Over the past few years, the Green Bay Packers have been on a quest to revamp the personnel in their secondary. From 2014 to 2019, the team has picked eight defensive backs in the first two rounds of NFL Drafts, with five of those coming in the last three years.
General manager Brian Gutekunst has also invested in free agents for the defensive backfield. Last year, he brought Tramon Williams back into the fold, and he added safety Adrian Amos on a big-money deal in 2019. Now in the middle of the summer, he is apparently pursuing a little-used avenue of player acquisition, continuing to deliver on his promise of leaving no stone unturned in improving his team.
That avenue is the Supplemental Draft, which will be held on Wednesday. According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, the Packers are expressing significant interest in Jalen Thompson, a versatile defensive back from Washington State. Pauline reports that the Packers met with Thompson following his Pro Day on Monday, and that they have “shown a lot of interest” in the former Cougar.
UPDATE: Not only did the Packers interview Thompson, but Pauline reported Tuesday afternoon that the team brought him in to Green Bay for medical evaluations as well:
Can confirm; the Green Bay Packers flew Jalen Thompson/S to their facility after yesterday's workout for medicals and interviews in preparation for tomorrow's supplemental draft.— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) July 9, 2019
This comes as a bit of a surprise, as Thompson is a bit small for the Packers’ traditional tendencies for defensive backs. A college safety, Thompson measured just 5-foot-10 3/8 inches tall and weighed 186 pounds, according to Pauline. He reportedly ran the 40 in as fast as 4.47 seconds, with a 3-cone time just under 7 seconds.
Thompson also has solid tackling and ball skills; as a three-year starter, he posted at least 50 tackles and three TFLs in each season, while adding four interceptions as a sophomore in 2017 and two more as a junior last fall. He also forced a pair of fumbles and recovered five in his college career.
The reason for Thompson’s entry into the Supplemental Draft is related to a violation of NCAA rules, which cost him his senior season of eligibility. While WSU did not expand on that official explanation, Theo Lawson — a writer for Spokane’s Spokesman-Review newspaper — reported that the violations involved non-steroid performance-enhancing drugs related to an over-the-counter supplement.
As a refresher, NFL teams bid with draft picks in the Supplemental Draft, and teams are given a priority order by a lottery process to determine who receives the rights to the player if multiple teams bid in the same round. The selecting team then loses their pick in the corresponding round in the 2020 NFL Draft. If a player is not selected, they would become free agents, and the Packers could be investigating Thompson to see if he is worthy of signing should he pass through the draft to free agency.
The Packers have not selected a player in the Supplemental Draft since 1998, when they picked Navy guard Mike Wahle in the second round.