Packers Top Rookie: 1986

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Forrest Gregg decided to blow up the team in 1986, parting ways with many Packer veterans, including Lynn Dickey, Paul Coffman, Greg Koch, Mike Douglass and George Cumby. Gregg brought in 20 rookies in 1986, and five of them moved right into the starting lineup. On the flip side, half of the 20 appeared in fewer than 10 games for Green Bay.

Gregg’s last draft class was weakened because he had traded his first round pick to the Chargers the year before for Mossy Cade in another disastrous personnel move. The 1986 draft produced TCU runner Kenneth Davis in round two, Memphis linebacker Tim Harris in round four, USC defensive end Matt Koart in round five, Tulane linebacker Burnell Dent in round six and Utah State defensive back Ed Berry in round seven. Gregg also selected BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco in round three, but the college record-setter spent two years on the injured list and then was released. Another quarterback, Joe Shields of Trinity, was a 12th round selection in the 1985 draft.

Five more players came from the dissolution of the USFL. Gregg had drafted defensive back John Sullivan in the USFL supplemental draft the previous year. Sullivan joined USFL free agents linebacker Mike Weddington, wide receiver Nolan Franz, tackle Greg Feasel and fullback Paul Ott Carruth in Green Bay in 1986.

Of the nine other free agent rookies, cornerback Elbert Watts had been cut by the Rams and defensive end Kurt Ploeger by the Cowboys. The seven undrafted free agent rookies consisted of tackle Alan Veingrad from East Texas State, guard Tom Neville of Fresno State, linebacker Miles Turpin of California, wide receiver Mike Moffitt of Fresno State, guard Rubin Mendoza of Wayne State, center Bill Cherry of Middle Tennessee State and punter Bill Renner of Virginia Tech.

As noted above, five rookies became starters: Davis, Harris, Carruth, Veingrad and Neville. The one who clearly stood out, though, was 6’6” linebacker Tim Harris, a precursor to Jevon Kearse in both body type and pass rushing ability. As a rookie, not only did Harris gather eight sacks, but he also would drop back in pass coverage to present an expansive obstacle to throw over; Tim Harris was the Packers top rookie in 1986.

1986tkdavis  1986tmweddington

1986tjshield2

Shield custom card is colorized.

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