Sunday, April 30, 2023

Turning the page ... A-A-Ron gone ... NFL Draft done. Hit it ...

Dear fellow Packers fans, yes, I know. There have been no posts here since the debacle against Detroit that dropped us from the playoffs before we could even get started. That was a tough one, as you know.

As QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Randall Cobb walked off the Lambeau Field turf together, you kind of knew: this was it. Yes, Rodgers was still under contract. A big contract. But keeping him on at this stage, approaching age 40 with seemingly declining performance late in the season in the cold, even at home, was problematic at best on a number of levels. The Packers needed to see what they had in backup QB, Jordan Love. Time to turn the page. Not with a rebuild per se, but definitely a new era in Packers football was going to begin. Somehow.

Thanks for the memories, Aaron Charles Rodgers.
See you in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a few years.
You know ... when you retire.
Source: Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Enter the New York Jets. Yes, the same Jets that executed a trade for our last aging Hall of Fame, MVP QB, Brett Favre. It took a while for the Rodgers trade to get done. But it did early in the week leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft. And GM Brian Gutekunst got the better part of the trade, in the opinion of many NFL pundits. For what it's worth, I agree with that assessment.

So, farewell and thanks for all the years of remarkable memories, Aaron. You will be missed. Hope you stay healthy and play at least 65 percent of the offensive plays for your new team this coming season. And ... that the Jets' record is a poor one. If both happen, the Packers will get a high 1st round draft pick next season to complete the trade particulars.

Turning the page officially ...

The three-day 2023 NFL Draft completed its 7th round yesterday. The Pack wound up, through trades and compensatory picks, with 13 draft picks. Will they all stick? Nope. But, it's interesting that at least one source (see below graphic) thought the Packers had the best draft of all 32 teams.

Pro Football Network declared the Packers to have
the best draft class of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Source: Pro Football Network

With needs in many areas, and with a clear objective to give new starting QB Jordan Love offensive weapons to grow with, the emphasis was on that side of the ball, while tending to defense and special teams, as well. GM Gutey picked up a couple tight ends (needed!) and a couple wide receivers (needed!), as well as a couple edge rushers, among others. Wasn't surprising to see the Packers pick up a QB for camp and to compete with Danny Etling, the current backup behind Love. Plus, there will be the need for arms in camp to keep all the receivers and tight ends busy. The Pack also went with a late round running back; decisions will need to be made about both Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon next off-season, so having some backs on hand...yes.

It also became more of a likelihood as the draft approached that the Packers would likely draft a kicker to replace venerable, aging, and all-time franchise scoring leader, Mason Crosby, who is currently a free agent. Now, Gutey made it clear in post-draft interviews that they had not closed the door on bringing Mason back in. But there would have to be a real failure on the part of this young kicker from Auburn. Stat-wise, he doesn't appear to have been especially accurate from long distance. And kicking in the south, despite growing up in Colorado, it remains to be seen how he'd do at Lambeau and other cold-weather venues come December and January. But with kickers and punters, especially, it always seems to be a shorter leash than with other players. As with all the picks, we just have to wait to see.

Also immediately following the draft the Packers and other teams began signing undrafted free agents. You can see those on and other sites that track these developments. Yes, there are sometimes some diamonds in the rough that actually emerge among this group so it's always interesting to keep an eye on this list, as well.

As draft experts are quick to remind us, evaluating any draft immediately after the fact, is a bit foolish as it typically takes three years before these young players "arrive", so to speak. A big jump usually takes place between the first year and the second. But patience is needed. Think Davante Adams. It took a while. But then ... wow!

As noted earlier, while the Packers assert that they are not in rebuilding mode — and I agree with that view for what that's worth — they are re-tooling. Lots of great veterans. And lots of young guys.

It's going to be an exciting year, Packers fans. Stay tuned.

As always, Go Pack Go!!!