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Mike Freeman's NFL Draft Notebook: Aaron Rodgers Is Winning the Draft

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterApril 28, 2018

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Duane Burleson/Associated Press

The Packers get some help for Aaron Rodgers, a new generation of quarterbacks enters the AFC North, a Bills legend reacts to the Josh Allen signing and more.

    

1. The Packers and Aaron Rodgers should be all smiles

In many ways, this draft so far has been the Aaron Rodgers draft. No single player may have benefitted from its first three rounds more than he has.          

Few quarterbacks in the sport have as little help on the defensive side of the ball as Rodgers. The Packers finished with the NFL's 26-ranked scoring defense last season. This isn't every year, but mostly, during the Rodgers era, he's been woefully underserved. He's only had a top-10 defense twice in his 10 years as starter and in none of the past seven.

Look at other great quarterbacks in the NFL. Tom Brady has had solid defenses around him (fifth in scoring last year). So has Russell Wilson. The Saints and Drew Brees had the 10th-ranked scoring defense last season. Philadelphia the fourth. Ben Roethlisberger had the seventh-ranked defense. Matt Ryan the eighth.

Meanwhile, the Packers have wasted Rodgers' prime with horrible defenses.

It's something Bill Belichick realized long ago with Brady. Brady can win games practically by himself, but you don't want him to.

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With this draft, the Packers have shown they're not making that mistake—the way, say, the Seahawks are with their offensive line (Seattle's decision not to use its early picks to get Wilson help there was one of the worst decisions of this draft).

What the Packers have done is totally transform their secondary with two good selections.

The first was Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander at 18th overall. One AFC front-office executive told me he believed Alexander was a future star and maybe actually the best corner in the draft. Not only that, but because the Packers traded down before they moved up to select Alexander, they banked a first-round pick in 2019 on top of him.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Then the Packers used the 45th overall pick on Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson.

They then traded into the third round, where they picked one of the most athletic linebackers in the draft in Vanderbilt's Oren Burks, who has nearly a 40-inch vertical and ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at 233 pounds.

To me, of all the teams, the Packers have had the best draft so far.

And not even because those are all guaranteed hits. We don't know if some will be misses. But even if some are, I think we'll look back at this draft as one of the more important in recent Packers history. Why?

Because the organization is finally trying to make it easier for Aaron Rodgers to be great.

                        

2. AFC North is remaking the QB future

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

It's actually an amazing thing to see now—practically an entire division plotting its quarterback future.

The Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson as Joe Flacco's replacement. The Steelers picked Mason Rudolph as Ben Roethlisberger's replacement. The Browns used the top pick in the draft on Baker Mayfield as, well, every stinky quarterback they've picked's replacement.

It's unlikely all of these quarterbacks make it. In fact, odds are slim that they do.

But if they do and if somehow each of them can become a starter, we'd see a pretty fun arms race in that division.

                     

3. Bills legend: Josh Allen will be OK

Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

Andre Reed, recently elected to the Hall of Fame and a Bills legend, met with a number of draft picks in the hours before the draft Thursday. He said it was a wonderful moment. He was able to speak with about half of the eventual first-round picks.

Interestingly, the player he bonded with the most was new Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

Reed told me over the phone Friday that he spoke extensively with Allen—before he knew about the controversy with his Twitter history. Allen has apologized extensively for his racist tweets from when he was in high school.

"I bonded with Josh more than I did with any other player," Reed said. "I didn't know anything about that while talking to him. I'm sure now he's regretful.

"You have to be held accountable for your actions, but he's apologized, and now it's time to move on. He'll be fine in that locker room."  

                      

4. Players meet with Roger Goodell

Eric Gay/Associated Press

Reed was one of a number of former players who met with Roger Goodell on Friday about a variety of issues. Also involved were Hall of Famers like Jim Brown, Jerry Kramer and Willie Lanier.

Reed said the topics were varied and included player safety and social-justice issues.

"It was productive," Reed said. "We need to often have meetings like these."

                             

5. Cowboys in state of flux

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 17: Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 17, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

ESPN's Chris Mortensen was the first to report that Cowboys tight end Jason Witten might retire and join ESPN. Then there's wide receiver Dez Bryant, who will be playing with another team next year.

We haven't seen two stars of this caliber leave Dallas in the same offseason in years. The team is truly turning over rapidly, and it is now in the hands of its two stars: quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Zeke Elliott.

That's a lot of change for a marquee franchise, but then again: Those are pretty good hands to be in.

                         

6. Leggy

Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

There are numerous draft phrases we hear over and over.

High motor.

Plug and play.

Coach on the field.

Baller.

But NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock used a term during Friday's coverage that I hadn't heard before.

It was "leggy."

Mayock has apparently described players this way before, but that was the first time I ever heard it. It apparently means tall. Long legs. I think.

I'm not sure who Mayock was describing. I lost track after I heard "leggy."

                           

7. Greatest draft troll of all time

The best trolling moment in draft history was previously Drew Pearson, in front of mostly Eagles fans, expertly making them boil. It was delicious.

But Pearson has now been beaten by former Eagles kicker David Akers. If you haven't seen this, watch it. It's amazing.

   

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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