Packers Top Rookie: 1975

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Bart Starr took over in 1975, and his first rookie class was depressingly weak. Dan Devine had traded the Packers’ first three draft picks away in deals for failed quarterbacks John Hadl and Jim Del Gaizo, although he did replace the second and third round choices in deals involving Dave Robinson and Bob Brown. Starr’s first pick came late in round two, and he selected USC tackle Bill Bain, who was gone from Green Bay in a year although he lasted in the league for another decade. He stormed out of his second training camp after a film session, demanding to be traded, and his wish was granted the next day.

Five other draftees made the roster in 1975: Pacific runner Willard Harrell in round three; Ohio State safety Steve Luke in round four; Massachusetts tackle Bill Cooke in round 10; Pacific quarterback Carlos Brown in round 12; and USC center Bob McCaffrey in round 16. Only Luke would have a significant career in Green Bay. Brown, though, later found fame as actor Alan Autry.

Starr also scanned the waiver wire to bring in four players cut from other teams: quarterback Don Milan from the Rams; receiver Kent Gaydos from the Eagles; kicker Joe Danelo from the Dolphins and punter Steve Brousard from the Saints. All forgettable.

The only rookie contributor was a free agent safety from Cal. State – Fullerton, Johnnie Gray, and he was a good one. Gray took over as the starter at free safety, wearing Willie Wood’s number 24, and remained in the Packer secondary for the next nine years. A hard-hitter and big-play-maker, Gray is now in the Packer Hall of Fame. As a freshman, he picked off one pass and recovered four fumbles; Johnnie Gray was the Packers top rookie in 1975.

 

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