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Aaron Rodgers scouting reports, revisted: How evaluators whiffed on four-time MVP before 2005 NFL Draft

Even the most valuable NFL draft prospects have their share of critics. Players are subjected to intense scrutiny before the draft begins, and the draft evaluators’ worst takes circulate annually.

Aaron Rodgers won’t make anyone forget his unfortunate ratings from 2005 — and there were quite a few. Rodgers eventually slipped into the back half of the first round, despite being rumored as an option for the 49ers at No. 1 overall.

Of course, he always proved the opposite to critics. Rodgers has won a Super Bowl and four MVP awards, earning a place among the top quarterbacks to ever play the game.

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The journey for Rodgers may not be over yet, but it’s safe to say that none of those scouting reports have turned out to be accurate.

Here are some of Rodgers’ worst scouting reports as given to longtime Packers reporter Bob McGinn before the 2005 draft.

Aaron Rodgers’ worst scouting reports

Prior to the 2005 draft, there were concerns about Rodgers, particularly his hand size and ability to succeed outside of his collegiate system.

Rodgers played under Jeff Tedford at Cal after rising from the junior college ranks and the NFL mistakes made by the quarterbacks Tedford coached before Rodgers raised questions about the system.

Kyle Boller enjoyed a breakout season when Tedford joined Cal in 2002 and made himself the first-round draft pick. Boller didn’t show much promise with the Ravens in 2003 or 2004, averaging 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions over those two seasons. Some reviewers feared Rodgers was a product of Tedford’s system, just as they believed Boller was.

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Draft-bust Joey Harrington thrived in Oregon when Tedford was his offensive coordinator. Harrington and Boller’s struggles at the NFL level have put some reviewers off.

An unnamed NFC scout was quoted as saying Rodgers “Has a good chance of going bust. Just like any other quarterback Tedford coached.”

“He doesn’t have a great ability to change football’s release. He’s mechanically very rigid,” the scout continued, adding that Utah’s Alex Smith would be “much better.”

Smith was selected as the overall winner by the 49ers, Rodgers’ hometown team.

Former Bills scout Marc Ross had similar concerns. “He’s a little small. The thing you’re worried about is those Tedford boys. They don’t do anything for a couple of years and then they have a good year or two,” Ross said.

Rodgers is 6-2, showing just how much the view of quarterback greatness has changed over the past 18 years. Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have won the Super Bowls 6-0 and 5-11, respectively, since that draft. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray were drafted first overall despite being much shorter than Rodgers.

An unnamed AFC scout provided one of Rodgers’ harshest reviews. “I do not like him. He is a clone of Harrington and Boller. They all throw the same way. What have these guys done? Nothing. If you take him in the second round, fine,” said the scout.

Another unnamed scout said of Rodgers, “He’s a system quarterback. (He’s a) 3, 5, 7 step guy. Can’t do it alone. Panic under pressure. Gets nervous easily.”

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Former Titans scout Rich Snead wondered if Rodgers still had room to grow as a player, saying: “I like him. I just don’t know if he reached the maximum.”

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Rodgers read some of the negative scouting reports on “The Dan Patrick Show” in 2018 and savored every second of it.

Sitting three seasons behind Brett Favre certainly didn’t hurt, but it’s clear that any concerns about Rodger’s ability to succeed outside of Tedford’s system were dead wrong. Questions about his size look foolish in hindsight as quarterbacks are pouring into the league at 6-2 or less.

Someone, somewhere is going to predict the worst for Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Will Levis and every other quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, but the case of Rodgers is a reminder that ratings are only ratings until players actually step onto the field on Sunday.

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