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NFL Draft Stats: Packers have made the most picks of any NFC North team since 2005

No team in the division drafts more players than Green Bay, and they also have the most picks in the first four rounds of the draft during Ted Thompson’s tenure.

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Ted Thompson Era began in earnest in 2005 when the new Green Bay Packers GM snatched up Aaron Rodgers with the 24th overall pick. Since 2005 Thompson has, in my opinion, been a wizard with the draft. It’s hard to prove or quantify statements like this because football players themselves are hard to judge, and quantifying draft pick value at a granular level, outside of just labeling busts as busts, even more so. One could argue that simply drafting Aaron Rodgers automatically makes Ted Thompson a superior drafter, having found an all-time great at the most important position in all of sports with a late first rounder. What I would like to do here instead is take the players out of it and look at how efficient Ted has been at creating value with his draft picks.

As an example, just last night Thompson moved back a few spots - from round 1 (29) to round 2 (33) - and for his troubles, he picked up an additional draft pick in the early 4th round. He could have had one late-first rounder, and instead has one early-second rounder and one 4th rounder. It is, generally speaking, good to have more draft picks, as they give you additionally opportunities to acquire below-market talent, but, of course, not all draft picks are created the same. Trade down too much, or give up too much early value, and you will suffer there as well.

What I have put together here are two very simple statistics:

  1. How many draft picks have the Packers, Bears, Lions, and Vikings made in the Ted Thompson era (excluding whatever has already happened in the 2017 draft), and
  2. What the average round of those selections was.

Keep in mind that good teams are at a disadvantage here. Over that time frame the Packers have generally dominated the division. While the other teams have had their moments, they have generally started with higher draft picks than the Packers, and while everyone starts out with one draft pick per round, a team with a higher 1st round pick can, theoretically trade that pick for more than the Packers sitting there at 29. The Breakdown is as follows:

Packers Draft History Breakdown

Team Total Picks Average Pick Most picks in Number Least picks in Number First 4 rounds
Team Total Picks Average Pick Most picks in Number Least picks in Number First 4 rounds
Packers 110 4.23 4th, 5th, 6th 18 3rd 11 57
Bears 88 4.34 4th, 7th 15 1st 9 48
Lions 93 3.89 7th 17 4th 10 51
Vikings 96 4.11 7th 20 3rd 7 45

Yes, the Packers have made 14 more picks than the next closest team and 22 more than the Bears. The Lions have been very efficient with their picks, averaging a late 3rd rounder, but they lack volume, having only drafted more players than the Bears. When you look at picks made in just the first 4 rounds, where starting talent is most likely to lie, the Packer dominate, having made 57 picks. The average Ted pick is comes in at 4.23 which only eclipses the Bears, but only slightly trails the Vikings, and the reality is that the difference is more than made up for in volume.

The real outlier here is the Bears who, despite being consistently bad (5 winning seasons in the Thompson era) have drafted the fewest players, while still having the worst average value. They have made only 9 first round picks (Packers:12, Lions:14, Vikings:15) and only 11 second round picks (Packers:16, Lions:14, Vikings:12). The Lions have been worse than the Bears since 2005 with only 3 winning seasons and a few all-time stinkers, but they are at least converting their picks into value, even if it may have helped to have more of them. These metrics may not be perfect, but they do highlight what the Packers try to do, and have done successfully, and where the Bears, and to some extent the rest of the North, have struggled.

If you want to see the rest of the data, feel free to check it out here.