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Best and worst of Ted Thompson's drafts: Linebackers

4/24/2015

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Ted Thompson has picked 96 players in the 10 drafts he has run as general manager of the Green Bay Packers. Like any personnel man who makes the final call, he has had his share of hits and misses.

Leading up to the start of the draft on Thursday, we will examine Thompson's best and worst picks at each position group.

So far, we've covered quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen and defensive linemen.

Next up, linebackers.

Total players selected: 14 – Brady Poppinga, Kurt Campbell, Abdul Hodge, A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Brad Jones, Clay Matthews, D.J. Smith, Ricky Elmore, Nick Perry, Terrell Manning, Sam Barrington, Nate Palmer, Carl Bradford.

Best pick: Matthews

Thompson doesn't trade up often, but he moved up into the first round in 2009 to take Matthews at No. 26 overall. Matthews already ranks third in franchise history with 61 sacks and has led the Packers in sacks in each of his six NFL seasons. He became the first player in team history to earn Pro Bowl recognition in each of his first four seasons and has made it five times overall. In 2010, he finished second in the league to Troy Polamalu for defensive player of the year. Last season, he showed his versatility by adding inside linebacker duties to his job description.

Honorable mention: Hawk

Worst pick: Hodge

A third-round pick in 2006 (No. 67 overall), Hodge started only one game in his NFL career. He played in just eight for the Packers as a rookie. He missed all of the 2007 season because of a knee injury and then was released shortly before the 2008 season. He played parts of the next two seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals in a backup role and then played five games for the Carolina Panthers in 2010.

Dishonorable mention: Elmore, Manning

Notes: Some view Hawk as a bad pick at No. 5 overall in 2006, but he made a Pro Bowl, started on a Super Bowl-winning team and played in 142 of a possible 144 games over nine seasons until he was released earlier this year. … Thompson has used three first-round picks on linebackers – Hawk, Matthews and Perry. ... Palmer (sixth round, 2013) and Bradford (fourth round, 2014) started as outside linebackers but were moved to the inside spot.