How the Packers Have Done It … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

We have had all sorts of discussions around these parts about whether the Chiefs are currently trying to be the Patriots or the Steelers.

Naturally, GM Scott Pioli is partial to the way things were done in New England. Team chairman Clark Hunt likes to talk about the stability of what gets done in Pittsburgh. He just talks it, he doesn’t live that stability.

Maybe Hunt and Pioli should have their eyes on a different target, a team that’s strolling into Arrowhead Stadium this weekend holding last year’s Vince Lombardi Trophy as the Super Bowl winner and this year unbeaten 13-0 record.

Packers GM Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy have built the NFL’s most well-oiled machine and they’ve done it in tiny Green Bay, Wisconsin, the smallest city in America with a team in one of the major professional sports leagues.

How have they done it? Even before the championship victory over Pittsburgh last February the Packers were the best team in the league at identifying talented players, and then developing them into consistent and productive contributors.

Thompson and a 13-man scouting staff do a remarkable job of sifting through the available players each year and finding those that fit what Green Bay does. Most of that comes through the NFL Draft, as 30 players on this week’s 53-man roster were originally Packers draft choices.

And then McCarthy and his coaching staff do an outstanding job of taking those lumps of talented football clay and turning them into the type of players that win games and championships.

They have a winning formula in their personnel chain of intelligence, diligence, stability and patience.

Thompson is the man who makes it all work. A former LB with the Houston Oilers, he learned at the feet of one of the best personnel minds in the history of the game, Ron Wolf. His staff has seven former players working as scouts, almost all of them once LBs like their boss. Combined, the department has an average of 13 years of NFL personnel experience for each man.

For a quick look at what the Packers do, here’s how they built, brick-by-brick the offensive side of the roster. This is a group that averages 404.2 yards per game, with nearly four offensive touchdowns every week. And it’s almost entirely a home grown unit and among the 25 players, only three were first-round draft choices.


Aaron Rodgers – 1st-round selection (pick No. 24) of the 2005 Draft out of California. After three years sitting behind Brett Favre, it was in 2008 that Rodgers moved into the starting lineup and has established himself as one of the top passers in the NFL in that time. Hard to believe today there were 23 players taken ahead of Rodgers, including LB Derrick Johnson (No. 15) by the Chiefs.

Matt Flynn – 7th-round selection (pick No. 209) of the 2008 Draft out of Louisiana State. He’s made one start in his career; that was the last game the Packers lost. It came against New England a year ago.

Graham Harrell – Street free agent 2010 out of Texas Tech. Harrell went undrafted and signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, before he was inked by the Packers in May 2010. He’s not yet played in a regular season game.

Observations: Rodgers was drafted and then sat. Some of that sitting was good for him. Some of it fueled his underdog mentality. When the time came, Thompson and McCarthy dumped Hall of Famer in Brett Favre and went with Rodgers. It was messy, but it was the right call.

Running backs-Fullbacks

RB Ryan Grant
(left) – Trade 2007 from the New York Giants in exchange for a 6th-round draft choice in 2008. Coming out of Notre Dame, Grant was not drafted coming into the NFL, signing with the Giants as a college free agent. Since the trade, he’s been a 1,000-yard rusher when healthy, topping that number twice.

RB James Starks – 6th-round selection (pick No. 193) of the 2010 Draft out of the University of Buffalo. In his second season, Starks is the leading rusher for the Packers, with 565 yards on 127 carries.

RB Brandon Saine – College free agent 2011 out of Ohio State. He was signed to the practice squad at the start of the regular season and was promoted after six games.

FB John Kuhn – waiver-claim in 2007 after he was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He came into the NFL in 2005 as an undrafted college free agent out of Shippensburg State in Pennsylvania.

Observation: The Packers have a very utilitarian group of running backs, with no superstars, but two very productive backs in Grant and Starks, and a tough-minded FB in Kuhn. Green Bay has drafted some running backs early, including in 2011 when they grabbed Alex Green in the 3rd-round out of Hawaii; he’s currently on the injured-reserve list. None panned out, but they are still able to produce enough of a running game to help their explosive offense.

Wide receivers-Tight Ends

WR Greg Jennings – 2nd-round selection (pick No. 52) of the 2006 Draft out of Western Michigan. Jennings became an immediate starter for the Packers and he’s been consistent in his production after his rookie season. Jennings is one of the top receivers in the NFC. Right now, he’s out with a knee injury suffered last week.

WR Donald Driver – 7th-round selection (pick No. 213) of the 1999 Draft out of Alcorn State. He’s in his 13th NFL season, all with the Packers. Driver has been to four Pro Bowls and his career numbers – 729 catches for 9,972 yards – rank him as the best receiver in franchise history. One of the most productive seventh round draft choices in NFL history. In that same draft, the Chiefs selected WR Larry Parker in the fourth round, at pick No. 108. Parker over three seasons caught 18 passes for 240 yards.

TE Jermichael Finley – 3rd-round selection (pick No. 91) of the 2008 Draft out of Texas. He became a starter in 2010 before suffering a knee injury that ended his season in October. He’s returned to the starting lineup this year with 42 catches for 600 yards and 6 TDs.

WR Jordy Nelson (right) – 2nd-round selection (pick No. 36) of the 2008 Draft out of Kansas State. The Riley County Kansas native became one of Aaron Rodgers favorite targets last year and that trend continues in 2011, as he has 51 catches for 957 yards and 10 TDs.

WR James Jones – 3rd-round selection (pick No. 78) of the 2007 Draft out of San Jose State. He has been a big-play performer during his five seasons with the Packers, grabbing TD catches of 79, 74, 66 and this year 70 yards.

WR Randall Cobb – 2nd-round selection (pick No. 64) of the 2011 Draft out of Kentucky. The rookie has already made an impact as a returner with a 108-yard kickoff return and 80-yard punt return for scores. He also has 300 receiving yards on 19 catches.

TE Tom Crabtree – SFA 2009. He came out of Miami of Ohio undrafted in ’09 and signed with the Chiefs. He spent most of ’09 season on K.C. practice squad, but was released. Signed to Packers practice squad in December ’09 and has been with them since. Used largely as a blocker and on special teams, Crabtree has 9 career catches for 91 yards.

TE D.J. Williams – 5th-round selection (pick No. 141) of the 2011 Draft out of Arkansas. He’s played in nine games this year and has one catch.

TE Ryan Taylor – 7th-round selection (pick No. 218) of the 2011 Draft out of North Carolina. He’s appeared in 10 games this season and has one catch.

Observations: There isn’t a team in the league that would not take their top four receivers and trade them even up for Green Bay’s top three wideouts and tight end. This spot really points to the Packers ability to find talent. As a group, the top five receivers does not include a single first-round draft choice, or unrestricted free agent.

Offensive line

LT Marshall Newhouse – 5th-round selection (pick No. 169) of the 2010 Draft out of TCU. Newhouse began the season as the third tackle, then started several weeks at RT for an injured Bryan Bulaga and then the last 10 games at LT for an injured Chad Clifton. Not bad for a second year blocker protecting the backside of the game’s hottest quarterback.

LG T.J. Lang – 4th-round selection (pick No. 109) of the 2009 Draft out of Eastern Michigan. He’s a first-year starter in the Packers offensive line, replacing Daryn Colledge in the opening lineup.

C Scott Wells – 7th-round selection (pick No. 251) of the 2004 Draft out of Tennessee. Wells has been a seven-year starter for the team.

RG Josh Sitton – 4th-round selection (pick No. 135) of the 2008 Draft out of Central Florida. A three-year starter for the Packers, Sitton has not missed a snap in the last three seasons.

RT Bryan Bulaga – 1st-round selection (pick No.23) of the 2010 Draft out of Iowa. Bulaga started 16 of the Packers 20 games last season, including Super Bowl XLV. He’s just 22 years old.

LT Chad Clifton – 2nd-round selection (pick No. 44) of the 2000 Draft out of Tennessee. In his 12th season with Green Bay and he’s been a starter since his rookie year. He’s also been selected for a pa ir of Pro Bowls. Clifton suffered a severe hamstring injury in Game No. 5 and has not returned to play. He remains on the active roster.

BackupsG Evan Dietrich-Smith (Street Free Agent 2010), OT Derek Sherrod (1st-round selection in 2011 Draft), OT Ray Dominguez (College Free Agent 2011)/. Dietrich-Smith originally signed with the Packers coming out of Idaho State and played in 13 games during the 2009 season. He was waived in 2010, claimed by Seattle and then released by the Seahawks before re-signing with Green Bay. He’s appeared in all 11 games this year. Sherrod was pick No. 32 in the 1st-round out of Mississippi State. He’s played in 3 games. Dominguez went undrafted back in April and signed with the Packers. He’s not appeared in a game.

Observation: Again, the Packers go out and find players and they do it in all round of the draft, in all years. The offensive line group has two first-round picks, a second, a pair of fourths, a fifth and a seventh.

Here’s how the numbers tally up for the 25-man Packers offensive roster:

  • 18 draft choices
  • 3 street free agents
  • 2 college free agents
  • 1 waiver claim
  • 1 trade

7 Responses to “How the Packers Have Done It … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 16, 2011  - Milkman says:

    It’s hard to argue with Green Bay’s track record over the last few years. Thompson seems to be doing a remarkable job. I think more than finding the best players available, they are finding the best players available that fit their system. That will only work if the coaching staff and the personnel dept. are all working toward the same goal. Imagine if McCarthy and Thompson got along like Haley and Pioli. This is just another spotlight on Pioli’s decision on the next head coach. If he and the next man can truly work together, we may have a chance to see some winning football in Kansas City for a change.

  • December 16, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    That assumes Pioli can assemble talented players and quit striking out on selections like he has in his time in KC to this point. Free agency isn’t the answer either but it helps supplement the draft and can provide valuable depth at key positions. Until they start walking the walk I’m going to be from Missouri and say don’t talk about it, show me.

  • December 16, 2011  - Chuck says:

    When you look at teams like the Packers and see lots of names that are basically no namers (see Bobs notes on their 25 man offensive roster) you can’t help but realize it comes down to their “scouts & coaching staff”. They really don’t go out like the Eagles for example and get a ton of big name free agents. So I say, “hire away” from them some of their key people!!!!! Maybe the union won’t allow that.

  • December 16, 2011  - ED J says:

    I think Pioli has done C+ job in KC. People going hard on talent, but my thing is his last two drafts are pretty darn good. No one is going argue how how much 2010 draft helped team win division by increasing team speed. Then I think this yr draft class will be potentially even better with at least four or five starters from the draft. Hudson looks really good. So does Baldwin. Then I think at some point Bailey is going to replace Dorsey. He’s a freak of nature once his technique is down that guy is going to be a monster. I think Stanzi could be potential starter if we don’t draft a 1st rd Qb this yr and he just never gets chnace here. Powe I think will be a starting nose tackle for this team I like what I’ve seen from him in preseason and in his 1st game action.

    Either way Pioli needs to hire a head coach that shares his Patriot Way. Haley never fit that mold he was more from Parcells mold and even though Bellichick worked with Parcells even their philosphies were different. That’s why Bellichick bolted to the Patriots two days after telling Parcells and media he would take Jets head coaching job. So this time I truly think Pioli just need get a true Bellichick guy preferably Romeo. I’ve heard so much negativity about Josh McDaniels and how he alienated so many coaches and people in Broncos organization not to mention the players. So I vote for Romeo maybe Josh as off coordintor but based on what I’m seeing out of St Louis right up the road I’d say try to find someone else from Bellichick tree to run this offense.

  • December 16, 2011  - el cid says:

    I guess we can hash the merit of the Chiefs since Hunt dumped /Carl and Co. I suggest fans have strong opinions, a whole lot of insight and smarts, maybe a little nutty but that is a fan.

    The current Chiefs are not all that talented and have no depth. Pioli get some of the credit for the demise of the first “NE way/Chiefs will” plan. Today’s Star is reporting outsiders are saying McDaniel is #2 behind Crennel as HC. I always say a GM needs the HC he wants but McDaniel, COME ON.

    What to do, ride out the rest of this year. Next or sooner, get the best HC you can find. Put together a plan that has a chance in heck of working. Not sure that includes banking 30 in player salaries because there is no one out there worth it for the Chiefs. Lots of work and I am not sure the Chiefs are up for it or will pull the trigger. Hiring McDaniels would be a step back to me.

  • December 16, 2011  - Jimbo says:

    Hard to argue with success. The Packers are not unlike the Patriots when it comes to having a great QB. It is clearly evident that an elite QB on your team can make all the scouts and GM’s look like geniuses with all their subsequent draft picks. I’m not trying to dispense the talent & skill it takes to be successful in this league. Quality scouts & open minded GM’s can find the missing peices to any puzzle when you have a Brady or Rodgers leading the way. Heres a good example. Would you have ever thought the Colts could ever really be this bad without Manning? That their Head Coach’s head is resting on a silver platter? That their so called elite WR’s are just having a bad Sunday 15 weeks in a row?

    We can all agree that an elite QB is the nucleus of sustainable success in the NFL. It is the job of the coaches, staff and owners not to screw it up. The Packers, Colts, Patriots & the Steelers have all had consistent and varying success in the last 10 years. Only the Patriots would be considered a true dynasty. Boy oh Boy what I would’nt give to be a true fan of one of those teams.

    Alas, in the meantime. I’m gonna gear up for the game on Sunday cheering for my favorite team to beat the undefeated Packers. I know it’s not gonna happen. Probably not even gonna be close. I will get the opportunity though to watch one of, if not the best QB’s in the NFL today. I will watch him closely and revel in the thought that the Chiefs are going to have an Aaron Rodgers someday. Hopefully in my lifetime.

    I could’nt get my kids to be die hard Chiefs fans but their is still time for my grand kids. Please Scott Pioli make it so.
    Go Chiefs.

  • December 16, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I saw the odds from a betting service odds on the new head coach. Crennel- 2to1, McDaniels- 3to 1, Ferentz- 7to2, Fisherr- 5to1, and Coweher- 7to1. I’m hoping it’s Crennel and someone else as OC besides McDaniels. It very well could be the other way, McDaniels HC and Crennel DC. The fan base as as a hole is totally against McDaniels. I saw a poll on Arrowhead Pride. I heard Hunt feels the same way about McDaniels because of the fan base.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News