5 Dreadful picks

In the darkness of the offseason, with training camp almost a month away, let’s take a nightmare walk down memory lane. This is my take on the Packers worst 1st round draft picks since 1980. It’s good fodder for debate, and many fans might offer many counter arguments.

My criteria:
• Was the player a true bust, or just not great?
• How many good or great players did the Packers pass on to take him?
• Did his selection set the franchise back long-term?

Many players were just ok or drafted so late in the 1st it’s hard to judge. Others were victims of great players drafted around them. Others were simply busts.

5- DE Vonnie Holliday 1998

Drafted 19th overall in 1998, Vonnie Holliday was not a bust. In fact, he had a respectable 15-year NFL career. He was a decent starting defensive end in Green Bay but was never great. Two picks later the Minnesota Vikings selected Randy Moss. A few picks after that, Pittsburgh drafted Alan Faneca. It’s not often that 2-Hall of Famers go so late in the 1st round.

The next season Ron Wolf drafted 3-defensive backs mainly to deal with Moss. More importantly, is there any doubt Green Bay would have won another Super Bowl with Brett Favre and Randy Moss in his prime?

4-DT Justin Harrell 2007

The 16th overall pick in 2007, Harrell was Ted Thompson’s worst top pick ever. Harrell brought a special combination of being injury prone and not very good. Darrelle Revis and Greg Olson went later in the 1st.

3-DE Jamal Reynolds 2001

Reynolds was too small and lacked talent. Somehow, then GM Mike Sherman thought Reynolds was worthy of the 10th overall pick. Reynolds is the definition of bust. Additionally, the Packers passed on Reggie Wayne and Steve Hutchinson who went on to be Hall of Famers, as well as Deuce McCallister and Ryan Pickett. To find a worse Packer drafter than Mike Sherman, you’d have to go all the way back to Bart Starr.

2-OT Tony Mandarich 1989

ORG XMIT: MPID5441969 Tony Mandarich, Historical, 9/8/91

Many would rank Mandarich the worst ever Packer draft pick. Not me. The hype machine around Mandarich was made “bigger than life” by a pre-draft SI cover story. Taken 2nd overall in 1989, some experts thought he should have gone first, ahead of Troy Aikman. Were the experts ever more wrong? At the time, those experts said the athletic freak was a generational left tackle. It turns out his hype was built on steroids. It’s bad when you’re a bust, which he was. It’s so much worse when Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders and Steve Atwater are taken after you. Still, I can’t blame the Packers for taking the guy pretty much every NFL team would have taken.

1-QB Rich Campbell 1981

Back when coaches spoke a more freely, offensive coordinator Bob Schnelker said Campbell didn’t have an NFL arm during his rookie camp. Campbell quickly proved him correct. The Campbell pick sealed the Packers into QB purgatory through most of the 1980’s.

According to Packer’s historian Cliff Christl, player personnel director Dick Corrick pleaded with then GM Bart Starr, to take Ronnie Lott.  Would the 49ers 80’s success and the Packers perennial losing have flipped had the Packers taken Lott? We’ll never know.

Honorable mention, taking Alphonso Carreker over Boomer Esiason and Keith Millard in 1984, taking Brent Fulwood ahead of Jerome Brown and Rod Woodson in 1987, taking Kevin King (albeit in the 2nd round) over TJ Watt or Ryan Ramczyk in 2017.

Next up the 5 greatest Packer #1 draft picks since 1980.

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