The defending champion Packers brought in 11 rookies in 1945, and more than half of them stuck with the team for four years or more. Unfortunately, as a group they weren’t that good, and Lambeau’s team began to decline.
Six of the rookies were draft picks…just not necessarily from 1945. Top pick Walt Schlinkman would not join the team for another year, but second pick Clyde Goodnight, an end from Tulsa signed with the Packers. His Tulsa teammate and bookend end Nolan Luhn came in Round 25, and Baylor tackle Solon Barnett was a 14th round pick of the Chicago Cardinals who landed in Green Bay in October.
Two Packer picks from 1942 joined the team in 1945: Washington guard Ray Frankowski was taken in round three and Heisman Trophy-winning halfback Bruce Smith from Minnesota in round 13. UCLA fullback Ken Snelling was the team’s seventh round pick in 1943.
Undrafted free agents included Notre Dame guard Bernie Crimmins, two halfbacks – Russ Mosley from Alabama and Ken Keuper from Georgia – as well as two massive tackles: Ed Neal from Oachita Baptist and Paul Lipscomb from Tennessee. Crimmins and Mosley would both be gone within two years, as would draft picks Barnett, Frankowski and Snelling, although Frankowski would play for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference for three seasons.
Luhn and Goodnight would both start at end once Don Hutson retired a year later. As rookies, Luhn caught 15 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown, while Goodnight grabbed seven for an astounding 283 yards and three scores. That’s 40 yards per catch, but Clyde would never average even half of that ever again.
Keuper was just a role player, but Smith would average 5.2 yards per carry for his career. However, Lambeau gave him just 108 carries during Bruce’s four years in Green Bay.
The two linemen Neal and Lipscomb had the best Packer careers. Neal, 6’4” and 285 pounds officially, was probably the Packers’ first 300-pound player. Stout and strong, he played tackle, center and middle guard, but was better at filling space than moving laterally. Lipscomb, 6’5” and 250 pounds was a starter at tackle right from his first game. Never a great player, he was effective on defense and went to four straight Pro Bowls after being traded to the Redskins in 1950; Paul Lipscomb was the Packers’ top rookie in 1945.
Custom cards are colorized.