Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Green Bay Draft model all have one thing in common. They do not exist. Like the Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny, the Green Bay Draft method has been created by people to bring hope. General managers and owners have created this myth to try and bring hope to organizations and fan bases who are starting to lose faith in them. The most recent case of this was with the New York Giants in this year’s draft. The Giants are coming to an end of an era with their starting QB Eli Manning. The 38-year-old QB does not have much left in his tank, and the Giants decided to draft Daniel Jones with the 6th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. I am not here to say if this was a good or bad pick, but I am here to say that their strategy is flawed. Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman went on record to say that they were going to follow the “Green Bay model,” and allow Daniel Jones to sit behind Eli Manning and develop into a starter for the organization. I do not want to say that Dave Gettleman is purposely lying to his organization and fans, but he is planning to follow a model that never existed and will never exist in today’s NFL.
When Aaron Rodgers was drafted in 2005, the Packers were in constant limbo with then starter, Brett Favre. Every offseason the Packers would hold their breath as their star quarterback decided if he would be back the following year. In 2005, Aaron Rodgers became their backup plan. At first, Rodgers did not want to be in Green Bay and Favre didn’t want him there. The Packers didn’t know exactly when they would play Rodgers, but they knew when Favre was done, Rodgers was their guy. The two players were not friends, and Favre was anything but a mentor. Favre had this to say on a radio interview in 2018, “When I was 35 and Aaron was up-and-coming, the only thing we had in common (was) we both played quarterback for the same team.” Favre wanted to compete with Rodgers, not mentor him and Rodgers did not want to wait for his chance to start. The “Green Bay model” wasn’t planned. They did not have a top pick to spend on a QB. Rather, they had a talented guy fall to them at 24 and took him. This happened to turn out great for them, but there are a lot of situations in the past that could not have gone worse for some NFL teams.
Since Aaron Rodgers was drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft, 39 other quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round. Of those 39 quarterbacks, some were coming into situations where they were the immediate starter. Quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, and Carson Wentz, to name a few. On the other hand, many quarterbacks were brought in with the idea of having them develop for a season before they became the starter. Some of these quarterbacks were JaMarcus Russell, Tim Tebow, Christian Ponder, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson. Out of the 39 first round quarterbacks to be drafted since Rodgers, only nine of them played all 16 games their rookie season. Out of those 39 quarterbacks, only four quarterbacks didn’t start in a single game during their rookie season. Those four quarterbacks were Jason Campbell, Brady Quinn, Jake Locker, and Patrick Mahomes. Patrick Mahomes is the only quarterback from that group to make a pro-bowl or lead their teams to the playoffs. Even if we broaden the search, only 12 out of 39 quarterbacks played less than half the season (8 games). Drafting a quarterback and letting them develop for a year is not a new concept, but it would be new if the strategy worked. Teams have intentions of sitting quarterbacks, but the pressures of the media, fans, and ownership, can change the plans just after one bad performance.
As we look at the league right now, there are only two quarterbacks who didn’t start a single game their rookie year and are still players. Those two quarterbacks are future hall of famer Aaron Rodgers and 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes. Did sitting a year turn them into the superstars they are today? Absolutely not. These players are once in a decade talents. Should we give Robert Griffin III all the credit for Kirk Cousins’ success since he sat behind him for a year (except for 1 start)? NO! Talented quarterbacks will succeed in the NFL. Some will need to be in the right system like Jared Goff. However, if you have the talent Rodgers and Mahomes have, you will have a great chance at succeeding no matter the system.
It is time to break the news to the General Managers around the league that the Green Bay Model, like Santa Claus, never existed. The Packers and Chiefs were extremely lucky finding Rodgers and Mahomes where they were, and their success will likely not be duplicated.