Friday Fodder: Aaron Rodgers has nothing to worry about | NevadaAppeal.com
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Friday Fodder: Aaron Rodgers has nothing to worry about

By Joe Santoro


Sports fodder … Leave it to the Mountain West to liven up the NFL Draft. The only Mountain West pick during the first round Thursday might have been the most intriguing moment of the entire evening. Utah State quarterback Jordan Love was taken by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 26 overall pick. The conversation wasn’t so much that Love was taken with the No. 24 pick. Most NFL mock drafts had Love taken in the bottom third of the first round. It was just that the pick was made by the Green Bay Packers supposedly as a signal for current Packer starter Aaron Rodgers to start packing his bags. The theme of the final hour or so of the draft was “What Was Aaron Thinking?” Is he upset? Is he angry at the Packers? The conversation even went so far as to bring up Love’s 17 interceptions last year at Utah State and the fact that Rodgers has been picked off just 12 times over the last three seasons combined. How silly. Rodgers has absolutely nothing to worry about as far as losing his starting job in Green Bay for at least the next two or three years. Love isn’t ready for the NFL. Heck, he was barely ready for the Mountain West last year. Three years from now Rodgers can go to Tampa Bay to replace Tom Brady and Love can then move in as the Packers’ starter.
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Love going to the Packers makes perfect sense. Both Rodgers and Love are from northern California. Rodgers is from Chico, Calif., while Love is from Bakersfield. Both played college ball in the west (Rodgers at Cal, Love in Logan, Utah). Rodgers was the No. 24 pick of the first round in 2005 while Love was No. 26 on Thursday. Both joined the Packers when Green Bay already had an established future Hall of Famer at quarterback (Brett Favre was there when Rodgers arrived) with plenty of solid years remaining. And neither one was expected to start right away. Rodgers had to sit and watch Favre for three years. Rodgers is now 36 while Favre turned 36 in the middle of Rodgers’ first year. There was really nothing controversial about the Packers taking Love at all.  •••
The only question is whether or not Love is another Rodgers. Rodgers turned out to be another Favre but the notion that Love will be another Rodgers is, well, a bit far fetched. The Packers have had success in the draft with quarterbacks. They got Bart Starr in the 17th round in 1956, Daryle Lamonica in the 12th round in 1963, Mark Brunell in the fifth round in 1993, Matt Hasselbeck in the sixth round in 1998 and Don Majkowski in the 10th round in 1987. The Atlanta Falcons, by the way, picked Favre in the second round in 1991. But Green Bay, like most NFL franchises, has missed in the draft on quarterbacks far more often than they have struck it rich. See Rich Campbell, Don Horn, Scott Hunter, Jerry Tagge, David Whitehurst, Anthony Dilweg, Ty Detmer, Robbie Bosco, Randy Wright and, as recently as 2015, Brett Hundley. The Packers also took former Wolf Pack quarterback Stan Heath twice (in the 25th round in 1948 and the first round — No. 5 overall — in 1949 and Heath threw just one touchdown while getting intercepted 14 times in his only season (1949) with the team. 
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The NFL Draft, despite all of the concerns the past month by sports talk show hosts who have had nothing else to talk about, went off smoothly on Thursday. It turns out conducting the draft from the palatial estates of NFL executives while family members are around to distract them is really no different than doing it from war rooms at the team facilities. And watching draft picks sit on the couch wearing headphones and looking at their phones isn’t any more or less boring than watching them in expensive suits and looking at their cell phones at the actual draft. The whole thing, like just about everything in the world these days, is all done with cell phones and the internet anyway, no matter where it is. There’s no reason why the NBA can’t do the same thing in late June with its draft.
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The first round of the NFL draft had very little drama. There were five picks directly related to trades and free agency over the past year that any NFL executive’s pet dog could have predicted. The Detroit Lions traded defensive back Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles and then took DB Jeff Okudah. The Minnesota Vikings traded wide receiver Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills and then took wideout Justin Jefferson. The San Francisco 49ers traded defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts and then replaced him with Javon Kinlaw. The 49ers also lost wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to free agency last month (to the New Orleans Saints) and then went out and drafted wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk with their second first-round pick. Los Angeles Chargers dealt quarterback Philip Rivers to Indy and then drafted Oregon QB Justin Herbert. A sixth highly predictable pick on Thursday was the Denver Broncos’ selection of wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. It was the Broncos, after all, who traded Sanders to the 49ers last October. 
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Aiyuk, from Arizona State, graduated from McQueen High and is the second northern Nevada high school player to be taken in the first round since Shawn Knight (Reed High) in 1987 by the New Orleans Saints out of BYU. Aiyuk had no Division I offers coming out of McQueen so he spent two seasons (2016-17) at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif. The Pack and head coach Jay Norvell, who drools over wide receivers as fast, tough and physical as Aiyuk, wanted Aiyuk (as did the likes of Kansas, Alabama, Arizona State, Tennessee and Colorado State) heading into the 2018 season. It was head coach Brian Polian and his staff (and the rest of the Division I college football world) that didn’t think Aiyuk was worth a scholarship in the 2016 recruiting class.


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The Raiders might have officially moved from Oakland to Las Vegas, but it was almost as if the Silver and Black summoned the spirit of former owner Al Davis during the first round of the draft Thursday night. Nevada’s newest professional team made Alabama’s Henry Ruggs the first wide receiver taken in the draft and then took cornerback Damon Arnette with the No. 19 overall pick. Al would have been proud. Many draft experts had Ruggs as the No 3 receiver available in the draft behind CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. But Ruggs and his blinding speed was a pick Al Davis would have loved. So was the selection of Arnette, who was considered a second-round type of prospect. Arnette might turn out to be one of the shrewdest picks of the first round. Arnette is a tough, physical, nasty defensive back and played for one of the top programs in the nation. Don’t forget the Raiders (and Davis) did pretty well in the first round in 1971 with another tough, physical and nasty Ohio State defensive back in Jack Tatum. Tatum, like Arnette, was also drafted with the No. 19 overall pick. The Raiders also did well with another Ohio State DB in the first round with Neal Colzie in 1975. So far this has been an Al Davis kind of draft for the Raiders.
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A total of 14 players out of the SEC were taken in the first round. No shock there. The Big 10 and Big 12 also had nice days, each sending five to the NFL. The ACC and Pac-12 each had three picked while the Mountain West had one. Such powerhouse schools like Notre Dame, Miami, Florida State, Texas, Penn State, Nebraska, Washington and UCLA had as many players drafted as did the Wolf Pack.
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The first two episodes of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary about the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty in the 1990s was extremely well done. If you are under the age of 35 and didn’t truly experience the Bulls in the 1990s as it happened, you need to watch The Last Dance. The NBA world, after all, did not start with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. The first two episodes (out of 10, which will air two at a time each Sunday night) showed us how stupid Bulls’ management (namely owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause) was by letting the team simply evaporate after 1998. It was also revealing to see how horribly the Bulls treated Scottie Pippen by knowingly underpaying him throughout the six championships. It’s no shock that the Bulls haven’t won a title since 1998 and won’t anytime soon. But it was also interesting to see Michael Jordan talk so openly and, presumably, honestly about that era, something he never did when it was taking place.