“What Ifs” Ep. 1: Aaron Rodgers and the 2005 NFL Draft
Sports are filled with “what ifs;” things that make you wonder how different a teams history might have been if they had drafted a different player, if they signed or not signed a player. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest “what ifs” in sports. In this “episode,” we’ll be taking a look at Aaron Rodgers and the 2005 NFL Draft. Rodgers’ fall in the draft has been covered a thousand times, but let’s look at it again.
On April 23, 2005, the San Francisco 49ers had the first overall
pick in the NFL draft, and a decision to make: Alex Smith, or Aaron Rodgers. Some scouts criticized Rodgers’ mobility, stating that Smith had much better mobility; other criticism of Rodgers ranged from the way he held the ball to his ability to fit into a offensive system. The 49ers selected Alex Smith, who has had a solid career, but if they had it to do over again, there’s no doubt they would take Rodgers.
So what would’ve have happened had the 49ers taken Rodgers? Would Rodgers have become the quarterback he is today? Yes, I think he would still have been pretty good, but let’s not underestimate the effect of being able to sit behind Farve and learn the ropes
had on his development as a quarterback. Sometimes situation is everything with a young player. As an example, Kawhi Leonard: would he have become a MVP contender had he been drafted by someone like the Kings? (No offense Kings fans, but your team’s a mess.) Had he been drafted first, Rodgers would have had to deal with the pressure of being the number one draft pick, pressure to produce from day one. Instead he got to sit back and learn behind a hall of famer until he was good and ready.
Let’s assume that the Rodgers did become the top 3 quarterback he is today, how would the recent 49er teams look? Would they have won more than one Super Bowl? Those type of things are almost impossible to say for certain, but let’s look at 2012, when the real 49ers lost in the Super Bowl. With Rodgers leading the offense, with weapons like Crabtree and Veron Davis, and the defensive core of Navarro Bowman, Patrick Willis and others, I’m fairly certain they would have been able to win the Harbaugh Bowl. They almost certainly would have been able to make the playoffs at some point in 2006–2010 and probably would have beaten the Giants in the 2011 NFC championship game. This is another “what if” entirely, but what if the 49ers had drafted Dez Bryant in 2010. The thought of Rodgers, Davis, and Bryant on the field together along with the 2012 defense is a scary one for opposing teams. Which situation would have been better for Rodgers personally? He would have had a better defense in San Fransisco, but I still think being able to learn behind Farve was the best situation he could have been in. Falling to 24 ended up working out okay for Rodgers, as he’s a Super Bowl champion, future hall of famer, NFL quarterback.
There are two things the world will never know: how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie Pop, and what if the 49ers had drafted Aaron Rodgers.