Packers Top Rookie: 1963


The 1963 draft was probably Vince Lombardi’s best and produced an impressive array of rookie talent for the defending champions. Seven rookies appeared for the 1963 Packers and six were drafted that year, with the seventh having been drafted three years before.

The Packers top draft choice was Penn State end Dave Robinson, who was converted to linebacker and developed into a Hall of Famer, the best linebacker the team has ever had. Second round choice Tom Brown, a halfback from Maryland, deferred his football career for a year and a half to enable him to establish that he could not hit a major or minor league curveball.

Green Bay had two choices in the third round. The first selection was Nebraska running quarterback Dennis Claridge as a future who would report in 1964. The second was Tulsa tackle Tony Liscio who was cut in training camp but went on to start for the Cowboys for several years.

Utah State lineman Lionel Aldridge came in round four, Colorado guard Dan Grimm in round five and Fresno State tight end Jan Barrett in round six. Aldridge replaced starting defensive end Bill Quinlan who had been traded in the offseason. The Packers were planning to move Henry Jordan to right defensive end before Lionel slid into the slot. Not only did Aldridge turn out to be superior to Quinlan in time, but he also allowed the team to keep Jordan in the middle where he was truly a special talent. Grimm was a sometime starter in 1964 and 1965 before leaving in the 1966 expansion draft. Barrett only lasted three games before being replaced on the roster by backup fullback Frank Mestnik. Barrett played the rest of 1963 and 1964 for Al Davis’ Oakland Raiders.

Seventh round pick Gary Kroner, a defensive back/kicker from Wisconsin, spent the 1963 season on the taxi squad as insurance for new placekicker Jerry Kramer. He spent 1965-67 as Denver’s kicker.

Utah tight end Marv Fleming came in round 11 and South Carolina linebacker Ed Holler in round 14. Fleming developed into one of the league’s best blockers, while Holler spent most of 1963 on the taxi squad before replacing an injured Ray Nitschke on the roster for the last two games. He was the Steelers’ punter in 1964. The one who got away was 12th round Notre Dame quarterback Daryle Lamonica who signed with Buffalo in the AFL instead. The Mad Bomber probably wouldn’t have been a good fit for Lombardi’s offense anyway.

The seventh rookie in 1963 was Bob Jeter, a 1960 draft pick who played in Canada for a couple years. Lombardi tried him at flanker for two years before finally switching him to cornerback in 1965. Jeter, Fleming, Aldridge and Robinson represent a tremendous haul, especially for a defending championship team, and all four would become significant contributors for the coming run of three consecutive titles.

Aldridge, though, is one of just three players to become starters in their rookie year along with Boyd Dowler and Ken Bowman. Aldridge is the only one of the three to start for the full year; he was the Packers top rookie for 1963.

1963tgkroner3  1963teholler5

1963ttliscio  1963tJBARRETT

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