Packers Top Rookie: 1974


For the second consecutive year, the Packers drafted a collegian named B. Smith in the first round only to have the player never develop. Like 1973’s Barry Smith, 1974’s Barty Smith was ultimately a bust, but at least Barty, a running back from Richmond, had a reason. He injured his knee in the College All-Star Game before reporting to Green Bay and was never anything but a plodding lead blocker in the backfield.

Green Bay had 16 picks in the 17 round draft in 1974, but was missing picks in the second, third and fourth rounds that had netted the team Jim Del Gaizo, Jim Hill and Al Randolph. Other picks who made the team included Utah receiver/returner Steve Odom in round five, Langston receiver Ken Payne in round six, Connecticut runner Eric Torkelson in round 11, Northwestern State punter Randy Walker in round 12 and Colorado linebacker Mark Cooney in round 16. The best player the team drafted, sixth rounder Don Woods from New Mexico, was cut the week before the season opened. Woods was claimed by San Diego and rushed for over 1,000 for the Chargers as a rookie. Also of note, 15th round tackle Dave Wannstedt from Pittsburgh spent the season on injured reserve with a neck problem before beginning his coaching career.

Three free agents also made the team in 1974: Macalester tackle Lee Nystrom, California-Riverside defensive end Michael Basinger and Tennessee State tackle Carl Wafer. Basinger and Wafer each only appeared in one game as a Packer.

Only four members of the rookie class lasted more than a season in Green Bay; Smith, Torkelson and Payne were mediocrities, but diminutive Steve Odom was an able kick and punt returner, leading the team in both categories as a rookie and scoring on one punt return. Steve Odom was the Packers’ top rookie in 1974.

1974tdwoods  1974tbtsmith2


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