Jon Gruden recently came out and said “Not drafting Aaron Rodgers is ‘one of the greatest regrets in my lifetime’.”
As a Packer fan, I’m glad Gruden made that mistake. It gave me my favorite player of all time on my favorite team of all time. Now, as a Badger fan, I hope Ted Thompson has those same regrets 10 years from now.
The Packers had the 29th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft this year. When the Packers came ‘On the Board’ yesterday, every Packer-Badger fan saw T.J. Watt still available and knew he was the perfect draft pick. Watching T.J. Watt play at Wisconsin was one word, electrifying. His speed as he ran through the line right as the ball was snapped, his lateral movement, being able to close gaps in the line, the strength of his moves along with the power he could hit a ball carrier, and his coverage, which was the most underrated part of his game, was excellent, with a 37.0 inch vertical to cap it off.
Instead of filling the depleted defense the Packers had been playing with all season, Ted Thompson decided to trade the 29th pick away to the Browns for the 33rd pick (2nd round) and the 108th pick (4th round). Maybe Thompson thought Watt was still going to be there or maybe he didn’t like Watt as much as the rest of analysts. It doesn’t matter, Watt was taken a pick later by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s wrong of me, as a life-long Packer fan, to wish Thompson bad will but the Packer team we all know and love will soon end. (Aaron) Rodgers is entering his 12th season, (Clay) Matthews is entering his 8th season, and (Jordy) Nelson is entering his 9th season. The once young Super Bowl winning Packers are now all old veterans. The Packers have yet to find a “New Face of the Franchise” on defense. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the best candidate so far but he is still a few big plays and one great season away from grasping that title. T.J. Watt would have been the best draft to take over the roll. Watt, being a Badger and from a family of Badgers and NFL players, could have taken a massive mantle and helmed Dom Capers rush heavy defense. Watt could have played on the outside with Matthews while Nick Perry, Jake Ryan, or Blake Martinez played on the inside.
Instead, fans must wait until the 2nd Round to hear the first Packer drafted in 2017. Even then we may still have to wait longer. Thompson is still shipping off the 33rd pick to teams like the Chargers, Buccaneers, and Jets. As of right now, we’re stuck in limbo, waiting for the next Packer while T.J. Watt is flying to Pittsburgh to become the Steelers next great defensive player. I only can hope now for one thing.
Ten years from now, looking back on this draft, I hope to say to myself “Doubting Ted Thompson was one of the ‘Worst mistakes of my life’.”