Type to search

Despite GM Change, Packers Favor Certain Colleges

It’s been a fun and exhilarating draft for Green Bay Packers followers. It’s true, we tend to get our hopes up too much. History tells us that most of these prospects that shine so brightly now will flame out and not even be on the team in two or three years. But maybe, just maybe, this year will be different.

Leading up to the 2017 draft, I did a piece on the colleges and conferences that produced the most players invited to the NFL Combine. I included a list of the colleges that produced the most Packers’ draftees since 2005, which went like this: Pac-12, 20; SEC, 17; Big 10, 12, and ACC, 9.

Updating that list to include the 2017 and 2018 drafts, it looks like this: SEC, 23; Pac-12, 23; Big 10, 15; and ACC, 14.

Prior to the 2017 draft, the schools the Packers drafted most often since 2005 were: UCLA (5), Cal (4), and Iowa (4). The updated and fuller list is: UCLA (5), Cal (5), Iowa (5), Louisville (4), Stanford (3), and Arizona (3).

Despite the small sampling, Green Bay seems to have a special affinity toward two lesser-renowned football programs: Iowa and Louisville. Besides Josh Jackson, the Hawkeyes over the last 14 years, have contributed Micah Hyde (2013, round 5), Mike Daniels (2012, round 4), and Bryan Bulaga (2010, round 1). It’s been a rich vein.

Louisville supplied us with this year’s top pick, Jaire Alexander. Let’s hope he exceeds QB Brian Brohm (2008, round 2), tackle Breno Giacomini (2008, round 5), and guard Jason Spitz (2006, round 3)

The Datone Jones pick in 2013, followed by the Brett Hundley pick in 2015, might have cooled Green Bay scouts on UCLA forever.

After the Big Five conferences, my brief research indicates the conferences that are the next most popular with NFL general managers are: AAC (American Athletic), Conference USA, MAC (MidAmerican), Mountain West and Sun Belt.

From 2014 through 2017, when Ted Thompson was calling the draft shots, he dipped down into the lesser conferences with fair frequency. His 34 draft selections during the four years included three from the Mountain West conference (Utah State and Fresno State), three from Conference USA (Southern Miss, Alabama-Birmingham, and Texas-El Paso), one from the MAC (Miami of Ohio), one from the Sun Belt (Louisiana-Lafayette) and one from Division II (Saginaw Valley State).

Anyone recognize Louisville alumnus Breno Giacomini? I sure didn’t. I looked him up, and he’s still playing. In his 11th year, he signed in March with his fifth NFL team, the Raiders. Good pick, Ted! May Jaire Alexander have as long an NFL career as his fellow Cardinal.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.