StaTuesday: Best Packers draft picks ever
There is no tried and true method in determining the best NFL players.
But pro-football-reference.com has one scientific option: Approximate Value.
Is this a perfect way to determine, say the best all-time draft picks for a certain team? Maybe, maybe not, but it seems like a decent way to go. There are flaws to this methodology, such it really begins in 1960 and perhaps you don’t agree with the computations. For more on the Approximate Value you can read much more about it here.
For our purposes, we’re going to use Weighted Career Approximate Value (described as “100% of the player’s best season, plus 95% of his 2nd-best season, plus 90% of his 3rd-best season, plus 85% of his 4th-best season” and so on).
To determine the best draft picks in Green Bay history, we ordered it by the Approximate Value only for when that player appeared in a Packers uniform. For example, Mark Brunell has the fourth-highest Career AV of any Packers player drafted, but he appeared in all of two games with Green Bay, resulting in an AV of 0.
Another caveat: While pro-football-reference says Approximate Values have been assigned back to the 1950s, really 1960 is a more realistic beginning. Thus, that does leave out some old-time Packers greats like Paul Hornung and doesn’t give the full picture of someone like Bart Starr, but this is the hand we’re dealt (and besides, this does keep it to more of a “modern” football feel).
So, with that out of the way, here are the top draft picks in Packers history, according to their time spent playing for Green Bay:
Perhaps surprisingly, of the top-15 draft picks of all-time, only one-third were chosen in the first round. And maybe LeRoy Butler should be getting some Hall of Fame consideration, yes?
Despite our above caveat, Starr makes the list and is perhaps one of the greatest draft picks in NFL history, based on what round he was chosen. The Packers have done quite well finding gems, with four of the top 15 coming in the fourth round or later. As we’ll see, Green Bay found plenty more, too.
For reference, here are the top picks in each round from 1-7, with anyone from round 8 or on (the NFL moved to a seven-round draft in 1994) included in one batch. Since quarterbacks are more likely to have a higher value, we’ve included the top non-QB as well, when applicable. Also, when an AFL player was the highest-rated, we’ve also included the highest NFL-rated draft pick in that round.
Round – Player, AV
1 – Peyton Manning, 177; Ray Lewis, 160
2 – Brett Favre, 156; Mike Singletary, 121
3 – Fran Tarkenton, 149; Terrell Owens & Jason Taylor, 119
4 – Jahri Evans, 108
5 – Tarkenton (AFL); Zach Thomas, 118
6 – Tom Brady, 164; Greg Lloyd, 93
7 – Bobby Bell (AFL), 103; Tom Nalen, 102
8-plus – Johnny Unitas, 9th round, 114; Paul Krause, 12th round, 113
Here’s the top-five picks by the Packers in every round since their inception, using Career AV rather than the AV just with the player’s time in Green Bay:
Eighth Round Plus
Among active Packers, Jordy Nelson (67 AV) is on the precipice of joining the top-five second-round pick group while maybe David Bakhtiari (41) could make the fourth-round quintet someday.
Players like Bryan Bulaga (1st round, 43 AV), Randall Cobb (2nd, 47), Mason Crosby (6th, 22), Mike Daniels (4th, 25) and Corey Linsley (5th, 20) have a ways to go.
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