Packers Top Rookie: 1952


In 1952, Jack Vainisi nailed his first four picks over the first five rounds (the fourth rounder had been dealt away), enabling the Packers to have a very successful draft. 15 rookies appeared for Green Bay that year, and nine came out of the draft: quarterback Babe Parilli (1); end Bill Howton (2), safety Bobby Dillon (3) tackle Dave Hanner (5), tackle Tom Johnson (6), fullback Bill Reichardt (7), linebacker Deral Teteak (9), fullback Bobby Jack Floyd (15) and linebacker Chuck Boerio (20). Johnson, Reichardt, Floyd and Boerio were transients, but the other five all drew All-Pro or Pro Bowl notice during their careers. All but Parilli earned those honors in Green Bay.

Parilli would not fully develop as a quarterback until he landed in the AFL in the next decade, but he did his best NFL season as a rookie, throwing 13 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. In his second season that ratio sank to 4 TDs to 19 interceptions. He then spent two years I the Air Force and one with the Browns before serving a second tour in Green Bay from 1957-1958.

Other rookie Packers included free agents Hal Faverty, Steve Dowden, Bob Dees, Bill Robinson and George Schmidt, as well as Dick Logan, obtained in the Walt Michaels trade with Cleveland. Faverty, Dowden and Logan all earned starting jobs for a brief time.

The three top rookies were Hawg Hanner who solidified the middle of the defensive line right from the start of his 13-year career in Green Bay, ball hawk Bobby Dillon who would pick off 52 passes in his eight years as a Packer and Billy Howton.

Howton led the league with 1,231 yards receiving in his first season; that’s in a 12-game season, an average of over 100 yards per game. He also set a rookie record by snagging 13 TD tosses, a record that would not be topped until Randy Moss caught 17 in a 16-gane season as a rookie in 1998. The lanky Howton averaged 23.2 yards per catch and drew comparisons to Don Hutson in his freshman NFL season. He would remain a star deep threat throughout his seven years in Green Bay and concluded his 12-year NFL career as the league’s all-time leader in catches and yards. Billy Howton was the Packers top rookie in 1952.

Custom card is colorized and is based on Topps Baseball Rookie Team cards from the 1950s and 1960s.


3 thoughts on “Packers Top Rookie: 1952

  1. Nothing against Cliff Lewis, but your selection for 1981 is wrong. Guy Prather was Special Teams player of the year in ’81 and held the most Special teams tackles in a season year ’81, record for two and a half decades… True fact! He should be the rookie of the year selection for that year!


    • I like your argument. Since there was no clearcut starter, I went with the 12th rounder, but the ufa is even more obscure. I think we can agree it was a terrible draft.


      • I think Cliff Lewis and Guy Prather were two great LB additions in ’81, just needed the opportunity to play. Don’t take my word, look at the ’85 game Packer vs Patriots on YouTube (Prather entered for injured Douglass in the second quarter) and was the best player on the field against a team that went to the super bowl that year. Incredible performance!… Whenever I saw Prather play he out played the starters.


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