OK, let's get to the fun. Those questions are a sampling of the range of takes. Let me start by saying this: In a way I understand that a decent number of fans think this was a bad move, that they everything they do should be to win now while they have Rodgers. There's just not a lot to get excited about when you know the guy probably won't play for three years. And I'm not here to belittle anyone. But ultimately, I guess I don't get bewilderment and rancor There are so many reasons to justify the pick, regardless of whether it works out. The starting point is, even decent QBs are hard to find, and if you don't have a decent one, you have no chance. Zero. And if you have a good quarterback, you always have a chance. They have long careers, so if you find a good one you're set for a decade. Gutekunst has no idea whether he'll have a shot at a QB he likes next year or the year after, and if he didn't do it by then, well, the old adage that the hardest time to find a QB is when you need one is true. Look at Miami. It has all the draft capital in the world and couldn't work out a deal to get the QB it really wanted, Burrow. Second, it's true that Rodgers hasn't been talking about retirement like Favre. But Rodgers is basically a season older (10 months actually) than Favre was when the Packers drafted Rodgers, and Rodgers has an injury history that Favre didn't. Those injuries -- and perhaps another -- are real threats to diminishing his career more quickly than Favre's. Gutekunst has to keep that in mind as well. It's also true that Love could be a bust. But so could anyone else they drafted. It just strikes me as short-sighted to rip this pick or suggest that Gutekunst is in some way incompetent or stupid to do it. Now, if Love does bust, then criticize Gutekunst all you want for a poor evaluation. But if he really liked the guy and thinks he has a decent chance to be winning a starter in this league, how do you not take him? He can find other ways to build out his roster over the next couple months and years, including the rest of this draft. But QBs are too hard to find. I texted an assistant coach with another team this morning, asked him about the pick, he said: "QBs hard to find. They can be the future or great trade bait for future picks!" I think that sums it up pretty well.
You really can't sign Newton until your doctors get a chance to examine him -- serious shoulder and I think ankle issues. And he's going to cost a lot, hard to see how they could afford him while paying Rodgers what they are. As for Winston, this is just my opinion, but hasn't he already proven he doesn't quite have it? As for productively, picking Rodgers in '06 was the most productive selection the Packers have made since I started covering the team in '93. Who's to say this won't be a really productive pick too?
I'd say a big part of it is the combination of the last three things. The accumulation of Rodgers' injuries make him susceptible to decline -- not saying it will happen, maybe he's going strong three or four years from now. But it's not like it's an unrealistic possibility. I don't think it means they're not trying to win now. There are other ways to build the team over the next couple years. Besides finishing out this draft, maybe Gutekunst signs a couple more free agents -- maybe Tramon Williams, maybe a one-or-two-down run stopper, maybe someone else. Maybe he makes a trade. He might have to dip into future salary caps a little more over the next year or two to add people in free agency. I don't think it's a one-or-the-other choice. In a more perfect world, of course you use your first-round pick on a guy who can help immediately, and then when you think Rodgers is done you immediately add the successor you want. But it doesn't work that way. You have to take opportunity when it comes. Gutekunst sees Love as a big opportunity, so he took.
Saw a report that it might have been the Colts they were worried about.
That's a good question. Rodgers still is very much a winning QB in the league, and with a game on the line there aren't many QBs you'd rather have out there -- Mahomes, Wilson. Maybe a horse apiece with him and Brady. Watson seems to have some magic to him. Anybody else? But he's also not the same guy he was a few years ago, at least athletically. That was pretty obvious last year. He can still make plays on the move, don't get me wrong, but he's getting caught a lot more often too. I wouldn't be surprised if they think he could fall off fast in two or three years -- the injury history I mentioned before is a real thing, and they do diminish guys. You just can't mess around at QB, or you could end up like the Packers from between Starr and Favre. Or worst case like Chicago since Luckman.
Yeah, none of those teams was a threat, but somebody trading up from behind them could have been a threat. The deal tells me Gutekunst really likes this guy. Probably going to be a while before we find out if he's right.
I have to think he's, well, this is a family publication, so I'll just say unhappy about it. I would be too if I were him. Of course he wants somebody he can help immediately. And who's going to be happy about the team bringing in your replacement? But this is pro sports, this is how it works. He was on the other side of it 15 years ago. Favre didn't do much to mentor him. I would guess at minimum Rodgers is going to be wary of the guy. But there's another side to this too. I know I read somewhere this offseason that the Patriots thought Brady's play picked up a notch after they drafted Garoppolo. Maybe that will happen here too.
You're not the only person to voice the first part of your question, about Rodgers being the potential No. 1 pick and thus of more value. My response is, sure Rodgers was in the discussion for No. 1 overall, but he ended up making it to 24. Even though a lot of teams after about 8 or 10 that year didn't badly need a QB, they still could have been proactive and taken him (that's what Thompson did). Or a QB-needy team could have traded up from early in the second round to get him in the teens or early 20s. Nobody did. Let's not re-write history. There was a lot of skepticism about Rodgers because of the Tedford thing (none of Tedford's QBs had done much in the NFL before Rodgers), and, believe it or not, about his athleticism.
I just think he saw quarterback as a bigger need than a lot of people, and he got a shot at a QB he really liked and took it. I mean, the safe and easy thing to do would have been drafting any other position. This took some guts in my opinion. The 49ers did lose Buckner, he was one of their best players, so that could make a difference with their defense. I think they lost Sanders too, right? So the pick they spent on him (I'm thinking it was an R3?) is long gone, and so is he. Kinlaw, their R1, is a highly regarded prospect, but -- and I hate saying this all time -- but we don't know if he's actually going to be a good player or just an OK or a bust (injury?) Most players, even first-round picks, are basically only OK or average at best. I'm really curious to see what Gutekunst does not only in the rest of this draft, but after it.
Haven't had a lot of time to think about it yet. I mean, he has to take a WR tonight, either in R2 or 3, right? I guess if I had to bet, I'd bet ILB for the other one. Don't know how much ammo he has to make deals, all those extra picks he has are in rounds 6 and 7, they don't get you a lot of mileage in moves up in R2 or 3. And yeah, CB is a big need too. DL is in play. He's got a lot of work to do and needs to find a couple guys who can help him right away.
I wouldn't think at all. The contract offer is all that matters there. If they offer him a good guarantee and take some of the injury risk off him with an extension this summer/fall, he'll take it.
Yeah, it took courage. He's going to catch an incredible amount of flak for this. I'm sure there are members of the coaching staff who are unhappy -- coaches generally think more in the here and now. I have no idea what LaFleur thinks deep down Sherman was clearly against drafting Rodgers). Gutekunst made a long-term decision, a lot of GMs are so worried about keeping their jobs they wouldn't have done it. The safe thing would have been to take almost any other position. Is it a gamble? Sure. But the whole draft is a gamble. If he'd done this five years ago, yeah, I'd have said it didn't make any sense. But now? Makes all the sense in the world.
It does take a while to develop that chemistry and trust -- you probably saw recently the stories about Brady telling Belichick he's not throwing to this guy or that guy because he doesn't trust him. So it's not just Rodgers. But sometimes they help as rookies. Samuel for SF didn't have a huge year, but he definitely helped that team. Jennings contributed immediately way back when. Seems like rookie WRs are contributing more now than five or eight years ago, I'm sure it's because of all the passing in the college game. But it's still a hard position to play right away and will be harder this year with no offseason stuff and possibly a shorter training camp.
Just guessing here, but I'm thinking that didn't weigh into it. I get what you're saying, they might think rookies will have a diminished impact anyway, so this is a good time to pull the trigger on the QB in R1, because he's not playing for a few years anyway. But I'm still thinking this decision is all about the game's most important position.
Corner could too. They really don't have a nickel back right now, and that's basically a starting position (80 percent of the D snaps). So I could see them drafting there. Though I do wonder if they'll just end up re-signing Tramon Williams for that job after the draft, or at least as the fallback for it.
This will have to be the last question everybody, don't have time to do 2 hours on back-to-back days, my apologies. Have things to do to get ready for tonight. Trading up for Jefferson struck me as odd because of the depth in this draft at WR. I guess if you have him rated a cut above, maybe it's worth it, but that would have been a head scratcher. Trading up for Murray I would have understand, but I wouldn't have given up more than an R4. Too many other needs. And with that we'll call it another chat. Can't thank everyone enough for coming by today, really enjoyed seeing all your comments and questions, and admire the passion. There were way, way too many questions for me to get to them all, so my apologies if I didn't get to yours. Hopefully we at least addressed the main points you were wondering about, and whether you agree or disagree, thanks for hearing me out. With that I have to sign off. Take care everybody, be safe and healthy, and enjoy the rest of the draft!