Every year, NFL draft prospects are poked, prodded, measured, interviewed and scouted to almost comical degrees of scrutiny. And yet, despite these gumshoe tactics, the NFL draft largely remains, a total crapshoot. But if the draft is a gamble, Ted Thompson is the guy drawing a crowd at the blackjack table, because here we are again, with what looks to be yet another wide receiver find in rookie Ty Montgomery.
We're less than a week into training camp so it's obviously too early to anoint Montgomery - a third round pick out of Stanford as The Next Guy, but early indications look promising. He's making at least one Vine-worthy play per practice, snagging everything in sight, and, left the team's best cornerback - Sam Shields - in a heap of disjointed parts on a catch-and-run for a touchdown during Monday's practice.
And Montgomery is just the latest of what continues to be Ted Thompson's defining position as a talent evaluator. Last year saw the emergence of Davante Adams, a guy who put Joe Buck into his upper octaves as a rookie, and who already has ‘The Leap' buzz about him this year. Before that, it was Cobb, and before that, Jordy Nelson. And remember Greg Jennings? That was Thompson, too. But those are just the names everyone's familiar with.
Charles Johnson was a seventh-round pick in 2013, who, looked like the rare exception to Thompson's magic touch, getting stashed on the practice squad, then signed by the Browns - a prison sentence for NFL talent - who then found out Johnson had a torn ACL. Fast forward a year later and Johnson - now with the Vikings - might be the team's leading pass catcher this season, showing enough last year that makes you think, just maybe, this is one that slipped through the Packers fingers.
But even if Johnson pans out, it hardly matters for the Packers, who might have the biggest stockpile of wide receiver talent in the league. Even Myles White - the skinny practice squad speedster signed in 2013 - is out there (now 12 pounds heavier) uncorking the defense on deep routes. And let's not forget Jared Abbrederis or Jeff Janis, receivers from last year's draft class who at one point or another, have shown similar ability.
Certainly, more goes into winning games than talent at wide receiver - the Patriots routinely trot out a bunch of broomsticks at the position and have four Super Bowls to show for it - but the NFL, even with all its faults, is a tantalizingly unpredictable league. Unlike other sports that play an entire series, the one-and-done nature of the playoffs means the ultimate prize in the NFL is often dependent on a series of balls bouncing your way. And with that much uncertainty, it pays to have at least something you can count on.
Because of Ted Thompson, the Packers having a talented crop of receivers remains one of the surest bets in the league.