A Look Back at the Packers Biggest Late Round Steals in the Draft

Most of the attention at the NFL Draft focuses on the players taken in the first round. But many great players who were afterthoughts on draft day went on to very successful NFL careers. Here is a look back at the Packers best late-round draft choices who went on to become stars in Green Bay.

Most of the attention at the NFL Draft focuses on the players taken in the first round. But many great players who were afterthoughts on draft day went on to very successful NFL careers. Here is a look back at the Packers best late-round draft choices who went on to become stars in Green Bay.

Only players who succeeded with the Packers are included in this list. The list is in chronological order:

1941 Tony Canadeo Back Gonzaga 9th round 77th overall

The Packers nabbed the future Hall of Famer in the ninth round of the 1941 NFL Draft and the “Gray Ghost of Gonzaga” went on to become the first 1,000-yard rusher in franchise history in 1949. Canadeo ran for 1,052 yards in just 12 games

Canadeo played both ways for the Packers for 11 seasons and even intercepted nine passes during his time in Green Bay.

Canadeo was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1940s. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame 1973 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

1953: Jim Ringo C Syracuse 7th round 79 overall

The Packers made Syracuse alum Jim Ringo their seventh-round pick in 1953. The 6’1”, 232-pound New Jersey native spent 11 seasons as the Packers starting center and was selected to seven Pro Bowls during that time. He was also an All-Pro six times.

Ringo played for Vince Lombardi’s first two championship teams in 1961 and 1962. According to legend, Lombardi traded him to the Eagles in 1964 after Ringo tried to get the legendary coach to negotiate with his agent. Ringo earned three more Pro Bowl berths with Philadelphia before retiring after the 1967 season.

After retiring as a player, Ringo went into coaching and was head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 1976 and 1977.

Ringo was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1974 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

1956: Bart Starr QB Alabama 17th round 200th overall

The Packers drafted Bart Starr in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL Draft. After he had a disappointing senior year at Alabama, the Packers drafted Starr as a favor to Alabama’s basketball coach Johnny Dee, who was a friend of Packers personnel director Jack Vainisi.

Starr established himself as the Packers starter in 1960. Although he didn’t have the strongest arm, Starr became the perfect extension of Coach Lombardi on the field. He was named to four Pro Bowls during his career and was the NFL MVP in 1966 and the MVP of the first two Super Bowls.

Starr retired after the 1971 season and later coached the Packers between 1975 and 1983, leading them to the playoffs in 1982.

Starr was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

1973: Larry McCarren C Illinois 12th round 308th overall

Even though the Packers didn’t draft Larry McCarren until the 12th round of the 1973 draft, he established himself as the team’s starting center by his second season.

McCarren was 6’3” and weighed just 246 pounds but he made himself into an excellent tactician and a Pro Bowl center. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 1982 and 1983 seasons and was a big part of the Packers explosive offenses of the early 80s.

McCarren was also an ironman, playing in 162 consecutive games for the Packers. He even played the first game of the 1980 season shortly after undergoing surgery for a hernia.

McCarren was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1992. He later went on to a successful career as a sportscaster and presently works for the Packers reporting on the team.

1990: Bryce Paup OLB Northern Iowa 6th round 159th overall

Northern Iowa’s Bryce Paup was selected by the Packers in the sixth round of the 1990 NFL Draft. By 1992, he was one of the team’s starting outside linebackers and he totaled 11 sacks in 1993. A year later, he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.

Paup signed with Buffalo in 1995 and was named to two more Pro Bowl teams while a member of the Bills. He finished his career with 75 sacks before retiring after the 2000 season.

1996: Marco Rivera G Penn State 6th round 208th overall

The Packers drafted guard Marco Rivera in the sixth round of the 1996 NFL Draft. The Brooklyn native became a starter in 1998 and spent seven seasons as Green Bay’s right guard.

Rivera earned three straight Pro Bowl berths between 2002 and 2004 and played in 10 playoffs games for the Packers during that era.

The Brooklyn native was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2011.

1999: Donald Driver WR Alcorn State 7th round 213th overall

The Green Bay Packers have had a lot of great wide receivers in their history like Sterling Sharpe, Max McGee, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson. They’ve had Hall of Famers like James Lofton and the great Don Hutson. But no player caught more passes in Packers history than Donald Driver, a seventh-round draft pick out of Alcorn State in 1999.

Driver caught 743 passes with the Packers for 10,137 yards and 61 touchdowns. He was named to three Pro Bowls and played on the Packers Super Bowl-winning 2010 squad.

Driver wasn’t the fastest player, but he was strong, had great hands and ran meticulous routes. He was always a reliable target for either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers.

His best season came in 2006 when he caught 92 passes for 1,295 yards and eight touchdowns.

Driver was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2017.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (29)

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Point-Packer's picture

April 16, 2020 at 12:20 pm

I love that with all the great WRs Green Bay has had over the decades, a 7th rounder out of Alcorn State who barely made the team his rookie year is the team's all-time leader in receptions. Something beautiful and very Green Bay about that.

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GilMartin's picture

April 16, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Agreed. Driver's personal story is also inspiring. He was a special player and an inspiration. Thanks for commenting.

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Gman1976's picture

April 16, 2020 at 03:10 pm

Last night while I was watching the 2010 NFC Championship (Packers vs. Bears), I noticed that the Packers had 3 very good receivers (Driver, Jennings & Nelson). Then the end of the debate of who to draft came to me: Draft a great receiver! Want to go to the Superbowl? Draft a receiver!

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GilMartin's picture

April 17, 2020 at 12:30 pm

It's a definite need and I'd be surprised if Gute doesn't address it in the first or second round and again on Day 3.

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Pizzadoc's picture

April 16, 2020 at 12:20 pm

I moved here in '94 and am not up on Packers history prior to that, thanks for the lesson and offseason content! I always enjoy your stuff, Gil.

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GilMartin's picture

April 16, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Thanks, Pizzadoc. Glad you are enjoying my history posts. Keep on reading and stay safe.

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splitpea1's picture

April 16, 2020 at 12:55 pm

I was amazed to read in Wikipedia that before the 1990's, most football players didn't use agents and sometimes were accompanied by their parents to the negotiations. Their parents??!! I knew agents were considered to be an affront sometimes in the 1960's, but had no idea it took this long for times to change.

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GilMartin's picture

April 16, 2020 at 01:00 pm

It's hard to believe how recent the advent of the agent really is. Of course, before the 1990s in the NFL, there was no true free agency for players. It was more or less take the contract offer we give you or you can't play. Thanks for commenting, always good to hear from you.

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 16, 2020 at 01:51 pm

You could add Mark Tauscher to the list.
Picked 224th in the 7th round out of Wisconsin in 2000.
Played in 134 games (126 starts) for GB.
Elected to Packer's HOF in 2018.

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GilMartin's picture

April 16, 2020 at 02:03 pm

Absolutely. He's also one of the Badgers who also played for the Packers. Good player. Thanks for commenting.

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Since'61's picture

April 17, 2020 at 09:16 am

Excellent post 13Times. I was thinking about Tauscher but couldn’t remember exactly which round the Packers took him. Glad that someone pointed him out. Stay safe. Thanks, Since ‘61

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ricky's picture

April 16, 2020 at 02:47 pm

Absolutely no offense meant to Bart Starr, but the MVP of the first Super Bowl (at that time called the AFL-NFL National Championship game) should have been Max McGee. He ended up with seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns. And he saved Starr at least twice on some bad passes, in one case stretching back awkwardly and snaring the ball with one hand while his arm was fully extended. Not bad for a guy who was hungover, and was drafted in the fifth round, #51.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 16, 2020 at 03:33 pm

Well, Max had been on the bench and wouldn’t have played except for an injury. The legend is he had enjoyed a night of partying and he was .....relaxed....when he entered the game.

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GilMartin's picture

April 17, 2020 at 12:33 pm

Very relaxed. He totally didn't expect to play but Boyd Dowler went down with an injury on the third play of the game. The stuff legends are made of. Thanks for commenting.

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TheVOR's picture

April 16, 2020 at 05:22 pm

Ya, but he was hung over on his @$$.... He should have won the MVHOP (Most Valuable Hung Over Performance).

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GilMartin's picture

April 17, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Probably could have been co-MVPs. Max certainly had a great game in Super Bowl I and he carried the success in that game with him for the rest of his life.

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CheesyTex's picture

April 16, 2020 at 02:57 pm

3 favorite late round steal prospects from 2020 draft:

Joe Reed, WR, Virginia

A.J.Dillon, RB, Boston College

Josiah Deguara, TE, Cincinnati

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 16, 2020 at 04:34 pm

Deguara is a good FB/HB prospect....Dillon should go in the fourth.

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GilMartin's picture

April 17, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Interesting prospects. We shall see if any of them end up in green and gold

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Leatherhead's picture

April 16, 2020 at 03:29 pm

Scouting and evaluation have improved immensely, but they still haven’t found a way to measure heart and will.

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cheesehead1's picture

April 16, 2020 at 06:16 pm

So true.

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GilMartin's picture

April 17, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Very tough to measure intangibles. You nailed it. And look, we wouldn't want every draft pick to perform exactly as expected would we? Thanks for commenting.

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Demon's picture

April 16, 2020 at 04:40 pm

I remember Ray Rhodes standing at the podium after a training camp practice raving about the rookie Driver. I thought, here we go again , more mindless coachspeak . So glad I was wrong. Was a peasure watching Driver play. Always a huge smile on his face. One of the truly great Packers!

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GilMartin's picture

April 17, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Every once in a while, the coach's speak turns out to be accurate. Driver really did turn out to be something special. Thanks for commenting.

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TheVOR's picture

April 16, 2020 at 05:26 pm

How can the Green Bay Packers All Time Leading Scorer, sixth round (193rd overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft, MASON CROSBY not be on that list? Gosh Crosby has been a great cold weather kicker. Glad he's been resigned.. A lot of really good players on your list, I'd just think the Packers All Time Leading Scorer has to be on that list. What a great draft Pick for GB..

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PeteK's picture

April 17, 2020 at 07:52 am

Because the vast majority of kickers are chosen in the late rounds.

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PatrickGB's picture

April 17, 2020 at 09:14 am

True, yet think of all the games he won for the team.

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GilMartin's picture

April 17, 2020 at 12:40 pm

He's been a great kicker for the Packers for a long time.

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GilMartin's picture

April 17, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Exactly Pete. I thought about Crosby, but most kickers are either late round picks or free agents since teams typically don't use higher picks on them so I didn't include Crosby on this list. But he was a late-round pick who was very successful. Thanks for the comments.

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