It’s Senior Bowl weekend and the offseason is in full swing, so of course I’ve been thinking a lot about the NFL draft. It’s also on my mind because of trade rumors regarding Aaron Rodgers and what the Green Bay Packers could expect to receive in return. Of course, this is all just speculation. But I know for a fact that there’s a round none of us want in the event of a trade, and that is a 3rd round pick. There’s a perception among Packers fans that the 3rd round has been terrible. So has it really been terrible? I had to find out. I looked at each draft since 1990 to find out the Packers best round in the NFL draft, and consequently the worst round.
Determining the Best Round
To determine the best round, I needed hard data and a set time frame. I started way back in 1990 and went until 2020. I didn’t include 2021 and 2022 because there isn’t enough information on them yet. This gives us a nice, even 30 years-worth of data.
So, how did I decide what pick should be considered a great pick? I had to settle on if the player that was picked has been awarded an NFL award (Pro Bowl, All-Pro, Rookie of the Year, MVP, etc…) or if they were inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame. This seemed like the most useful method to determine success, although it isn’t perfect. For example, AJ Hawk played for the Packers for several years and helped the Packers win a Super Bowl, but he never received a Pro Bowl nod (which is weird). I didn’t include AJ Hawk in the list because of this.
So, let’s get started:
Between 2000-2020, there were nine players selected that met my criteria. There were none between 1990-1999. This means that, for a decade, the Packers had problems selecting players in the first round. This turned around in 2000 with the selection of Tight End Bubba Franks who was selected to three Pro Bowls.
The most notable pick out of this stretch, of course, is Aaron Rodgers in 2005. The least notable pick was Javon Walker (2002) who received just one Pro Bowl before forcing his way out of Green Bay.
In 1990 the Packers selected future Hall of Famer and inventor of the Lambeau Leap, LeRoy Butler, in the 2nd round. The success of drafting well in the second round continued for the next 30 years and resulted in eleven great players drafted in the second round.
Even though the Packers get lambasted during every draft season for not selecting a 1st round wide receiver since 2002, they have selected three great wide receivers in the 2nd round since then (Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams). The Packers have also selected three great safeties in the 2nd round (LeRoy Butler, Darren Sharper, and Nick Collins).
Well, here we are, the round every one hates. Do Packers fans have a right to despise this round? Short answer: yes. There have only been four great players drafted in the 3rd round by the Packers. These guys were chosen between 1992-1996, with two being selected in 1995 (William Henderson and Antonio Freeman). This number doesn’t include James Jones, selected in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft, for the same reason AJ Hawk isn’t included. There really hasn’t been much success in the 3rd round for the Packers.
This is where the draft gets harder for teams to have success, but the Packers have done pretty well in the 4th round with five great selections. Since 2008, the Packers have drafted three great players in Josh Sitton, Mike Daniels, and David Bakhtiari.
This round was the most surprising. The Packers drafted seven great players, including the likes of: Dorsey Levens, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (KGB), Aaron Kampman, Micah Hyde, and Aaron Jones. This has been an extremely successful round for the Packers.
Round six has been just a continuation of the success of round five. The Packers made six great picks in the 6th round since 1990. These selections include Bryce Paup, who was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1995 with the Bills. Some other notable players: Mark Chmura, Marco Rivera, and Matt Hasselbeck. Also, Mason Crosby was selected in the 6th round.
Just like round three (sad), the Packers have only made four great selections in the 7th round. However, to have made two great 7th-round selections back-to-back in 1999 and 2000 has got to make round seven better than round three. The selections in those years: Donald Driver and Mark Tauscher. Pair them with another great 7th round pick in Scott Wells in 2004, and you can see that the 7th round has been pretty good to the Packers.
There is an argument to be made that without those three 7th round picks, the Packers would not have won Super Bowl XLV.
So Which Round is the Best?
I think it goes without saying that the 2nd round has been by far the best round for the Packers. They have made much better selections in the 2nd round than they have in the 1st. Here’s the ranking of the rounds:
- 2nd Round
- 1st Round
- 5th Round
- 6th Round
- 4th Round
- 7th Round
- 3rd Round
The Packers have done well in the first two rounds but have probably had better success in the later rounds. I was skeptical at first with what everyone was saying about the 3rd round, but the data proves Packers fans right. The 3rd round overall has been terrible since 1990.
My recommendation for the Packers is to trade away all 3rd round picks. Just don’t make a selection. And pay close attention to those 5th and 6th round picks – they could be future Packers Hall of Famers.——————
Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.