The 1989 Green Bay Packers Draft – Oh, What Could’ve Been

The 1989 Green Bay Packers Draft: What Could’ve Been

Every team has stories about the player they passed on in the NFL Draft, and the Green Bay Packers are no different.

Packer fans can’t be too upset with the last 17 years or so of the franchise’s history, but let’s take a look at what could’ve been.

In the 1989 NFL Draft, looking to upgrade a sub par offensive line and not wanting to miss out on a stud lineman, the Packers drafted Offensive Lineman Tony Mandarich. Mandarich spent just a few seasons in Green Bay and the league as a whole, retiring after injuries and poor performance. He was highly touted and it probably would’ve been impossible to live up to the reputation he had coming into the NFL. The Packers, however, could’ve selected almost anyone else that year instead, who did they pass on?

Whether it’s as a shutdown cornerback or as an electrifying return man, the thought of Deion Sanders patrolling downfield with a green Packers jersey on makes one wonder how much faster the rebuilding of the Packers would’ve been. It wasn’t until 1993 that the Packers signed future Hall-of-Famer Reggie White in what proved to be the final move to solidify a great defense, but the combination of White rushing the passer and Sanders intercepting the passer’s throws would’ve been amazing.

Another pass by the Green Bay Packers in 1989 was taken on Alabama Linebacker Derrick Thomas. Thomas, before dying prematurely in an automobile accident, would go on to pick up the mantel of Lawrence Taylor as the most dominant Linebacker in the league. Few things would be as unpleasant for an opposing Quarterback than seeing a defense coming at you with Derrick Thomas and Reggie White.

Brett Favre came to the Packers as a backup Quarterback in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons. The combination of Brett Favre and Barry Sanders in their primes and on the same team is pure magic. One of the best passers in the NFL with the best Running Back of his day behind him? Unbelievable. During the 1990’s the Packers won one Super Bowl and appeared in another. The duo of Barry Sanders and Brett Favre would’ve meant at least a couple more Super Bowl victories than that.

The NFL Draft is a tricky thing to project, you can get burnt taking Tony Mandarich or Ryan Leaf early or hit it big getting Howie Long or Terrell Davis late. The Packers aren’t the first, and won’t be the last, team to pass on future superstars to take a dud in the draft. But, it sure can be interesting to sit and wonder “what if” sometimes.

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