In many ways, former Director of Player Finance Andrew Brandt is the most visible Packers alumnus. His positions with ESPN and Sports Illustrated allow Brandt to tell some fascinating stories from his time working in Green Bay. Brandt released another such story earlier today for the Monday Morning Quarterback. In it, Packers fans can get a glimpse inside the Packers' War Room, and how trusting their board led to the definitive draft pick of the Ted Thompson era: Aaron Rodgers.
The War Room Setup
"During my time with the Packers there were actually two war rooms. First, there was a traditional personnel-based room featuring sorted player cards with scouting measurables: height, weight, speed, vertical, hand size, Wonderlic, and so on. Then there was a financial-based room I designed, featuring sorted players cards with business measurables: salary, prorated bonus, cap number, dead money acceleration, expiring contract year, age, agent, etc."
The idea of having two actual rooms comprising the team's draft operations may seem overwrought, but it makes a lot of sense given the division of labor. Everyone situation in the personnel room can easily focus on personnel evaluations, while those in the other can identify salary cap ramifications for potential trades. According to Brandt, at least one other team (the Eagles) have subsequently adopted this formula.
Trusting the Board
"The best decision-makers understand the magnitude of the draft but approach it calmly. Seven months of painstaking work has been done; it's time to trust The Board. With an increasing number of decision-makers honed in college scouting, there is an almost universal adherence to that mantra. Still, leaders will still sometimes succumb to impulse and jump The Board in the heat of the moment. Nothing is more deflating to a scouting staff's morale."
This seems self-explanatory. Why invest months and thousands of hours worth of manpower only to ignore the wisdom gained at the last second? Obviously, some front offices allow this mistake to happen as evidenced by draft picks like A.J. Jenkins. While realistically no team avoids this mistake altogether, the Packers stay true to their "trust the board" mantra more often than most. Such is precisely why the Packers have landed players like...
"In 2005, we had approximately 20 players rated above the first-round line. When we arrived at our pick, at No. 24, the only name left above that line was Rodgers, who played the same position as one of the most durable players in NFL history: Brett Favre.
(After taking Rodgers) We heard the faint sound of boos from the draft party going on below us. Our room was a mixed bag. Some celebrated; others were muted knowing while they would be judged on the short-term, this was a long-term play."
After a Super Bowl ring, a game MVP, and a league MVP the following season, it's easy to forget just how divisive the selection of Aaron Rodgers was back in 2005. The Packers were fresh off their fourth consecutive playoff appearance, and with both Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera departing as free agents, replacing the interior offensive line was a more pressing need. Ted Thompson stayed true to his board, though, and avoided the pitfalls that come with the pressure of the draft day. As Brandt puts it, " Aaron won everyone over soon after arriving in Green Bay, but to this day I sometimes think about how the NFL balance of power could be different if that phone had rang with a trade offer during those excruciating 10 minutes." The NFL landscape would indeed look far different had Rodgers not ended up in green and gold.