For the second consecutive year, Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren overturned the roster of a playoff team as they tried to take the next step up. This year, though, it worked. 14 rookies played for the Packers in 1995 as the team improved from 9-7 to 11-5 and a division championship. Seven would develop into starters and one would go to the Pro Bowl as a kick team gunner.
In the 1995 draft, Wolf selected Arizona State cornerback Craig Newsome in round one and then masterfully used four picks in round three: Colorado defensive tackle Darius Holland, North Carolina fullback William Henderson, USC linebacker Brian Williams and Virginia Tech receiver Antonio Freeman. Add in Citadel runner Travis Jervey in round five and South Dakota State guard Adam Timmerman in round seven, and that’s one great draft. Newsome, Henderson, Williams, Freeman and Timmerman became starters, and Jervey starred on the kick teams.
The top pick from 1994, Aaron Taylor, also made his debut in 1995, as did 1993 draftee Bob Kuberski. Two other draftees cut by other teams – defensive back Rod Mullen from the Giants and defensive end Shannon Clavelle from the Bills – also made the team.
Finally, three undrafted free agents played for the Packers in 1995: North Carolina linebacker Bernardo Harris, Southern defensive back Matthew Dorsett and Pacific kicker Dirk Borgognone. Harris would eventually develop from kicking teams’ contributor to starting middle linebacker.
The two first round picks, Taylor and Newsome moved right into the starting lineup as rookies. Both were effective in 1995, so this is a bit of a tossup. Taylor seemed a bit more polished at the start to me, but I liked the physical dimension Newsome brought to the defense; Craig Newsome was the Packers’ top rookie in 1995.