Why Aaron Rodgers Will Be a Top 10 Quarterback in NFL History

Bryn SwartzSenior Writer IIIJanuary 20, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One of the hardest things in the world is replacing a legend, especially a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Look at Steve Young.

He turned in one of the single most brilliant careers in NFL history, but because he wasn't Joe Montana and won just a single Super Bowl ring, he is frequently undervalued as a player.

Now when the legend that you're trying to replace is Brett Favre, just forget about it.

Unless your name is Aaron Rodgers.

It's been just two seasons with Rodgers at the helm of the Green Bay Packers, but already the young signal caller has shown plenty of signs that he could one day become one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the National Football League.

Rodgers was drafted with the 24th overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft. For the next three seasons, he played sparingly, throwing just 59 passes.

He spent the rest of the time studying the quarterback position from one of the greatest leaders in NFL history. He wasn't out on the field playing, but don't underestimate the importance of learning the position from the bench. Most first-round quarterbacks sit out half a season or a full year before getting a chance to play.

Some teams even make the mistake of throwing their quarterback to the dogs, such as the Detroit Lions did with Joey Harrington and the Houston Texans did with David Carr.

Not the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers spent three full seasons on the bench.

We all know what happened after the 2007 season.

Favre retired, and then returned to play for the New York Jets. More importantly, Aaron Rodgers was finally named the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.

Rodgers performed well above expectations in 2008, starting every game for the Packers. He threw for 28 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions. His 4,038 passing yards ranked fourth among quarterbacks and his 93.8 passer rating was sixth best. He became just the sixth quarterback to throw for at least 28 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter, and just the third to do so with a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio.

Sure, he had some rough moments, as does every other young quarterback. He failed to capitalize on many potential comeback situations, posting just a 1-7 mark in games decided by a single score.

The Packers' defense dropped from sixth in 2007 to 22nd in 2008, and as a result, the Packers finished a disappointing 6-10.

Heading into the 2009 season, the Packers were expected to make a run at a division title. After all, they had scored 419 points in their first season with Rodgers, close to the same amount (435) the team got with Favre in 2007.

In 2009, Rodgers turned in arguably the greatest season by a quarterback in the history of the Green Bay Packers.

He became just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 or more touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions in a season.

He threw for 4,434 yards, a single-season Packers record. His 103.2 passer rating ranked fourth in the NFL and he led the league by throwing an interception in just 1.3 percent of his pass attempts, the 11th best single-season mark in NFL history.

The Packers won 11 games and secured the NFC's top wild-card berth. More importantly, Rodgers showed some promise in his ability to lead the Packers back from fourth-quarter deficits, doing so in the season's first game against the Bears.

In the postseason, Rodgers turned in one of the most impressive debut performances in NFL history. He led the Packers to 45 points, including an impressive 21-point comeback when all hope seemed to be lost. His 423 passing yards set a franchise single-game postseason record and his fourth touchdown pass tied the game with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

At the conclusion of two full seasons in the NFL, Rodgers has the highest passer rating (97.2) in NFL history. He ranks first all-time in adjusted yards per pass attempt (7.95). His touchdown-to-interception ratio (2.81) is easily the greatest mark in history and he is the least intercepted quarterback in NFL history (1.8 percent).

He's still a long way from perfection. He holds on to the ball too long, as evidenced by his league-leading 50 sacks, he isn't even close to the Ben Roethlisberger or Vince Young category in fourth quarter comebacks, and he hasn't won a postseason game yet (thank you Green Bay defense).

But he is an extremely intelligent quarterback with a remarkably accurate arm and above average scrambling ability (he led all NFL quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns in 2009). With young offensive weapons such as Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley catching his passes, Rodgers has future Most Valuable Player written all over him.

Rodgers' first two seasons as a starter are eclipsed by only a select few quarterbacks throughout the history of the NFL.

In another decade, we could be saying that about Aaron Rodgers' entire career.