For those of you that still think Thompson doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to the draft:Thompson major draftsman of Seattle's success
He uncovered several gems
By BOB McGINN
Posted: Feb. 1, 2006
Detroit - Ted Thompson's five-year résumé in Seattle convinced club president Bob Harlan to hire him as general manager of the Green Bay Packers.
Twelve months after the fact, the job that Thompson did in Seattle is even more impressive.
Buoyed by the sudden emergence of four key players drafted by Thompson and the coronation of running back Shaun Alexander as the National Football League's most valuable player, the Seahawks have ridden the work of their unassuming former chief architect to Super Bowl XL.
On Sunday, Thompson won't be at Ford Field. He'll be back in Green Bay for the start of month-long draft meetings.
That's fine with him. Thompson's name hasn't even been mentioned this week but that's the way it usually is at the Super Bowl, where the superficial usually reigns supreme.
"I'm very happy for those guys, the players and the equipment guys and all that," Thompson said. "I don't think it makes much sense for me to take a lot of credit. I think we should have won a few more games. But I like the people that we assembled. From where we came to where we were, I think we did pretty good."
Mike Holmgren, then the coach and general manager in Seattle, lured Thompson away from the Packers in January 2000. His title was vice president of football operations, and with rare exception in the drafts from 2000 through 2004 the selections were made by Thompson, according to Seahawks vice president Mike Reinfeldt.
Trading down six times and never once trading up, Thompson ended up with 46 choices in the five drafts, 12 more than the norm. Of those 46 players, three have made the Pro Bowl, 33 started at least one game, 19 are on the current 53-man roster (two are in reserve categories) and all but four played in at least one game.
During Thompson's tenure, the Seahawks posted a 41-41 record and made the playoffs twice.
Thompson's successor, Tim Ruskell, was given clear authority over Holmgren in personnel as president of football operations. From afar, Thompson has admired the job done by Ruskell that includes the drafting of starting linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill.
"I think he's done well," Thompson said. "He was able to make some decisions in terms of getting rid of a couple of bad apples that should have been done before."
While Ruskell put the final touches on a team that stands at 15-3, Thompson has taken his share of the blame for a team that finished 4-12 in Green Bay. Nevertheless, Harlan said he was pleased with Thompson's performance after 12 months and suggested that Seattle's emergence as a powerhouse should encourage Packers fans.
"Ron Wolf said he was the one that built that Seattle team," Harlan said. "I feel very good about his capability for rebuilding this ball club."
Under Thompson, the Seahawks' first-round picks in order were 19, 22, 9, 17, 28, 11 and 23. Alexander and guard Steve Hutchinson are all-pros, cornerback Marcus Trufant is nearing Pro Bowl caliber, tight end Jerramy Stevens has had a break-out season and defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs is much improved.
Reinfeldt said there was no doubt that Chris McIntosh would have been the starting right tackle for a decade if a neck injury hadn't forced him to retire in 2002.
Thompson's highest pick, wide receiver Koren Robinson, averaged 53 receptions and 791 yards over four seasons before off-field problems led to his release June 2. He went to Minnesota, made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner and might enter '06 as the Vikings' top receiver.
Thompson drafted a few busts along the way and didn't fare as well in the later round as did Wolf, his mentor in Green Bay.
"Consistently, Ted did a pretty good getting us good talent," Reinfeldt said. "We got some real, real impact players at 19 with Alexander and at 17 with Hutchinson, ranges you don't really know what you're getting. Ron saved himself in later rounds. Ted hit 50 to 60%, and when guys turn and go to the Pro Bowl, that will get you places."
During Thompson's watch, the Seahawks also traded Ahman Green to the Packers, acquired Matt Hasselbeck from the Packers and conducted free agency. It's more difficult to judge Thompson in those areas because Holmgren and others were so much more involved. The drafts, however, basically were all Thompson's. Here's a closer look at how he fared:
2000 (Nine picks, three starters)
On the day before the draft, Thompson informed Reinfeldt that he was targeting Alexander at 19 and McIntosh at 22. The Seahawks got whom they wanted.
"McIntosh held out for a while but then played very, very well," Thompson said. "I don't think he knew where the training room was at the University of Wisconsin. Some people get hurt."
In the second round, Thompson gave in to the defensive coaching staff and selected defensive back Ike Charlton. He was a bust. Thompson learned a lesson.
Midway in the third round, Thompson made Florida's Darrell Jackson the 15th wide receiver taken. Based on subjective judgment, you could say Jackson has been the most productive.
"He's not as big as Sterling (Sharpe) but he reminded me of Sterling the way he could stick his foot in the ground and come out of breaks," Thompson said.
Linebacker Marcus Bell (fourth round) and defensive tackle John Hilliard (sixth round) hung around for three years and combined for 20 starts. Another fourth-round choice, linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski, is a backup with 22 starts.
2001 (11 picks, four starters)
Armed with the No. 7 pick, Thompson really wanted defensive lineman Richard Seymour. When Seymour went No. 6 to New England, the Seahawks traded down two notches and took Robinson.
"We had an itch for a big receiver," Thompson said. "I feel bad he didn't have more production. He had two really good years and in '04 he struggled. I think he's done a lot to turn his life around."
Hutchinson, probably the best guard in the NFL, was a simple choice for Thompson and turned out precisely as he envisioned.
Cornerback Ken Lucas didn't have a great collegiate career, but the Seahawks took him at No. 40 over defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who went No. 61 to Detroit. Lucas started 47 games in Seattle, then left for Carolina in March with an $8.4 million signing bonus.
"Rogers had a medical concern that we couldn't quite get past," Thompson said. "Lucas turned out to be a good player. We did the right thing."
Three of the last eight selections are out of football, although all but one did play for Seattle. Wide receiver Alex Bannister (fifth round) made the Pro Bowl in '03 as a special-teams player. Linebacker Orlando Huff (fourth round) started 23 games in Seattle, left as a free agent in March and started for Arizona. Center Dennis Norman (seventh round) backed up four years in Seattle, departed in '05 and started down the stretch for Jacksonville.
2002 (10 picks, one starter)
The Seahawks traded down with the Packers, moving from No. 20 to No. 28 and gaining an extra second-round pick. Holmgren wanted a pass-receiving tight end and the pick was Stevens, a character risk who did little for two years but was terrific in '05.
"We messed around trying to trade up for (Jeremy) Shockey," Thompson said, adding that the Seahawks preferred Stevens to tight end Daniel Graham. "Watching (Stevens) the last two years, he's a really good player."
The Seahawks were ready to take running back Clinton Portis with the No. 54 pick but when he went No. 51 to Denver they made an uninspired pick with third-down back Maurice Morris. Anton Palepoi, supposedly a pass-rushing defensive end, was a major blunder. Cornerback Kris Richard (third round) didn't turn out, either.
Later, the Seahawks took defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (fifth round), and he leads the club after 18 games with 10 1/2 sacks. Backup tight end Ryan Hannam (sixth round) is good enough to start for some teams. An undrafted rookie free agent, linebacker D.D. Lewis, is in his first season as a starter.
2003 (Nine picks, two starters)
Trufant rivaled Hutchinson for the easiest pick ever for Thompson. In the second round, the Seahawks hit it big with free safety Ken Hamlin, an immediate impact starter. He played just six games in '05 before suffering career-threatening head injuries in a fight. The Seahawks appear increasingly optimistic that he will play in '06.
Tackle Wayne Hunter (third round) remains a backup, slow to develop but still a legitimate prospect. Undersized Seneca Wallace (fourth) is the No. 2 quarterback.
Josh Brown, the team's dependable kicker, arrived in the seventh round. Injuries ruined the promising career of fullback Chris Davis (fifth round). Nose tackle Rashad Moore (sixth round) started 18 games in two seasons but was cut Sept. 3.
2004 (Seven picks, three starters)
When nose tackle Vince Wilfork slipped, the Seahawks were ready to take him. But the Patriots took him No. 21 so they got Tubbs at No. 23.
In the second round, Thompson gambled by taking Michael Boulware, an outside linebacker he projected to strong safety. So far, Boulware has been a terrific player.
In the third round, Thompson took guard Sean Locklear. When Chris Terry self-destructed and Floyd Womack was injured, the Seahawks plugged in Locklear at right tackle. He has held out very well.
Linebacker Niko Koutouvides (fourth round), wide receiver D.J. Hackett (fifth round) and defensive tackle Craig Terrill (sixth round) contribute as situational substitutes. The Seahawks dumped punter Donnie Jones (seventh round) late in his rookie season after seven shaky games only to watch him lead the NFL in net punting average (39.3) in '05 for Miami.
An undrafted free agent, promising Jordan Babineaux, started four games at cornerback in '05 and will be the nickel back Sunday.