NFC West: R.W. McQuarters

Rodgers, Matthews & Driver US PresswireGreen Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Donald Driver are all playing in Super Bowl XLV, but how might they have fit into the NFC West's draft plans?
DALLAS -- Every Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass and playoff victory makes the San Francisco 49ers look worse for drafting Alex Smith over Rodgers back in 2005.

A victory for Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 45 would only sanction additional mutilation of this rotting equine carcass.

Some criticism is justified, obviously, but with Rodgers and key Packers scheduled to make their Super Bowl media debuts Monday afternoon, another line of thinking occurred to me. The 49ers weren't the only ones to bypass Rodgers and other key players in this Super Bowl. Why should they absorb such a disproportionate amount of the blame?

The Green Bay players making Super Bowl media appearances Monday -- Rodgers, Donald Driver, A.J. Hawk, Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson -- all qualify for analysis and reflection.

Let's take a look at them through NFC West lenses, beginning in chronological order:

1998 Draft: Charles Woodson, CB, Michigan

Round: First (fourth overall, by Oakland)

NFC West spin: The Cardinals passed over Woodson to select defensive end Andre Wadsworth third overall. The decision seemed defensible at the time. Wadsworth was a freakish talent at a premium position, but chronic knee injuries prevented him from approaching his potential. Wadsworth underwent microfracture knee surgery after only his third NFL season. He never played again, despite a 2007 comeback attempt.

First-round selections in the division:

  • Cardinals (third overall): Wadsworth, DE, Florida State
  • Rams (sixth overall): Grant Wistrom, DE, Nebraska
  • Seahawks (15th overall): Anthony Simmons, LB, Clemson
  • 49ers (28th overall): R.W. McQuarters, CB, Oklahoma State
1999 Draft: Donald Driver, WR, Alcorn State

Round: Seventh (213th overall, by Green Bay)

NFC West spin: Good for the Packers. They found a steal in the seventh round. Driver developed into a full-time starter in 2002, his fourth season. He has 698 career receptions. Driver reflects well on the Packers, but not negatively on anyone in the NFC West.

Seventh-round selections in the division (Seahawks did not have a pick): 2005 Draft: Aaron Rodgers, QB, California

Round: First (24th overall, by Green Bay)

NFC West spin: Only the Seahawks, who held the 26th choice that year, escape second-guessing for this one. To be fair, however, the Rams' Marc Bulger was coming off a breakout 2004 season in which he had thrown 21 touchdown passes while leading St. Louis to the playoffs. There was no reason for the Rams to target a quarterback in the 2005 first round. Rodgers might have wilted in St. Louis while the organization crumbled around him (a fate that might have awaited him in San Francisco as well). The Cardinals could have used a young quarterback to build around, but they signed Kurt Warner to a free-agent contract that offseason. Warner went 2-8 as a starter in 2005, but the Cardinals eventually went to the Super Bowl with him under center. Warner even edged Rodgers in the playoffs following the 2009 season.

First-round selections in the division:

  • 49ers (first overall): Alex Smith, QB, Utah
  • Cardinals (eighth overall): Antrel Rolle, DB, Miami
  • Rams (19th overall): Alex Barron, T, Florida State
  • Seahawks (26th overall): Chris Spencer, C, Mississippi
2006 Draft: A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State

Round: First (fifth overall, by Green Bay)

NFC West spin: The 49ers in particular were monitoring this choice closely. They were picking sixth overall that year and trying to find weapons for their second-year quarterback. Tight end Vernon Davis, chosen sixth overall, is becoming a perennial Pro Bowl choice. Hawk was an all-rookie selection, but he has not played well enough overall to cause much second-guessing in NFC West circles. The Cardinals ultimately whiffed on a quarterback that year, but no one is telling them they should have drafted Hawk instead.

First-round selections in the division:

  • 49ers (sixth overall): Davis, TE, Maryland
  • Cardinals (10th overall): Matt Leinart, QB, USC
  • Rams (15th overall): Tye Hill, CB, Clemson
  • 49ers (22nd overall): Manny Lawson, OLB, North Carolina State
  • Seahawks (31st overall): Kelly Jennings, CB, Miami
2006 Draft: Greg Jennings, WR, Western Michigan

Round: Second (52nd overall, by Green Bay)

NFC West spin: The Cardinals and Rams passed on Jennings in the second round, but that was understandable. Both teams were already strong at receiver. Looking back, however, the Rams certainly would have gone in another direction. They whiffed on tight end Joe Klopfenstein six spots before the Packers took Jennings.

Second-round selections in the division (49ers traded their pick):

  • Cardinals (41st overall): Deuce Lutui, G, USC
  • Rams (46th overall): Klopfenstein, TE, Colorado
  • Seahawks (63rd overall): Darryl Tapp, DE, Virginia Tech
2009 Draft: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC

Round: First (26th overall, to Green Bay)

NFC West spin: This draft hurts. Surely the Seahawks and Rams could have put Matthews' pass-rush ability to use even if he didn't fit their schemes precisely at the time. Both teams passed on him. Worse, the Packers used an additional 2009 first-round choice, this one ninth overall, for another key contributor, B.J. Raji.

First-round selections in the division:
Hope you enjoyed the exercise. I'll be heading to the Pittsburgh Steelers' media session in the not-too-distant future, with plans to check back at the next opportunity.


Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass and playoff victory makes the San Francisco 49ers look worse for drafting Alex Smith over Rodgers back in 2005.

A victory for Rodgers and Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 45 would only sanction additional mutilation of this rotting equine carcass.

Some criticism is justified, obviously, but with Rodgers and key Packers scheduled to make their Super Bowl media debuts Monday afternoon, another line of thinking occurred to me. The 49ers weren't the only ones to bypass Rodgers and other key players in this Super Bowl. Why should they absorb such a disproportionate amount of the blame?

Rodgers' case isn't the only relevant or interesting one along these lines. The Green Bay players making Super Bowl media appearances Monday -- Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver, A.J. Hawk, Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson -- all qualify for analysis and reflection.

Let's take a look at them through NFC West lenses, beginning in chronological order:

1998 Draft: Charles Woodson, CB, Michigan

Round: First (fourth overall, by Oakland)

NFC West spin: The Cardinals passed over Woodson to select defensive end Andre Wadsworth third overall. The decision seemed defensible at the time. Wadsworth was a freakish talent at a premium position, but chronic knee injuries prevented him from approaching his potential. Wadsworth underwent microfracture knee surgery after only his third NFL season. He never played again, despite a 2007 comeback attempt.

First-round selections in the division:

  • Cardinals (third overall): Wadsworth, DE, Florida State
  • Rams (sixth overall): Grant Wistrom, DE, Nebraska.
  • Seahawks (15th overall): Anthony Simmons, LB, Clemson
  • 49ers (28th overall): R.W. McQuarters, CB, Oklahoma State.
1999 Draft: Donald Driver, WR, Alcorn State

Round: Seventh (213th overall, by Green Bay)

NFC West spin: Good for the Packers. They found a steal in the seventh round. Driver developed into a full-time starter in 2002, his fourth season. He has 698 career receptions. Driver reflects well on the Packers, but not negatively on anyone in the NFC West.

Seventh-round selections in the division:

  • 49ers (23rth overall): Kory Minor, OLB, Notre Dame
  • Cardinals (239th overall): Chris Greisen, QB, Northwest Missouri
  • Rams (252nd overall): Rodney Williams, P, Georgia Tech
2005 Draft: Aaron Rodgers, QB, California

Round: First (24th overall, by Green Bay)

NFC West spin: Only the Seahawks, who held the 26th choice that year, escape second-guessing for this one. To be fair, however, the Rams' Marc Bulger was coming off a breakout 2004 season in which he had thrown 21 touchdown passes while leading St. Louis to the playoffs. There was no reason for the Rams to target a quarterback in the 2005 first round. Rodgers might have wilted in St. Louis while the organization crumbled around him (a fate that might have awaited him in San Francisco as well). The Cardinals could have used a young quarterback to build around, but they signed Kurt Warner to a free-agent contract that offseason. Warner went 2-8 as a starter in 2005, but the Cardinals eventually went to the Super Bowl with him under center. Warner even outplayed Rodgers in the playoffs following the 2009 season.

First-round selections in the division:

  • 49ers (first overall): Alex Smith, QB, Utah

The Arizona Cardinals could have had Rodgers, but they drafted cornerback-turned-safety-turned-New York Giant Antrel Rolle. The St. Louis Rams could have had Rodgers. They selected tackle Alex Barron, a player St. Louis sent to the Dallas Cowboys for Bobby Carpenter.

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