Risks and Rewards of NFL Draft: Packers’ draft lacks first-round pick for fourth time in history

The Green Bay Packers did not make a first-round selection in the NFL Draft for just the fourth time in team history at the 82nd NFL draft in Philadelphia, Penn. April 27.

Instead, Green Bay elected to trade their 29th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a second- and fourth-round draft pick, the 33rd and 108th picks, respectively. Trading their first-round pick sent the Packers back just four spots, allowing them to take the first selection of the draft’s second round.

The 1975 draft was the first time Green Bay did not come away with a first-round selection. During the 1974 season, with a mid-season record of 3-4, Green Bay’s general manager and head coach Dan Devine chose to send five draft picks to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for 34-year-old quarterback, John Hadl. Devine believed that an experienced quarterback was the missing piece in providing Green Bay with a late season surge in an attempt to make the playoffs.

The five draft picks surrendered by the Packers included their first- and second-round selections in 1975 and 1976 along with their third-round pick in the 1975 NFL draft.

The gamble did not pay off for Green Bay. As quarterback, Hadl won just three games in the team’s final seven contests and the Packers finished the season at 6-8. Hadl was a six-time Pro Bowler who led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns in 1971 and was the 1973 NFC Player of the Year. However, by the 1974 season, he had been replaced as the Rams’ starting quarterback just weeks before being traded to Green Bay and was past his prime.

Hadl played just one and a half seasons for the Packers, totaling 22 games between 1974 and 1975. He finished with 9 touchdown passes and 29 interceptions in Green Bay before being traded in 1976 to the Houston Oilers where he finished his career as a reserve quarterback in his final two seasons.

The trade for John Hadl is remembered as one of the worst transactions in Green Bay history.

The second time Green Bay went without making a first-round selection was during the 1986 NFL Draft. The Packers made a deal with the San Diego Chargers by sending their first-round pick along with a conditional draft pick to the Chargers for defensive back Mossy Cade.

A questionable trade to begin with, as with the Hadl move, it did not pan out for the Packers. Cade played just two seasons for Green Bay before finding himself in legal troubles and serving 15 months in jail. His two seasons as a Packer were the only of his NFL career.

The last time Green Bay went without a first-round selection was 2008. Unlike the draft trades of 1975 and 1986, Green Bay’s decision to trade their 30th overall pick in the first round to the New York Jets did not have an adverse effect on the team. Green Bay used their second-round pick (36th overall) gained from New York to select wide receiver Jordy Nelson, and also nabbed a fourth-round pick in the process from the Jets.

With all draft picks, and transactions for that matter, much is left to chance and a gut feeling by front office personnel. Each and every team in professional sports has had their respective transaction blunders, regrets or “buyer’s remorse.” Those same teams, at some point, have found their own luck at the expense of another’s gaffe.

Take the trade between the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers in 1992.

Green Bay sent their 19th pick in the first round to Atlanta for a young, unproven quarterback named Brett Favre that ultimately returned the Packers to glory and went on to earn his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With great risks can come great reward.

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