Gil Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys personnel man who now works for NFL.com and Sirius NFL Radio, knew the Packers would get the chance to draft Aaron Rodgers in 2005.
How did he know that Alex Smith would get taken No. 1 overall and Rodgers would be there for the Packers at 24?
Here’s the story, as told about an hour ago to a small group of reporters in the media center at Super Bowl XLV:
“I watched the two quarterbacks work out,” Brandt said. ”One worked out on Wednesday and one worked out on Thursday. Smith worked out first, Rodgers second, and in that workout if you asked who was the best to come in and play right now, Smith was more ready to play right now.
“What we did was we brought both of them to the draft. On Friday afternoon, Greg Aiello (of the NFL front office) called me and said, ‘Rodgers is falling. We know that through 20, nobody’s going to take him.’ So I said, ‘All right I’ll talk to him.’ So I took him out to dinner that night. Well, first before I took him out to dinner, I made a call to (Packers director of college scouting) John Dorsey in Green Bay, and I said ‘John, you’re going to get Rodgers, be ready.’ He said, ‘We’re ready. If he’s there, we’re going to take him.’”
Brandt said he then asked Rodgers if he wanted to beg out of attending the draft.
“Later after dinner, I told him, ‘You’re going to fall in this draft.’ Somebody always to be last, and he was going to be last of the people we had up there. I said, ‘If you don’t want to come…,” because he was there by himself, his dad wasn’t coming until the next day,” Brandt said. “And he said, ‘No I’ll face it.’ And of course, the bad thing that happened was ESPN put the cameras on him, and it’s tough for a guy to react like that.
“But here’s what you don’t know when you’re drafting, that after they’re drafted what they’re going to do to make themselves better. Now, he not only made himself better on the field because of his work ethic, but the guy had a great rapport with all these young players. (He’s) a single guy, and every month he’d have a party at his house where they’d have a barbecue one night and Chinese food another week, and he really endeared himself to those young players.”
When asked what scouts missed about Rodgers, Brandt said: “I think we all didn’t realize how athletic he is. If you ask yourself who’s the most athletic (quarterback), you’re going to say Vick. Who’s the second most athletic? I think it’s Rodgers. If you look at the Atlanta game, (John) Abraham had a dead-sights sack on him, and he got away from. He avoided the sack four times that were pretty good opportunities. You’re going to win if you don’t have four negative plays, and it helps to have wide receivers, and he did it this year without the tight end.”
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