GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Trading up in the NFL draft is something Packers general manager Ted Thompson rarely does. It goes against everything in his nature, his upbringing and his beliefs in how to run an organization.
So when Thompson moved up not once, not twice but three times in this year's draft, he wasn't quite feeling like himself afterward.
"It's horrible," Thompson said at the conclusion of the draft. "I felt ashamed. I'm not my father's son anymore because my father's very frugal. It's pathetic. But in this case, I felt like it was appropriate. I felt like we had a good, solid team, and I felt like if we knew we were getting quality, we should try to do it. So we made three trades up."
For Thompson, who is incredibly guarded with his public comments, to share such introspective thoughts gives an idea about how unlike him it was to be so aggressive in trading up, having to give up later-round picks in order to make the trades.
In his first seven drafts as the man in charge of the Packers from 2005 to 2011, Thompson moved up in the draft only three times. He first did so in 2008 to select defensive end Jeremy Thompson in the fourth round, then in 2009 to draft linebacker Clay Matthews late in the first round and finally in 2010 to get safety Morgan Burnett in the third round.
Far more common for Thompson throughout his years in Green Bay has been trading back in the draft and adding picks in the process, not losing them as he did this year. In fact, prior to the 2012 draft, 16 of Thompson's 19 draft-day trades were to move backward, including in 2011 when he traded back three times.
But, with 12 picks at Green Bay's disposal this year, Thompson traded to the point he wound up with only eight new players at the end of the weekend.
"For Ted to trade up three times in one draft was fun," coach Mike McCarthy said. "It was fun to sit next to him and watch him grind through it."
First, Thompson moved from No. 59 in the second round up to No. 51 to select Michigan State defensive lineman Jerel Worthy, giving up the 59th pick and No. 123 overall to Philadelphia.
Later, Green Bay sent its third-round pick (No. 90) and a fifth-rounder (No. 163) to New England in exchange for the 62nd pick. With that late-second round selection, Thompson drafted Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward.
Finally, the Packers ended up re-acquiring the 163rd pick they had previously sent to the Patriots but had to surrender three picks (one sixth-rounder and two seventh-rounders) to do so. At that spot, Thompson selected North Carolina State linebacker Terrell Manning.
"These defensive players all had excellent grades on them," McCarthy said. "It really factored for us to get out of character of Ted Thompson, of his philosophy. Ted Thompson knows this business inside and out, he knows the value of a draft. He takes a lot of pride and a lot of discipline in how he makes these decisions for the Green Bay Packers organization.
"I don't think people realize when you do trade up, you're giving up a pick, but that's added value. We did it with good reason, and we're very excited with the picks we were able to obtain."
Breaking from Thompson's character was somewhat necessitated by the Packers' league-worst defense last season. While quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offense were breaking records on the way to a 15-1 regular season, Green Bay's defense was setting records as well but not the kind it will be proud of. In 2011, the Packers allowed more passing yards than any team in NFL history. Plus, after finishing second in the league in sacks during its Super Bowl-winning season in 2010, Green Bay dropped to 27th in sacks last season.
But, in typical Thompson fashion, he insisted that drafting all defensive players with his first six picks -- and moving up three times to do so -- was just coincidence.
"I don't know if (defense) was that much of a need," Thompson said. "It's not a reflection of whether we think one side of the ball is better than the other side, it's just the way the thing fell."
In the 2011 draft, five of the Packers' first six picks were on offense.
"Last year, there was no intent to do it that way," Thompson said. "This year, there was no intent. We strictly try to stick with our ratings and look at value, and if we think someone can come in and, whether it's compete for a starting job or compete for a spot on the roster and play special teams and back up, those guys are valuable."
While it would be naive to believe Thompson's public posturing, with the talent added on Green Bay's defense, the moves he made should help the Packers be much improved next season when Rodgers and company are off the field. After all, a 15-1 team probably doesn't need quantity as much as quality.
"We didn't play very well on defense, so we need to coach better, we need to play better and we'll do better," McCarthy said. "The ability to get more athletic and the ability to have the pass rush from inside and outside was a focus, and I think that was reflected in the people we acquired in free agency and the draft."
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