Waiving McMillan points to downturn in Packers drafts


When you’re dealing in a science as inexact as drafting NFL players, it’s worth remembering that smart guys miss too.

But the misses have become increasingly clear in Green Bay, where recent drafts have not helped General Manager Ted Thompon’s reputation as an evaluator.

As pointed out by Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, releasing second-year safety Jerron McMillan on Tuesday means the Packers have fewer than half their draft picks from the 2011 and 2012 drafts on the current roster.

Granted, Thompson believes in buying in bulk, trading down to amass picks. And with a good roster in place, there are fewer spots for late-round picks to occupy.

But after giving big contracts to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and outside linebacker Clay Matthews this year, the need is greater than ever to hit on those picks to backfill the roster with cheap talent, and lately, Thompson hasn’t.

McMillan was one of their fourth-rounders in 2012, the 133rd pick overall. Now, of the 18 players they drafted in 2011 and 2012, only eight are still with the Packers, with two of those on injured reserve (though second-round gem Randall Cobb is designated for return).

“You never want to give up on a young guy,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after McMillian was released, but that’s what they’ve increasingly done.

Of course, Thompson built the roster that makes it harder for late-round picks to stick, so he does deserve credit. And all seven of his 2010 picks are still with the team, so it’s not as if he’s never been good at this.

But as with other respected evaluators, there can be downturns. Go look at Bill Polian’s last few drafts in Indianapolis, or the defensive backs and receivers the Patriots have burned high picks on in recent years.

At the moment, the Packers seem to be in one. If Rodgers were healthy, everything would look better, certainly. But the absence of quality quarterback depth only underscores the accumulation of small problems that have turned this season into a big one in Green Bay.

59 responses to “Waiving McMillan points to downturn in Packers drafts

  1. I think it’s a science and an art-form and a lot of the mistakes that teams make are because they have poor scouting people who don’t have a logical way of breaking down and assessing players. They just don’t even know what to look for. If a team has a great scouting mind in charge, then they shouldn’t be making mistakes. It’s a talent that very few people understand how to do, and Green Bay’s GM is missing not only on draft picks, but FA and trade options that could have improved his team as well. He’s failing at scouting, drafting, but most importantly he’s failing at dominating everybody else in football.

    He should be fired because he isn’t any good at his job.

  2. It’s almost as if these GM’s that have elite QB’s feel like they can take more chances in the draft, especially after they’ve won a Super Bowl, because they believe that their QB will cover up all of the flaws on the team. That leads to more boom or bust type picks, instead of safe bets, and for teams like Indy(in Polian’s last few years), New England and Green Bay, it’s been leading to more busts than booms.

  3. Hmmm 2 years ago is when Reggie McKenzie left Green Bay to GM in Oakland. Oakland is putting a decent team on the field despite the lack of cap room and they’re doing it with young, talented late picks and UDFAs. Coincidence? Makes you think.

  4. Now, of the 18 players they drafted in 2011 and 2012, only eight are still with the Packers

    You guys realize that the NFL roster can only have 53 players…

    So when you get the number as high as TT has where 45 of the players have played for the Packers and only the Pack… You’re going to have to start letting people you drafted go eventually, its impossible to not to…

  5. The Packers pick 25th or later every year—their 4th round “busts” are like most other teams 5th round pick. This is an inevitable cycle. If they get a top 15 pick this coming year the roster will be replenished and another 5 year window will open up. See that was easy morons.

  6. I don’t like to give up on a young guy, either, but I have to admit, I have done that, so Mike isn’t the only one. We can keep searching for new guys, because they always keep coming out.

  7. Well…

    thepftpoet says:
    Dec 4, 2013 12:44 PM
    If Ted Thompson wouldn’t have drafted Aaron Rodgers, he would have been flipping burgers at a local Green Bay McDonald’s


    I don’t know if you can say drafting Rodgers was a smart move by the GM, I mean you can thank SF first and foremost for passing on him for fear of a holdout due to having a difficult agent and no rookie salary cap at that time that was the only thing stopping SF from drafting him and going with Alex Smith…now for the other teams between SF and the 1st pick and at what 24 or 25 when GB picked, i’m sure there are some other GM’s kicking themselves.

  8. Pack fans you can at least take some comfort in the fact you don’t have the worst GM in the division. My teams GM, Martin Mayhew, is comically terrible at his job. He only drafts players with character issues, arrest records or injury histories. The one recent exception I can come up with is Ziggy Ansah who was a number five overall pick who was totally unproven, having only played two seasons in college, who has been injured for a third of the season. He even drafted a punter/kickoff guy in the fifth round who has lost one game for us and kicked the kickoff out of bounds twice in one game. I’ve never seen that happen in my life.
    The worst thing about it is the the Ford’s are such terrible owners that they actually think Mayhew is doing a great job and they’re behind him 100%. Nothing will ever really change for us until someone other than the Ford’s own the Lions.

  9. Having great play from the QB position, up to now, has covered up a lot of ills. But that could be said for quite a few teams.

  10. Thompson is riding Aaron Rodgers’ coat tails and how well that pick worked out. Honestly, if GB selected at anywhere from 1-16 in that draft, they probably don’t draft Rodgers. He fell into their lap, and they simply said “Why not?”

    He also signed a seemingly washed-up Charles Woodson that many other teams were not that high on. Woodson’s resurgence was unexpected, and helped propel their D to a title in 2010.

    Thompson has been more lucky than good.

  11. You can’t keep all of your picks. 85% of the team is made up of guys who have never put on another jersey. That’s unheard of in the modern NFL.

    Why is this any different from when they cut Allen Babre? One of Thompson’s MO’s is to draft guys in the middle rounds from small schools. Sometimes it’s a homerun (Sitton & Lang), sometimes it’s a dud (McMillan & Babre). All four of those guys were 4th round picks from colleges most of us haven’t even heard of.

    Safeties M.D. Jennings, Chris Banjo and Sean Richardson were all undrafted, but were performing better. Draft status is usually irrelevant for guys who weren’t drafted in the first two rounds.

  12. Pick him up Chiefs / John Dorsey. I am sure you are familiar with Mcmillan from your Green Bay days. Our current safeties K Lewis and Q Demps can’t cover. They give up multiple deep TDs a game. Time for some new blood at the safety position.

  13. John Schneider (Seattle) and Reggie McKenzie (Oakland) used to be in Thompson’s department when Ted was making picks to build a strong team. Now they’re gone…. coincidence?

  14. If you look back at that draft most of the 1st rounders are either out of the league or with another team…Rodgers is the only one still with the team that drafted him, guess that says a lot about that 1st round draft class…a whole lot short careers and bust.

  15. It easy to throw stones now after Rodgers goes down but no one was saying anything when they where 5-2 looking to go on a run with players almost entirely brought in by Thompson. The team has suffered a ton of injuries and when healthy is as good as anyone.

  16. johnelwayishorsefaced:

    Well it is possible they could fire Mayhew and hire me. I think we should be 12-0 right now. I offer something much better than what Mayhew does and you will love it if I ever get the chance to build this team the right way. You won’t have overpaid players to complain about and we will focus on winning through superior strategy at all elements of the game on and off the field. I suggest you vote for me if you ever get the chance.

  17. If you have a good team, it wouldn’t be unusual for a lot of recent draft picks to not make it. But we’ve seen that the Packers are not a good team. They’re a terrible team with a great player. If you have a roster full of terrible players and recent draft picks can’t beat them out, that’s a recipe for disaster. I predict that the Packers are going to go through a long rebuilding period even with Rodgers, and they don’t appear to have the guy in charge who can lead that effort.

  18. There is no denying that 2011 and 2012 were not some of Ted’s better work. The business of evaluating prospects is hit and miss. Take a look at Ron Wolf’s work with the Packers. He probably hit on a higher percentage of players in the third round (Brooks, Freeman, Williams, Henderson, etc.) than he did in the first round (Buckley, Michels, Teague, Simmons, Reynolds). The problem is magnified in Ted’s case due to his abject refusal to use any other avenue to acquire talent. If you miss in the draft and that is the only place you are going for talent, you are going to end up short. There was a recent list of the top 100 players in the league. The niners had 8 guys in the top 65. The pack had Rodgers and Matthews and that was it in the entire top 100. It would have been hard to argue that anyone else on the packers roster belonged there as well.

  19. Thompson should be given some credit for drafting Rodgers, even though it was a no-brainer to pick a guy projected to go #1 when your quarterback talks about retiring every year, but Ted didn’t even think Rodgers was all that good. If he did, he wouldn’t have spent a second-round pick on Brian Brohm in 2008. You pick a quarterback in the second round because you think he will eventually be your starter. Proof that Thompson has no ability to evaluate quarterbacks.

  20. There isn’t a Packer fan in the world that doesn’t wish Ron Wolf would’ve stayed until he croaked the slide started with Sherman then got a little better with John Schneider and Reggie McKenzie in player personnel but since they left it’s been creepy pulling all the strings…maybe if he learned how to blink it could help him see talent better

  21. Lifelong Packer fan.

    It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.

    All the Packers problems have come to light. Another year of cap oblivion will only compound their problems. Health will remain an issue, relying on guys like Bulaga and Hayward to bounce back. AND they have holes to fill all over the place.

    CJ Mosely won’t fix all their problems.

  22. You keep draft pics that work out and release the ones that don’t. That has been how the NFL works since the draft started, this is typical business for all NFL teams. This has nothing to do with how TT runs his draft, it’s a gamble no matter who you are.

  23. Even TT makes draft mistakes from his basement office — the thing I just don’t get is why he doesn’t try to correct those mistakes once and a while by properly using free agency.

  24. howiehandles says: Dec 4, 2013 1:04 PM

    Having great play from the QB position, up to now, has covered up a lot of ills. But that could be said for quite a few teams.

    duece5 says:

    In most years, that would seem to be true……that the injury of a starting QB would be a disaster for a team.

    BUT THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE this year, EXCEPT in gbay.

    Oakland, Tampa, Chicago, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Tennessee, to name a few, have ALL WON GAMES THIS YEAR WITHOUT THEIR STARTER!

    Why not in gbay?

    It’s gbay’s oline as much as a terrible backup situation…..that goes straight to TT, let alone the defense.

    It can be very much argued that Rodgers falling to TT was a godsend, and VERY lucky.

    With over half your picks from 2011 and 2012 gone, there is something wrong in gbay from an evaluation standpoint.

    Look at Brohm, Harrell, Coleman…..all busts…..put Flynn in there….he had 1 GIGANTIC game, and that’s it. No, something is not right, and my hope is that TT stays at the healm in gbay for a long time, as many pack faithful refuse to hold him accountable.

    I hold Spielman accountable….he should go. Frazier as well.

    Good report Darin!

  25. Where are all the….”in TT we trust” pack faithful that were so loud early in the year?

    Are they seeing the light, or are they drunk in the street, mumbling to themselves about the hope for an Erin return, and the false hope of a turnaround without an oline to protect their #1 asset?

  26. “Even TT makes draft mistakes from his basement office — the thing I just don’t get is why he doesn’t try to correct those mistakes once and a while by properly using free agency.”

    Refreshing to hear an actual football take from a Viking fan. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have agreed. But Ron Wolf once said that his greatest regret was not putting more weapons around Favre after the Super Bowl runs. I think the squad is young enough and deep enough that a top flight FA signing once in a while wouldn’t hurt. I know TT loves to use the money to re-sign our own talent, but lately it seems like we tend to overvalue homegrown talent and they aren’t getting their money’s worth.

    Thank you all for taking the time to read this. I’m going to go back to being fat, poor and eating people now.

  27. duece5 says:
    Dec 4, 2013 2:26 PM
    Where are all the….”in TT we trust” pack faithful that were so loud early in the year?

    Are they seeing the light, or are they drunk in the street, mumbling to themselves about the hope for an Erin return, and the false hope of a turnaround without an oline to protect their #1 asset?


    Who? Who’s return? Henderson? He plays defense…for Minnesota. You’re on the wrong post.

  28. The stubbornness is what angers the fan base. You will not build a champion by being the youngest team every year. When you are close, you need to take some chances and ‘go for it’. Be it a free agent or trading up. He always says he drafts the best athlete available regardless of position and I contend when you are close with pieces you have in place you draft the best athlete available at your position of need. Also, you don’t draft 4-3 defensive ends to play 3-4 linebacker. Draft someone who has succeeded in a position of need. He drafts 12+ players every year by trading down and hopes to hit on more than he misses. Same thing as he did in Seattle. This can build a playoff team most years but not a champion unless you catch lightning in a bottle. When you are close you need to take some chances to push you over the edge. That is what angered Favre. Wanted them to load up for his last few years and go for it but Ted doesn’t do that. Favre did the only thing he thought he had leverage with and said maybe he’d retire to try to get him to sign some people. Didn’t work. How far away are we from same thing happening to Rodgers? Are we going to waste his prime as well?

  29. My complaints with TT in the last 4 or 5 years or so.

    1. STOP drafting guys that were often chronically injured during their college years. They end up being chronically injured in the pros, too. Prime example: Mike Neal.

    2. STOP drafting D linemen and turning them into LBs. How about finding some guys that can get some push at the line instead of sending them into coverage? Prime Examples: Nick Perry and Datone Jones.

    3. STOP drafting our secondary in the 3204982039th round. These guys are terrible. The reason we have so many UFA success stories is because no one else wants these guys yet they’re our starters?? Any time an opposing receiver catches a ball, there is no one on the secondary even in the camera’s view.

    TT has a knack for finding very talented receivers, but geez, man. Ask for some help on defense and consider asking for help on the O line as you seem to think Rodgers is most effective on his back.

  30. From 2010 to 2012 the Packers’ 1st through 3rd picks have missed 40% of their games due to injury.

    1 – Nick Perry – LB – – missed 15 of 28 games (wrist/knee/foot)
    2 – Jerel Worthy – DT – missed 14 of 28 games (ACL)
    3 – Casey Hayward – CB – missed 9 of 28 games (hamstring)

    1 – Sherrod – OT -has missed 25 of 44 games (broken leg)
    2 – Cobb – WR – has missed 11 of 44 games (broken leg?)
    3 – Alex Green – HB – missed 9 of 32 games (ACL)

    1 – Bulaga – OT – missed 23 of 60 games (knee)
    2 – Neal – DE/LB – has missed 22 of 60 (knee/rotator cuff/suspension)
    3 – Burnett – healthy

  31. 49er and Packer fans are kindred spirits. They both rest on their laurels. It’s fascinating and embarrassing at the same time.

    0-4-1 in games without all world QB Rodgers. Couldn’t they even beat the hapless and tasteless Vikings? By the end of the year the Packers will have a top 5 pick.

  32. Yeah okay, we’ll just chalk all his good picks up to luck and say his misses were obvious from the start. That seems fair.
    His players won a Super Bowl and finished another season 15-2. The Packers still have one of the youngest rosters in the league.
    As has been noted, he has dealt mostly with late selections in each round. That coupled with a solid team already, means you have to gamble.
    Thompson is not perfect. Okay, news flash duly noted. But I hope he stays with the Pack for several years to come.

  33. golforepar, with all due respect, obviously the Packers greatest asset is their QB. They need to protect him. Draft a freakin’ OT already. As for the defense, just tell Datone Jones to step it up. Wasn’t he last year’s first round pick? Too bad he plays like a 7th rounder.

  34. Let’s hope it is just a dry spell or an especially talented roster raising the bar for all, but my fear is that given Seattle’s success over the last couple years John Schneider was the man behind the earlier success. It is an unfortunate fact in the NFL but generally if you are successful, teams will take what they think are your better parts.

  35. Mayhew has picked: Stafford, Fairley, Suh, Ansah, Delmas, Levy, Bell, Pettigrew, Leshoure, Gronkowski, Reif , Warford, Toone, Hill and signed Reggie and Isreal et al.

    Please “support” another team.

    Thank you.

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