The Green Bay Packers have had a lot of great drafts over the history of the franchise. The best was 1958 selected three future Hall of Famers in the first four rounds in fullback Jim Taylor, middle linebacker Ray Nitschke and guard Jerry Kramer. Those players all became bedrocks for the franchise during the Lombardi Dynasty and each of them won multiple championships with the Packers in the 1960s.
In modern times, the team has also put together some strong drafts, but none may be stronger top to bottom than 1995 when the Packers selected four Pro Bowl players and multiple starters that helped them take the next step from a fringe playoff team to a dominant club that won Super Bowl XXXI just one year later.
Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf selected six players who became starters for the Packers and one special teams ace. This depth and talent helped take the Packers to the next level and they upset the mighty San Francisco 49ers on the road in the playoffs that year to reach the NFC Championship Game for the first time since the Ice Bowl in 1967.
In the first round of the draft, the Packers added cornerback Craig Newsome out of Arizona State. The Packers traded back before taking Newsome with the 32nd overall pick adding an additional third round pick and swapping first and sixth round picks in the deal.
Newsome was a big and physical cover corner who started immediately as a rookie. He scored a critical touchdown on a fumble recovery in the Packers playoff win over the 49ers that season and intercepted three passes in the 1996 playoffs including one in Super Bowl XXXI.
Injuries cut short Newsome’s career, but he had three healthy seasons out of four as a Packer and gave the defense a new dimension of size and toughness.
The Packers had four picks in the third round and all of them became starters. They added defensive tackle Darius Holland with the 65th overall pick. He spent three seasons with the Packers as a rotational player and played nine NFL seasons in the NFL.
One pick later, Wolf selected fullback William Henderson. He became a Pro Bowl player and was an unsung hero while blocking for thousand-yard rushers like Edgar Bennett, Dorsey Levens and Ahman Green. Henderson was also great in pass protection and was a reliable outlet receiver. He finished his 11 seasons in Green Bay with 320 catches which placed him in the top 10 in team history at the time of his retirement. Henderson won a Super Bowl and was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.
With the 73rd overall pick, the Packers selected linebacker Brian Williams. The former USC star became a starter in 1996 and intercepted Drew Bledsoe in the Packers 35-21 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. He spent six seasons with the Packers and was a starter when healthy in five of them. He later played with the Lions and Saints in his eight-year NFL career.
With their final pick in the third round (90th overall), the Packers selected Virginia Tech wide receiver Antonio Freeman. After serving primarily as a return specialist as a rookie, Freeman became a starter in 1996 and scored an 81-yard touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXXI. He was named All Pro in 1998 and had three straight 1,000-yard seasons from 1997-1999. Freeman played eight years with the Packers and one with the Eagles. He had 431 catches with the Packers which places him 9th on the team’s all-time list.
Later in the draft, Wolf added two more quality players. In the fifth round, he added running back Travis Jervey from The Citadel. The speedy Jervey never made it big as a running back, but he was named to the Pro Bowl in 1997 for his contributions on special teams. Jervey spent four seasons with the Packers and later played with San Francisco and Atlanta in a nine-year NFL career.
In the seventh round, Wolf hit again, adding guard Adam Timmerman from South Dakota State with the 230th overall pick. Timmerman was starting at right guard by 1996 and started in Super Bowl XXXI. After four years with the Packers, he signed with the St. Louis Rams and blocked for “The Greatest Show on Turf” teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2001 season and won another Super Bowl with the Rams. He played 12 NFL seasons altogether and started 172 games while playing in 187.
The 1995 draft was the best in modern Packers history for depth and overall impact. The Packers added six quality starters and a Pro Bowl special teams player to the roster and all had an impact on the team’s championship run a year later.
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