1959 was the year of the big change in Packers history. Vince Lombardi signed on as the team’s Coach/GM on February 2, 1959 and would bring in 12 new Packers for his first season in Green Bay. However, only five newcomers were rookies, and only three of those rookies were selected in that year’s NFL draft. Lombardi had nothing to do with the 1959 draft that was held on two days: rounds one to four on December 2, 1958 and rounds five to 30 on January 21, 1959.
The 1959 draft was probably Jack Vainisi’s weakest in his tenure. First round pick quarterback Randy Duncan of Iowa signed with the BC Lions in Canada rather than Green Bay. Had the Packers decided on Iowa Coach Forrest Evashevski as their new head man, Duncan may have signed with the Packers, but ultimately losing Duncan was not a loss. He tossed 25 touchdowns and 38 interceptions in two years up north, before signing on as the backup quarterback for the Dallas Texans of the AFL in 1961 and completed just 37% of his passes in his last season in pro football.
Second round pick Alex Hawkins, a free-spirited halfback from South Carolina, did not get along Lombardi and was sold to the Colts before the season began. Max McGee and Paul Hornung lost a potential wingman for their night life escapades that day, and Alex would go on to become the first kicking teams’ captain in the NFL.
Boyd Dowler, the team’s third round pick from Colorado, was the only gem of the draft. A single-wing quarterback for the Buffalos, he led the team in both passing and receiving as a senior. Lombardi converted Boyd to flanker, and he would go on to be named to the All-Decade team for the 1960s. The other two draftees to make the Packers were 27th round halfback from Ball State, Timmy Brown, who was cut after some troubles holding on to the ball in the opener against the Bears, and 19th round defensive back Bill Butler from Chattanooga, who was waived in August but re-signed to replace Brown in week two. Fifth round Northwestern guard Andy Cvercko spent the season on the injured list. Brown would prove to be an excellent scat back for the Eagles in the 1960s.
The team’s other two rookies were drafted by other teams. Tight end A.D. Williams was drafted in 1956 by the Rams, but spent three years in the military before catching on with the Packers as a free agent. Texas A&M defensive tackle Ken Beck was drafted by the Cardinals and acquired for a 10th round pick.
Dowler was the only one to have an impact. Boyd caught 32 passes for 549 yards and four touchdowns and was named NFL Rookie of the Year; he was the Packers’ top rookie for 1959.