In his first year as GM, Ted Thompson brought in 24 first-year players, although 18 of them would not appear in any games with the team beyond 2006. The roster was severely depleted, so Thompson had a steady stream of players coming and going as he tried to rebuild the team.
In his first draft, Thompson hit home runs on his first two swings before cooling off. California quarterback Aaron Rodgers fell into his hands in the first round, and Bethune Cookman safety Nick Collins was an inspired choice in round two. After that start, lesser light Texas A&M receiver Terrence Murphy came in round two, followed by South Dakota State safety Marvell Underwood and BYU linebacker Brady Poppinga in round four, North Carolina A&T center Junious Coston and Oklahoma cornerback Mike Hawkins in round five, Texas A&M defensive tackle Mike Montgomery in round six and Michigan State guard Will Whitticker in round seven. In addition, 2004 third rounder B. J Sander made the team in 2005. Of the last eight picks, only Poppinga, a three-year starter, and Montgomery, a six-year role player, would be significant contributors.
The remaining 14 rookies were all undrafted free agents and waiver wire pickups. Of this group, safety Atari Bigby, a Dolphins castoff, became a three-year starter, and tight end Tory Humphrey, cut by the Colts, was with the team for three years. Spending a briefer time in Green Bay were the other 12: defensive backs Jerron Wishon, Patrick Dendy, Jeremy Thornburg and Therrian Fontenot. linebackers John Leake and Roy Manning, receivers Chad Lucas and Jamal Jones, runners Samkon Gado and Noah Herron, center Chris White and punter Ryan Flinn. Gado actually led the team in rushing as a rookie with a paltry 582 yards, but was sent to Houston after playing just one game in 2006.
Two of the 24 rookies became starters in 2005. However, starting guard Will Whitticker was cut the following year, while safety Nick Collins was on his way to a Pro Bowl quality career; Nick Collins was the Packers’ top rookie in 2005.