It is said that if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one. As the Arizona Cardinals hash out a decision on whether or not to draft Kyler Murray first overall despite picking Josh Rosen last year, they enter a critical moment in the future of the franchise. And as the draft nears in less than two weeks, the Cardinals’ selection brings back memories of the time the Green Bay Packers faced their own quarterback uncertainty with two early-round picks.
No, the circumstances are not exactly the same.
Arizona gave up third- and fifth-round selections last April to trade up and grab Rosen with the 10th overall pick. In 13 starts as a rookie, Rosen threw more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (11), while completing only 55% of his passes for just 5.8 yards per attempt. Although there is usually an adjustment period for first-year quarterbacks, Rosen struggled to display any one prominent quality that proved he belonged as an NFL starting quarterback. And with a new coaching regime in Arizona with Kliff Kingsbury at the helm, there is plenty of reason for Arizona to pick the quarterback Kingsbury wants to gamble his career on. Drafting a franchise’s most influential position on the roster in the first round two consecutive years is justifiable if Murray is the transcending talent some think he is.
But sometimes the man currently on the roster can ultimately be the best candidate for the job and the Packers found that with Aaron Rodgers. Drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for three seasons, playing sparingly. Rodgers’ first two preseasons in Green Bay hardly convinced fans that he could follow in Favre’s footsteps. Despite appearing slightly better in his third preseason and in fill-in duty at Dallas in 2007, Rodgers’ future was briefly doubted when Green Bay chose to select Brian Brohm in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Brohm, who had a highly productive college career at Louisville, could have been the first pick of the previous draft had he entered his name early. With extra time for NFL teams to pick him apart as a senior, Brohm found himself still on the clock when Green Bay came calling at pick 56. If Arizona drafts Murray in 2019, it would represent an immediate new direction at starting quarterback. That was not the case for Brohm, who was selected by Green Bay to be a second-stringer initially and an insurance policy in case Rodgers did not pan out. Unlike Rosen’s current status in Arizona, the Packers’ brass was outpouring in support for Rodgers upon the addition of Brohm.
The results of the Packers’ decision to start Rodgers in 2008 are well-noted. The fourth-year pro took the reigns and never looked back en route to what will be a Hall of Fame career. Brohm, on the other hand, never looked comfortable in preseason action with Green Bay. After one full season on the roster and losing the backup role to fellow second-year pro Matt Flynn, Brohm was relegated to the practice squad in year two with the Packers. In November of that season, he was signed by the Buffalo Bills, where he failed to distinguish himself in two seasons in Buffalo.
As pointed out above, there certainly are differences in the Rodgers-Brohm situation and the one involving Murray and Rosen. The commitment level of the Packers to Rodgers was much higher. Rodgers and Brohm were drafted three years apart. Rodgers was a first-round pick and Brohm was a second-rounder. The Cardinals were able to see a nearly-full regular season of starts from Rosen, whereas the glimpses of Rodgers were minimal. If the organization drafts Murray, Arizona figures to still own some trade value with Rosen, higher than what Green Bay had with Brohm after his rookie season.
But as good as Rodgers turned out to be for the Packers, his infrequent performances early in his career could have very easily warranted the team moving on. The Cardinals risk doing that with Rosen and giving up on a top-10 choice after just one season. Or perhaps Murray is the game-changing player Rodgers became and Rosen is the next Brohm. Arizona is in an unenviable position of having to decipher the better long-term option between two extremely high picks.
However, as the Cardinals continue to come to a conclusion on what to do with the first overall pick, Packers fans can rest assured knowing that Green Bay made the best out of its own former two-quarterback scenario just over a decade ago.