he was taken with the second overall pick in the 1989 draft, right? And that of the top five picks in that year's draft -- Troy Aikman (first overall), Barry Sanders (third), Derrick Thomas (fourth) and Deion Sanders (fifth) -- he is the only one to not make the Hall of Fame? Just thought I'd mention that. O-o-o-o-kay...moving right along...nothing to see here...