GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - How is this for symmetry? It was exactly 15 years to the day that the Packers selected Aaron Rodgers, hoping he would be the successor to future Hall of Famer Brett Favre.
Thursday night, the Packers drafted Jordan Love, hoping he will be the successor to Aaron Rodgers.
General Manager Brian Gutekunst thought so highly of the Utah State quarterback he traded up four spots in the first round to get him. The Packers switched picks with the Miami Dolphins and also gave up their fourth-round pick, 136th overall.
It was the fourth first-round trade for Gutekunst in 3 years, but this was by far the biggest. “I know a lot of people will look at this as an odd move for the immediate and I understand that, but there's the balance of the immediate and the long-term,” Gutekunst said late Thursday night. “That's something I have to consider and that's why I did it."
Love becomes the first skill player selected by the Packers in the first round since... Aaron Rodgers.
"I am just super excited," Love said. "It's just all excitement right now. Hey, I mean I didn't know what to expect going into this so I am super excited. I had some good talks with the coaching staff here in Green Bay, so I am excited."
The 6'4" Love has tons of physical tools, but most scouting reports say he needs a year or two to develop. Gutekunst said, "I think we are a really good fit for his development."
Love finished his 3-year career with 60 touchdowns and 29 picks, but 17 of those came last year. He also had 9 rushing scores, 7 two years ago.
Rodgers is under contract for four more years and plans to play all of them at least, so Love is going to sit and learn... at least right away. And he's ready to learn.
"Oh, I am already knowing that I can learn a lot from Aaron Rodgers. That is one of the GOATs right there in the game. I am excited to come back behind him and learn as much as I can."
Rodgers sat for 3 years before taking over the starting job in 2008.
If Love sits for 3 years, the Packers can get out of the final year of Rodgers' mega-contract with very little salary cap pain. He's made no secret about finishing his career as a Packer, and he wants to play out his current contract and possibly longer. Gutekunst did not seem eager for a change in that plan, even after drafting Love Thursday night. "We’ve got the best quarterback in the NFL and we plan to have him for a while." And when asked if Love was the logical successor to Rodgers, Gutekunst responded ““I don’t think you can put that on him right now.”
Rodgers talked about the possibility of the Packers drafting a quarterback on Jason Wilde and Mark Tauscher's radio show on ESPN Milwaukee last month.
"I still feel like I have a ton of years left playing at a high level. I'm confident enough. I've always felt like it doesn't matter who you bring in, they're not going to be able to beat me out anytime soon. I feel really confident about my abilities and my play."
He went on to point out the Packers drafted two quarterbacks in 2008, his first year as a starter, and, "I understand the business and the nature of it. Obviously love to bring guys in that are going to be able to play and compete right away. I understand it's a business. I wouldn't have a problem."
Gutekunst said he hasn't talked to Rodgers yet about the new acquire.
"I haven't talked to him. He's obviously been through this. He's a pro," he said Thursday night.