The Green Bay Packers have nine new players coming to the team from the 2020 NFL Draft this week, and with those picks in, the team has assigned jersey numbers to the entire group.
Some members of the 2020 draft class received numbers that belonged to stellar players in Packers history, giving them big shoes to fill. Others have the opportunity to forge new history in their digits. But only two will wear the same numbers that they did in college, including the team’s top pick.
Here’s a look at the newest Packers’ numbers for 2020.
Jordan Love: #10
Wide receiver Darrius Shepherd wore number 10 last year, and still had those digits heading into the draft. However, the Packers have reassigned him number 9 for the time being (he will of course need a double-digit number again if he makes the regular season roster) so Love can have his college number in the pros.
Another notable Packers backup quarterback wore #10 in recent years: Matt Flynn. It also was Lynn Dickey’s number for his first three years in Green Bay before he switched to 12 for the remainder of his career. But the player with the highest Approximate Value while wearing 10 for the Packers was actually a kicker: Jan Stenerud, who amassed an AV of 15 from 1980 to 1983.
A.J. Dillon: #28
The number 28 has belonged to defensive backs for most of the Packers’ existence, with only a handful of running backs getting that number. Most recently it was Tony Brown’s number in 2018 and 2019, and before that it belonged to the likes of Josh Hawkins, Sean Richardson, Ahmad Carroll, and Matt Bowen.
However, the best number 28 in Packers history has no competition for that title. That would be cornerback Willie Buchanon, the 7th overall pick and AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1972. Buchanon played seven seasons in Green Bay, amassing an AV of 50, 21 interceptions, two Pro Bowl appearances, and one first-team All-Pro honor (in 1978).
Josiah Deguara: #81
Geronimo Allison’s old number now belongs to a tight end, but given that Deguara will play a lot of H-back, I personally was hoping he would get a number in the 40s instead. Still, the number has belonged to both receivers (like Koren Robinson and Anthony Morgan) and tight ends (Marv Fleming, Andrew Quarless) over the years, with the biggest contribution coming from tight end Rich McGeorge in the 1970s.
Of course, 81 was also Desmond Howard’s number in 1996 when he won the MVP award in Super Bowl XXXI.
Kamal Martin: #54
A staple number for preseason star linebackers in recent years, number 54 most recently belonged to special teamer James Crawford in 2018. It also passed through the hands of linebackers like Brandon Chillar, Dezman Moses, Victor Aiyewa, and Carl Bradford during the latter Ted Thompson Era.
In the 1990s, it was also a linebacker’s number. Bernardo Harris wore 54 as a rookie before switching to 55, while Ron Cox and Seth Joyner took 54 for their one-year stints in Green Bay. Nate Wayne also wore 54 for his three years as a starter in the early 2000s.
However, the title of best 54 in Packers history belongs to a man still employed by the organization. That is none other than Larry McCarren, who started at center for 12 of his 13 years as a Packers player and who amassed an impressive AV of 72.
Jon Runyan, Jr.: #76
While Runyan’s father wore 69 in the pros, that number is already occupied. Curiously, the Packers did not assign the younger Runyan number 75 — Bryan Bulaga’s former number and Runyan, Jr.’s college number at Michigan. Instead, he gets 76, which has quite a storied history with notable players on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Packers.
On the defensive side, this was Mike Daniels’ number for several years over the past decade. However, his AV of 40 lags behind another defensive tackle, Mike McCoy, who amassed an AV of 46 in his seven years with the Packers in the 1970s. Alphonso Carreker also wore 76, amassing 18.5 sacks in five seasons, including nine in 1985. But these defensive linemen lag behind two Pro Bowl offensive tackles, each of whom started on the left side for over a decade.
The first was Bob Skoronski, who was a steady presence at left tackle from 1956 to 1968, with one year at center. But Chad Clifton, a second-round pick in 2000, is unquestionably the best player to wear 76 in a Packers uniform, starting for 12 years and making two Pro Bowls en route to an AV of 92.
Jake Hanson: #67
Flipping the digits on Runyan’s 76, Hanson’s number has a much less-storied history with the Packers. Virtually every player to wear this number was an offensive lineman, with a few minor exceptions, such as nose tackle Russell Maryland in 2000.
The most recent notable player to wear 67 was backup lineman Don Barclay, who started at right tackle for the Packers in 2013 when Bryan Bulaga was out with a torn ACL. Left tackle Karl Swanke protected Lynn Dickey’s blind side in the mid-1980s, and holds the AV lead at 33.
Simon Stepaniak: #72
Stepaniak joins Love as the only players to wear the same number in Green Bay that they did in college football.
Since 2000, Jason Spitz is the most notable Packer to wear 72, doing so for five years from 2006 to 2010. However, my memory of this number immediately goes to Earl Dotson, the Packers’ starting right tackle during the Super Bowl years in the 1990s. Dotson started from 1995 to 1999, and his injury early in the 2000 season helped a 7th-round pick out of Wisconsin — Mark Tauscher — get into the starting lineup. Dotson then backed up Tauscher for two seasons, filling in for an injured Tausch with 11 starts in 2002 before his retirement.
Dotson’s AV of 49 beats another right tackle, Dick Himes (Forrest Gregg’s replacement in the 1970s) and his 43 for the top mark.
Vernon Scott: #36
LeRoy Butler and Nick Collins. The discussion about number 36 starts and ends with those two tremendous safeties. A few other players have had it over the years — Raven Greene did in 2018 before switching to 24 this past season and running back MacArthur Lane wore 36 in the early 70s — but this number will forever belong to the two safeties.
Collins was the Packers’ second-round pick in 2005, taken one round after Aaron Rodgers, and he made three straight Pro Bowls from 2008 to 2010 before a neck injury in 2011 ended his career. Butler’s career met a similar end, but his peak was even longer and brighter, with four first-team All-Pro honors in the 1990s.
Jonathan Garvin: #53
Nick Perry’s old number goes to Garvin, but the Packers had three other very good linebackers who wore these digits over the years. First up was Fred Carr, the AV leader with 70, who started from 1970 to 1977. A first-round pick in 1968, Carr made three Pro Bowls in his ten years with the Packers as the right-side linebacker.
In 1978, the year that Carr retired, the Packers gave 53 to a fifth-round pick named Mike Douglass. Like Carr, Douglass started on the right side for the better part of a decade, reaching his peak in the 1983 and ‘84 seasons, when he totaled 14.5 sacks and six fumble recoveries, two going for touchdowns.
The 1990s saw the Packers find another linebacker who started for most of a decade in George Koonce. Koonce played all over the unit, lining up at all three 4-3 linebacker positions. He was the middle linebacker in 1996 when the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI, playing between Brian Williams and Wayne Simmons, but he did not play in the Super Bowl, having suffered an injury in the Divisional playoff win over the 49ers. Koonce returned late in 1997, then spent two more years as a starter for the Packers before finishing his career with Mike Holmgren in Seattle for the 2000 season.