I don’t want to make Bears fans cry any more than they already do on a daily basis, but how about that Aaron Rodgers?
On third-and-20 Sunday, his team holding onto the ledge by a fingertip against the surging Cowboys, Rodgers spun to his left and completed a 36-yard pass to a toe-dragging Jared Cook on the sideline. Mason Crosby came in to kick a 51-yard field goal as time expired to send the Packers into the NFC Championship Game.
It feels like forever since the Bears won a game like that, and it actually has been forever since the Bears had a quarterback like that.
I bring this up not to torture you but to give you an opportunity to dream big dreams, dreams that could come true if everything goes right in the NFL draft, if the planets align and if, I don’t know, hunger as we know it is wiped out.
Why not? It happens to other teams. Is it so out of the realm of possibility that it could happen to the Bears? Before you answer firmly in the negative, consider that the Packers took Rodgers with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 draft. If you value your sanity at all, pay no attention to the fact that the Bears, choosing fourth overall that year, took Texas running back Cedric Benson, who turned out to be a major disappointment.
The Bears didn’t believe they needed a signal-caller back then. They already had Rex “Is Our Quarterback’’ Grossman. On the other hand, why did the Packers need another quarterback in 2005 besides Brett Favre? Because smart is in their DNA.
We’ve spent the past several weeks arguing about whether the Bears should use the third overall pick in the April draft to choose a quarterback, and if I know one thing in life, it’s that we’ll spend the next several months arguing about the same thing.
There is no question this time around that the Bears need one, but the early consensus is that the draft is weak for quarterback talent and that taking a QB with the third pick very well could be a reach of disastrous proportions.
But let’s go back to Rodgers as he was coming out of Cal, and maybe we’ll feel better about Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky or Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Before the 2005 draft, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked NFL scouts what they thought of Rodgers. Some liked him. Many didn’t. Here’s a sampling from several of those anonymous talent evaluators:
— “I think he has a good chance of being a bust. Just like every other (Jeff) Tedford-coached quarterback. Thing I struggle with him is he gets sacked a lot. He doesn’t have great ability to change the release of the football. He’s mechanically very rigid.’’
— “The guys that Tedford has had, what have they developed into? They’re too well-schooled. So mechanical. So robotic. I don’t know if they become good pro players. I think Rodgers is in that same mold.”
— “I don’t like him. He’s a clone of (Joey) Harrington and (Kyle) Boller. They all throw the same way. What have those guys done? Nothing. If you take him in the second round, fine. Heady guy. They do a marvelous job of coaching quarterbacks there. I don’t think he’s as good as the top quarterbacks coming out last year.”
— “He’s a system quarterback. Three-, five-, seven-step guy. Can’t create on his own. Panics under pressure. Gets flustered easy. I don’t think there’s a quarterback in the draft worthy of a first-round pick. I’m dead serious. None of them are worth it.”
OK, you get the idea. Scouts make mistakes. They made a colossal mistake on Rodgers. And who’s to say they’re not making a mistake in their assessment of this year’s quarterback class?
Draft experts have downgraded Trubisky, Watson and Kizer so much that many of us take it as gospel that the three aren’t worthy of where the Bears are picking in the first round. But what if one of them is the next Rodgers?
Maybe we’ll look back on this draft as the year the Bears finally had a general manager who knew what he was doing. It didn’t take long for the Packers to realize it in 2005. That’s when new general manager Ted Thompson chose Rodgers in the first round.
No one outside of Halas Hall seems to know what Bears general manager Ryan Pace will do in April. It’s highly possibly he doesn’t know yet. If he likes one of the quarterbacks a lot but is worried about reaching, he might want to take a journey back in time. He’ll find a lot of Rodgers highlights along the way.