When it come to the Packers drafting in the first round of the NFL draft, the team has hit or miss on a lot of them. Some have become first ballot hall of famers while some didn’t quite meet the performance level of a first round draft pick.

With the NFL draft coming up in a few days, we’ll look at one of the biggest blunders in Packers draft history with the pick of Tony Mandarich in 1989.

The 1989 Draft

Heading into the 1989 draft the Packers held the second pick in the draft.

Coming off a 4-12 season under first year coach Lindy Infante. The Packers were looking for a game changer anywhere really. That is how bad the team was in 1988.

The 1989 draft had a lot of talent especially in the top 5 of the Draft but one prospect caught the Packers eye.

Tony Mandarich was a star at Michigan State.

He was a 1988 first-team All-American, weighed 304 and had the ability to physically dominate opposing pass rushers.

What was even more incredible was his speed. Mandarich ran an incredible 4.65 40 at the NFL combine, opening the eyes of a lot of NFL scouts around the league and earning the name the “Incredible Bulk”.

The Packers holding the second pick couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to have someone with the athletic ability of Mandarich and drafted him second overall in the 1989 draft.

Problems from the beginning

When the Packers drafted Mandarich, there were warning signs and problems right from the begining.

Mandarich held out for 45 days and missed all of training camp before signing a contract with the Packers. He held out mostly because of the Packers not offering him enough money.

He also called Green Bay a village, and he didn’t want to play for the Packers because of the size of the city.

There were also questions on whether or not Mandarich was using steroids at the time because of his freakish strength and speed. Years later he would later go on to admitting he did use steroids and performance enhancing drugs to help him.

Not Meeting expectations

Mandarich struggled his first season after hold out all of training camp.

He spent most of his time on special teams his rookie season.

His second and third seasons were not what you would expected out of a top five draft pick.

Mandarich continued to struggle and wasn’t the same player we saw coming out of Michigan State. He was a shell of what he was.

One of the most memorable games that Mandarich struggled in was one where the Packers were facing the Philadelphia Eagles.

Mandarich had the task of blocking Reggie White and White simply dominated and embarrassed him.

By the end of 1991 the Packers released Mandarich.

Why is the pick the worst?

The Packers had a chance to grab a game changing player coming into the 1989 NFL Draft but instead they didn’t.

If you look at the top five picks, you saw that there were all hall of famers, except Mandarich.

The Packers could have drafted Barry or Deion Sanders or Derrick Thomas.

There was also conversation that the Packers would’ve drafted Troy Aikman had the Dallas Cowboys passed on him.

Even though Mandarich had the hype around him, he didn’t live up to it.

Career after the Packers

He did have a small comeback in 1996 when he came back to play for the Indianapolis Colts. He play well but not anywhere near what he had once shown the promise of.


Hau Khuong has been a Packers fan since 1996. He currently works as a video editor in Green Bay and writes for PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @HauKhuongSports.