Packers First Round Quarterback History is Mixed

Since many feel the Packers should draft a quarterback in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, here's a look back at all the quarterbacks the team has taken in the first round in its history.

There are some experts and fans who believe the Packers should draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft to prepare for Aaron Rodgers’ eventual retirement.

Here is a look back at the quarterbacks the Packers selected in the first round of the draft throughout their history. As you can see, the results from these selections have been mixed. Some went on to Pro Bowl or even Hall of Fame careers. Others, however, failed to live up to their advanced billing as future franchise quarterbacks.

1938: Cecil Isbell

The Packers chose Isbell with the seventh overall pick in the 1938 NFL Draft. The former Purdue star went on to a strong career with the Packers although he retired after just five NFL seasons.

Isbell became the first passer in NFL history to throw for more than 2,000 yards in a season in 1942 and he set a new league record by throwing touchdown passes in 23 consecutive games from 1940-1942. He retired with the streak still intact.

In five NFL seasons, Isbell teamed with the immortal Don Hutson to make the league’s most dangerous passing combination. Isbell earned four Pro Bowl berths and twice led the league in passing yards and touchdown passes.

He led the Packers to the NFL Championship Game twice, falling in 1938 in a close game with the New York Giants, 23-17 while beating the Giants the following year 27-0 in a game played in Milwaukee.

Isbell was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1930s and was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1972.

Isbell later coached the AAFC’s Baltimore Colts and the Purdue football team. He died in 1985 at the age of 69.

1952: Babe Parilli

Vito “Babe” Parilli was the Packers first round pick in the 1952 draft. The former University of Kentucky star was the fourth overall pick in the draft. He spent his first two NFL seasons with the Packers, starting only nine games and going 2-7-0 in those starts.

Parilli returned to the Packers in 1957 after a stint in Canada and a season with the Cleveland Browns. He served as a backup for two more seasons with the Packers, going 1-4-0 in five starts.

In 1960, Parilli signed with the Oakland Raiders of the AFL and he spent the rest of the decade playing for the Boston Patriots and New York Jets. In fact, Parilli served as Joe Namath’s backup on the Jets Super Bowl winning team of 1968.

Parilli never made it big in the NFL but was a three-time AFL Pro Bowl player and had a solid if not spectacular pro career. After retiring as a player, Parilli later coached in the WFL and the Arena Football League. He died in 2017 at the age of 87.

1959: Randy Duncan

The Packers selected Iowa’s Randy Duncan with the first overall pick in the 1959 NFL Draft. The Pack was coming off their worst-ever season, a 1-10-1 campaign in 1958. Duncan decided not to play with the Packers and instead signed with the British Columbia Lions of the CFL. The Packers hired Vince Lombardi as coach and GM just two months later.

Duncan spent two seasons in Canada and then became the backup on the AFL’s Dallas Texans in 1961. He rode the bench in Dallas and retired before the 1962 season when he realized he was not going to get much playing time.

After retiring from football, Duncan later went to law school and had a successful legal career in Iowa. He died in 2016 at the age of 79. Duncan never lived up to the hype of being the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

1967: Don Horn

The Packers selected Don Horn with the 25th overall pick in the 1967 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with the Packers, serving mostly as a backup to Bart Starr.

Horn had his best game during the 1969 season finale. He threw for 410 yards and five touchdown passes during a 45-28 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Horn started five games that season going 4-1-0.

When Dan Devine took over as head coach in 1971, he traded Horn to the Denver Broncos. He started nine games for Denver that season but was never able to establish himself as the team’s quarterback.

After two seasons in Denver, he spent a year with the Browns and a year with the Chargers before finishing his career with the Portland Thunder of the WFL.

Horn retired and went on to a successful career in real estate in the Denver area.

1972: Jerry Tagge

Green Bay native Jerry Tagge was the Packers first round pick out of Nebraska in 1972. He was the 11th overall pick after leading the Cornhuskers to a pair of national titles in 1970 and 1971.

Tagge never really panned out in Green Bay. He backed up Scott Hunter during the Packers 10-4 season in 1972 and then started six games each in 1973 and 1974, going 6-6-0.

He completed 48.4 percent of his passes and threw three touchdowns and 17 interceptions during his three seasons in Green Bay.

The Packers cut Tagge before the 1975 season. After a brief stint in the WFL, he signed with the BC Lions of the CFL where he enjoyed three productive seasons before a knee injury ended his career in 1979.

1981: Rich Campbell

The Packers selected Campbell with the sixth overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft out of Cal. Green Bay’s coaching staff quickly realized that Campbell lacked the arm strength to excel in the NFL. He never started a game for the Packers during his four years with the club.

His best moment came in 1984 when he threw a last minute 43-yard touchdown pass to Phil Epps to beat the Bears 20-14.

Campbell was traded to the Los Angeles Raiders before the start of the 1985 season, but he never made the team and retired.

In his career, Campbell completed just 45.6 percent of his passes, threw three touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

2005: Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers was one of two players being considered as the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, but the 49ers chose Alex Smith instead and Rodgers fell all the way to the Packers at 24. The Packers felt Rodgers was too good to pass up, so they selected the Chico, California, native despite already having Brett Favre as their starting quarterback.

Rodgers has gone on to an outstanding career. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XLV after leading the Packers to a 31-25 win over the Steelers. He was also the NFL MVP in 2011 and 2014.

Entering the 2020 season, Rodgers is the NFL’s all-time leader in career quarterback rating with a 102.4. He has thrown 364 career touchdown passes while tossing only 84 interceptions in 15 seasons.

Rodgers has led the Packers to the playoffs nine times during his 12 seasons as a starter and has won 11 postseason games.

There is no doubt Rodgers will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after he retires. He is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (49)

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 11, 2020 at 12:35 pm

In that 1981 draft, the player taken two spots after Campbell....Ronnie Lott. Then three picks after the Packers picked Gary Lewis in the second round, the Chicago Bears picked....Mike Singletary. Two HOF's. Ouch!! Hindsight and all that...but still!

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:52 pm

Yeah a lot of those 70s and 80s drafts were full of smh moments. So many what ifs. That's why the Pack went through that dry spell from 1968-1992. Thanks for commenting.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 11, 2020 at 02:30 pm

Don't even get me started on the three whiffs on Joe Montana. Bart was not a GM.

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:22 pm

No he wasn't and neither was Dan Devine for that matter. But most teams whiffed on Joe Cool at least twice.

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Tundraboy's picture

April 11, 2020 at 07:02 pm

Looking back that was OUCH!

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GilMartin's picture

April 12, 2020 at 11:42 am

very ouch

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Curt's picture

April 12, 2020 at 10:56 am

Not a great personnel department during that time frame

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GilMartin's picture

April 12, 2020 at 11:43 am

and it really cost the franchise for a long time

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Stroh's picture

April 13, 2020 at 11:06 am

There wasn't a personnel dept to speak of and the executive committee had a lot of say in who was drafted even thou they weren't football men, they were local business men.

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Lare's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:06 pm

As with any rookie (and especially at QB) you never know what you're going to get until they get into games and perform in live action. And if GMs miss, it's typically a pretty costly miss (see Mitch Trubisky).

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:53 pm

Very true, Lare. Missing with QBs is a bigger issue because it usually sets the team back a few years, not to mention you don't add a talented player in the first round to help your team in other areas. Thanks for the comment.

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stockholder's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:16 pm

The grades on these QBs are to low for the first round. If Gutey takes a Qb, he not only will start a QB controversy. But his job status in Green Bay would be in serious jeopardy. Will he be as lucky as TT was with Rodgers? I don't believe so. Looking back on his drafts; they suggest he hasn't earn his stripes for such a gamble. He's earning a reputation with Free Agents. Proven Talent! The status of his draft picks are still in limbo. The best thing for gutey is stick to what he started. Finish building the Defense!

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:55 pm

I agree this is not the time to draft a quarterback in the first round. Maybe in a year or two. This will be a very interesting draft for Gutekunst and the Packers and a very important one. Thanks for commenting.

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Daren726's picture

April 12, 2020 at 12:35 am

I don’t really see anybody in this year‘s draft that has the potential to be as good as Rodgers or Favre. I would pass on quarterback in this year’s draft if I were Gute

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splitpea1's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:24 pm

Regarding 1981 pick Campbell, that's what happens when you're bull-headed and don't listen to the scouts. Of course Campbell says he didn't get the coaching he needed at the time, but apparently no one else gave it to him, either.

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:57 pm

Campbell didn't have the arm to be a quality NFL quarterback. The coaching staff realized that after his first practice. I don't know what the scouts missed prior to the draft or if Bart Starr just ignored them. Campbell was a bad miss with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Thanks for commenting.

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splitpea1's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:08 pm

I'm not disputing your point at all. I'm just giving you Campbell's side of it, which appeared in a Sports Illustrated post from about a year ago.

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:23 pm

Yeah, I recall that. It wasn't a good match either way, no doubt. Thanks for sharing it.

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DraftHobbyist's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:24 pm

This is kind of meaningless because there aren't enough recent data points, but granting the main point that a 1st Round QB is risky, that's exactly why you need to start taking them before you actually need them. If you take one and he doesn't pan out, you have time to take another. If the first one pans out then you move on from the aging and declining QB.

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:59 pm

Interesting take from this and I think the logic holds up. Football is a business and this is a business decision. Thanks for the comment.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 11, 2020 at 02:33 pm

Or move on an established QB that reaches free agency as per the Viqueens philosophy.

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dobber's picture

April 11, 2020 at 02:52 pm

I'm very happy with their willingness to accelerate their cap issues by giving Cousins a guaranteed contract...and extending it. Well done, Rick Spielman!

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:27 pm

Here, here. Keep up the good work. And keep shedding talent off your roster while you're at it :)

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:25 pm

Yeah but boy did they overpay...

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fordguy's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:13 pm

So basically what you're saying is to waste Rodgers last few years trying to replace him instead of trying to win with him? That's really a complete waste of a franchise qb let alone saying instead of you retiring we're going to show you door. SMH

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:29 pm

I am actually saying the opposite of that. I don't think this is the right year to take a QB in the first round. I'd wait another 2 years unless somebody unbelievable falls into their laps like Rodgers did. Thanks for commenting.

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Tarynfor12's picture

April 11, 2020 at 01:40 pm

As the college style of play continues to be incorporated into the NFL, whether a QB is NFL ready becomes moot. The NFL once upon a time commanded a QB sit and learn the ways of the NFL style of play and almost a 100% restructure of his mental, physical and mechanical parts of many a QB with very dew exceptions.

Teams are now in 'win now' mode with QB's and will become even less inclined to keep any past their first contracts if the win now isn't provided. Just chuck them aside and get another one. The possibility of career long tenures will become moot as the new college style running QB will fizzle out from not winning or suffering the career ending leg injuries. Just a matter of time.

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 02:01 pm

Yes, Taryn, teams are definitely in win now mode with all quarterbacks. The days of waiting 3-5 years for a rookie to learn the NFL are over. The fact that college and pro offenses are closer in style than they ever were does help. Thanks for the comment.

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Lphill's picture

April 11, 2020 at 02:16 pm

Draft a QB , trade Rodgers to the Patriots or 4 9 ers so he can get his second ring use the extra picks to rebuild , I bet either team gives a first and second this year and next year as well for Rodgers.

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:10 pm

How many times does this have to be explained to you? They CAN'T trade or cut Rodgers in the next two years as it would absolutely destroy their salary cap. Try and learn a little bit about how the NFL works before posting.

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Tarynfor12's picture

April 12, 2020 at 10:18 am

As many times that he can get you to repeat your reply. You're the puppet on his string.

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 12, 2020 at 11:50 am

Or maybe it's actually you. Certainly a common thread of negativity.

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Tarynfor12's picture

April 12, 2020 at 12:15 pm

It isn't but, I have found many here to be at times easily manipulated as a puppet on a string. You seem destined to be the easiest.

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 12, 2020 at 12:29 pm

I think you give your friend way too much credit.

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Tarynfor12's picture

April 12, 2020 at 01:23 pm

Not giving credit, just stating the obvious.

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 12, 2020 at 01:47 pm

You sure do seem to know his intentions quite well. Sure you're not one and the same?
Lots of similarities. Both negative 90-95% of the time. Both think you're smarter than the professionals in the front office. Wouldn't be the first time someone has had more than one account on here.

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Tarynfor12's picture

April 12, 2020 at 02:42 pm

I don't know his intentions, I merely made an assumption. I'm not negative 90-95% of the time, it's simply how many refuse to look at things in a reality based format. You claim I believe I'm smarter than the people in the FO, yet you claim to be as smart. Your ignorance equals that which you presume of mine. Though I never claim anything but simply comment and offer an opinion. You demand cease and decease of those who disagree and warrant a foot be placed on their right to have such and repeat it as often, while you mandate agreement with yours as often as you deem yours be allowed.

Make things easier for yourself, just ignore that and them which annoy and then compel you to act out in such childish behavior. Nobody else seems to care how often he repeats his opinion.

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 12, 2020 at 03:06 pm

Well, I have never claimed to be as smart as those in the front office. You, on the other hand, act as though they have no idea what they're doing. This is an organization, that I believe, has reached the playoffs more times in the past 20-25 years other than NE. Is your background in player personnel? If so, I defer to your more experienced commentary.

I guess the real question is why does it bother you if I find his repeated, misinformed comments irritating? I never said he didn't have a right to post his nonsense. I also have the right to call it just that...nonsense. It's a public forum.

You have a wonderful day.

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ricky's picture

April 11, 2020 at 02:49 pm

Don Horn set Lambeau records with 410 passing yards and five TD's in 1969 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He was then traded to Denver for a #1, which the Packers used to get John Brockington from Ohio State, who was a very effective runner for three seasons. Especially when combined with McArthur Lane, forming the "Bull Elephant Backfield." They made the playoffs in 1972, but lost to Washington, which used a stacked line to stop the run. Unfortunately, Scott Hunter, the Packers QB at the time, was not able to take advantage of the reduced pass coverage, and the Packers wouldn't make the playoffs for another decade.

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GilMartin's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:24 pm

I remember the 72 season well and Brockington was the best player on the Green Bay offense for at least four or five seasons. Thanks for commenting, Ricky.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 11, 2020 at 03:56 pm

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “can’t live with them, can’t live without them. “. Well, it’s true about QBs and high draft picks. Most of the ones taken after about #40 will never be “the guy”, so you have to use a high pick on a guy who probably not succeed either, but you’ve got a better chance.

Most of the starting QBs are first, or early second, round choices.

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stockholder's picture

April 12, 2020 at 07:10 am

Brady?

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Bure9620's picture

April 12, 2020 at 08:52 am

Romo, and Warner were undrafted too, Wilson was a 3rd rounder.

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KneelYoung's picture

April 11, 2020 at 11:07 pm

No and NO and No and No and No

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Billyk24's picture

April 12, 2020 at 08:37 am

1971 the Packers carried 4 QB-Zeke-Bart-Scott Hunter-Fran Patrick. in 1972 it was Hunter-Patrick-Taggie. It is interesting to note that both Patrick and Taggie came from the same school, played on the same team. Taggie took Patrick's starting job at Nebraska and Patrick was moved to tight end but the Packers moved him back to QB. Taggie and Rich Campbell were terrible 1st round draft choices. If I remember correctly, GM Starr rebutted his scouts attempts to go after Joe Montana from Norte Dame. As for QB, it is possible to remain a playoff contender with a multiple QB over the years as the Vikings have done.

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GilMartin's picture

April 12, 2020 at 11:45 am

Yes, Tagge and Campbell were not good first round picks, they never panned out. It is possible to remain a contender with different quarterbacks, but the Vikings have yet to reach a SB since 1976. Thanks for the comment.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

April 12, 2020 at 12:10 pm

A sad recap of the pathetic teams and leadership for so long. I can't help thinking how this was compounded with Tony M and steriods. At that time no fan could be second guessed for not knowing about steroids, but a the GM of an NFL team? Or was the GM not only bad at his job but a liar as well?

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GilMartin's picture

April 12, 2020 at 12:21 pm

It was a mistake taking Mandarich, although every "expert" and commentator said he was the best player available in the draft that year, he had the highest grade. Maybe it was wishful thinking that either steroids were not the reason for his success in college or that he wouldn't get caught in the NFL. Either way, it was a blunder as so many players taken early in the draft went on to HOF careers and Mandarich was a bust. Thanks for commenting.

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HankScorpio's picture

April 12, 2020 at 03:40 pm

I have 5 letters for everyone worried about the Packers drafting a QB. R-E-L-A-X. If someone too good to pass up falls into their lap, of course they should jump on him. But the guy they have will be fine with another WR that can really play and yr 2 with ML offense. And this draft ought to provide that.

They have not had Rodgers and 2 WRs that could really play healthy at the same time since 2016 season. That year, the offense dragged a horrific defense kicking and screaming to the NFC CG.

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