The Green Bay Packers raised some eyebrows and dropped some jaws last night when they made a move to trade up in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft in order to select quarterback Jordan Love, the fourth quarterback to come off the board.
The Packers posted a 13-3 season in 2019 with Aaron Rodgers continuing to play at a high level, throwing for over 4000 yards with 26 touchdown passes and just four interceptions, leading an offense that has been supplemented now by a strong running game. To wit, Aaron Jones rushed for over 1000 yards with 16 rushing touchdowns, which helps to explain why Rodgers had comparatively few touchdowns based on what he has been capable of in the past.
And this was in an offense that needed a boost at wide receiver and tight end. Rodgers, apparently, was fully expecting the Packers to do what he seems to be claiming they led him to believe they would do, and bring in a wide receiver or other skill position to help him out.
Instead, they did the same thing they did to Brett Favre, drafting his successor while he’s still playing at a high level. Rodgers is 36 and has been a Pro Bowler every year in which he has started at least 10 games since 2011, with an overall record of 113-60-1. He is routinely included in any top-five list for active quarterbacks.
So why are the Packers moving up to draft the fourth quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft? That’s not important to Pittsburgh Steelers fans, outside of the analogous elements to their own team’s predicament. After all, Ben Roethlisberger is 38 and rehabbing a torn up elbow. Why aren’t the Steelers looking for his replacement in the draft?
Well, for starters, that’s assuming that they’re not. As we sit here, Jalen Hurts and Jacob Fromm are both still on the board, though none of us are necessarily privy to how the Steelers have internally evaluated those players, or how much they may have been in contact.
There is one glaring incongruence, however, between the Packers’ situation and the Steelers’. The Packers had a first-round pick. The Steelers are not picking until 49. If you’re looking for your new franchise quarterback, it’s a bad year to do it when you barely have your first selection in the top 50 prospects, and also lack the ammunition to make a trade up.
I write this only because I saw multiple writers making this connection to Pittsburgh; if the Packers are looking ahead and planning for the future for AARON RODGERS, why aren’t the Steelers doing the same thing for Roethlisberger, who is clearly closer to the end of his career?
Again, first of all, the Steelers have been talking pretty openly since 2017 about the fact that they know Roethlisberger is in his waning years and that they’ve begun sharpening their quarterback evaluation skills. They have already drafted two quarterbacks in the interim, including Mason Rudolph in the third round in 2018, whom they actually felt had the potential to be that successor.
He happens to still be on the roster and Roethlisberger’s backup, by the way. If we’re talking about a multi-year succession plan, which is what Rodgers was for Favre and Love is for Rodgers, then…maybe we shouldn’t be throwing Rudolph to the curb after two years under extenuating circumstances.
And maybe we shouldn’t be assuming the Steelers are ignoring the future of the position. Maybe they just don’t have the resources to take another swing at the franchise quarterback piñata this year.