What Green Bay Packers Would Have Had If they Didn't Select Tony Mandarich

Tim SeemanAnalyst IApril 29, 2009

DETROIT - DECEMBER 23:  Barry Sanders smiles from the sideline during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions on December 23, 2007 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo byGregory Shamus/Getty Images)

We've all heard how bad the Green Bay Packers screwed up the 1989 NFL Draft by taking steroid-inflated offensive tackle Tony Mandarich with the second overall pick.  

Productive NFL players like Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders, and Steve Atwater were drafted after him, all of whom would have improved the Packers defense at the time.

Perhaps the player that would've impacted Green Bay the most had they drafted him instead of Mandarich is Barry Sanders, who went third to the Detroit Lions.

This is a guy who went to the Pro Bowl in every year of his career.  He amassed 15,269 yards in only ten years, meaning he averaged over 1,500 yards per season. He infamously retired from the Lions in 1998 because of their continued ineptitude, approximately 1,500 yards shy of the NFL career rushing record held at the time by Walter Payton.

So what if Green Bay had scooped him up in 1989?  Immediately, the Packers would've had two of the greatest offensive players of the 1990's on their roster in Sterling Sharpe and Sanders.  And in a few short years, the Packers would also be trading for a third great offensive player of the decade in Brett Favre.

Favre, Sharpe, and Sanders...a potential cornerstone for the most prolific offense of all-time.  Alas, the Packers did take Mandarich and Sterling Sharpe had to cut his career short, but it can be fun to imagine what kinds of numbers these guys would've put up in say, 1995 or 1996, when all three would've been in their primes.