The NFL Draft is the most important part of the offseason. It is the time when the foundation of championship teams is built. While the first round selections get most of the attention, finding gems in the late rounds of the draft is what separates the contenders from the pretenders. Indeed, some of the greatest players in history have been late-round picks.
The Green Bay Packers have a history of finding quality players late in the draft. Here is a look at the five best. Keep in mind that the number of rounds in the draft has gone down significantly over the years. In the middle of the 20th Century, the draft went 20 or more rounds before gradually being reduced to the seven rounds it is today.
Players on this list must have been selected in the later rounds of the draft. Their performance for the Packers is the emphasis for this list although success with other teams can be a factor. Feel free to comment on other players you feel belong on this list.
5. G Adam Timmerman, 1995, Round 7, 230th overall pick
Timmerman was almost an afterthought when the Packers selected him out of South Dakota State in the seventh round back in 1995. However, he quickly developed into a starter and eventually a Pro Bowl performer.
By 1996, Timmerman was the starting right guard for the Packers. He played in all 16 games that year and all three postseason contests. Timmerman was the Packers starting right guard in both Super Bowl XXXI and XXXII. He remained in Green Bay through the end of the 1998 season.
Timmerman signed with the Rams the following season and then became part of the offense known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.” He was on another Super Bowl winning team with the Rams in 1999.
Timmerman was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 2001 season and played in a fourth Super Bowl that season.
He remained a starter in the NFL for the rest of his career and retired after the 2006 season.
4. OT Mark Tauscher, 2000, Round 7, 224th Overall
The Packers selected offensive tackle Mark Tauscher in the seventh and final round of the 2000 NFL Draft. The former Wisconsin Badger started 14 games as a rookie. Tauscher remained a starter for the Packers until 2010, which was his last season in the league.
Tauscher dealt with several injuries throughout his career including a torn ACL. However, his toughness and work ethic always helped him find a way back into the lineup.
In 2010, Tauscher was the Packers starting right tackle to start the season. However, a shoulder injury caused him to miss the final 12 games of the year and the playoffs. As a result, he did not appear in Super Bowl XLV.
In all, Tauscher spent 11 seasons with the Packers and played in 134 regular season games, starting 132 of them. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2018.
3. C Larry McCarren 1973 Round 12, 308th overall
McCarren’s toughness and tenacity helped him go from a 12th round draft pick to a Pro Bowl center. The former University of Illinois product became the starter in his second season with the team. He held that position until injuries forced him to retire a decade later.
McCarren was a true ironman for the Packers and earned the nickname “Rock” for his toughness. He started 162 consecutive games and even played shortly after undergoing surgery for a hernia in 1980.
By 1982, the Packers had one of the league’s most explosive offenses and that helped McCarren finally get the recognition he deserved. He helped protect immobile quarterback Lynn Dickey so he could deliver long bombs to James Lofton, John Jefferson and Paul Coffman as the Packers made the playoffs for the first time in a decade in 1982.
McCarren was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1992 and he continues to work for the team as a broadcaster to this day.
2. WR Donald Driver 1999 Round 7, 213th overall
Nobody knew much about the Packers seventh round pick in 1999, a wide receiver from Alcorn State named Donald Driver, but by the time his career ended, Driver was the Packers all-time leader in receptions with 743 career receptions.
Driver’s hard work and football intelligence helped him earn seven 1,000-yard seasons and three Pro Bowl berths. His best statistical season came in 2006 when he teamed with Brett Favre to catch 92 passes for 1,295 yards and eight touchdowns.
In 2010, Driver started for the Packers team that won Super Bowl XLV and he caught two passes for 28 yards in the Packers 31-25 win over the Steelers.
Driver was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2017. His inspiring life story and his charitable work helped make him a fan favorite in Green Bay.
1. QB Bart Starr 1956 Round 17, 200th overall
The Packers drafted Alabama quarterback Bart Starr in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL Draft. It was a favor to Alabama basketball coach Johnny Dee who was friends with a Packers scout. Starr’s intelligence and mental toughness helped him rise from an afterthought to a five time world champion and Hall of Fame quarterback for the Packers.
Starr played 16 seasons in Green Bay and became Vince Lombardi’s leader on the field. He earned Pro Bowl honors four times and was the NFL MVP in 1966. He was also the MVP of the first two Super Bowls.
Starr was a true field general who called his own plays. He was also a leader on the field. He led the Packers to NFL titles in 1961, 1962 and 1965 before guiding them to wins in the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967.
Starr’s one-yard quarterback sneak in the closing seconds of the 1967 “Ice Bowl” remains the most dramatic and famous play in Packers franchise history as he overcame the minus-13 degree temperatures, the frozen turf and the Cowboys “Doomsday Defense” to score the winning touchdown behind a famous block by Jerry Kramer and Ken Bowman.
Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. He coached the Packers from 1975 through 1983 and led them to a playoff berth during the 1982 season.
Starr and his wife Cherry were highly involved in charity work and Starr remained in touch with Packers quarterbacks like Don Majkowski, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers until his passing in 2019.
No other Packers player personified the franchise like Bart Starr. And to think he started out as a 17th round draft choice.
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