Favre to Rodgers to Love.
How many teams can say they had Hall of Fame quarterback play for 30 straight years? Wait, that’s my lede for a post in 2028.
OK, let’s get serious now. This was an earth-shattering move by Brian Gutekunst. Instead of making the safe move and picking the best guy on his board at 30, he gave up a mid-round pick to move up four spots to make a pick that will define his tenure as GM. Guy’s got balls, you gotta give him that.
Will he have a job in five years? It will likely come down to how this pick turns out. When the news broke that the Pack had traded up, I thought my prediction was going to be spot on: that they moved ahead of the Ravens to grab linebacker Patrick Queen, a guy who could inject the middle of Mike Pettine’s defense with the speed and intensity that it lacks. For my money, that was the one pick that could have made the team markedly better instantly.
How foolish of me. The AJ Hawk experience has forever tarnished that position–it’s just not one that this front office values. Instead, to hear Gutey tell it, the way the board fell there was only one player that made sense to them: Love.
What has many of us scratching our heads is, okay, you love Love. Couldn’t you just wait and figure he’ll be there at 30? Who else was going to come up and get him? The Colts? The Jags maybe? The trade shows you just how badly they wanted him, which has us all wondering whether Aaron Rodgers got any sleep Thursday night. And how he will handle and process what happened.
Leading up to the draft, he said all the right things when asked how he’d feel if the Packers drafted a quarterback early. But he knows what this team accomplished in 2019, and where it needs to improve to stay in the playoff mix. And the front office chose to wait to address the team’s needs to select his potential successor. Can’t imagine he and Danica played much cribbage together on Thursday night. I imagine he put a pretty good amount of hurt on one of his bottles of scotch.
With a soon-to-be 37 year old quarterback, Packer fans know the window is starting to close–and so we all expected them to find a guy who can step on the field and make the team better. Gutekunst addressed that shortly after making the pick:
“I know a lot of people will look at this as not a move for the immediate, and I understand that, but the balance of the immediate and the long term is something that I have to consider, and that’s why we did it.”
And of course, that’s how organizations are supposed to look at the draft: it’s not about 2020; it’s about 2020-2028. It’s about giving the team the best chance to win year in and year out.
Ron Wolf always espoused that you can never have enough quarterbacks. And this organization has gotten away from this principle in recent years. This didn’t feel like the time to return to that philosophy, but maybe we’ll look back at this pick the way we look back at the Rodgers pick. As a turning point that kept this team from ever bottoming out.
There will be plenty of time to consider what Matt LaFleur can do with Love. He was considered a top 20 prospect by most evaluators and some ranked him third among QBs in this class, behind Burrow and Tua–comparisons to Patrick Mahomes have been made.
We all wonder about how Rodgers will handle the situation. Maybe this will replace the 2005 chip on his shoulder and bring out MVP caliber play in 2020 (if there’s a season). Maybe he’ll sulk, pout and never shave his beard. Maybe Vikings fans will spend all their time dreaming about buying a #12 Vikings jersey in 2023.
I found it interesting that Mel Kiper listed the Pack among his seven “winners” in round one (the Vikings didn’t make the list–though they added two solid starters on Thursday night).
Taking a quarterback in round one places a big, bold target on your back, if you’re the general manager. Gutey didn’t need to do it, but he did. Right now, there are countless Packer fans who want to don their orange and take a shot at him. They may be the same folks who wanted to do the same to Ted Thompson 15 years ago.
Like you, I’m disappointed the team didn’t add a potential starter and I’m concerned they’ve alienated the best player they’ve had since Reggie White. Let’s see how the rest of the draft plays out before we make any grand judgments.
Love is the first skill position player the Pack has drafted in the first round since Rodgers–that’s an unbelievable stat. They’ve had success finding great receivers in the second round (Nelson, Jennings, Cobb). There are still a nice group of them left on the board, but how many will still be there at 62? And can the Pack afford to move up to get one, after trading away their fourth round pick?
If they can land any of these guys on Friday, it will remove a bit of the sting from Thursday night: Denzel Mims, Michael Pittman, Laviska Shenault, Tee Higgins, KJ Hamler, Bryan Edwards, Van Jefferson, Chase Claypool, Lynn Bowden, Antonio Gibson or tight end Cole Kmet.
This is the part where I remind everybody to r-e-l-a-x. But give me a few minutes: let me convince myself, first.