Is draft-and-develop no longer viable?

Coming off yet another early exit from the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers are back to the drawing board.  The Packers have fallen behind the rest of the NFC powers because of their refusal use all of the avenues available to them in building their team. Like Bob McGinn stated this week in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Packers draft-and-develop philosophy is no longer cutting it.

If you agree with McGinn, and I do, it is time for the Packers to use all available avenues to try and close the talent gap between them and the 49ers, Seahawks, Saints and even Panthers. For general manager Ted Thompson, Eddie Lacy is the first player to make a real impact since he drafted Clay Matthews in 2009. Draft-and-develop doesn’t work when you draft poorly and Thompson has drafted poorly the last three years.

The Packers have gotten nothing from their last three first-round picks and have refused to fill in the gaps via free agency, hence early exists in the playoffs to the teams that do sign free agents and do use all avenues to improve their teams. It seems the times have passed Thompson by.

Nowadays the NFL free agent pool isn’t all has-beens or never-beens. The salary cap has caused many teams to release quality players that they would no doubt keep without a cap. McGinn points out about a dozen such players that could have helped the Packers this year that could have been had via free agency or trade.

Ron Wolf always would always say if you make a mistake don’t compound it by not correcting it immediately. Counting on some of these young players to step up is risky, especially if they haven’t shown much promise, as is the case with this year’s first-round pick Datone Jones. Drafting another project is not going to help the Packers, signing a veteran could.

The gist of the McGinn article is that the Packers have not done their due diligence on the pro scouting side of building their team. And without immediate help they will continue to fall behind the NFL’s elite. It’s hard to believe this is happening again after watching the Packers do the same thing when Brett Favre was quarterback. Apparently history does repeat itself.

It will be an interesting offseason and I think Packer nation is going to come down hard on Thompson and McCarthy if the 2014 Packers fail to make the playoffs or flameout again in the first round. Team president Mark Murphy might have to make the first tough personnel decision of his five year tenure.

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