The Green Bay Packers are a draft-and-develop program. Most of their top players -- Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, T.J. Lang, B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk, Morgan Burnett -- were drafted by the organization. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields were signed as undrafted rookie free agents.
"We do believe in developing our own," Thompson said. "It's something that (retired GM) Ron (Wolf) did very successfully. 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."
Thompson started as assistant director of pro personnel in 1992. Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider started as an intern under Wolf in 1992. Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie was hired by Wolf in 1994 as a pro personnel assistant. Now-director of football operations John Dorsey, who started as a college scout in 1991, is scheduled to interview with the New York Jets and has been linked to the Kansas City Chiefs' opening. Wolf's son, Eliot, currently the Packers' director of pro personnel, has worked his way up the ladder since being hired as pro personnel assistant in 2004.
"I think the system is the system, and it's built so you have people that are cross-trained," Thompson said. "We do a lot of that. That's the way we do our draft prep, that's the way we do our free-agent prep. Everybody is involved in it, whether they're on the college side or the pro side.
"While you're very happy when guys get opportunities -- and well-deserved opportunities -- I think it's natural to think, 'It'd be nice if you could keep 'em all together.' It just doesn't work out that way."