The Green Bay Packers tend to make measured moves in the draft, but they’ve endured their fair share of significant draft busts over the decades.
One of the biggest critiques of the Green Bay Packers has become a hallmark of their franchise: the Packers don’t make splashy moves.
While the team tried recruiting Odell Beckham Jr. and remained flexible to keep Aaron Rodgers, the Packers rarely opt to spend in free agency. The decentralized ownership structure offers the Packers a unique challenge in capitalizing on costly free agents, and as it stands, the team instead focuses its efforts on replacing players in the NFL Draft.
The Packers did trade for Brett Favre in 1992, but drafting Aaron Rodgers and then Jordan Love has given them consistent quarterback security for three decades. Over that time, the Packers reached the postseason 22 times, appearing in three Super Bowls and winning two of them. Perhaps more than most NFL organizations, Packers’ success hinges on fruitful drafts.
The Packers have a distinct eye for talent, evidenced by the Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams phenomenon and the rapid ascent of Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Yet every draft choice is a gamble, and while many of those calculated gambles were risk-averse, some resulted in utter disaster.
Here are three of the Packers’ most notable misses in the NFL Draft, with an honorable mention awarded to a future franchise quarterback who never was.
Biggest NFL Draft busts in Green Bay Packers history
3. Jamal Reynolds, Florida State DE — No. 10 Pick, 2001 NFL Draft
At the time, defensive end Jamal Reynolds seemed to be an ideal pick for the Green Bay Packers in the 2001 NFL Draft. A star member of several renowned FSU defensive units, Reynolds built a collegiate career that earned him a spot in the FSU Hall of Fame. Reynolds became even more prominent after famously sacking Michael Vick three times in a resounding 46-29 victory in the 2000 Sugar Bowl. That season, Reynolds was named First-team All-ACC and won the prestigious Lombardi Award. When the Packers traded the No. 17 overall pick and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to the Seattle Seahawks to take Reynolds, it seemed like a fair exchange.
Sadly, Reynold’s NFL career seemed to end before it could truly begin. During training camp, Reynolds suffered a knee injury that caused him to lose out on the starting role to Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. Reynolds didn’t see the field until Week 10 of the 2001 season, finishing the year with two sacks, four tackles and two forced fumbles. Reynolds underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in the subsequent offseason, and the lingering effects of his injury continued to affect his play into the 2002 season. Because of his absence, Reynolds eventually lost the starting role to Gbaja-Biamila, and the Packers cut their losses by the 2004 season.
In three seasons with the Packers, Reynolds didn’t see a single start. His NFL career effectively ended by the 2004 season, marking a disappointing end to the career of a Top 10 talent.