A few days ago I was wasting a few minutes on Sporcle.com (well, actually it was closer to an hour) and I came across one very interesting quiz that led to the inception of an idea which was very unpopular inside my very own brain from the second the synapse fired. In fact, the minute I let it out it’s going to be looked down upon among most of my family and friends and even more soured by the fan base I hold allegiance to. Nonetheless, here goes:
Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback to be drafted in the last decade.
By Peter Christian
Now, as a Vikings fan it hurts to even type that sentence. However, after completing the quiz of the leading passers of each draft class since 1980 I started looking at the statistics of the quarterbacks in each draft class, especially those in the last ten years or so. What I found was surprising.
In only 47 starts (54 games played total) he’s 15th in total yards among all quarterbacks whose careers began after the 2001 draft. Of that same group, he’s 10th in total touchdowns. On each of those lists, every player with more yards and/or TDs has at LEAST 14 more starts than Rodgers.
Compared to quarterbacks only in his draft class, Rodgers trails only Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton in passing yards (523 and 51 respectively) and only Campbell in total yards (606). Although Rodgers is already the cream of the 2005 crop in passing TDs (87) and total TDs (100) as Orton has 71 passing TDs (74 total) and Campbell has thrown 68 (72 total). Again, Rodgers has 14 fewer starts than Orton and 17 fewer than Campbell.
Since Aaron Rodgers took over as the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback only Drew Brees has more total yards and more total TDs in the NFL. Rodgers is 2nd to Brees by approximately 1000 yards and 4 TDs but is ahead of perennial All-Pro QB’s such as Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. Yet, somehow that isn’t his greatest statistical achievement.
After three seasons of starting, Aaron Rodgers has the best career total yards per start ratio(282.4) AND best total TDs per start ratio (2.11) compared to anyone drafted in the last decade and beyond. Going back farther than 10 years, that betters the same ratios that the likes of Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino and Brett Favre boast (what’s an Aaron Rodgers comparison without including Brett Favre?)
Without diving into every quarterback in NFL history (because that kind of research would take me forever and for some reason Stats Inc. wouldn’t return my phone calls), I’m willing to say that those statistics are in the highest echelon of the sport.
Yep, Aaron Rodgers has put up numbers that rival any of the top quarterbacks in the game and yet he is still getting over the stigma of being Brett Favre’s back up and being the guy who humiliatingly waited in the green room for hours and hours as 21 teams passed on drafting him (2 teams passed twice).
In hindsight, it was pretty silly that Rodgers fell to the Packers that day. He had the black cloud title of being a “Tedford Quarterback” as being a product of Cal head coach Jeff Tedford who had produced a handful of highly rated quarterback prospects that had been pretty significant busts. (see Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller, David Carr) He also fell victim to a period in the league when apparently only a few teams felt they were in need of a quarterback in the first round.
Looking back at what could have been, obviously San Francisco would love to have a re-do of that draft as they selected Alex Smith #1 overall. As of today, Rodgers and Smith have both played in 54 games in the NFL. Rodgers has accounted for 100 NFL touchdowns, Smith only has 53.
Of the other 22 players selected ahead of Rodgers, 13 are no longer with the team that drafted them and four weren’t even in the NFL this past season (including both players selected by the Vikings, ouch). Also, 8 of the 21 teams that passed on Rodgers currently have a question mark atop their depth chart at the quarterback position.
Meanwhile, Aaron is preparing to play in his first Super Bowl in Dallas (the Cowboys were the other team that passed on Rodgers twice) and is doing so on the heels of a stellar post-season performance thus far with a league leading 790 passing yards, 71% completion percentage and a QB rating of 109.2
Maybe after this week Rodgers will finally be forgotten as the guy who slipped on draft day and will be mentioned alongside some of the all-time great quarterbacks; or where his performance clearly shows he belongs.