Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a new understudy after the club selected collegian Jordan Love in the first round of the NFL DraftGreen Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a new understudy after the club selected collegian Jordan Love in the first round of the NFL Draft (AFP Photo/Harry How)
The Packers chose Utah State's Love with the 26th selection in Thursday's annual allocation of college talent, trading up four spots to get him.
"This was not something we set out to do," Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said. "He just happened to be a guy we liked who fell to us. Given the value on the board, this was the best pick for the Packers."
Rodgers, who led the Packers to a 2011 Super Bowl victory, guided Green Bay within one win of the Super Bowl for the third time in six seasons this past January before the Packers fell to San Francisco 37-20.
At 36, Rodgers is the same age that former Packers star Brett Favre turned during the season after Rodgers arrived in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Rodgers, who has four years remaining on his contract, was upset Love's selection came as a surprise to him, ESPN reported Friday.
"I still feel like I have a ton of years left playing at a high level," Rodgers told Milwaukee radio station WKTI last month. "I'm confident enough. I've always felt like it doesn't matter who you bring in, they're not going be able to beat me out anytime soon.
"I understand the business and the nature of it... I wouldn't have a problem."
Gutekunst says he expects Rodgers, who tossed 26 touchdown passes last year with only four interceptions, will be fine with Love.
"We've got the best quarterback in the NFL and we're going to have him for a long time," Gutekunst said.
"I think he'll be a pro's pro. He's playing for legacy-type things, historic-type stuff. I know he's very motivated."
Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, Rodgers' blindside protector for seven seasons, expects the veteran to be more motivated now.
"Let me tell y'all something right now: Look out. Aaron is about to be on fire," Bakhtiari said on a draft show on NFL social media.
"He's already great when he is just chill. But I've seen him when he gets riled up... Wooo. Getting my hair raised up right now thinking about this."
Love, thrust into an instant drama, said he yearns for the chance to understudy a star like Rodgers.
"I can learn a lot from Aaron Rodgers," Love said. "That's one of the guys I grew up watching, learned how to do it from him. This is a really good situation to be in, not being thrown out there. You've got a lot of learning to do."
- 'A lot of work ahead' -
The situation recalls the arrival of Rodgers in 2005 and the bitter split the Packers had three years later with NFL legend Favre, who led Green Bay to a 1997 Super Bowl triumph.
After an over-time loss to the New York Giants in the 2007 season National Conference final, Favre retired in March 2008, but then asked the Packers in July to let him make a comeback with another club. Only after a tense August meeting with club officials was he released so Green Bay could move on with Rodgers.
Favre continued his career with the New York Jets in 2008 and Minnesota in 2009 and 2010 before retiring for good at age 41.
The Packers scrapped plans to retire Favre's number 4 jersey at the 2008 home opener, eventually doing so in 2015.
Rodgers, meanwhile, led the Packers to a championship in the 2010 campaign, taking Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors as the Packers beat Pittsburgh 31-25 for the title. Rodgers would win the NFL season MVP award twice in the next four seasons.
Love, who will wear number 10 for the Packers, threw for 32 touchdowns in 2018 but only 20 last year with 17 interceptions.
"Down the road he certainly has the ability to be a difference-maker," Gutekunst said. "But these things take time. He has a lot of work ahead of him."