And they were ready to trade in the first round and bypass the more immediate needs to land it.
Green Bay continued its recent penchant for trading on draft day and moved up four places to Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the 26th overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night . The Miami Dolphins also had a fourth-round pick in the trade.
“We think about him a lot,” said Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst. “We think on the road, he certainly has the potential to be a difference in this position, but these things take time, especially in this position. “
The move further deepens the Green Bay quarterback and provides an apparent heir to Rodgers, a 36-year-old twice MVP. Green Bay’s current backup to Rodgers is 25 years old Tim Boyle, an 2018 undrafted free agent who played in Connecticut and eastern Kentucky.
But that doesn’t provide immediate help to a team looking to take the next step after reaching 13-3 in the regular season last year before losing in the NFC championship game. The Packers have clear needs for the wide receiver and the linebacker that will now need to be addressed later in the project.
Gutekunst said the Packers didn’t necessarily decide to take a quarterback so early, but decided to hit when they had a chance to get Love. Gutekunst conceded that it could take some time before Love is ready to contribute.
“We have the best quarterback in the National Football League, and we’re going to have it for a while competing for the championships,” said Gutekunst. “I can understand the fan base and people who sort of think, ‘Why would you do this right now? We’re really excited to bring Jordan here and integrate it into our system. “
Love has won praise for his arm strength and his 6’4 “frame, although he has had inconsistent production at college.
After delivering 32 touchdown passes and just six interceptions in 2018 while leading Utah to an 11-2 season, Love threw 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions last season as the Aggies finished 7-6 under a new team of coaches.
“I was just trying to force the balls and I was doing too much,” said Love.
The Packers can only hope that this decision will work almost as well as the last time they used a first round pick on a quarterback who was not likely to star in a few years.
Green Bay took Rodgers with the 24th overall pick in 2005 after the actions of the former California star plunged on the draft day. Rodgers waited behind the Brett Favre Hall of Fame for three years before taking over and embarking on a career that should eventually lead him to Canton.
“I’m not connected to Aaron yet,” said Gutekunst Thursday evening. “He obviously experienced that. He’s a pro. I think it is definitely something that is a long term decision. “
Love said he was looking forward to the opportunity to start his career behind Rodgers.
“I will be able to learn a lot from Aaron RodgersSaid Love. “He’s one of the big guys in the game, knows what he’s doing, knows a lot, has a lot of knowledge. I’m going to be able to sit behind him, choose his brain and just grow as a player and develop my game and learn all I can from him. “
This is the first time the Packers have used a first round pick on an offensive player since attacking the Mississippi State. Derek Sherrod 32nd overall in 2011. This is the third consecutive year that Gutekunst has made at least one trade on the first day of the draft.
Mike Zimmer, coach of rival NFC North, Minnesota, was asked about the Packers taking Love.
“I think Rodgers should retire,” he joked. “I don’t know what was going on in their minds. We just care for us. We’re trying to get the guys to beat them. “
AP Pro Football author Dave Campbell contributed.
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