There’s so much attention given to the biggest draft busts for the Green Bay Packers. Today we’ll flip the script and look at their biggest draft steals.
In 1977 the NFL dropped to 12 rounds, after previously having as much as 30. Considering how much draft analysis has changed over the past couple of decades, we’ll stick to draft classes from 1977-2020, which unfortunately excludes all of the players from the glory days of the ‘60s.
1. Donald Driver – 1999, 7th round 213th pick
Coming out of Alcorn St, Driver was known more for his high-jumping prowess than his wide receiver abilities, and could’ve competed for a spot on the 2000 Olympic team. He fell to the Green Bay Packers in the 7th round in 1999.
It took awhile for Driver to catch on but he finally became a full-time starter in 2002, en-route to his first of three Pro Bowl selections. He would help transition the Packers from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers and played a big role for the 2011 Super Bowl champs.
He retired in 2012 after a 14-year career with the Packers as the franchise leader in both receptions and receiving yards. ‘Double D’ was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 2017.
2. Don Majkowski – 1987, 10th round 255th pick
Don Majkowski quarterbacked Virginia to its’ first ever bowl win in 1984, helping George Welsh turn the Cavaliers into a legitimate college program. Majkowski also started in 1985 and 1986, though he was never particularly productive with Virginia.
He dropped to the 10th round in the 1987 NFL Draft, where the Green Bay Packers decided to give him a shot. He competed immediately, splitting time with Randy Wright in 1987 and 1988. The Majik Man put it all together in 1989, leading the Packers to a 10-6 record and earning his lone Pro Bowl selection.
His feast or famine style of play infuriated but also invigorated a gloomy Packer fanbase. Injuries eventually de-railed his career but he paved the way for Brett Favre. Majkowski retired after the 1996 season and was eventually inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
3. Aaron Jones – 2017, 5th round 182nd pick
After a relatively quiet career with UTEP, Jones was a bit of an afterthought, especially when compared to other running backs in his draft class like Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, Kareem Hunt, and even teammate Jamaal Williams.
All were selected before the Green Bay Packers eventually took Aaron Jones with a compensatory 5th rounder. Jones repaid them by rushing for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2020.
Jones was re-signed to a monster deal and is expected to be a focal point of Matt LaFleur’s offense for the foreseeable future. He’s already proven to be a diamond in the rough as a fifth-rounder.
4. David Bakhtiari – 2013, 4th round 109th pick
There were questions about Bakhtiari’s size and length, and whether or not he would be a tackle or guard in the NFL, which drove him to day-three of the 2013 NFL Draft. The Green Bay Packers took a chance on him and were pleasantly surprised.
He took over starting left tackle duties as a rookie and never looked back. There were some rocky moments early on in his career but Bakhtiari is now considered one of the top tackles in the league.
Bakhtiari has been either first or second team All-Pro each of the last five years and is on pace for a Hall of Fame career. We’ll have to monitor his health after an ACL tear but Bakhtiari has already done enough to solidify himself as a top 5 draft steal for the Green Bay Packers.
5. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila – 2000, 5th round 149th pick
Kabeer left San Diego St as a three-time All-MWC selection and owner of the Aztecs career sack record, with 33. He entered the 2000 NFL Draft as an outside linebacker but had classic tweener traits which held a negative connotation in the early 2000’s.
The Green Bay Packers liked his pass-rushing ability enough to take a flier on him in the fifth round. Not surprisingly, Kabeer began his career as a designated pass-rusher in the Packers’ base 4-3 alignment. He shined in that role, eventually earning a starting gig.
Kabeer had some nice years with Green Bay, most notably, his four-straight double-digit sack seasons. He retired as the franchise leader in sacks after 9 seasons and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers’ Hall of Fame in 2013.
Aaron Kampman – Defensive End (2002, 5th Round 156th Pick), Corey Linsley – Center (2014, 5th Round 161st Pick), Dorsey Levens – Running Back (1994, 5th Round 149th Pick), Mark Chmura – Tight End (1992, 6th Round 157th Pick), Mark Tauscher – Offensive Tackle (2000, 7th Round 224th Pick)
The Green Bay Packers also have a history of finding the right undrafted free agents. Sam Shields, John Kuhn, and Krys Barnes are a few examples.