Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson spoke with the media Thursday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis about a variation of topics. He spoke a bit about this year's draft class, his head coach Mike McCarthy giving up play-calling duties and the legacy of soon-to-be Hall of Famer Ron Wolf. Below is a transcript of his formal presser, published by NFLDraftScout.com.
Could you see the NFL Combine going primetime soon?
That's not my expertise. But as you can tell by the room here it's gotten a lot different than it was 20 years ago.
What's your evaluation of Davante Adams after his rookie season?
We thought he played well. He had a little bit more production down the stretch and later on at the end of the season. We like him, like we do all our guys.
What do you think of this year's wide receiver class?
Other than to say I can't really critique these guys all that much, I'm not supposed to say negative things about this draft, or positive things, I don't know. But there are players every year. This time of year, especially when you first get here, one day the receivers are not going to be any good, the next day the receivers are going to be great. When they get to workout or before the workout they say they're all going to be slow, and then you work'em out and you run the 40s and they're all fast. I think it's way too early to tell.
What did you think of Richard Rodgers' rookie year?
Richard had a - again, one of those guys that had production, especially going down the stretch. We're looking forward to his added contributions.
In what ways does Ron Wolf still impact how the Packers are run?
He has an effect on how this team is run because that's where I learned most of this craft. When I screw up he doesn't think I learned anything. He means a lot to us, he still means a lot to the Packers. We have his son Eliot working for us obviously. I know it was a thrill for him to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. He's very much a historian and he cares about the history of the game and that sort of thing. In that respect I think it's a well done honor. In terms of what he's done, you can see not only in green bay but around the league his influence in the way organizations are put together. That's a testimony to him.
What is the "it" factor for quarterbacks?
There are different ‘It' factors for different players. There are all kinds of different personalities of quarterbacks
around the league, but there are a lot of good ones and they don't necessarily think and act alike. But I do think there are moments during games even on the collegiate level where you can see that this guys is something different, someone sees things differently, they see things a little bit quicker, they're a little bit more cognizant of what's going on. I think it's something like that.
Do you recall any special qualities that let you know during the draft process that Aaron Rodgers would someday be a star?
Well ... yeah ... the game that I keep bringing up, Cal was playing USC, and this was after the fact that everybody thought these guys were going to go high and we started doing some extra work on him and I kept going back to the USC game and he was so effective and so productive in that game. I think that was a moment for me. But his collective body of work we felt was certainly sufficient.
On why running backs seem to have fallen out of the first round in recent years:
I think it's, it's just the way it goes. I think whether it's this year or two years from now or something, there'll be a year where there's five of them going in the first round. It's just cyclical and interesting but it probably doesn't mean anything philosophically. I don't think teams are less inclined to take running backs now than they were five years ago.
Is re-signing Randall Cobb a priority?
We'd like to re-sign all of our free-agent players. So, sure.
On whether he factors in players possibly missing workouts and being frustrated about the franchise tag when considering tagging them?
Not very much.
On how the college quarterbacks are prepared for the NFL now:
Maybe. As much as I'd like to think I'm an expert in quarterbacks I'm probably not. But, I think college quarterbacks are put in positions where they have to do a lot of the things that are done at the professional level. The collegiate quarterback probably does on average a little more running than a pro quarterback. But outside of that, I think they're faced with some of the same difficult decisions and choices.
On his history with new Washington GM Scot McCloughan:
Yes, we worked together. We were very good friends, still are to this day. He's very good at his craft, he's very passionate about the work, he's a joy to work with and he's always been a really good friend.
Discussing why the Packers rolled over close to $10 million in salary cap space in 2014 instead of using it:
Yeah. We don't necessarily look at it like that. We feel like we understand what the cap means. It doesn't mean we're going to roll over money every year. It doesn't mean we're going to go out and always spend everything up to the last penny. We're going to run our business the way we think it should be run. We like to get ourselves in a position so - I've said this before - that we make football decisions and we don't really even make any economic decisions. They're all football decisions.
Were you surprised when Mike McCarthy told you he was giving play-calling duties?
Most of that was his own thinking. We had conversations. I was aware of what he was thinking and that sort of thing.
Mike does a lot of thinking and he examines everything, even to the fine-tuned part of what he presents to the team, what he's going to say to them on Thursday or what he's going to say to them on Friday, he thinks all of that through. He's thinking in a macro sense right now in terms of how to best use his time, where he would like to interject a little bit more of his attitude into different parts of the team. I think that's probably the main thing is he wants to spread himself out a little bit more.
Have any players impressed him so much in interviews that he knew he wanted to draft them?
You know what? I apologize. I'm sure there are and I should be able to go, ‘Yeah, back 20 years ago, I did this and the guy smirked at me and I knew he was going to be a good player.' I don't remember those instances but I think all of this is important. All of this can be helpful. I think you're always looking for a little bit of a sparkle in somebody's eye, a little twinkle that maybe you don't see out of everybody else. That's difficult to do sometimes during the interview process because these guys are going from 6 o'clock (in the morning) until 11 o'clock at night one after another trying to do interviews and impress teams. That's not that easy to do.
What does he think of all the coaching that players get before the interview process?
If they're well-coached, then they're coachable, so that's a good thing. If they can pull the wool over your eyes, then so be it. We're not trying to say that we're soothsayers or we can look inside somebody's mind. I like to try to figure out, if we can in 15 minutes or 20 minutes or whatever the time limits are, if this guy is a good fit for your team.
On his thoughts about Ndamukong Suh potentially leaving the Lions:
Well, I think he's the property of another team and I'm prohibited by rule from discussing that.
I should give that answer more often.
What has led to the Packers' consistent success over the past few decades?
I think a lot of it goes back to the legacy of Ron Wolf. He set the organization up when he was hired in 1992 a certain way so that football decisions would be made by football people. Whether it would be the facilities, whether it would be the money, whether it would be any of that other sort of thing, it would be a football decision based on what's best for the football team. I think that turned the organization around, it put the organization in a better light. All of a sudden, players from around the league could see that the Packers put their money where their mouth is and we were able to do some things in free agency and that sort of thing to move it forward. We were fortunate enough to have some really good players. I think it goes back to the Ron Wolf era.
On whether the Packers' front-office model is the best method:
It is for us. It's not mandatory because it's not that way in a lot of places but it works for us.