Packers Top Rookie: 1955


Selective Service had an impact on the Packers again in 1955. Number two pick Jim Temp and round six selection Norm Amundsen, both from the University of Wisconsin, had to complete a two-year military commitment before they could report to the Packers in 1957. In addition, third rounder Buddy Leake from Oklahoma bolted to Canada rather than sign with Green Bay. Leake would go on to lead the Canadian Western league in scoring in 1956.

The top draft choices who signed with the Packers were Purdue linebacker Tom Bettis, the fifth overall pick, and Michigan State guard Hank Bullough in the fifth round. Bettis, though, was a disappointment as a rookie according to contemporary accounts and was publicly criticized by Coach Lisle Blackbourn in October. Bullough was an adequate lineman, but only played two years as a Packer, bookending his two-year hitch in the service. Bettis would start for several seasons in Green Bay and develop into a solid run stuffer. Both Bettis and Bullough went on to have long successful careers as NFL assistant coaches.

Five other draft picks played for the Packers in 1955: 7 fullback Bob Clemens; 16 quarterback Charlie Brackins; 18 cornerback Doyle Nix; 25 defensive end Nate Borden; and 26 defensive end Jim Jennings. Clemens, Brackins and Jennings lasted just one year in the NFL, and I will have more to say about Brackins on Sunday. Borden was an ordinary player, but spent five years as a sometime starter before being selected by Dallas in the 1960 expansion draft. Nix showed surprising promise, picking off five passes as a first-year man.

Defensive tackle Bill Lucky came via trade from Cleveland, and the other four Packer rookies all were free agents: cornerbacks Al Romine, Jim Capuzzi and Billy Bookout as well as punter Dick Deschaine. In 1955, Green Bay employed four rookie cornerbacks, but surprisingly still ranked fourth in team passing defense. Deschaine never played college ball, but received a tryout on the strength of his play in semipro ball and was a decent punter for three seasons.

Amongst these slim pickings, I think Nix had the best rookie season, although Bettis ultimately was a better player by far and had much more of an impact for the franchise. Nix went into the army in 1956. When he mustered out in 1958, the Packers traded him to Washington for journeyman defensive tackle J.D. Kimmel. Nix would play two years in Washington and then finished his career in the AFL with the Chargers and Texans.

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