Remembering the First Starts by Former Packers First Round Quarterbacks

Jordan Love is set to make his first career start for the Green Bay Packers this Sunday when the Pack travels to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.

This will be the first time Love will be under center for the Packers in a game that counts. Whether he goes on to a long and productive NFL career, in Green Bay or elsewhere remains to be seen, but this game will clearly be a milestone for the former Utah State star.

Here is a look back at the first NFL start for the most recent Packers quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL Draft:

2005: Aaron Rodgers

The Packers selected Rodgers with the 24th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Rodgers was considered one of the candidates to be the first pick overall but the 49ers chose Alex Smith instead. Rodgers then fell all the way to the Packers who weren’t necessarily looking for a quarterback but couldn’t resist the value Rodgers provided even though they had future Hall of Famer Brett Favre as their starter.

Rodgers made his first NFL start in 2008 after Favre was traded to the New York Jets. For the first three years of Rodgers’ NFL career, he learned on the bench as Favre continued his record-breaking consecutive starts streak.

The Packers hosted the Minnesota Vikings in the 2008 season opener. Rodgers was extremely efficient in his first start, completing 18-of-22 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. His quarterback rating was a strong 115.5. The Packers won the game 24-19.

The touchdown pass was a one-yard toss to fullback Korey Hall in the second quarter. Rodgers also ran for a touchdown from one yard out in the fourth quarter that clinched the victory for the Packers.

1981: Rich Campbell

The Packers chose Campbell with the sixth overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft. He was the only quarterback chosen in the first round of the draft that year although the Saints took Dave Wilson out of Illinois in the supplemental draft.

Campbell never started an NFL game in his brief, four-year career. The former Cal star didn’t have the arm strength needed to get the job done at the highest level.

He saw extensive action in his rookie year in a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Starter Lynn Dickey was already injured and David Whitehurst was knocked out of the game early which meant the rookie was pressed into service. It didn’t go well as Campbell completed 15-of-30 passes for 168 yards but threw no touchdowns and four interceptions including an 81-yard pick six by Cedric Brown that made it 10-0 Tampa Bay. The game was never close after that and the Packers lost 37-3.

1967: Don Horn

The Packers selected Horn with the 25th overall pick in the first round in 1967 to be the heir apparent to Bart Starr. Horn was the team’s second pick in that draft as they selected center Bob Hyland with the nineth pick in round one.

Horn learned behind Starr and veteran backup Zeke Bratkowski for two years before making his first start in Week 7 of the 1969 season. The Packers traveled to Pittsburgh to face the 1-5 Steelers.

Horn struggled in his first start in the NFL. He completed just 6-of-14 passes for 68 yards and threw three interceptions for a quarterback rating of just 18.5. He did run for a touchdown from two yards out in the second quarter to give the Packers a 10-7 lead.

Starr came off the bench and led the Packers to a comeback 38-34 win capped off by a 43-yard touchdown pass to Carroll Dale in the fourth quarter.

Travis Williams was the real star for Green Bay in this game. “The Roadrunner” returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and then returned a kickoff 96 yards for a score in the third quarter. He also scored on a one-yard touchdown run.

Horn started five games for the Packers in 1969 and one in 1970 before being dealt to the Broncos in the deal that allowed the Packers to draft John Brockington.

1959: Randy Duncan

The Packers had the first overall pick in the 1959 NFL Draft after finishing with a league-worst 1-10-1 record in 1958 and they selected quarterback Randy Duncan of Iowa. Although Vince Lombardi was hired to be the team’s coach and general manager for the 1959 season, he did not run the draft that year as he was hired a few months after the December 1, 1958, draft date.

Duncan never played a down for the Packers. He instead opted to sign with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League. He explained, “That was Green Bay before Vince Lombardi and Canada offered a lot more dough.”

Duncan didn’t distinguish himself in Canada and was released after two seasons there. He then signed with the Dallas Texans of the AFL in 1961. Coach Hank Stram started Duncan in two games but he was basically the backup. When the Texans traded for Len Dawson before the 1962 season, Duncan retired from football to attend law school.

Now it’s Jordan Love’s turn. Sunday begins his journey as an NFL starter. We will see whether he provides a solid return on the investment the Packers made, or whether he becomes another first round disappointment.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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8 points

Comments (19)

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PatrickGB's picture

November 06, 2021 at 01:08 pm

Some young QB’s are NFL ready and have a great supporting cast and many are not. It’s hit or miss on most. We all know that he is (at least at this time) not as good as his two predecessors. He only has to be good enough. The team around him looks better than many NFL teams. I have been disappointed that Matt has not been in the running for coach of the year but if he helps pull this off then he should be. Despite the loss of many of our preferred starters we won these last games. Sure, a lot of eyes are on Love. But I am confident that Matt will have a good game plan for him.

3 points
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Oppy's picture

November 06, 2021 at 03:47 pm

"We all know that he is (at least at this time) not as good as his two predecessors."

Favre had a track record by this point in Love's career, having started since game 2 of his second season, but Rodgers was being blasted as a wasted pick and ridiculed for his preseason performances as a rookie (mostly unjustly), and was injured in his second season.

Nobody outside of the Packers knows ANYTHING about how good Love is at this point, especially in comparison to Rodgers.

Let's let the young man get his feet under him.

5 points
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NickPerry's picture

November 07, 2021 at 06:06 am

"Nobody outside of the Packers knows ANYTHING about how good Love is at this point, especially in comparison to Rodgers."

Excellent point Oppy and you're right, NOBODY knows a thing about where Love is except those in the Packers organization. I'd also say that this game isn't the be all tell all either.

Love has had since Wednesday morning to start getting ready for the Chiefs so he hasn't even had a full week. Even so, this system IS QB friendly so I'd expect MLF to have a few packages of what Love does really well and will work from there. Loves BEST friends Sunday other than the O-Line is Jones and Dillon. LEAN on those two young man and I think the Packers will be successful.

I'm also wondering how much Love will take off and run. The kid is pretty athletic so it wouldn't surprise me a nit if he runs for 4 yards in this game to on scrambles.

3 points
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Oppy's picture

November 07, 2021 at 12:11 pm

I don't think of Love as a running QB overall, but if he does, it sure looks like he favors keying off of his right tackle in his college days.. so look for Love breaking outside the pocket to the right, feigning a break inside the tackle, then taking the outside path in short yardage or goal line situations.

1 points
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HawkPacker's picture

November 07, 2021 at 12:12 pm

Very good article Gil. It is nice to go down memory lane and look at the Packer's past successes and failures in the draft.

Hopefully, Jordan will have a nice game and a productive career at GB. It will be hard to believe that he will be great as that would mean that the Packers will have three great hall of fame quarterbacks in a row which would be unbelievable. Go Pack.

3 points
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jyros's picture

November 06, 2021 at 01:27 pm

Maybe… All We Need Is Love! 🎶🎶

2 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

November 06, 2021 at 02:57 pm

I sure hope Love does well in his first start, but if he struggles it doesn't mean he won't be a solid NFL starter.

I think of Payton manning who has won 5 MVP awards; during his first year as an NFL starter, he had 28 interceptions and an overall quarterback rating of 71.2 Those certainly aren't statistics worthy of an MVP nor a Hall of Fame induction.

I hope Jordan runs the offense efficiently, uses his talented running backs plenty, and above all doesn't get injured.

12 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

November 06, 2021 at 03:05 pm

Remember Elway lining up under the guard during his rookie season?

6 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

November 14, 2021 at 08:37 am

That was funny and after you mentioned it, I did recall that humorous play. Just goes to show you that even, a five times MVP can do silly/dumb things when they start out in the NFL.

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Coldworld's picture

November 06, 2021 at 03:17 pm

Rodgers was surprisingly assured in his first full start, but he’d started to look different that third preseason. Before that, his opportunities had been much tougher. Love is really one preseason in since he was basically not used in the short one last year in favor of Boyle. It’s not really comparable in that sense, but hopefully we will see positives from him. I would expect it to be uneven, especially as he hasn’t played QB with his main weapons in the field before.

3 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 06, 2021 at 03:27 pm

Keep in mind the Packers were in the NFCCG with a 13 and 3 regular season right before Rodgers started in 2008.The team was a good team and I still think if Favre was still there we had a strong shot at the SB.

With Rodgers starting in 2008 the team ended up 6 and 10 and last in the division except for Detroit with a 0 &16 record. Meaning of those 6 victories two were completely gimme victories that even Rich Campbell would have won. To me comparing a full season is a stronger evaluation than just comparing the first game passing statistics. This is a team game and I hope it gets back to being a team game in GB!

5 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

November 06, 2021 at 06:33 pm

Given the backdrop of Love's first start - I do believe that he will have a fine game (which I will partially attribute to karma). Perhaps not so much statistically jaw-dropping, but efficient with minimal errors - while providing further optimism. Really, as far as first starts go in the annals of Packers history, it seems that the bar is relatively low - with Rodgers being the highest. So I foresee Love equaling, if not bettering, Rodgers 2008 performance.

4 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

November 06, 2021 at 04:42 pm

Still burned up about that greaser, Duncan, thinking he'd be cooking with gas in Fat City just because he got more dough. Someone should have given that louse a knuckle sandwich right in the kisser! What a bum.

2 points
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joejetson's picture

November 06, 2021 at 07:19 pm

Good article. I'd like to see an.article about high draft pick QB's first full season season as starter. It usually takes a year or two for the young guys to really see what they can do. So if Love has some growing pains, don't judge him too soon.

4 points
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4thand1's picture

November 06, 2021 at 07:44 pm

I remember getting excited about Rich Campbell. Then to see he couldn't throw the ball 4o yards downfield. Love has a strong arm and a running game behind him. Defense is playing really good. Take care of the ball and there's no reason the Pack can't win this game.

3 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

November 07, 2021 at 01:23 am

Had to bring up Rich Campbell didn't you? 😖 That pick devastated me as a 13 year old boy. I was a huge Hugh Green fan and was certain the Pack would take him. Didn't know anything about Ronnie Lott but I would've adapted! Either one would've given the defense enough of a boost to turn those 8-8 seasons into playoff ones.

3 points
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stockholder's picture

November 07, 2021 at 07:23 am

I don't see Love as an investment. There were better investments in that draft. I see Brian Brohm. A pick that was made for a back-up QB. The press has turned this into the Love for Gute. Even the great John Unitus had Earl Morrol for a back-up. If it was more. It's Malice. But now that he is being thrown into the spot light. He must show he can keep this team on the right path to the super-bowl. Anything less and you have a bust.

-2 points
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Bear's picture

November 07, 2021 at 10:06 am

Correlation between Draft Position and "Starter Status"

Using Pro Football Reference as a resource, I looked at all players who were classified as starters at the beginning of the season to determine what round they were drafted in upon entering the league.  Of the 595 players designated as such, the results reveal the following:

Nearly 30% of all starters were 1st round draft picks when drafted into the league;
-          Roughly 30% were taken in either the 2nd or 3rd round;
-          Roughly 26% were taken in either rounds 4 through 7;
-          Undrafted players (14%) were the 3rd most likely group to comprise starters…only behind 1st round (30%) and 2nd round (18%) picks.

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GilMartin's picture

November 08, 2021 at 12:47 am

What about for QBs?

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