Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 4/29/12
There is very little reason to doubt Packers general manager Ted Thompson when it comes to the NFL draft. After all, during Thompson's seven years running the draft in Green Bay, he was the one responsible for drafting Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, B.J. Raji and Nick Collins, to name a few. So, after Thompson's newest class of draftees included six defensive players in his first six picks -- including three grabbed after trading up -- it's difficult to not just take his word for it that those moves will work out well for the Packers. Focused on fixing a defense that finished 27th in sacks and was the worst in NFL history in passing yards allowed, Thompson added USC outside linebacker Nick Perry in the first round, then drafted defensive lineman Jerel Worthy and cornerback Casey Hayward in the second round. On the third and final day of the draft, the Packers selected defensive lineman Mike Daniels, safety Jerron McMillian and linebacker Terrell Manning. Finally, with just two seventh-round picks remaining, Green Bay stopped its string of drafting all defenders and brought in offensive tackle Andrew Datko and quarterback B.J. Coleman. A look at the Packers' postdraft grades handed out by analysts at a half-dozen national media outlets: FOX Sports' John Czarnecki, B: "There was more positive talk about the Packers' second- and third-round picks than their No. 1 selection, Nick Perry, a pure edge rusher from USC. Green Bay has its fingers crossed that Perry can bookend their magnificent outside linebacker Clay Matthews, also a former Trojan. It will be up to linebackers coach Kevin Greene to make Perry a dominant performer. However, Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy can be a dominant five-technique player and really help B.J. Raji. The Packers may never care if Mike Neal comes back from his four-game suspension. Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward is an ideal Cover Two player and is really smart and knows when to make a play on the ball. Hayward may not have tantalizing speed, but he did have 15 interceptions and was a team captain. ... Outside linebacker Terrell Manning has a chance to be more than a special teams contributor. ... The Packers took one player in the late rounds that has a chance: Florida State offensive tackle Andrew Datko, who slipped because of a late-season injury. ... Their last pick, B.J. Coleman, a quarterback from Tennessee-Chattanooga, was taken to possibly replace the departed Matt Flynn." ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., B: "Green Bay sacked opposing quarterbacks on 4.28 percent of pass attempts last year. That was worse than the other 31 teams in the NFL. The Packers simply had to add to the pass rush. Nick Perry may not be the perfect profile as a guy who can fit their scheme, but one thing he can do is get up field and turn the corner. I still think he has some development left. The value was about right for my board. Jerel Worthy gets dinged for effort, but when he plays, the guy is Round 1 material. He could be a steal at No. 51. Casey Hayward is a nice little nickel corner and can handle slot receivers, something they really need in that division. The real steal for me is Terrell Manning all the way down at No. 163. He can shadow Clay Matthews and become a nice pass-rush threat for them. If you saw my draft guide book last year, I had Manning as the top OLB in his class. He fell a little this year, and had injury issues, but there's a lot to like. Nice draft for the Pack." CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, B: "Best pick: Second-round defensive tackle Jerel Worthy should have been a first-round pick. He was a force at times at Michigan State. He will be the same for the Packers. Questionable move: I don't think the Packers are getting a great player in first-round pick Nick Perry. Some scouts think he's soft. We'll see. Third-day gem: Terrell Manning, an outside linebacker from North Carolina State, has a chance to stick at a position of need. He has some toughness about him. Analysis: I didn't like the pick of Perry, but it's hard to argue with Ted Thompson's track record. I love their two second-round picks. They get Worthy first and then land Vanderbilt corner Casey Hayward. Thompson traded up to get both of them when he saw value. He gets it." NBC Sports' Evan Silva, A-: "Giants GM Jerry Reese and Packers GM Ted Thompson are the NFL's best drafters. For the latter, this group furthers that notion. Perry was a match of value and need, and sending away the 123rd pick to secure Worthy made sense for a team still trying to replace Cullen Jenkins. Worthy can be the answer. Thompson's second trade up netted Manning, an instinctive, playmaking inside 'backer. Hayward possesses pro-ready ball skills and technique, and Datko was one of the draft's better value picks as a first- or second-round player on the field whose stock sank due only to non-knee medical concerns. (Mike) Daniels and (Jerron) McMillian are role-playing roster fillers, and (B.J.) Coleman is a talent upgrade on Graham Harrell. It would be difficult to take issue with any one of Thompson's picks. He was only slightly outclassed by Reese in this draft. Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer, A: "They needed defensive energy and focused all but their last two picks on that intention. More specifically, they turned to boosting the front against the pass to help their secondary." Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke, B: "The Packers had eight picks and used them all on defense (NOTE: Actually, only six of Green Bay's eight picks were defense). I love the picks of Worthy and CB Casey Hayward (62) in Round 2, though I'm not sold that Nick Perry (29) will fit Green Bay's scheme that well. But this is a franchise that deserves the benefit of the doubt." Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.
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