First-round picks are escorted to the podium following their selection by an NFL team, have their names splashed across the headlines and are scrutinized throughout their careers. A No. 2 choice arrives with far less fanfare and stands just outside the glare of the spotlight.
Even when a disappointment, in many instances a second-round pick fades into the history books, unlike the top choice when he fails to deliver; however, a home-run pick in the second round can make a team’s draft. Some of the Packers’ finest players arrived via the second round, from Pro Football Hall of Famers to current standouts. The 10-best No. 2 picks in club history are as follows:
10. Greg Koch, 1977 – The Arkansas tackle, taken 39th overall, played in 133 games for the Packers, starting 120. He worked his way into the starting lineup at right guard late in his rookie season and took over at right tackle the next year, where he was a mainstay until he departed in 1985. Koch paved the way for some of the prolific Packers offenses of the early 1980s.
9. Mark Lee, 1980 – Plucked out of Washington 34th overall in 1980, Lee started 140 of 157 contests in his career and had 31 interceptions. Lee tied for second in the NFL in interceptions in 1986 with a career-high nine. He also served as a kick- and punt-returner in his first two seasons, shaking loose for a 94-yard TD on a punt-return in 1981.
8. Billy Howton, 1952 – Drafted out of Rice, Howton developed into the Packers’ chief playmaker throughout the mid-1950s. He averaged over 23 yards per catch in 1952 and set a club record for rookies for TD grabs that still stands with 13. He led the Packers in receiving yardage six straight seasons and paced the NFL twice before being traded to Cleveland following the 1958 season. Howton also had a pair of contests with over 200 receiving yards, more than any Green Bay player other than Don Hutson.
7. Chad Clifton, 2000 – The Tennessee tackle was taken 44th and moved into the starting lineup in his seventh NFL game. Clifton has started every game he has appeared in since, closing the 2010 regular season with 160 contests to tie for 15th in team history. Clifton has been a cornerstone of the offensive front throughout his career and a key part of an offense that has ranked in the top 10 eight of his 11 seasons. He was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2010.
6. Nick Collins, 2005 – Selected 51st overall out of Bethune-Cookman, Collins was an immediate starter and has been voted to the last three Pro Bowls. His impact was immediate as an all-rookie choice, and lasting, with 21 career interceptions for four TDs, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Collins also had a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLV. With his career continuing on its current track he will almost certainly move up.
5. Darren Sharper, 1997 – After a standout career at William & Mary, Sharper was taken by Green Bay at 60th overall. He had a special talent for converting turnovers into touchdowns, scoring off five interceptions and adding two more after scooping up fumbles. Sharper led the team in interceptions for five straight seasons (2000-04) before departing in 2005. He was an All-Pro in 2000, a two-time Pro-Bowl choice and selected to the 2000 All-Decade team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
4. Greg Jennings, 2006 – The Packers struck gold again with a small-school selection in the second round in Jennings, a record-breaker from Western Michigan. He has since evolved into one of the NFL’s best wide receivers and big-play threats, with 322 grabs for 5,222 yards and 40 TDs in 75 career games. Jennings has 17 receptions of 50 yards or more since arriving in Green Bay, and was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2010. He was a key figure in the Packers’ drive to Super Bowl XLV and hauled in two TDs in the victory over Pittsburgh.
3. LeRoy Butler, 1990 – Nabbed 48th overall out of Florida State, Butler helped fuel the Packers’ revival. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, also voted an All-Pro four times and selected to the 1990s All-Decade team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Butler played in 14 postseason games in Green Bay. He also achieved a milestone that few players in NFL history have by recording over 20 career interceptions and 20 sacks. Butler had 38 and 20.5, respectively.
2. Jim Taylor, 1958 – Famed for his toughness, the LSU product became one of the defining figures in Vince Lombardi’s power sweep. Taylor rushed for over 1,000 yards for five straight seasons (1960-64) and led the team in yardage seven consecutive years. In 1962, the fullback was named the NFL player of the year after leading the league with 1,474 yards and 19 TDs in a 14-game season. He departed in 1966 as the club’s all-time leading rusher with 8,207 yards. Taylor was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976.
1. Forrest Gregg, 1956 – Among the all-time greats of the Lombardi dynasty, Gregg stands as tall as any. The SMU tackle was voted to the Pro Bowl nine times and selected as a first-team All-Pro eight times, both at guard and at tackle in 1965. Gregg, who played in 187 consecutive games, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 and was voted to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team in 1994. He also served as the Packers’ head coach from 1984-87.