Aaron Rodgers' trip to the Super Bowl has to be a harsh reminder of a mistake made by many of the 23 teams that bypassed Rodgers in the 2005 draft. The Cal product was taken by Green Bay with the No. 24 overall pick. He has become an elite-level player.
Of course, the team that has to feel the worst about overlooking Rodgers is San Francisco. The 49ers bypassed the local boy with the No.1 pick to take Utah quarterback Alex Smith. We know what a terrible misuse that was. Let’s take a look at the AFC West teams and how it worked out for them after not taking Rodgers.
San Diego, No. 12: The Chargers took linebacker Shawne Merriman. San Diego can’t be dinged here. Merriman was a dominant player for three years before a series of injuries altered his career. Plus, the Chargers took Philip Rivers the year before. There was no need for a quarterback.
Kansas City, No. 15: In retrospect, there could have been an argument for the Chiefs to take Rodgers. But at the time, I don’t think it was a terrible choice. The Chiefs took linebacker Derrick Johnson. He’s been a fine pick. Sure, Rodgers would look good in a Chiefs uniform, but he’d look good in many uniforms. The Chiefs didn’t have a pressing need at quarterback at the time, so I can’t bash this decision. Still, the team clearly was in the market for a young quarterback. The Chiefs took quarterback James Kilian in the seventh round in 2005 and they took Brodie Croyle in the third round the next season. So, taking a falling Rodgers at No. 15 could have been tempting.
Oakland, No. 23: This is where it hurts. The Raiders moved up to No. 23. They earlier traded the No. 7 pick to Minnesota in the Randy Moss trade. It appeared that Oakland would end Rodgers’ fall and keep him in the East Bay. Instead, Oakland took cornerback Fabian Washington. Instead of a taking a franchise quarterback-in-waiting, the Raiders -- who were entering the second season of an uninspiring two-season Kerry Collins era -- took the speedy Washington out of Nebraska. Washington was traded to Baltimore for a fourth-round draft pick after three seasons. While Oakland didn’t whiff on Rodgers as badly as San Francisco, you have to wonder where this franchise would be now had the Raiders addressed a need and pleased the home folks by taking Rodgers instead taking Washington.
Denver didn’t have a first-round pick. It traded the No. 25 pick to Washington four days before the draft. The Redskins took Jason Campbell one pick after Rodgers was taken. He is now Oakland’s quarterback.