The NFL Draft is just two days away, which means it's time to reflect on previous drafts and all of the successes and horrors they've brought to NFL teams. On Tuesday, ESPN's Rob Demovsky compiled an oral history of Aaron Rodgers' shocking fall in the 2005 NFL Draft, which led to the Packers pouncing on him with the 24th overall pick.
That move was obviously a success for the Packers, who were able to transition from Hall of Famer Brett Favre to future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. But Rodgers' fall represents a colossal failure for the rest of the league.
Enter Jon Gruden, the current analyst for ESPN. At that time, Gruden was the coach of the Buccaneers, who selected running back Cadillac Williams with the fifth overall pick. In ESPN's oral history, Gruden addressed that pick. He called passing on Rodgers "one of the greatest regrets in my lifetime" and said it was "why I was fired."
"I went and watched tape with Aaron. I can still remember it like yesterday. I watched tape with Coach Tedford and Aaron. Was really impressed in the film room and then we went out right there in the stadium. We walked right outside and started playing catch to loosen him up and then you look up in the stands and here comes this strange figure walking down the aisle and Aaron says, 'Who is that?' I said that's our receiver. He says, 'Well, who is it?' I said, 'You'll see.' So it's Jerry Rice. That was pretty good. That was a great day. I've still got the picture hanging right here at the FFCA [Fired Football Coaches Association]. It's a memento of why I was fired. You can see one of the greatest regrets in my lifetime."
At that point in time, the Buccaneers' quarterbacks were Brian Griese and Chris Simms. So yes, they could've used Rodgers.
Then again, there's no guarantee that Rodgers would've turned into the fire-breathing dragon (h/t Robert Mays) that he is if he would've went to Tampa Bay instead of Green Bay. After all, he wouldn't have been able to sit behind Favre for three seasons.
For what it's worth, the Buccaneers' selection of Williams didn't appear to be a terrible move at the time. In his rookie season, he rushed 1,178 yards and six touchdowns, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Injuries and inconsistency, however, ended up ruining his career.
Meanwhile, Rodgers has thrown the second-most touchdowns in the NFL since becoming the Packers' starter in 2008.
Honestly, I'll use any excuse to put that GIF into my stories.