One of the more popular strategies fans of the Green Bay Packers have talked about this offseason is the idea of trading down. The Packers could theoretically maximize their value for picks and address multiple areas of need in the second round instead of simply holding on to the first round pick or giving up picks to move higher in the first round. It even makes more sense since the draft has good depth in many of the areas the Packers need to address: defensive line, offensive line, running back, and maybe safety.
As we consider the idea of dropping back it’s a good time to take a look back at the last time the Packers made the move out of the first round in order to gather more picks in the second. Thompson last did this in 2008. All in all the 2008 draft was generally pretty good for the Packers; they were able to acquire Jordy Nelson, Jermchael Finley, and Josh Sitton in this draft. This class also included Matt Flynn and Breno Giacomini who are both with the Seattle Seahawks. Not bad. Then again, only Nelson came out of the three second round picks the team had, the other two picks (Brian Brohm and Pat Lee) were spectacular busts.
Recently PFF took the time to grade the second round for 2008, looking generally at the value each player selected gave his team. The Packers grades came out basically as you would imagine. Jordy Nelson was ranked very high; Brian Brohm and Pat Lee came out very low. There is an interesting trend though in the grades worth mentioning though, after Ray Rice was selected with the 55th pick in the draft most subsequent picks in the second round ended up being disappointments. In fact of the eight remaining picks only one, Martellus Bennett, had a positive grade. As always this analysis is worth only as much as you place in PFF grades, but it does point to a weaker draft class when so many picks in the bottom quarter of the second round ended up failing.
The second round of the 2008 draft shows the double edge sword of trading down. On one hand it reinforces the idea that having as many picks as possible is a smart idea because it is very difficult to know who is going to turn out and who is going to fail. After all, many questioned the value of having another wide receiver and even fewer were impressed with Nelson, but it was not uncommon for people to state that Brohm would overtake Aaron Rodgers someday. At the same time the high failure as the second round went on also shows how quickly the talent pool can become depleted. Trading down for the sake of trading down can often lead to just getting lesser talent if the team looking to move down goes too far down or does not get adequate grouping of picks to match what they have given up.
In many ways the Packers were successful in 2008. Jordy Nelson has become a top target for Rodgers and will be relied on more than ever. The Packers also able to address two areas of need that offseason, albeit in a less successful manner. A similar strategy may present itself this year, and it may be another chance for Ted Thompson to show is prowess of finding talent on the second day of the draft.