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Lull before the Draft storm

by Mark Daniels
For the next couple of weeks, Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson and his chief personnel lieutenants will huddle in dark rooms and watch DVD after DVD of potential draft prospects.  The NFL's annual selection meeting begins with Round 1 Thursday, April 25.  The second and third rounds will be picked on Friday night the 26th with the final four rounds on Saturday, April 27.  Thompson and his team already have a pretty good handle on how their draft board looks.  It takes up an entire wall of the Lambeau meeting room where Thompson and Mike McCarthy will orchestrate the Pack's eight choices over seven rounds.    There is the vertical list, ranking each player based on the scouting department grades.  Then there is the horizontal list.  Here's where it will get a bit more interesting.   Players are ranked across the various positions.  For instance, is this first round linebacker rated higher or lower than our first round offensive tackle or safety?  This is how Thompson ultimately decides on the best player available when the Packers go on the clock.  As the draft proceeds, a player the Packers have rated in, let's say the the third round, even if Thompson has selected his third round pick, is still on the board, the GM may get the itch to pull off a trade up or down  in the hopes he's still there when it's time for the next choice.   Every team's board is different, their grades on players differ, sometimes dramatically.  The body type of an athlete, the system he played and the one's he's going to learn are all factors.  All the scouting reports are in, the medical information has been compiled, interviews have been conducted and a handful of prospects will even come to Green Bay for a personal visit and tour in the coming days.   Thompson is quietly putting the final touches on his comprehensive draft board in advance of arguably the most important weekend of the GM's year.