By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on March 27, 2014
The Green Bay Packers have had some bad luck when it comes to selecting players in the first round of the NFL Draft. Sure, they’ve hit on a few big-named players. Unfortunately, there are more misses than fans would like to admit or know about. It should be noted that all players on this list were first round selections. Check out the 10 biggest draft blunders in Packers history.
Terrell Buckley played professional baseball for one season while he also played for the Packers in the early ‘90s. This led him to publicly state that he was the Jim Thorpe of the second half century. Yes, that Jim Thorpe. Buckley actually had a decent career, but the problem was that he never lived up to the hype in Green Bay. He recorded interceptions and forced fumbles. However, he also gave up way more touchdowns than it was worth.
Barty Smith’s stellar collegiate career never transitioned to the professional level the way Green Bay had hoped it would. As a running back from 1974-‘80, the Packers were hoping for a solid ground game out of Smith, who failed to find the end zone on a consistent basis. His career average of 3.6 yards per carry pretty much sums it up.
The Packers wanted Ray Lewis in ’96. Instead, they got John Michels. The offensive tackle started nine games in Green Bay’s Super Bowl season, but his inability to play at a high level got him benched. A knee injury in ’97 changed the path of his career forever, as he was never able to live up to his stature as a first round draft pick.
Ahmad Carroll was a direct result of Green Bay’s unforgettable 4th-and-26 against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional playoff loss in 2003. The idea was to immediately turn around the Packers’ horrendous secondary, which ranked 23rd in the league that season. Unfortunately, Carroll didn’t accomplish much in his short career. He was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars after just three years in Green Bay.
Wide receiver Barry Smith hauled in just 41 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns in his three years with the Packers. Granted, the quarterback position was a bit of a question mark at that time, which didn’t help his cause. With that being said, Smith still never performed at the level Green Bay thought he would. His lack of speed and size didn’t help.
The Packers moved up seven spots in the 2001 NFL Draft after a trade with the Seattle Seahawks to select Jamal Reynolds. The defensive end recorded just three sacks, 16 tackles and never started a game. Even more depressing is that he lasted only three years in the league.
Another first round draft pick that lasted just three years in the NFL was quarterback Jerry Tagge. In 18 career games (12 starts), he completed 48.4 percent of his passes for 1,583 yards, three touchdowns and a whopping 17 interceptions. Tagge was the first of three horrendous first round draft picks from 1972-’74. The other two players were Barry Smith and Barty Smith.
Justin Harrell was selected in the same round in which the Lions drafted Calvin Johnson, the Vikings selected Adrian Peterson and the Bears got Greg Olsen. Three players who are incredibly productive and then Harrell who played 14 games in three years before washing out of the league. His stat sheet is completely blank, with the exception of the 17 tackles. By far, Ted Thompson’s worst draft pick as the general manager of the Packers.
Rich Campbell was supposed to be the next big thing in Green Bay after the Bart Starr era. Instead, the quarterback amounted to nothing. In seven career games over four years, he completed 45.6 percent of his 68 pass attempts for 386 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions. The 1980s were rough for Packers fans and Campbell definitely didn’t help.
You’re not a true Packers fan if the name Tony Mandarich doesn’t make you feel sick to your stomach. Green Bay selected the offensive tackle with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1989 draft. To make matters worse, Hall of Famers Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders go No. 3, 4 and 5 right after him. There’s no question he’s the biggest draft bust in franchise history.
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