Ted Thompson hasn’t made a truly significant front office hiring since being named GM eight years ago. In fact, his only additions have been scouts Mike Owen, Glenn Cook, Richmond Williams, John Wojciechowski and Chad Brinker. Director of Football Operations John Dorsey, Director of Pro Personnel Eliot Wolf, Director of College Scouting Brian Gutekunst and Senior Personnel Executive Alonzo Highsmith were already employed by the Packers when Thompson returned from the Great Northwest in January 2005. And there’s no guarantee that Thompson will look outside the organization if and when Dorsey takes the GM job in Kansas City. In fact, he seems inclined to once again stay in-house.
“We do believe in developing our own,” Thompson told Jason Wilde. “It’s something that (retired GM) Ron (Wolf) did very successfully, as you well know. I try to stay pretty close to Ron’s way of thinking as much as I can. We’re all different a little bit. But that’s the way he tried to do things, and that‘s the way we try to do things. It’s good to be able to hire people and let them work within the system and let them grow and expand. I’m very proud of the guys we have had here (who left), and we’re proud of the guys we still have here.”
I suppose Thompson could name Wolf the team’s new director of football operations, but that would be his third promotion since 2011. And at age 30, he’s already the youngest pro personnel director in the NFL. Gutekunst is another thirtysomething with a strong reputation, but like Wolf, he’s only been in his current job for a year. Same for Highsmith, who was a scout in the Southwest region from 1999 until last May.
If I were Thompson, I’d go outside the organization to replace Dorsey. I’d target Scot McCloughan, the former general manager of the 49ers who’s currently working for the Seahawks as a senior personnel executive. In fact, it’s scary how perfectly McCloughan would fit in the Packers front office. Let’s count the ways:
1) He worked with Thompson under Ron Wolf, so he understands the way things are done in the NFL’s smallest market.
2) He served as a GM for two seasons so he has experience dealing with free agents, potential trades and coaches.
3) He’s an extremely solid talent evaluator. Pro Bowlers Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Joe Staley and Dashon Goldson were all drafted on his watch, as was emerging star Michael Crabtree. He also signed All-Pro Justin Smith as a free agent and claimed Ahmad Brooks off the waiver wire from Cincinnati.
That’s what I’d like to see happen, but in all honesty, I’m not holding my breath. Promoting from within is simply the way Thompson does business and it’s worked out pretty darn well. Despite watching John Schneider leave for Seattle in 2010 and Reggie McKenzie bolt for Oakland a year ago, the Packers keep drafting quality players and discovering unknowns like DuJuan Harris, Don Barclay, Erik Walden, Dezman Moses and Sam Shields. So I guess what I’m saying is that Wolf, Highsmith and Assistant Director of Pro Personnel Tim Terry should be expecting better titles and better paychecks in the near future.
-photo by Mark Hoffman