Here's a list of Ted Thompson draft choices by year, categorized by Offensive and Defensive players, and using at least one appearance during their first year as a proxy for Packer evaluation of their potential contribution:
Offense: Rodgers, Coston, Whitticker
Defense: Collins, Underwood, Poppinga, Hawkins, Montgomery
Offense: Colledge, Jennings, Spitz, Martin, Moll
Defense: Hawk, Hodge, Blackmon, Jolly, Culver
Offense: Jackson, Jones, Barbre, Hall, Crosby, Wynn
Defense: Harrell, Rouse, Bishop
Offense: Nelson, Finley, Sitton, Giacomini, Flynn, Swain
Defense: Lee, Thompson
Offense: Lang, Johnson
Defense: Raji, Matthews, Wynn, Underwood, Jones
Offense: Bulaga, Quarless, Starks
Defense: Neal, Burnett, Wilson
Offense: Sherrod, Cobb, Green, Williams, Taylor
Defense: House, Smith2012
Defense: Perry, Worthy, Hayward, Daniels, McMillian, Manning
A few takeaways:
--The overall quantity distribution is almost equal: 30 offensive to 31 defensive players.
--From year to year, however, the distribution can oscillate widely, as in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012.
--The quality distribution, although subjective, is the most telling. The offensive side of the ball includes Rodgers, Jennings, Jones, Nelson, Finley, Sitton, Lang, Bulaga, and Cobb. A roster of the nine "best" players on the defensive side might include Collins, Hawk, Jolly, Bishop, Raji, Matthews, Jones, Burnett, and Worthy/Perry/Hayward.
Rodgers does make everyone around him better. And injuries mean we will never know the ceiling for several defensive players. On balance, however, the offensive talent appears to be at a higher level. Subtracting the field distorting effects of Rodgers and Matthews, and given a choice between the remaining 8-man Offensive and Defensive "packages", most General Managers would probably choose the former. That result may reflect luck, happenstance, or consistently better evaluation and drafting skills on one side of the ball.
What does this pattern predict for the 2014 draft? Draft position, need priorities, BPA, and Packer free agency are just a few of the moving parts. But, it's likely that the needle will remain on the defensive side of the scale...not the extreme of 2012 maybe, but perhaps closer to 2009. />