Back in the old days, NFL team executives would visit amateurs on campus and attempt to sign those players to their clubs for the following season.
In 1933 Eagles owner Bert Bell, who would later become the NFL commissioner from 1946 until his death in 1959), went to the University of Minnesota to sign a player by the name of
Stanley Kostka. Bell missed out on Kostka and then decided the NFL needed a way to organize first-year player selection. Bell proposed the idea of a draft at league meetings and thus the NFL Draft was born in 1936.
The Packers first ever draft pick was a Russ Letlow, an offensive lineman out of San Francisco who spent his entire eight-year NFL career with the Packers, being named to the Pro Bowl in 1938 and 1939. You can read his bio at the Packers Hall of Fame website.In the years since 1936, the Packers have had some really good picks in the draft (Rodgers 24th overall in 2005, Vonnie Holiday 19th overall in 1998, Antonio Freeman 90th overall in '95 among others) and some that didn't go so well ( Justin Harrell 16th overall in '07, Tony Mandarich 2nd overall in '89). The great and the not so great picks are not unique to the Packers, but remarkably, especially so in the last decade, but even more so since Ted Thompson took over the GM's job in 2005- the Packers have been on the money more times than not. Packers First-Round Draft History 2000-present:2011 OL Derek Sherrod 32nd overall
2010 OT Bryan Bulaga 23rd overall
2009 DT B.J. Raji 8th overall
2009 LB Clay Matthews 26th overall
2007 DT Justin Harrell 16th overall
2006 LB A.J. Hawk 5th overall
2005 QB Aaron Rodgers 24th overall
2004 DB Ahmad Carroll 25th overall
2003 LB Nick Barnett 29th overall
2002 WR Javon Walker 20th overall
2001 DE Jamal Reynolds 10th overall
2000 TE Bubba Franks 14th overall
Among other notable Packers selected after the first-round:
2011: PR/KR Randall Cobb 2nd/64th 2010: Mike Neal 2nd/56th, Morgan Burnett 3rd/71, Andrew Quarless 5th/154th, Marshall Newhouse 5th/169th, James Starks 6th/193rd C.J. Wilson 7th/230 2009: T.J. Lang 4th/109th, Jarius Wynn 6th/182nd 2008: Jorday Nelson 2nd/36th, Patrick Lee 2nd/60th, Jermichael Finley 3rd/91st, Josh Sitton 4th/135 2007: Desmond Biship 6th/193rd James Jones 3rd/78th Mason Crosby 6th/194th 2006: Greg Jennings 2nd/52nd.
The Packers have always done well in the draft, and the draft is more important than free-agency in the NFL's salary cap age. It has added a sense of stability and the probably the lowest personnel turnover ratio in the NFL. The draft has a lot to do with that.
Just ask former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian, who (along with Peyton Manning's unfortunate injury) saw his way out of Indy after quite a few unfruitful years in the draft.
With 12 picks in the 2012 draft (1.28, 2.27, 3.27, 4.28, 4.37, 4.38, 5.28, 6.28, 7.17, 7.28, 7.34, 7.36) the Packers are in a favorable position. They know where they need to get better. They need to improve the overall depth on defense and especially need to find guys who can get past NFL blockers and to the quarterback.
However, Thompson has said again this year the strategy in the draft is to pick the best available player left on the board, regardless of position.
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