Packers' top pick: Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers Saturday selected quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the University of California with their first selection in the NFL Draft. Rodgers officially becomes the heir apparent to future Hall of Famer Brett Favre.<p>

Rodgers will have to compete against current backup quarterbacks Craig Nall, J.T. O'Sullivan and Scott McBrien for the No. 2 spot behind Favre in 2005. But he will get every chance to succeed Favre when the three-time MVP decides to retire.

"I wouldn't say it was a no brainer but he was sitting there and the value that he had ..." said Packers coach Mike Sherman. "We have confidence that he can come in and contribute at some time. He has the luxury of being the understudy to one of greatest quarterbacks in the game. ... To practice in Brett's shadow can be overwhelming but instructional. We didn't target him as our guy because we didn't expect him to be there."

Rodgers was ranked as's No. 1 quarterback in the draft. Many draft experts felt that he would be a top 10 pick, if not the first overall selection, but he was passed over till the Packers selected him with the 24th overall pick.

"In this particular case, it fell a certain way where the decision was really pretty easy," said Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

Throughout this spring, Rodgers was considered the hot commodity of choice for the San Francisco 49ers, who owned the No. 1 selection. Yet, the indecisive 49ers ultimately turned their attention to Utah quarterback Alex Smith.

Still, Rodgers slid down the first round in front of an ESPN audience. He was one of six draft prospects, along with Smith, treated by the league to a week in New York City.

Yet, after Miami cornerback Antrell Rolle was taken by Arizona at No. 8, Rodgers found himself on a lonesome island seated in the green room of the Javits Convention Center. He stayed seated for more than 4 1/2 hours before the Packers selected him.

Rodgers, 21, technically was not the second quarterback taken during Day 1 of the draft. Arkansas' Matt Jones, who will be converted to a wide receiver or a tight end, went to Jacksonville at No. 21. "We hoped for the best, but we were prepared for the worst," Rodgers said.

The 49ers were Rodgers' favorite team while he was growing up in the Northern California city of Chico, and he was disappointed that San Francisco passed on him. But that frustration quickly wore off when Rodgers learned where and with whom he would be beginning his pro career.

Favre, the NFL's only three-time MVP, will be his mentor, and the young man who idolized Joe Montana couldn't think of a better situation where to be baptized. Never mind that the high investment the Packers have made in him means he has been named as Favre's probable successor. For his part, Rodgers doesn't plan on ruffling any feathers with No. 4.

"I totally recognize the fact that Brett is the guy back there, and he's a legend," Rodgers said. "My goal for this next year is to tap into his resources as a player and just learn everything I can from him about the game and how to be successful for many years like he's been. I just really look forward to starting a good relationship with Brett."

Here is more on Rodgers from

Ht: 6-2

Wt: 223

40: 4.77

Year: 3Jr

Bio: Junior college transfer who made a major mark on the Cal program the past two seasons. All-Conference selection as a senior after posting 66.1%/2,566/24/8. Also added 247 yards rushing with 3 additional scores. Junior quarterbacking totals were 61.6%/2,903/19/5.

Positives: Athletic passer with the physical skills and mental intangibles needed to lead a franchise at the next level. Quickly sets up in the pocket, sells ball fakes and technically very sound. Poised under the rush, steps up to avoid defenders and works to keep the play alive. Patient, buys time in the pocket and waits for receivers to come free. Does an excellent job with his reads and natural looking off the safety. Does not make mental errors and throws the ball away rather than toss the errant pass. Times the short and intermediate throws well, as receivers rarely wait for the ball out of their breaks. Outstanding vision and immediately spots the open receiver. Possesses a quick release, live arm and zips the outs or gets the ball downfield. Throws with touch. Sits in the pocket and takes a big hit in order to get the pass off. Fleet-footed and picks up yardage with his legs when necessary.

Negatives: Though accurate, lacks top pass placement and has receivers extending vertically to pull the ball out of the air. Must improve his accuracy down the field. Lacks top footwork releasing the ball off a three step drop. Lacks pocket stature.

Analysis: A physically gifted passer with a great understanding of the position, Rodgers has made himself one of the nation's top quarterback prospects the past two seasons. May not fit every system, but should quickly flourish in the NFL for a timing offense that does not throw the ball down the field with regularity. Offers a good amount of upside and is a coachable player who should continually improve his game.

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