So here’s the ultimate irony of how badly Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst most likely soiled his mattress last night.
Going into the evening we had Utah St. quarterback Jordan Love ranked the 25th best prospect in this draft, so when a team traded up to 26 to take him, it might have made perfect sense and giving up the extra fourth-round pick to do it isn’t punitive at all when you consider he’s a QB.
Perfect sense for almost any other team in the league but the Packers.
Now please allow me to urgently call your attention to that phrase “most likely” in my opening line.
The one unalterable rule of any NFL draft is we never attempt to judge it or grade it until at least two or three years later when we know what kind of professional football players these kids become.
Love is a fascinating prospect with some really exciting traits who was a true lightning rod with most of the numerous teams we talked to leading up to Thursday night, a few of whom “loved” him, but equally as many that were quite critical.
Let’s start with the pros.
At 6-4, 224 pounds with long arms and 10 ½ inch hands, this kid was built to play the position. He is an excellent athlete and his arm talent is very good if not special. Early in his career he did have special performances in big games at Utah St. He makes big plays from both inside and outside the pocket and every once in a while makes some of those throws that have you asking did he just do that?
The problem is had he not played the 2019 season he might have been drafted even much higher than he was.
Love’s ‘19 campaign saw him take a significant step backwards and his 20 TD/17 Int. ratio left a number of G.M.s a bit freaked. Granted he lost some talent around him, but his accuracy was mediocre, well off his 2018 season, and he didn’t appear to be seeing and reading the field well much of the time. Love’s throwing motion isn’t nearly as compact as you’d like, and it’s just not clear that his football I.Q. is near where it will need to be at the next level.
Classic boom or bust pick, right?
But does he remind you of any other Green Bay QB moves at the times they were made, maybe No. 4 and No. 12 whom I believe the Packers are batting a thousand on at the moment?
Remember the Packers didn’t need Aaron Rodgers when they drafted him either and like Rodgers, Love should have two maybe even three seasons to develop, so with the right coaching, who knows?
One other thought to consider is we’ve all wondered how the current state of the world would impact decision makers’ thoughts in this draft.
What if this coming season is delayed or even lost due to the coronavirus? What impact might that have on the time Rodgers has remaining at his peak and the extra time to work on Love?
All food for thought. This could work out fine.
Unfortunately for Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur, though, in today’s world of instant gratification and the reality that NFL also stands for “not for long,” the cons may outweigh the pros here.
2019 was a remarkable year for the Packers, getting to within a game of the Super Bowl after two straight seasons out of the playoffs, and Rodgers is still Rodgers.
But it’s hard to find an objective analyst anywhere that isn’t a Packer fan who believes the talent was as good as the result, most feel there was a good dose of destiny involved and it’s a team that entered this draft with significant needs just to stay even with the board, let alone take a step forward.
Gutekunst has to and is expected to find upgrades at wide receiver, tight end, linebacker and in the secondary. He has one of the worst run defenses in the league and his club isn’t moving forward until it is improved.
There were better prospects available than Love in every one of those areas.
That’s why so many went so nuts when the kid’s name was called, not because he isn’t an intriguing prospect.
And keep in mind this is not a young Packers team. The current window is well more than halfway shut.
But perhaps even more damaging here is the reality of living with Rodgers.
Anyone who believes blame for all the damage done during those failed 2017 and 2018 season playoff misses lies at the feet of Mike McCarthy is living in an alternate universe.
Rodgers is not only one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, he is also one of the game’s biggest divas and far too often a distraction and a problem.
The idea that the decision to bypass the necessary weapons for him and the team to improve and play at their peak now in order to draft the guy management hopes will cost him his job isn’t almost certainly a disaster waiting to happen, it feels completely out of touch with reality.
Put much more simply, he’s a great, great football player but Rodgers isn’t even a decent let alone good guy, and if we take anything at all from the Rodgers-McCarthy soap opera, this is going to be a problem.
Yes, Gutekunst does have two more days and eight more picks to fix all else that is broken, but as sure as the sun did rise this morning, he better make the most of them.