The Worst 1st-Round Picks by the Green Bay Packers Since 1980
The Green Bay Packers have won more championships than any other team in NFL history. Since 1992, the Pack have been consistent winners and part of the reason for the team's success has been their shrewd use of the NFL draft.
But no team hits on all of its picks. Even a winning organization like the Packers makes its share of mistakes. Sometimes, a player just isn't as good as advertised. On other occasions, the draftee doesn't fit in well with the team's system and sometimes, injuries spoil a potentially promising career.
Here is a look back at the Packers' worst first-round draft picks since 1980. Players are ranked according to a combination of expectations, how high the player was drafted and how poorly they actually performed on the football field once they got to Green Bay.
Bruce Clark, who refused to play for the Packers after they drafted him in 1980, is not included on this list. He signed in Canada and his rights were later dealt to the New Orleans Saints. But because he never played for the Pack, it's impossible to compare his value against any other drafted player.
Feel free to comment on any player on this list or to mention a player you feel deserved to be here but did not appear. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
7. John Michels
The Packers grabbed OT John Michels with the 27th overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft.
Michels was a tall lineman at 6'7" and 300 pounds. He had a successful career at USC and was expected to add depth to the Green Bay offensive line.
Michels became a starter at left tackle during his rookie season when veteran Ken Ruettgers suffered a season-ending injury, but coach Mike Holmgren was concerned about Michels' ability to protect Brett Favre's blindside. Late in the season, Holmgren benched his rookie tackle and replaced him with veteran backup Bruce Wilkerson.
Michels was a member of the 1996 Super Bowl winning team, but he did not start any playoff games or in Super Bowl XXXI.
The following season, Michels re-gained the starting job in training camp, but his season ended when he suffered a knee injury after just five games.
Injuries then ended Michels' career. Another knee injury forced him to sit out all of 1998 and in 1999, the Packers traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles.
While injuries were a big reason for Michels' lack of NFL success, he did win a Super Bowl ring during his brief NFL career.
Michels played 24 total games for the Packers, starting 14, but he never developed into the player Green Bay hoped for when it drafted him.
6. Justin Harrell
The Packers drafted Tennessee DE Justin Harrell with the 16th pick in the 2007 NFL draft.
From the start, injuries were a factor for the 6'5", 300-pound lineman. He missed OTAs due to an injury he suffered in college and then reported to training camp overweight and out of shape.
Harrell played in parts of three seasons with the Pack. He appeared in a total of only 14 games and started only two, but he never recorded a sack.
Back and knee injuries hampered his development and he never really got a chance to live up to his potential. Harrell was out of football after playing one game in 2010.
5. Vinnie Clark
Former Ohio State DB Vinnie Clark joined the Packers in 1991. The Pack made Clark the 19th overall pick in that year's draft.
Clark was a classic "tweener" as a defensive back. He didn't have the ability to play man-to-man coverage in the NFL and he lacked the size and tackling skills to be a top safety.
Clark lasted just two seasons in Green Bay, alternating between the two positions. He played in all 32 games during those two campaigns but started just 15 of them.
Clark intercepted two passes each year he was in Green Bay and returned one punt.
By 1993, Clark was no longer a Packer. He lasted four more seasons in the NFL, playing for three other teams and was out of the NFL entirely by 1997.
4. Ahmad Carroll
Ahmad Carroll was another first-round defensive back drafted by the Packers who never quite panned out.
The Pack selected Carroll with the 25th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. At 5'10" and 190 pounds, the former Arkansas star was small but fast. Unfortunately, he never lived up to his promise in the NFL.
Carroll earned a starting job by the end of his rookie season and started all 16 games in 2005. But his lack of size and tendency to take bad angles to the ball caused him to take too many penalties for illegal contact or pass interference.
By 2006, the Packers had seen enough. After Greg Lewis of the Philadelphia Eagles torched Carroll for two long touchdown passes in Week 4 and Carroll was called for three big penalties, the Packers released him.
Carroll played two more seasons as a backup in the NFL before his career ended. He goes down as a bust as a first-round pick.
3. Jamal Reynolds
The Packers selected DE Jamal Reynolds with the 10th overall selection in the 2001 NFL Draft. Green Bay acquired the pick from the Seattle Seahawks in the deal that sent QB Matt Hasselbeck to Seattle.
Reynolds was an All-American at Florida State, but he never found his groove in Green Bay. Injuries hampered Reynolds' development and the emergence of Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila made it tough for Reynolds to crack the lineup.
In parts of three seasons with the Pack, Reynolds played in 18 games but never started one. He had a total of 12 unassisted tackles and three sacks.
The Packers released him after the 2003 season. He never played in another NFL game after that.
2. Rich Campbell
Rich Campbell was touted as the next great QB by the Packers when they selected him with the sixth overall selection in the 1981 NFL Draft.
The former California product had it all on paper. He had a strong arm and at 6'4" and 224 pounds, he had the size most scouts look for at the position.
But Campbell never developed into a quality NFL quarterback. In fact, he never started a single game during his brief NFL career.
In 1981, Campbell was stuck behind both Lynn Dickey and David Whitehurst on the Green Bay depth chart. Campbell finally got his chance to play in Week 12 in Tampa Bay when both Dickey and Whitehurst were out with injuries. Unfortunately, the results were far from promising. Campbell threw four interceptions and completed only 15-of-30 passes for 168 yards. The Packers lost 37-3.
The highlight of Campbell's NFL career came in 1984 when he came off the bench to lead the Packers to a 20-14 upset win over the Chicago Bears. The Bears would win the Super Bowl one year later and had one of the league's best defenses. Campbell threw up a 43-yard desperation touchdown pass to Phillip Epps with just 34 seconds remaining to get the Packers an upset win.
Campbell was out of football before the 1985 season started. He appeared in only seven games, threw three touchdown passes and nine interceptions and completed only 45.6 percent of his passes during his undistinguished NFL career.
In the final analysis, the Packers spent the sixth overall pick in the draft on a player who was a very good college quarterback, but he didn't have what it took to compete at the next level.
For the record, the next two players picked after Campbell in 1981 were linebacker Hugh Green, who played in two Pro Bowls and future Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.
The football world couldn't stop talking about Michigan State offensive tackle Tony Mandarich before the 1989 NFL draft.
At 6'5" and 311 pounds, he had ideal size for an offensive tackle. Mandarich was also timed at 4.65 in the 40-yard dash, a spectacular time for an offensive lineman.
He specialized in "pancake blocks" in college, plays in which he not only moved opposing defenders out of the way but flattened them to the turf.
Mandarich was shown without a shirt on the cover of Sports Illustrated before the draft and was dubbed "The Incredible Bulk." The subhead described him as "a chowhound who chews up opponents." He was touted as the greatest offensive line prospect ever in the article.
After the Dallas Cowboys drafted quarterback Troy Aikman with the first pick in the draft, the Packers grabbed Mandarich with the second overall selection.
Unfortunately, all the noise was just hype. Mandarich was a great self-promoter who put up great numbers with the help of steroids (which he later admitted to using), but he couldn't produce on the football field once he reached the NFL.
First, Mandarich held out for a huge contract. He missed almost all of training camp as a rookie before finally coming to terms on a contract a week before the start of the season. Once he arrived, his attitude upset a lot of people and he couldn't block very well.
In 1990, Mandarich did win a starting job at right tackle, but he just wasn't very good. The Packers grew fed up with his attitude issues, high salary and poor performance. They released Mandarich prior to the 1992 season, Mike Holmgren's first year as coach in Green Bay.
Mandarich cleaned up his life a bit and managed to return to the NFL for three seasons from 1996-1998 with the Indianapolis Colts. He became a serviceable lineman but nothing more.
Looking back at the 1989 draft, Mandarich is the only player taken in the top five who did not make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After Mandarich, the next three picks were running back Barry Sanders, linebacker Derrick Thomas and cornerback Deion Sanders.
Mandarich is by far the worst first-round bust selected by the Packers since 1980 and is considered by many to be one of the biggest busts in NFL draft history.
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