Drafting players into the NFL is a science, one that many general managers and scouts find difficult to master. Every fan base knows the frustration of poor draft choices, especially when a player taken after their team’s disappointing pick ends up being a star. What follows is an analysis of the Packers’ worst first round drafts of the 2000’s. Find out what player missed by the Packers might haunt them the most!
2001- Missed a Potential Hall of Fame Receiver
Draft Pick- Jamal Reynolds DE (10th overall)
Missed: Reggie Wayne WR (30th overall by the Indianapolis Colts)
Jamal Reynolds played 18 games for the Packers over three seasons. His NFL career ended in 2003. He had 18 tackles total in his career, one for each game he played.
Reggie Wayne had a great 14- year NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts. This player missed by the Packers could have been a joy to watch with both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Wayne won a Super Bowl in 2006 and led the league with 1,510 receiving yards in 2007. He currently ranks seventh all time in receptions, eighth in receiving yards, and 23rd in touchdown receptions. Wayne was left out of the Hall of Fame this year, but is certainly going to be elected at some point in the near future.
2007- Player Missed: A Reliable (and Durable) Tight End
Draft Pick- Justin Harrell DT (16th Overall)
Missed: Greg Olsen TE (30th overall by the Chicago Bears)
Justin Harrell’s career almost mirrored that of Jamal Reynolds’. He, too, only played three seasons, not just in Green Bay, but in the whole NFL. He played in just 14 games total in those three seasons and had just 27 total tackles, none of which came in the single game he played in 2010, the last of his career.
Greg Olsen was drafted by the rival Chicago Bears, but his best seasons have come as a member of the Carolina Panthers. He just completed his 13th season in the NFL. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, he has had over 1,000 yards receiving three times. In addition, he has played in 14 games or more in 11 out of his 13 seasons. These numbers alone should make Packers’ fans envious, given the team’s tight end carousel in recent years. This player missed by the Packers continues to haunt the team as they search for a new tight end in 2020.
2011- Player Missed: A Pro-Bowl Center
Draft Pick- Derek Sherrod T (32nd overall)
Missed- Rodney Hudson (2nd round, 55th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs)
Derek Sherrod played four seasons for the Green Bay Packers, and like Reynolds and Harrell, was out of the NFL after his tenure with the team ended. He played in 20 total games and started just one of them.
Rodney Hudson has enjoyed a successful career in the NFL, especially after signing with the Oakland Raiders in 2015. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2016 and was named to it again this season.
The Packers also could have drafted Kyle Rudolph with their first round pick in this draft. It is understandable that they did not, however, as Jermichael Finley was their tight end and had not suffered his neck injury yet. Rudolph has had a very successful career with the Vikings, another division rival.
2012- Player Missed: A Perennial All-Pro Linebacker
Draft Pick- Nick Perry LB (28th overall)
Missed- Bobby Wagner (2nd round; 47th overall by the Seattle Seahawks)
Nick Perry never lived up the expectations the Packers had for him when they used their first round draft pick on him. Often injured, he never played a full 16-game season and was used as a back up linebacker more than a starter. His best season came in 2016 when he started 12 games (out of 14 he played in) when he recorded 52 total tackles and 11 sacks. Perry was cut by the Packers in March 2019.
Bobby Wagner has turned into one of the best linebackers in the NFL today. Since being draft by Seattle, Wagner is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and a five-time All-Pro. He led the NFL in combined tackles in 2016 and 2019. In addition, Wagner was also the Seahawks’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2019. Not only is he a great player, he is also a great person.
2013- Player Missed: One of the Best Wide Receivers in the Game
Draft Pick- Datone Jones DE (26th overall)
Missed- DeAndre Hopkins WR (27th overall by the Houston Texans)
Datone Jones just did not live up to the expectations of a first round draft pick. Jones spent four seasons in Green Bay, but was never able to consistently crack the starting lineup and had little impact on the field when he did play. The Packers tried moving Jones to outside linebacker in 2016, but he was not any more effective in that role than as a defensive end.
DeAndre Hopkins has become arguably the most feared wide receiver in the NFL today. Hopkins recorded his first 1,000 yard season in 2014 and has topped that mark four more times, going over 1,500 yards twice. He led the NFL with 13 touchdown receptions in 2015. In addition, he has been named to four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. Hopkins just might be the best player missed by the Packers in this century.
2015- Player Missed: A Pro Bowl Safety
Draft Pick- Damarius Randall DB (30th overall)
Missed- Landon Collins SAF (2nd round; 33rd overall by the New York Giants)
Damarious Randall played three seasons in Green Bay before being traded to the Cleveland Browns. Randall’s best season was his rookie campaign, in which he had three interceptions and 14 passes deflected. He recorded nine passes deflected in each of the next three seasons, but only had six in 11 games with the Browns in 2019. He also failed to record an interception.
Landon Collins, like Randall, made headlines for his comments about the team that drafted him before departing for another team. Collins, however, has a much better track record for success. He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and was named to the All-Pro team in 2016. He has not recorded an interception in any of the previous two seasons, but is still regarded as one of the best safeties in the game. Given Randall’s exit from the Packers, Collins is a player missed by the Packers that could have had a much better impact.
2017- Player Missed: A Homegrown Hero
Draft Pick- Traded for multiple late round draft picks (selected Kevin King in the 2nd Round)
Missed TJ Watt LB (30th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers)
Kevin King finally had a good season in 2019. After failing to play an entire season in either of his first two years, King had five interceptions and 15 passes deflected in 2019. He played in 15 games in 2019, which is the same number of games he played in his first two seasons combined.
TJ Watt went to Pewaukee High School and played college ball at Wisconsin. Many Packer fans anticipated the Packers taking him in the first round in 2017. The Packers, however, traded their first round pick for multiple picks later in the draft and Watt was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Watt had 7 sacks in his rookie season. He followed that up with 13 sacks in 2018 and 14.5 in 2019. He also led the NFL with eight forced fumbles this past season. Watt is a two-time Pro Bowl selection and was named to the All-Pro team this year. Given his Wisconsin ties, he is certainly a player missed that the Packers should want to have back.
2019- Too Early to Tell?
Draft Pick- Rashan Gary LB (12th overall)
Missed- Montez Sweat LB (26th overall by the Washington Redskins)
The Packers had two first-round picks in the 2019 draft. They used the first on Rashan Gary and the second on Darnell Savage. The decision to pick Gary puzzled fans and experts alike as he had a questionable injury history. Gary played all 16 games in 2019. He recorded 21 total tackles and 2 sacks.
Montez Sweat also played in all 16 games in 2019. Unlike Gary, Sweat also started each of those games. He recorded 50 total tackles and 7 sacks. He also deflected two passes and forced two fumbles.
It is really too early to say for certain that Gary will not be as good of a player as Sweat, but their rookie year numbers certainly indicate Sweat is the better player.
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