The Green Bay Packers have two picks in the first round in the 2022 NFL Draft. Before this year’s draft, here’s a look at the Packers best first-round picks at each position since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970. We will also list the last time the Packers used a first-round pick at each position and how many times they used a first-round pick at each position since 1970.
Only first-round picks are included here. So, if the Packers didn’t have a pick in the first round, their second-round pick is not eligible for this list. Also, if there were two picks in the opening round, both are eligible for this list.
Feel free to discuss players you feel belonged on this list. Keep in mind that the Packers did not use a first-round pick on either a kicker or a punter so there are no players listed for that position.
Quarterback: Best Pick: Aaron Rodgers 2005; Most Recent Pick: Jordan Love 2020; 4 1st Round Picks
It’s obvious that Rodgers is the best quarterback the Packers have drafted in the first round since 1970. Rodgers is a four-time NFL MVP, a Super Bowl MVP and a sure fire first-ballot Hall of Famer once he is eligible.
The only other quarterbacks drafted in the first round since then don’t come close. Jerry Tagge and Rich Campbell never lived up to expectations while Jordan Love is still a work in progress entering this third NFL season.
Running Back: Best Pick: John Brockington 1971; Most Recent: Darrell Thompson 1990; 5 1st Round Picks
Brockington had an instant impact and became the first player in NFL history to gain more than 1,000 yards in each of his first three NFL seasons. He was the lynchpin of the Packers offense during 1972, the only year the team made the playoffs in the 1970s.
The team has not used a first round pick on a running back since 1990, something that isn’t likely to change soon. Darrel Thompson was the last running back chosen and the former University of Minnesota star never became a standout in the NFL.
Wide Receiver: Best Pick: James Lofton 1978; Most Recent: Javon Walker 2002; 4 1st Round Picks
Lofton is a Pro Football Hall of Famer and was one of the greatest deep threats in NFL history. In nine seasons with the Packers, Lofton went to the Pro Bowl seven times. He teamed with John Jefferson, tight end Paul Coffman and quarterback Lynn Dickey to give the Packers one of the most dangerous passing games in the NFL in the early 1980s.
Walker had one Pro Bowl season in Green Bay. The two-decade wait between using a first round pick on a wide receiver will likely end this year as it is the team’s top need entering the 2022 NFL Draft.
Tight End: Best Pick and Most Recent Pick: Bubba Franks 2000; 2 1st Round Picks
Franks went to three straight Pro Bowls from 2001-2003 and had 20 touchdown catches in those three seasons. He was one of Brett Favre’s favorite red-zone targets during the early 2000s.
The only other first-round pick the Packers used at tight end was Rich McGeorge in 1970. While he never made the Pro Bowl, McGeorge was a quality starter for the Packers through the 1978 campaign during a time the team largely struggled at the quarterback position.
Offensive Tackle: Best Pick: Bryan Bulaga 2010; Most Recent Pick: Derek Sherrod 2011; 7 1st Round Picks
Bulaga played nine seasons for the Packers and was a starter in all of them when he was healthy. While he never made the Pro Bowl, the former Iowa star was fixture at right tackle for the Packers and started for the team in Super Bowl XLV.
The Packers haven’t used a first-round pick at this position since selecting Derek Sherrod in 2011. Injuries shortened Sherrod’s career and he never really had a chance to show what he could do.
Guard: Best Pick: Ron Hallstrom 1982; Most Recent Pick: Aaron Taylor 1994; 2 1st Round Picks
Taylor and Hallstrom were both quality starters for the Packers but Hallstrom gets the nod here because he played for the Packers for more than eight seasons and played 11 years in the NFL while injuries limited Taylor to three seasons with the Packers and five in the league.
The Packers tend to use mid-to-late round picks to find quality starters at this position and it’s worked well for them in recent years.
Center: No First Round Picks Since 1970; Most Recent Pick: Bob Hyland 1967; 0 1st Round Picks
The Packers have used second-round picks on centers several times including in 2021 when they picked Josh Myers who became an instant starter.
Hyland lasted 11 seasons in the league and had two tours of duty with the Packers, starting nine total games in four seasons with Green Bay.
Defensive End: Best Pick: Ezra Johnson 1977; Most Recent Pick: Datone Jones 2013; 8 1st Round Picks
Ezra Johnson was the second defensive end selected by the Packers in the 1977 NFL Draft but he went on to spend 11 years with the Pack and made the Pro Bowl after recording 20.5 (unofficial) sacks in 1978.
Datone Jones spent four seasons with the Packers. He started his career at DE but was later converted to OLB. Either way, he was an edge rusher. He later played for the Cowboys, 49ers and Raiders but never started more than four games in a season and never recorded more than 3.5 sacks in a season.
Defensive Tackle: Best and Most Recent Pick: Kenny Clark 2016; 5 1st Round Picks
Clark became a full-time starter in his second NFL season and quickly became an impact player. He’s gone to two Pro Bowls in the last three seasons and continues to be one of the few interior defensive linemen who can hold his ground or penetrate against the run and get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Before Clark, the last DT selected in the first round by the Packers was B.J. Raji. Raji made one Pro Bowl and is best remembered for his pick-six in the 2010 NFC Championship Game against the Bears.
Outside Linebacker: Best Player: Clay Matthews 2009; Most Recent Pick: Rashan Gary 2019; 5 1st Round Picks
Matthews was the second player the Packers took in the 2009 draft but he had an immediate impact, going to the Pro Bowl as a rookie after recording 10 sacks. Matthews earned Pro Bowl honors in six of his first seven NFL seasons and was All Pro in 2010. He forced a vital fumble early in the fourth quarter of the Packers win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV and spent 10 successful seasons with the Packers.
Gary has improved each year since joining the Packers and is now consistently getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks off the edge. He had a career-high 9.5 sacks last season and still has the potential to improve.
Inside Linebacker: Best Player and Most Recent Player: Nick Barnett 2003; 2 1st Round Picks
Nick Barnett is the top player by default although he was a very good player in Green Bay for eight seasons. He was a member of the Super Bowl winning 2010 Packers team although injuries limited him to four games that season and he was not active for Super Bowl XLV.
A.J. Hawk was drafted as an outside linebacker and started three seasons at that position before moving inside in 2009 so he is not eligible at this position.
The only other inside linebacker the Packers have taken in the first round since 1970 is George Cumby who spent six seasons with the Packers after being drafted by them in 1980.
Cornerback: Best Player: Willie Buchanon 1972; Most Recent Player: Eric Stokes 2021; 9 1st Round Picks
No position has seen more first round picks for the Packers than cornerback and that includes last year’s top pick, Eric Stokes.
While Jaire Alexander is presently one of the top cover corners in the league when healthy, it’s a little too soon to put him ahead of Willie Buchanon just yet. Alexander has been to one Pro Bowl while Buchanon went to two.
Buchanon had a career-high nine interceptions in 1978 including four in one game against the San Diego Chargers.
He had Hall of Fame athletic ability and talent and may have made it to Canton had he not suffered broken legs in 1973 and 1975 that took away some of his speed.
Safety: Best Player and Most Recent Player: Darnell Savage 2019; 4 1st Round Picks
Savage has been inconsistent at times but very good at others. In the second half of the 2020 campaign, he was playing at a Pro Bowl level but was unable to duplicate that level of play in 2021. He remains a solid stater with the potential to get even better.
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