Packers Top Rookie: 1967

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In the aftermath of the Packers’ victory in Super Bowl I, the newly-merged NFL/AFL held its first joint draft in March 1967. As Vince Lombardi began to gear up for a run at a third straight NFL title, he was armed with nine picks in the first five rounds, including two each in the first and second rounds. Vince tried to position the team to dominate league for the foreseeable future in this draft; he failed.

Lombardi targeted wide receiver, quarterback, offensive line and linebacker at the top of the draft and came up virtually empty. With the ninth overall pick in the draft, he selected Boston College center Bob Hyland, who turned out to be largely an ordinary player in the NFL. Eight picks later, the Raiders grabbed Hall of Fame guard Gene Upshaw.

With his second first round selection, Vince took San Diego State quarterback Don Horn as a potential successor to Bart Starr. Horn never developed into a consistent NFL starter, but it was a weak quarterback draft. Of the 20 quarterbacks selected in that draft, only six ever would play in the NFL, and Horn was one of only four to throw at least 400 passes as a pro, along with Bob Griese, Steve Spurrier and Virgil Carter. Griese, the one worthy successor to Starr, was long gone by the time Green Bay was on the clock. However, future Hall of Fame defenders Lem Barney and Willie Lanier were both still available when Horn was selected.

In the second round, Vince disastrously picked Duke’s Dave Dunaway with the best receiver in the draft, speedster John Gilliam, still undrafted. Dunaway spent 1967 on the Packers taxi squad before appearing in two games with Green Bay in 1968. With his second second round pick, Lombardi opted for Pittsburgh linebacker Jim Flanigan, just one slot after Kansas City took Lanier and one before New Orleans took Gilliam. Flanigan would prove to be no more than an able backup.

In round three, the Packers selected Michigan corner John Rowser. While Rowser had a decent career in the league, mostly with the Steelers and Broncos, his Wolverine partner Mike Bass, taken in round 12 by the Packers, had the more impressive NFL career…with the Redskins. Lombardi did grab Arizona State runner Travis Williams in round four, and he would prove essential to the Packers final title run.

Jackson State speedy receiver Claudis James, taken in round 14, and free agent tight end/linebacker Dick Capp were the team’s sixth and seventh rookies, although neither spent much time in Green Bay.

With Hyland, Horn, Flanigan and Rowser serving primarily as reserves and kicking team players, Travis Williams stands out almost by default even though his impact was almost entirely on kicking teams as well. Williams led the league in kickoff return average and returned an NFL-record four for touchdowns in 1967. Although his first-year promise was never fulfilled, Travis Williams was the Packers top rookie in 1967.

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Hyland and Horn draft pick custom cards and Bass rookie hopeful custom card all colorized.

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