The Green Bay Packers have been around for a very long time. As one of the NFL’s oldest franchises, the team has picked at just about any location imaginable in the NFL Draft, which began in 1936 — 17 years after the Packers’ founding in 1919.
With a week to go before the 2023 NFL Draft, the Packers are set up with ten selections, starting at #15 overall and running all the way down to number 256. The team has made at least one pick at each of those ten slots at some point in franchise history, with one particular spot seeing the team draft there a whopping ten times in the past.
Let’s take our annual look back into franchise history to see which players, both notable and not-so-notable, have headed to Green Bay at each of these picks.
Over all ten of the picks that the Packers currently hold, only one has ever seen the team draft a Pro Football Hall of Famer. That slot is the team’s current first-round pick at #15 overall, and the player was running back Jim Taylor.
The 15th pick was actually a second-rounder back in 1958, when the team drafted Taylor, so he was the team’s second selection behind first-round linebacker Dan Currie. What a draft that was for the Packers — they actually ended up with three Hall of Famers in their first five picks, as they selected Ray Nitschke with the 36th pick and Jerry Kramer at #39.
Six years earlier, the Packers found an All-Pro receiver with the 15th pick, selecting Billy Howton from Rice University. Like in ‘58, the team would get another Hall of Famer later in the form of DB Bobby DIllon (28 overall), but Howton was an exceptional player. He set the NFL rookie record for touchdown receptions with 13 while leading the league in receiving yards with 1,231. Howton would go on to earn back-to-back first-team All-Pro honors in 1956 and 1957 while catching passes from Tobin Rote and Bart Starr.
More recently, the Packers drafted linebacker Wayne Simmons in 1993, finding a key piece of their mid-1990s defense. Simmons started for the team through to 1997, when he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.
1979 saw the Packers use the 15th pick on another running back, Eddie Lee Ivery from Georgia Tech. Ivery became a quality dual-threat back and formed part of a tremendous tandem with Gerry Ellis in 1980. That year, Ivery ran for over 800 yards and had nearly 500 yards receiving, narrowly beating James Lofton for the team lead in yards from scrimmage. He dealt with some injuries throughout his 8-year career, but finished with nearly 3,000 rushing yards and over 1,600 receiving yards.
The Packers have picked at 15 two other times in team history, selecting offensive tackle Bob Fleck in 1954 and linebacker Dan Dworsky in 1949. Fleck never appeared in an NFL game, while Dworsky didn’t make the Packers, instead playing 11 games for the AAFC’s Los Angeles Dons in 1949.
Remarkably, the Packers have only used the 45th overall pick twice in franchise history, but unfortunately neither player drafted there had any significant long-term impact for the team. In 1966, the team selected defensive tackle Fred Heron out of San Jose State, but he never played for the franchise, instead landing with the St. Louis Cardinals. There he would play seven seasons, with a handful as a starting tackle.
The more recent pick came in 2018, when the Packers double-dipped at cornerback after drafting Jaire Alexander in round one. Round two saw the team select Iowa’s Josh Jackson, who was a bit of a one-year wonder for the Hawkeyes as a junior. Jackson intercepted eight passes and broke up ten more in Iowa’s zone-heavy scheme in 2017, but he struggled to transition to the NFL. Jackson started ten games as a rookie and another five in 2020, but he never lived up to the hype and was traded to the New York Giants during training camp in 2021. He has since bounced around to a handful of different teams and is currently a free agent.
The Packers have only used the 78th overall pick three times in history. The first two players, OT Norm Verry (1943) and DB John Rowser (1967), did little with the Packers — though Rowser was a backup on the Packers’ Super Bowl II team and he became a quality starter over six seasons for the Steelers and Broncos.
The most recent 78th pick by Green Bay was the best and most well-known, however, as the team used that selection to draft wide receiver James Jones out of San Jose State. Jones played heavily as a rookie, catching 47 of 80 targets for 676 yards and two touchdowns in Brett Favre’s final season with the Packers. His production dipped a bit in his second and third seasons as Aaron Rodgers took over under center, but the 2010 campaign brought Jones back to a 600-yard level, a mark he would hit every season from 2010 through his final year in 2015.
A physical receiver who excelled on contested catches and back-shoulder throws, Jones caught 14 touchdowns in 2012 to lead the NFL. He left Green Bay for a single season with the Oakland Raiders in 2014, then returned to the Packers for his final season in 2015 after Jordy Nelson tore his ACL. Jones set a career-high in receiving yards (890) and yards per catch (17.8) that year, though his low catch rate drove down many of his efficiency marks.
Still, Jones was an excellent secondary or tertiary receiving option for his entire career with the Packers, and he has remained a great ambassador for the franchise in his retirement. Jones now works for NFL Network as an analyst, often weighing in on the Packers’ moves.
The Packers have drafted 116th a whopping ten times in their history, finding a pair of notable multi-year starters at that spot. The 1974 Packers picked wide receiver/return man Steve Odom out of Utah, who would make a Pro Bowl in 1975 as a kickoff returner. The 5-foot-8 Odom was the team’s primary kick returner for five-plus seasons before a midseason trade to the New York Giants in 1979. Odom recorded two kickoff return scores in his career and led the NFL with a 27.1-yard average in 1978, while also pitching in as a receiver and posting a 95-yard receiving touchdown in 1977 — the longest in the NFL that season.
Before Odom’s penultimate season in 1978, the Packers used the 116th pick again to select linebacker Mike Douglass from San Diego State. Douglass earned the nickname “Mad Dog” over an 8-year Packers career that saw him in the starting lineup from 1979 through 1985. Douglass posted an unofficial 9.5 sacks in 1981 (the last year before sacks became an official stat) then added another 9 in 1984.
Only two of the other eight players the Packers have drafted at 116 ever played a game in the NFL, however. One was offensive tackle Bill Hayhoe (1969), who filled in as the team’s starting left tackle during the 1972 and ‘73 seasons; the other was defensive back Bill Roffler (1952), who made three appearances for the Philadelphia Eagles two years later. Other names drafted at 116 include LB Darrell Reed (1988), DT Dwight Hood (1967), back Bob Laughery (1956), guard Vic Rimkus (1953), and center Tom Hand (1946).
The Packers made a pair of dynamite draft picks at #149 overall with their two most recent uses of that selection. In 1994, the Packers drafted Dorsey Levens there, and although he barely played as a rookie, he exploded as a receiving complement to fullback Edgar Bennett in his second season, posting 48 receptions for 434 yards and four touchdowns.
The Benett-Levens tandem helped lead the Packers to a Super Bowl win in 1996, but Bennett suffered a torn Achilles tendon early in training camp the next summer. Levens took over as the Packers’ feature back for the 1997 campaign, stepping up to post 1,435 rushing yards — a number that ranked as the second-most in a single season in Packers history behind only Jim Taylor in 1962. (Ahman Green would set a new team record a few years later.)
Levens broke his leg early in the 1998 season, missing most of the year, but returned to post another 1,000-yard season in 1999. The offseason trade for Ahman Green in 2000 and another injury-marred season for Levens gave Green the featured role, and Levens eventually left Green Bay for the Eagles in 2002 after an excellent 8-year Packers career.
Before that 2000 season, the Packers used the 149th pick once again and found another name that would find its way into the team’s record books. A light, lean pass-rusher out of San Diego State followed a similar career trajectory to Levens, playing sparingly as a rookie before bursting onto the scene as a rotational player in year two. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila put up 13.5 sacks in 2001, the first of four straight seasons with double-digit sacks as he went on to retire after the 2008 season as the Packers’ all-time sack leader (according to official statistics).
The rest of the players taken at 149 prior to Levens is an uninspiring group, consisting of the following players: RB Walter Dean (1991), DB Tim Moresco (1977), DB Paul Winslow (1960), and backs Ed Adams (1955), Tom Kinkade (1942), Ray Andrus (1940), and Roy Bellin (1939). Only Moresco played more than one season in the NFL, sticking around with the Packers and Jets as a backup for four seasons.
As was the case at #45, the Packers have used the 170th pick just twice in the team’s history. They first selected guard Charley Cusick in 1944, but he did not play an NFL game.
1995 saw the team add a player who would be a stalwart of the special teams units for the next four seasons. Travis Jervey came out of The Citadel and was the 170th pick that season, and he instantly gave coverage teams a jolt. A running back by trade, Jervey was rarely used on offense behind Levens and Bennett, but he did start a handful of games in 1998 after Levens’ broken leg. His best game as a rusher came against the San Francisco 49ers in week 9, as he ran for 95 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. However, he broke his ankle the next week and was lost for the season.
Perhaps in part due to that big performance, Jervey signed with the 49ers that following offseason and played another five years — two with San Francisco and three with Atlanta — before calling it a career after 2003.
Green Bay has used the 232nd overall pick twice in the last decade. Most recently, the team selected defensive lineman James Looney out of Cal in 2018. He played three games as a rookie and was briefly moved to tight end but was out of the league before the 2020 season. Linebacker Sam Barrington was the 232nd pick in 2013, and he took over as a starter at inside linebacker for half a season in 2014. Barrington was slated to be a starter in 2015 but injured his foot in the season opener and missed the rest of the season, then was waived at final cuts after 2016’s training camp.
Green Bay’s only other use of pick 232 came in 1947, when they selected back Fred Redeker. He did not play in an NFL game.
The Packers’ lone use of pick 235 came in 1979, when they drafted Utah State tight end John Thompson. Thompson played in 34 games over four seasons with the team, catching two passes — both touchdowns — for a total of 24 yards.
Current Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst loves to use his 7th-round draft picks, and he made a pick at 242 in 2020 when he selected edge rusher Jonathan Garvin out of Miami. Garvin has suited up in 38 games over the past three seasons as a backup pass rusher and special teamer, recording a total of 1.5 sacks (all coming in 2021).
20 years earlier in 2000, the Packers drafted wide receiver Charles Lee out of Central Florida. He caught a handful of passes over 22 games with the Packers. In 2002, he landed with the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and ended up totaling over 600 receiving yards across the 2003 and 2004 seasons before playing a final season with the Arizona Cardinals in 2005.
The Packers also drafted UW-Stevens Point quarterback Kirk Baumgartner in 1990 and offensive lineman Keith Wortman in 1972. Baumgartner didn’t stick in the NFL, but Wortman spent a few years in Green Bay as a backup and fill-in starter before moving on to the St. Louis Cardinals for another six years, including two as a starting tackle and guard.
Another recent seventh-round pick comes at 256, as the Packers selected running back Kylin Hill from Mississippi State at that spot in 2021. Hill was the team’s #3 running back and kickoff returner for the first half of his rookie season before tearing his ACL, then he came back for a brief stint in 2022 but was released during the middle of the season.
Green Bay also drafted wide receiver Carl Ford (2003), quarterback Bud Keyes (1988), running back Larry Key (1978), and back Ed Holtsinger (1946) at 256. Only Ford ever played an NFL game, suiting up for ten games with the Chicago Bears in 2005.