The Minnesota Vikings come into tonight’s Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers as one of more than 20 NFL teams that had their shot at selecting Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft – but didn’t.
In fact, the Vikings failed twice in that category as they had two first round selections that year, the seventh and 17th picks.
While Packers GM Ted Thompson hit the home run with Rodgers landing in his lap, the Vikings were reaching with their picks – Troy Williamson, a wide receiver from South Carolina at seven and the University of Wisconsin’s own defensive end Erasmus James at 18.
Like all the teams that selected first through 23rd that year, the Vikings didn’t see the value in Rodgers or didn’t feel that he would benefit their program.
Clearly the Packers did and are now reaping the benefits.
With their first round selection of Christian Ponder this past April, the Vikings can only hope the rookie can stick around long enough to produce half of what Rodgers has done to date.
But like I said, the Vikings and two-thirds of the other teams in the league had their chance to select Rodgers back in 2005.
Yes, the Vikings had a quarterback who, at the time, was doing pretty well – Daunte Culpepper. However, a love boat and a couple of teams later we all know what happened to him.
The Packers also had a pretty good quarterback on their roster – a guy by the name of Brett Favre … we also know what happened to him.
However, to cut the Vikings some slack, it should be known that there were plenty of other teams who missed the mark on Rodgers that April. The San Francisco 49ers selected Alex Smith with the overall first pick. That selection was followed by Ronnie Brown (Miami Dolphins), Braylon Edwards (Cleveland Browns), Cedric Benson (Chicago Bears), and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Rounding out the top 10 picks were Adam “Pacman” Jones (Tennessee Titans), Williamson, Antrelle Rolle (Arizona Cardinals), Carlos Rogers (who? – yeah, Washington Redskins), and Mike Williams (Detroit Lions).
The others have seen playing time, but haven’t come close to matching what Rodgers has done.
Between Merriman and the Vikings at 18, here are the selections:
The selection by Minnesota of Erasmus James from Wisconsin was, at the time, seen as a good pick, especially by Badgers fans.
At 19th, the St. Louis Rams selected Alex Barron, a pick that was followed by the Cowboys’ second pick, Marcus Spears, the Jaguars pick of Matt Jones, The Ravens’ selection of Mark Clayton, and the Raiders’ selection of Fabian Washington.
Clearly there are many non-household names selected before Rodgers who was a surprise pick by the Packers at 24, given that Brett Favre was nowhere near retirement at that time.
So, as we head for kickoff tonight, Packers and Vikings fans, think about what transpired six years ago and how imprecise the draft process is. Packers fans may also think about what would have happened had the 49ers selected Rodgers with the first pick that year. Would he have been thrown immediately to the wolves and never had time to develop? Would Rodgers even still be in the league?
It could have been an entirely different world for the Packers.
But that’s speculation.
What we do know is that Rodgers is one of, if not the best in the league right now … leading an unbeaten team that’s defending a Super Bowl title.
Can it get any better than that?