The Vikings’ chief division rival, the Green Bay Packers, made the most surprising move in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.
A team that went 13-3 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game just three months ago looked years down the road and selected a quarterback of the future while ignoring the biggest need of their Hall of Fame-bound quarterback of the present.
The Dolphins were on the clock with the 26th pick of the NFL’s first all-virtual draft Thursday night. The Packers presumably were four picks away and sifting through available receivers to make the most of the twilight years of Aaron Rodgers, who will turn 37 during the 2020 season.
Then it was announced the Packers had traded up with Miami. They would indeed be selecting an offensive skill position player in the first round for the first time since they took Rodgers 24th overall in 2005.
Only this new face won’t be helping Rodgers. He’ll be replacing Rodgers. Not this year and maybe not next year or the year after.
But the heir apparent has been identified as Jordan Love. The Utah State quarterback with the big arm, the prototypical size, the mobility, the shaky 17-interception junior season that followed the 32-touchdown sophomore season in 2018. And the kid with an upside the Packers believe will give them another decade and a half of QB stability beyond the 28 years, and counting, they’re currently enjoying.
Draft observers were curious to know what was going through the heads of Vikings GM Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer — two guys heading into the last year of their contracts — when the Packers looked to the distant future with their first pick.
Spielman dodged the question entirely, saying he’ll never comment on another team’s picks.
Zimmer had some fun with the question from his ranch in Kentucky, even though he wasn’t fond of answering questions via Zoom at 12:30 a.m.
“I think Rodgers should retire,” Zimmer cracked. “That’ll be the next headline.
“I don’t know what was going on in their minds. We just worry about us. We’re trying to get guys to beat them.”
As Day 2 of the draft started, the Vikings were said to be among the teams interested in Redskins left tackle Trent Williams. Williams, who turns 32 in July, did not play last season amid a dispute with Washington’s medical staff over the treatment of a cancerous growth on his head.
Before sitting out, Williams made seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 2012-18, including three while protecting Kirk Cousins’ blind side.
Williams is entering the final season of a contract that will pay him $12.5 million in 2020. His agent, Vincent Taylor, had been given permission to facilitate a trade for Washington. Taylor recently disputed a Sports Illustrated report claiming Williams wanted to be the NFL’s highest-paid tackle, which at the time would’ve required more than $18 million per season.
• The Vikings’ first-round picks were assigned numbers. Receiver Justin Jefferson will wear No. 18, and cornerback Jeff Gladney will wear No. 20. Jefferson wore No. 2 at LSU and Gladney No. 12 at TCU.
• TCU coach Gary Patterson said the Vikings inquired about wide receiver Jalen Reagor, who went one pick ahead of Jefferson to the Eagles at No. 21. The Vikings, Patterson said, liked Reagor’s versatility as a punt returner.
• Spielman said he wasn’t concerned that Gladney was too short. “Even though he’s 5-10, he has a 33-inch arm length and almost an 80-inch wing span, which makes him a lot taller than the 5-10, when you break it down that way,” Spielman said.
• Zimmer on the remote draft: “It actually went pretty smooth. Other than some static once in a while, but it wasn’t any big deal.”
• Former Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs’ brother, Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs, went to Dallas with the 51st pick.