The Best of Wolf & Thompson's Draft Picks


Since 1992, the Green Bay Packers have the third best regular-season record in the NFL. In those 26 seasons, they’ve compiled a .629 winning percentage trailing only New England (.661) and Pittsburgh (.638).

The Packers also won two Super Bowls over that span. New England topped the list with five. Dallas and Denver won three each. Baltimore, Pittsburgh and the New York Giants also won two apiece. But 18 teams, more than half of the league’s 32 members, never experienced the joy of hoisting a Vince Lombardi Trophy.

What’s more, the Packers made the playoffs 19 times to tie New England for the most appearances. The only other teams with 15 or more were Pittsburgh (18) and Indianapolis (16).

Among the Packers’ NFC North rivals, Minnesota made the playoffs 14 times; Detroit, 8; and the Chicago Bears, 5.

During this 26-year run of success, the Packers, first and foremost, followed a draft-and-develop philosophy with general managers Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson running a combined 23 drafts. Mike Sherman, as coach and general manager, was in charge of three from 2002 to 2004 and also was given considerable say in the 2001 selections when Wolf was in his final months as GM.

What follows are Wolf and Thompson’s five best picks in each of the seven rounds.

Wolf was in charge of 10 drafts from 1992 to 2001. Thompson oversaw 13 from 2005-17. While Thompson’s three extra drafts gave him an edge in numbers, his advantage was offset somewhat by the fact many of his selections are still active and have yet to put a final stamp on their pro careers.

The choices here were based largely on the players’ contributions to the Packers, but performances with other teams were also taken into account. Then again, players were rated on their worthiness as draft picks, not just on the totality of their careers. For example, players whose careers were cut short by injury or who left early in free agency weren’t necessarily downgraded for their lack of longevity if their talent level warranted being drafted where they were.

FIRST ROUND

Wolf

  1. Wayne Simmons (1993) – Only played 4½ seasons but was an intimidating force as an OLB when the Packers came of age in ’95 and ‘96
  2. Craig Newsome (1995) – Played only 3 years but brought a much-needed physical presence to the secondary in ’95 and ’96 after replacing Terrell Buckley
  3. Vonnie Holliday (1998) – Registered 32 sacks in five solid seasons
  4. Bubba Franks (2000) – Not the athlete you’d expect of a 3-time Pro Bowler but a huge red-zone target
  5. Aaron Taylor (1994) – Ross Verba played one more year and a tougher position but Taylor started at LG on two Super Bowl teams

Thompson

  1. Aaron Rodgers (2005) – Over 82 NFL drafts, he was an unprecedented pick
  2. Clay Matthews (2009) – All-time sack leader in the 36 years since the stat was first kept
  3. B.J. Raji (2009) – Called it quits after six seasons but clogged the interior defense and pushed the pocket when the Packers won Super Bowl XLV
  4. Nick Perry (2012) – Had 18 sacks the last two years
  5. Kenny Clark (2016) – Bryan Bulaga also gets points for years played and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for his 2016 Pro Bowl season

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SECOND ROUND

Wolf

  1. Chad Clifton (2000) – Textbook pass blocker at critical LT position for 12 seasons
  2. Darren Sharper (1997) – Made big plays, although not necessarily in big moments
  3. Mike Wahle (1998) – A gift from 1998 NFL Supplemental Draft
  4. Robert Ferguson (2001) – Serviceable WR
  5. 5.     Mark D’Onofrio (1992) – Showed more in two games before a career-ending hamstring injury than Derrick Mayes did in 29 games

Thompson

  1. Jordy Nelson (2008) – Third in catches, fifth in yards among Packers’ all-time receivers and arguably the best since Sterling Sharpe
  2. Nick Collins (2005) – Career cut short by neck injury in seventh season but was playing to the LeRoy Butler level in the eyes of some scouts and coaches
  3. Greg Jennings (2006) – Left the Packers after seven seasons but arguably the smoothest of the Favre-Rodgers era receivers and the go-to guy in the 2010 Super Bowl season
  4. Davante Adams (2014) – So far an ever-improving receiver on a par with Nelson and Jennings
  5. Randall Cobb (2011) – Close call with Eddie Lacy and Casey Hayward

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THIRD ROUND

Wolf

  1. Robert Brooks (1992) – Caught 102 passes for 1,497 yards and 13 TDs the year before he tore the ACL, patellar tendon and MCL in right knee
  2. Earl Dotson (1993) – From 1995-98, the height of the Wolf-Holmgren era, he was an anchor and underrated talent at RT
  3. Antonio Freeman (1995) – Eighth in receptions and seventh in yards all-time
  4. Brian Williams (1995) – Emerging attack-and-pursuit OLB in third year as a starter when his career was short-circuited by a patellar tendon tear
  5. William Henderson (1995) – Wolf hit the jackpot three times in the third round in ’95, although Mike Flanagan deserved consideration in this spot

Thompson

  1. Jermichael Finley (2008) – Perhaps as much a tease as a rare talent but Packers still haven’t replaced him five years after a spinal cord contusion ended his career
  2. Morgan Burnett (2010) – Reliable safety but more an orchestrator than a playmaker
  3. James Jones (2007) – More productive and accountable than Finley but not nearly the threat
  4. Ty Montgomery (2015) – Cut in the same mold as Cobb but still looking to find his niche
  5. Richard Rodgers (2014) – If Thompson did better than Wolf in Rounds 1 & 2, Wolf had a big edge in Round 3

FOURTH ROUND

Wolf

  1. Edgar Bennett (1992) – Versatile, dependable and a good fit for Mike Holmgren’s West Coast offense
  2. Na’il Diggs (2000) – Started 80 games over six seasons
  3. Aaron Brooks (1999) – Never took a snap for the Packers but New Orleans was 38-44 in his 82 starts
  4. Josh Bidwell (1999) – Ranked in the top half of the NFL in gross punting his last three seasons in Green Bay
  5. 5.     Gabe Wilkins (1994) – Started 16 games in 1997 and had 5½ sacks but went missing in Super Bowl XXXII

Thompson

  1. Josh Sitton (2008) – Selected for four Pro Bowls
  2. Mike Daniels (2012) – As a highly combustible inside pass rusher, he’s more of a rarity than a guard and could soon leap-frog Sitton
  3. David Bakhtiari (2013) – Ditto for Bakhtiari, a border wall at LT
  4. T.J. Lang (2009) – Unearthing two Pro Bowl guards in two years on the relative cheap was a coup for Thompson
  5. Blake Martinez (2016) – Second-year jump in production sealed it over a handful of other candidates but let’s not forget DB Will Blackmon lasted 10 years in the NFL and T-G Allen Barbre just finished his 10th season

FIFTH ROUND

Wolf

  1. Dorsey Levens (1994) – Shared duties with Edgar Bennett but physically more impressive and ranks sixth in all-time Packers rushing and third in catches among RBs
  2. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (2000) – Held Packers’ all-time sack record until last season
  3. Mark Brunell (1993) – Threw 27 passes for the Packers but had a 78-73 record as an NFL starting QB
  4. Travis Jervey (1995) – Made a Pro Bowl as a special teams selection
  5. Corey Bradford (1998) – Averaged 16.8 yards per catch but got little playing time

Thompson

  1. Corey Linsley (2014) – Continues Packers’ long tradition of centers who become cores of the O-line
  2. Micah Hyde (2013) – Blessed with a ball-hawk’s antenna  
  3. Aaron Jones (2017) – Showed only flashes as a rookie but his 5.5 yards per carry was an eye-opener
  4. Marshall Newhouse (2010) – Started 31 games in 3 years for the Packers and 39 for 3 other teams since
  5. Breno Giacomini (2008) – Appeared in 1 game for the Packers but has started 86 for 3 other NFL teams in the 7 years since

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SIXTH ROUND

Wolf

  1. Marco Rivera (1996) – Wolf reaped windfall rewards in the sixth round starting with this three-time Pro Bowl guard
  2. Mark Chmura (1992) – Also selected for three Pro Bowls
  3. Doug Evans (1993) – Intercepted 8 passes as starting CB for ’96 and ’97 Super Bowl teams
  4. Matt Hasselbeck (1998) – Threw 29 passes for the Packers but had an 85-75 record as a starting QB for three other teams
  5. Bill Schroeder (1994) – Ranks 23rd in catches but 16th in all-time yardage

Thompson

  1. Mason Crosby (2007) – Ranks No. 1 in all-time scoring ahead of Hutson, Hornung and all other kickers
  2. James Starks (2010) – Never a bell cow but his 315 yards rushing in four post-season games en route to the Packers winning SB XLV was a godsend
  3. Desmond Bishop (2007) – Packed a punch as a starting ILB for two seasons but a preseason hamstring tear in 2012 finished him
  4. Johnny Jolly (2006) – Could have been much better if not for his off-the-field problems
  5. Aaron Ripkowski (2015) – Barely gets the nod over DE Michael Montgomery

SEVENTH ROUND

Wolf

  1. Donald Driver (1999) – Packers’ all-time leading receiver heads Wolf’s seventh-round windfall
  2. Mark Tauscher (2000) – Arguably played RT as well as Driver played his position
  3. Adam Timmerman(1995) – Started at RG on Packers’ ’96 and ’97 Super Bowl teams and for Rams’ ’99 and ’01 Super Bowl teams
  4. Keith McKenzie (1996) – Started 2 games in 4-plus years but had 18½ sacks for the Packers
  5. Bob Kuberski (1993) – Along with Wahle, one of Wolf’s two Naval Academy finds

Thompson

  1. Brad Jones (2009) – Serviceable as a 36-game starter at ILB & OLB
  2. Matt Flynn (2008) – 3-3 as a Packers starting QB
  3. C.J. Wilson (2010) – Fit a role in today’s game as a rotating D-lineman over 4 years
  4. Jeff Janis (2014) – Caught 17 passes in 4 years but major contributor on special teams
  5. Dave Tollefson (2006) – Never played for the Packers but lasted 6 years as a backup DE and won two Super Bowl rings with the Giants
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