Offensive line and kicker
OL TONY MANDARICH 1st Rd. (2) 1989: It didn’t matter that he didn’t want to play in Green Bay or that they hardly ever passed the ball at Michigan State. Tom Braatz fell in love with Mandrich’s measureables and utter dominance in the running game. The man SI tabbed as “The Incredible Bulk” made future first-round defensive linemen look like Pee Wee Herman. That was until it was actually time to play big boy football in the NFL.
Mandarich had to quickly get off steroids because of strict testing at the pro level and started overdosing on painkillers instead. He couldn’t pass protect his way out of a paper bag and soon played himself out of Green Bay’s lineup and was gone for good once his contract expired in 1992.
To think the Packers drafted the mythical scam artist ahead of Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders and Barry Sanders. Mandarich finally cleaned himself up and made a comeback with the Colts as a guard in the late 90s. He was serviceable, but never came close to being that over-inflated super hero people saw in the Big Ten.
OL DEREK SHERROD 1st Rd. (32) 2011: The SEC standout had some alarming red flags entering the 2011 draft, including deficient functional strength in his lower body along with his “passive” demeanor according to one scouting report. Sherrod was a finesse guy, but the Packers took account of his broad shoulders, 35 3/8” arms and 11” hands and thought they could mold him into a raging pitbull.
That never happened thanks in large part to a broken tibia and fibula he sustained as a backup late in his rookie season. It took him nearly two years to come back from the mishap. The massive left tackle was like a fish out of water during the 2014 preseason during which guys like Michael Sam ran circles around him. Sherrod was a hard worker who did his best to get himself back into playing shape, but he’s a pick Ted Thompson would rather soon forget.
OL JOHN MICHELS 1st Rd. (27) 1996: The 6’7” 304-pound block of granite was supposed to be the cornerstone Ken Ruettgers was for so many years in Packerland. Michels was named the Packers 1996 Co-Rookie of the Year, but things just went downhill from there. Three separate injuries (a sprained ankle, sprained MCL and ACL tear) combined to bring the USC alum’s pro career to a painful end.
He was offered a fresh start when the Packers traded him to the Eagles for fellow bust Jon Harris during the 1999 preseason. But Michels’ body didn’t cooperate and he was out of football after two weeks. The one-time first-round pick is now a practicing physician.
OL ALLEN BARBRE 4th Rd. (119) 2007: I know I may be reaching in this spot by going with a fourth-round pick, but if you have any recollection of how bad Aaron Rodgers was getting tossed around and beaten to a bloody pulp in 2009, you can probably see where I’m coming from. The Packers had the brilliant idea of installing Barbre as their left tackle instead of re-signing Mark Tauscher that year.
Rodgers was the victim of 31 sacks in the first seven games, not to mention the amount of times he was hit and hurried out of the pocket. The Missouri Southern State product was so incredibly stiff and weak at the point-of-attack that Mike McCarthy and his staff were running out of ideas of how to help their 6’4”, 310-pound piñata on roller skates.
The front office ultimately came to its senses and brought Tauscher back halfway through the season. Amazingly, Barbre is still in the league and he’s still a dream matchup for defensive linemen with an appetite for destruction.
OL DAVE DRECHSLER 2nd Rd. (48) 1983: This offensive guard is one of the more obscure second-round picks in Packers history. One old press clipping even described him as a “pleasant surprise” in his first training camp. He played right away by starting 12 games in his rookie campaign—one that saw the Green and Gold go 8-8 with Lynn Dickey getting sacked 40 times.
Drechsler only lasted three games into the 1984 season and was out of the league by the next year. Some consideration was given to Aaron Taylor in this spot, but let’s credit the former first-round pick for continually coming back from serious knee injuries and becoming a major part of two Packers teams that went to the Super Bowl in the 90s.
PK BRETT CONWAY 3rd Rd. (90) 1997: The Packers made quite an investment to secure the kid with the booming leg—and quite a sacrifice in parting ways with Chris Jacke. Conway proceeded to miss three chip shots in an exhibition game and then got himself hurt in a desperate bid to iron out his mechanics.
Luckily, the Packers stumbled upon 49ers castoff Ryan Longwell who turned out to be a reliable place kicker for a period of nine seasons in Packers News. The same can’t be said for the man with the golden leg from Penn State who bounced around league before calling it a career after the 2003 season.
And finally …
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