Packers Top Rookie: 1985

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In his second draft, Forrest Gregg made some nice picks of both starters and role players, but the 1985 rookie class is most remembered for an ill-fated trade.  In the draft, Gregg selected USC tackle Ken Ruettgers in round one, San Diego State guard Rich Moran in round three, Mesa slot receiver/return man Walter Stanley in round four, Arizona State linebacker Brian Noble in round five, Texas A&M tight end Mark Lewis in round six, Wisconsin runner Gary Ellerson in round seven, Wisconsin defensive back Ken Stills in round eight and Wake Forest defensive back Ronnie Burgess in round ten. Ruettgers, Moran and Noble all turned out to be very good players, while Stanley, Ellerson and Stills were decent role players.

The previous year’s USFL supplemental draft brought Auburn defensive back Chuck Clanton for three games.  Nose tackles Mark Shumate from Wisconsin and Tony DeGrate from Texas were both waiver claims who lasted five games combined in Green Bay. Cal-Poly’s Joe Prokop and Michigan’s Don Bracken both were undrafted free agents who punted for the Packers in 1985.

That leaves one rookie who Gregg thought so highly of that he traded away his 1986 first rounder and a conditional pick to obtain: defensive back Mossy Cade. Cade was the sixth overall pick of the Chargers in 1984 out of Texas, but signed instead with Memphis of the USFL, where he spent one lackluster season. In Green Bay, his ordinary performance on the field was overshadowed by his being charged with sexually assaulting his aunt following his first start. A character guy he was not, and the organization was stained by his odious behavior. He was convicted after the 1986 season and served two years in prison. After a three-day tryout with the Vikings in 1988, he disappeared from public view.

As for the worthwhile players in the class, Ruettgers would not earn his starting spurs for another year, but then would hold down the left tackle position for a decade. Moran and Noble both became starters as rookies, but the stalwart, hard-hitting Noble made the greater impact; Brian Noble was the Packers’ top rookie in 1985.

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