The Green Bay Packers made 13 selections during the 2023 NFL Draft. Although the players selected on days one and two had their jersey numbers assigned quickly following their selections, the nine third-day picks had yet to get an official assignment until Monday afternoon.
Now, with one change from the initially-reported digit for one of Friday’s picks, we know what the rookies will be wearing during their first seasons in Green Bay. Let’s take a look at the historical significance of the 13 sets of numbers assigned to these rookies (including #13 itself!) as well as any notable connections for the players themselves.
Here are the numbers assigned to each of the Packers’ draft picks, going in draft order.
Lukas Van Ness: #90
The Packers have had a number of very good pass-rushers who have worn this number, so Van Ness is in good company. Ezra Johnson made it his own in the late 1970s and through much of the ’80s, recording an unofficial 82 sacks with the Packers, then Tony Bennett and Vonnie Holliday donned it for a few years each in the 1990s. More recently, it has tended to be an interior lineman’s number, with B.J. Raji making it a popular jersey number with fans.
For Van Ness, whose college #91 is taken by Preston Smith, 90 is apparently just fine since he wore it in high school.
Luke Musgrave: #88
Musgrave keeps the number 88 that he wore in college at Oregon State, and he will look to keep a strong tight end lineage alive with the double digit. The Packers had one first-team All-Pro tight end who wore 88 back in the Lombardi days in Ron Kramer, while Keith Jackson, Bubba Franks, and Jermichael Finley wore it over the past few decades as well. More recently it has belonged to players at other positions like Ty Montgomery and Juwann Winfree.
Jayden Reed: #11
Reed wore number 1 to finish out his career at Michigan State, and initially the Packers revealed that he would wear that number in Green Bay. However, no Packer has worn number 1 in a regular season game since Curly Lambeau, with the number unofficially retired. Likely for that reason, the team reassigned him the double of that digit.
For much of the Packers’ history, number 11 has been an afterthought. The player with the highest approximate value for his career in Green Bay is punter David Beverly, who kicked for the team from 1975 to 1980. Otherwise it has largely belonged to backup quarterbacks (Matt Hasselbeck and Ty Detmer, among others) and specialists before more recent numbers rules allowed for wide receivers to get numbers from 10-19. Still, the most successful of those was Jarrett Boykin from 2012 to 2014, so Reed will have a chance to be the first Packer to really make this number one to remember.
Tucker Kraft: #85
Like Musgrave, Kraft gets to keep his college number. A couple of receivers in the Packers Hall of Fame have worn number 85, including the first touchdown scorer in Super Bowl history. Max McGee is the all-time leader in Packers AV with that number, narrowly beating out a more modern name in Greg Jennings. Other notable names in this number are wideout Phil Epps (1982-88), Ken Payne (1974-77) and Corey Bradford (1998-2001), but the recently-departed Robert Tonyan is the most recent player to wear it, the first modern tight end to make any substantial contributions in 85.
Colby Wooden: #96
Easily the most well-known and successful Packer to wear number 96 was defensive end Sean Jones. Opposite Reggie White, Jones’ three-year stint from 1994 to 1996 gave the Packers one of the most impressive pair of starting ends in the NFL. The Packers also had a multi-year contributor in Mike Neal wear the number as he bounced around from the interior line to the edge.
Wooden wore a low number in college, #25, because he thought it would be fun to have an unusual number for a defensive lineman. Apparently even though the NFL is relaxing its rules, he’ll be sticking with a more traditional number for a player at his position.
Sean Clifford: #8
Until Amari Rodgers’ arrival in 2021, single digits belonged only to quarterbacks and specialists. Among the former, Tim Boyle and Mark Brunell are notable names, but the most productive players to wear 8 kicked the ball: punter Tim Masthay and kicker Ryan Longwell.
Dontayvion Wicks: #13
Wicks, who wore number 3 in college, could not choose that in Green Bay because it is retired for Tony Canadeo. Instead, he added a tens digit and grabbed Allen Lazard’s old number 13. Before Lazard broke out, however, the Packers’ only notable number 13s in history were kickers Chris Jacke and Chester Marcol and backup quarterback Don Horn.
Karl Brooks: #94
Another small-school pass-rusher is the Packers’ best 94 in history, drafted on day three of the 2000 draft. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila wore 94 en route to setting the Packers’ official career sack record with 74.5 (they were not tracked for part of Ezra Johnson’s career). Two other notable Packers to wear 94 are Dean Lowry, who just departed in free agency for Minnesota, and Charles Martin, whose body-slam of Bears quarterback Jim McMahon is one of the darker moments in Packers history.
Brooks wore number 44 in college, so perhaps the Packers encouraged him to move to something in the 90s, while allowing him to keep the 4 at the end.
Anders Carlson: #17
Davante Adams. Enough said.
A little over a year removed from Adams’ departure, only kickers have received his old digits. Last year it was Ramiz Ahmed, and now it goes to Carlson. It did belong to one other legendary former Packer, however, as Cecil Isbell wore it from 1938 to 1942. A few other notable names to wear 17 were QB David Whitehurst and punter Craig Hentrich.
Carrington Valentine: #37
37 is very much a defensive back number, and it has belonged to three very good ones over the years. Safety Mark Murphy (not the Packers’ president, the other one who played in the 1980s) started for all or parts of nine seasons with the Packers, intercepting 20 passes. In the 90s, it was cornerback Tyrone Williams wearing the digits, as he started from 1997 through 2002. Finally, Sam Shields was a rookie on the Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl team and had a fantastic seven-year run with the team after signing as an undrafted free agent.
Lew Nichols III: #32
Alternately given to defensive backs and running backs, no Packer has made a massive impact in number 32. The closest thing to that would be three-year starting cornerback Dave Brown, who played in Green Bay at the tail end of his career, and third-down running back Brandon Jackson, who led the Packers in rushing during the 2010 Super Bowl campaign.
Anthony Johnson, Jr.: #36
This is the number for a modern-day safety in Green Bay. Originally made famous by running back MacArthur Lane in the early 1970s, Leroy Butler made it a DB number with his Hall of Fame career in the 1990s. A few years after his retirement, the Packers gave 36 to Nick Collins, who continued on with that exceptional play and was potentially on track for a Canton-worthy career until a neck injury ended his career prematurely. Recently, safeties like Raven Greene and Vernon Scott have worn 36, but none have had an impact remotely similar to those two legendary Packers.
Grant DuBose: #86
This is another number that has bounced back and forth between modestly productive tight ends and elite wide receivers. Billy Howton was one of the NFL’s great early wide receivers in the gloom of the Packers’ 1950s doldrums, then he handed the number off to Boyd Dowler, who made two Pro Bowls and starred for the Lombardi-era Packers.
After a productive stint in 86 from tight end Ed West, the number went back to a wide receiver in 1995 when the Packers drafted Antonio Freeman. “Free” helped the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI in his second season, then posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons, with his finest coming in 1998 as he led the NFL in receiving yards and was a first-team All-Pro. Following Freeman’s stint, the Packers had tight end Donald Lee, who was a solid if unspectacular TE2 and finished out his Green Bay career with a win in Super Bowl XLV.