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INDIANAPOLIS — The Packers just won a Super Bowl and are sitting atop the football world. But the potential for a championship hangover is clearly something they're thinking about heading into the 2011 offseason.
Speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday, Packers GM Ted Thompson indicated that there is a downside to sitting atop the NFL.
"Winning comes with some complications," Thompson said. "We'll see how we handle success, we'll see how we handle the fact that we are the reigning world champions. It won't be an easy task; the NFL is a very hard business."
According to the GM, one of those complications is the team's ability to prepare for April's draft, something it usually begins in January but had to delay due to the club's title run. While the Pack gladly will take the trade-off, it does force Thompson and Co. to learn on the fly during their time in Indianapolis and beyond.
But if there is anyone who can handle the adversity, it's Thompson, who has become one of the league's premier drafters during his six seasons as Green Bay's GM. In his first draft, he found Pro Bowlers like QB Aaron Rodgers and S Nick Collins, and he has continued to stockpile talent on draft weekend throughout his tenure. But where did he learn this approach?
"From Ron Wolf, first and foremost," he said. "He's who I went to work for in ’92. I felt like he strongly believed that you build the core of your team around the draft. Certainly free agency is another avenue, but I think you do that more selectively."
The effects of Wolf, a longtime personnel man whose last stop was in Green Bay, are still apparent in the Packers' organization today. The team has built a strong staff of scouts to evaluate players coming out of college, and based on their recent success, it's difficult to argue with the results.
"Our guys do a lot of work," Thompson said. "Almost the entire staff in personnel was trained by Ron Wolf. He believed very strongly in scouting and going to see players and doing due diligence and working just as hard on the seventh-round guys or the free-agent guys as we do on the first-round guys."
With one of the Packers' top needs coming on the defensive line, Thompson added that he wasn't limiting himself to players who played in a 3-4 scheme in college.
"I think you draft players based on if they're good players or not," he said. "If you're a good defensive player in college, we'll find a spot that you can play. There's differences in maybe the physical makeups of them, but if you get a good player, you get a good player."
Thompson has gotten plenty of those during his time in Green Bay, and even though he'll be picking at the bottom of each round in April, he's bound to find a few more.