The sudden death of VP of football operations Mark Hatley is a huge loss for the Packers. I knew next to nothing of Mark Hatley personally, go read Pat Kirwan's column on nfl.com for some personal background on Mark Hatley, so I will talk about what he did for the Packers.
Jsonline.com described Hatley as the "second in command" of personnel decisions behind Mike Sherman. Although Sherman is technically the GM and Coach, I believe Sherman is the head coach first and he has the final decision on personnel, but Hatley did much of the routine travel and day-to-day grunt work of a GM, because Sherman worked day-to-day as the head coach. I became familar with Hatley while he was in charge of player personnel for Chicago from 1997 to 2001. Hatley might always be remembered in Chicago for his bad decisions to draft RB Curtis Enis and QB Cade McNown in the first rounds, but Hatley did a good job of rebuilding Chicago from stratch after Chicago bottomed out in the mid-1990s post Dave Wannstedt. He drafted Chicago icon LB Brian Urlacher and assembled the great (and lucky) 13-3 Chicago team of 2001. It appears that Chicago improved every offseason under Hatley, and you can't yet say that about current GM Jerry Angelo. All the top players in Chicago over the last 3 seasons (LB Brian Urlacher, S Mike Brown, RB Anthony Thomas, C Olin Kreutz, WR Marty Booker) were drafted and signed during Hatley's tenure.
With the Packers, Hatley contributed to the draft classes of 2002-2004. The 2002 draft class netted star WR Javon Walker along with current Packers DB Marques Anderson, RB Najeh Davenport, and DE Aaron Kampman who are all likely to contribute significantly in 2004 (hopefully QB Brett Favre stays healthy and QB Craig Nall remains firmly on the bench). The 2003 draft class hasn't turned out as well, but it did net star LB Nick Barnett along with possible contributors DT Kenny Peterson and DT James Lee. Overall, the Packers roster has improved since Hatley was hired in 2001, and Hatley deserves credit for it as much as anyone. Hatley's death is a huge loss for the Packers.