A Tale Of Two Teams’ Wide Receivers: Green Bay and Tennessee
With Aaron Rodgers seemingly shredding opposing defenses at will week in and week out, it’s hard not to admire the job Packers’ GM Ted Thompson has done since being hired in 2005. He used his first pick with Green Bay to draft Rodgers, taking a risk on a QB prospect who at one point was the arguable #1 prospect but fell amidst speculation that he was just another product of Jeff Tedford’s system. At the time, nobody seemed to want to take the next “Tedford bust” which included high-profile flops (and top-20 draft picks) Akili Smith, Trent Dilfer, Joey Harrington, David Carr and Kyle Boller. But, as 2005 #1 overall pick Alex Smith could probably attest to, no franchise QB can succeed without a solid arsenal of weapons around him. That happens to be where Ted Thompson has managed to outperform many of his peers:
Since taking over in 2005, he has drafted 9 WR’s:
Bragg and Rodgers never made it into an NFL game, Clowney was a marginal player for a few years before washing out of the league and Swain lives on the fringes of the league as a special-teams guy. Terrence Murphy looked like he was on his way to being a quality player before a neck injury ended his career during his rookie season. Jennings is a bona fide star, Nelson is becoming a top #2 threat and James Jones (inconsistent hands and all) is a useful and productive #3 option. The newest addition, Cobb, has flashed potential at both receiver and returner if he can add some polish to his game. Even if Cobb flops though, Thompson managed to find a quality WR in 3 straight drafts. While 3 successful picks out of 8 (with the jury still out on Cobb) might not sound impressive, consider another team who has gone heavy on WR in the draft:
Tennessee has led the league in WR selections since 2005 and you can see why (they just can’t get it right):
That’s a whole lot of garbage. Roydell Williams had 55 catches in 2007 and was out of the league for 2008 and 2009 before resurfacing. briefly last year. Roby is a great special teamer in New Orleans but useless at receiver. Jones showed some promise in 2008, signed a 5 year/$16M with the 49ers in 2009 and was promptly cut a year later. The Titans used 3 selections on WR in 2007, who combined for a total 8 catches and 76 yards and all were out of the league by opening day 2009. Mariani was a Pro Bowl kick returner in his rookie season, but will most likely never contribute much on offense and Damian Williams looks to have some promise. The cream of the crop is Kenny Britt, who can’t stay out of trouble off the field and tore his ACL early in 2011. Overall, the Titans don’t have much to show for their WR selections.
Thompson might not be the best at finding WR’s, but these two teams paint a picture of just how hard it is to find quality WR’s – even when you draft them in bulk.