After three years of increasingly successful rookie classes that led to a Super Bowl team, decline set in for 2011. Ted Thompson’s draft was almost entirely disappointing, beginning with top pick Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod, who appeared in just 20 games over four years as a Packer due partly to injuries and partly to talent level. When he did play, he was a virtual turnstile for defensive linemen.
The prize of the draft came in round two with Kentucky playmaker Randall Cobb. Green Bay then chose Hawaii runner Alex Green in round three, New Mexico State defensive back Davon House in round four, Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams in round five, Appalachian State linebacker D.J. Smith in round six and North Carolina tight end Ryan Taylor in round seven. In addition, 2010 fifth round pick Marshall Newhouse, a tackle from TCU, made the team in 2011.
Free agent rookies included safety M.D. Jennings, linebackers Jamari Lattimore and Vic So’oto, runner Brandon Saine and guard Ray Dominguez. Of the 13 first-year men, Dominguez appeared in just one game; Williams, Smith, Green, Saine and So’oto lasted two years; Jennings, Newhouse and Taylor three years; and House, Latttimore and Sherrod four years.
Newhouse did spend two years as a starter, and Jennings was a sometime starter as well, but was most famous for having the ball ripped from his hands by Golden Tate in the “Fail Mary” loss to Seattle in 2012
There were three rookie tight ends and two rookie runners in this class, but none of them proved useful. It’s fortunate that at least the Packers selected Cobb who showed his versatility right from the start, catching 25 passes and returning both a punt and kickoff for touchdowns; Randall Cobb was the Packers’ top rookie in 2011