Packers Top Rookie: 1966

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For the second year in a row, Green Bay had two first round draft picks in 1966. Moreover, because Vince Lombardi spent one of his two number ones in 1965 on Donny Anderson as a future pick, the defending champions had three first round rookies in 1966. Oddly, of the eight rookies who made the 1966 Packers, only three were 1966 draftees.

In round one, Lombardi drafted Illinois fullback Jim Grabowski and Minnesota tackle Gale Gillingham. Anderson and Grabowski, the Gold Dust Twins who signed contracts worth a combined $1-million, drew most of the ink, but Gillingham, converted to guard, would turn out to be the greatest Packer.

As for the other top picks: Maryland second rounder Tom Cichowski was a future pick who would never play in Green Bay, third rounders Fred Heron from San Jose State and Tony Jeter from Nebraska would both be traded during training camp and fourth rounder John Roderick of SMU would sign with the AFL.

The only other 1966 draftee to make the team was long shot defensive back Dave Hathaway who lasted just one year as a backup.

1965 future picks to make the team included Anderson, Los Angeles State defensive tackle Jim Weatherwax and Massachusetts linebacker Phil Vandersea. The other two 1966 rookies were tight end Allen Brown, who was also a 1965 pick,but was injured that season, and sizeable free agent defensive lineman Bob Brown. Bob originally was drafted by the 49ers in 1964 but had twice failed to make the San Francisco roster. Honing his skills in the Continental League for two years fortunately brought him to the attention of Personnel Director Pat Peppler

All of the eight 1966 rookies were reserves, but Gale Gillingham started the last two games of the season when Fuzzy Thurston hurt his ankle. Against two of the best defensive lines in the NFL, Gillingham drew high praise for his work in two Packer wins over the Colts and Rams. He would win the starting job the next year; Gale Gillingham was the Packers top rookie in 1966.

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