The NFL draft is designed to give the teams with the worst records the opportunity to select the best available collegiate players first. These players are usually expected to start right away and provide an immediate impact for their new team. The Green Bay Packers were a playoff team in 2019, which dictated that they would select towards the end of the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.
The NFL world and its fans figured that the Packers would trade up in the first round to select a big play wide receiver to complement quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay was able to trade their draft position (30th overall) for an earlier position (26th overall). But they didn’t trade up to draft a wide receiver. They traded up to draft Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.
The move raised some eyebrows, as well as provided a little irony for fans with long memories. Rodgers is regarded as one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL. When his playing career is finished, Rodgers will be a first ballot Hall of Famer the second he becomes eligible. He’ll be 37 in December and is still playing at a high level. Why would Green Bay select Love to be Rodgers’ heir apparent at quarterback?
The move seems like a slap in Rodgers’ face, as it suggests that he will serve as a mentor to Love. Rodgers’ personality also suggests that this is a situation that is headed for disaster. It offers a hint of irony, considering that Green Bay selected Rodgers in the first round of the 2005 draft to replace iconic quarterback Brett Favre. Favre didn’t offer to mentor and groom Rodgers to become the starting quarterback. Nevertheless, Rodgers sat for three years, became the full time starter in 2008, and led the Packers to a Super Bowl title after the 2010 season.
Favre’s exit from Green Bay proves that unceremonious ends to iconic eras aren’t uncommon. Tom Brady can attest to that, as he departed the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason. It will eventually happen to Rodgers, despite an impressive 2019 season that saw him throw for 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions, as well as lead the Packers to within one win of the Super Bowl.
While Rodgers has already cemented his legacy as one of the all time greats, his competitive fire demands he remain the starter for as long as he seems fit. No one is suggesting Love become the starter in 2020. However, his arrival in Green Bay indicates that Rodgers’ tenure as starting quarterback may not end with his retirement. The only way that’s possible is for Rodgers to lead the Packers to the Super Bowl title this year.
That’ll be a tall task, as the Packers aren’t good enough to beat the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints as they are currently constructed. But it would definitely delay the start of the Jordan Love era by a few years.