Let me commence by congratulating the Green Bay Packers for their win in Superbowl XLV, it was a fantastic game and as a fan of football in general it was nice to see Aaron Rodgers get a ring and now move into that vaunted status of 'NFL best' with the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Following the game it made me think "What makes the Packers tick?" and how long will it take for the Panthers to reach such a status? Obviously for the Packers it starts with the aforementioned Rodgers- it's simply easier to win in the NFL when you have an elite QB than try and swim upstream relying on the other phases of your game. As it stands Carolina don't have their Aaron Rodgers, though they hope one of the players in house can develop, but lest we forget that there was a time Green Bay weren't so sure about Rodgers and had just as many questions as the Panthers have today, and we'll look at that...
After the jump
In 2005 it was hailed as a smart pick for Green Bay to select Aaron Rodgers 24th overall. Some scouts had him as the best QB in that draft, better than Alex Smith, but a perfect storm of good players at other positions and an overwhelming feeling that no QB was worth #1 overall forced him to fall (sounds a little like 2011, doesn't it?).
From 2006-2009 the Packers went 38-26, during the same time period the Panthers went 35-29. Not so different.
When Brett Favre left following the 2007 season the Packers were extremely concerned about the QB position. Revisionist history (and a fair amount of spin) has tried to make it seem like the Packers had all the faith in the world in Aaron Rodgers and were willing to show Brett Favre the door. The reality though, was that Green Bay was very concerned whether Rodgers could be 'the guy' and in 2008 they drafted two QBs, Brian Brohm in the 2nd round and Matt Flynn in the 7th round. Teams who are sold on their current QB don't take someone in the second round, even if it's under the guise of 'BPA'.
From 2005-2010 the Packers were using 1st round picks to solidify their defense and get young on that side of the ball; AJ Hawk, BJ Raji, Clay Matthews, Justin Harrell... they got their linebackers and DL solidified while they bided their time at the QB position.
Entering the 2011 draft I see Carolina in a position much like the 2008 Packers were- very young, a good nucleus of young players and hoping their QB in wait could be 'the guy'. We don't know whether that can happen to the Carolina Panthers, but the similarities are there. What both the Panthers and Packers share isn't just young talent, but young stars. Now we just need to wait for the QB to emerge; I'm not saying that's all the Carolina Panthers need... but if some way we do manage to develop or find ourselves our Aaron Rodgers then I think you'll see the Panthers emulate the Packers sooner, rather than later.