On the day of this year’s NFL draft, let’s take a look at the draft history of the Packers, broken down by the men in charge of the selections. I have given a grade to each first round pick on an A to F scale and computed a First Round GPA for each GM (although not all the selectors carried that title). I gave Incompletes for the four top picks who did not sign with Green Bay (Bob Gain, Randy Duncan, Lawrence Elkins and Bruce Clark) as well as 2015’s Damarious Randall, and Incompletes were not used in the GPA calculation.
For each Packer drafter, the following table shows the number of first round picks he had, his first round GPA, the number of Hall of Famers he picked, the number of All-Pro and Pro Bowl players he picked, the number of men he took who started for Green Bay for at least four years and the top picks to whom I assigned either and A or an F.
|GM||Years||Duration||#1 Picks||#1 GPA||HoFs||AP/PB||4-yr Starters||#1 A’a||#1 F’s|
|Jack Vainisi||1950-59||10 years||11||2.4||6||20||24||Hornung, R. Kramer||Losch|
|Vince Lombardi||1960-68||9 years||13||2.33||2||8||14||Adderley, D. Robinson, Gillingham||Horn|
|Phil Bengtson||1969-70||2 years||3||1.67||0||1||5||R. Moore|
|Dan Devine||1971-74||4 years||5||1.8||0||4||6||Brockington, Buchanon||Tagge, Barry Smith|
|Bart Starr||1975-83||9 years||11||2.4||1||8||18||Lofton||R. Campbell|
|Forrest Gregg||1984-86||3 years||2||1.5||0||3||5||Carreker|
|Tom Braatz||1987-91||5 years||7||1.14||0||8||7||Sharpe||Mandarich, D. Thompson, V. Clark|
|Ron Wolf||1992-01||10 years||11||1.9||0||13||26||Michels, A. Edwards, J. Reynolds|
|Mike Sherman||2002-04||3 years||3||1.67||0||4||3||Carroll|
|Ted Thompson||2005-15||11 years||11||2.2||0||12||19||Rodgers, Matthews||Harrell, Sherrod|
|Totals||1950-15||76 years||77 picks||2.05||9||81||127||11||16|
It’s clear the first round GPA is flawed. First, it’s based on my purely subjective grades. In addition, there is more to the draft than the first round. Ron Wolf’s first round record is weak by any measure, but he built a champion by drafting more solid starters, mostly in later rounds, than anyone else. (Of course, trading a first round pick for a Hall of Fame quarterback helped, too.) It also should be pointed out that his first round picks were generally later picks than Bart Starr, for example, by nature of Wolf building a better team.
Jack Vainisi had the advantage of drafting during a period when there were only 12-13 picks in the first round, making it more likely to find a good player in that round. Vainisi, though, found more blue chippers throughout the draft than anyone else. Vince Lombardi’s failure to continue drafting at Vainisi’s level ensured the end of the Packer dynasty.
In essence, Jack Vainisi collected Hall of Famers; Vince Lombardi collected draft picks; Bart Starr collected mediocrities; Ron Wolf collected solid starters and Ted Thompson follows in his mentor’s footsteps, though not quite as successfully. It should also be said that acquiring players through trades and free agency, hiring the right coaching staff and running a stable organization are all equally important in consistently fielding a winning team.
Vainisi custom card is colorized.