Packers' Matt LaFleur Says Jordan Love Was Best Player Left When GB Drafted QB

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2020

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers have staunchly defended their decision to trade up in the 2020 NFL draft to select quarterback Jordan Love despite having needs at other positions on the roster.

On Thursday, head coach Matt LaFleur continued that defense.

"It was just one of those situations where there were a couple guys targeted that had just previously been picked and Jordan was the next guy on the board, and so we went with the best player at the time," he said, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.

That the Packers ignored an obvious need at wide receiver with several talented players available when they selected at No. 26—trading the No. 30 pick and a fourth-rounder to move up to that spot—was further infuriating for fans when the team didn't address the position at all in the draft. 

Instead, the team added players like Love—perhaps the future at quarterback, but in the short term a backup for Aaron Rodgers—and used a second-round pick on running back A.J. Dillon, another surprising move with Aaron Jones on the roster. 

In several years, perhaps those picks will look good. But for a Packers team that has legitimate Super Bowl aspirations after a 13-3 season in 2019, using their top two picks on players who will be backups in 2020 was somewhat confounding. 

Then there's the added dimension of how a player like Aaron Rodgers might react to seeing his future replacement drafted in the first round without any significant additions at wideout. But general manager Brian Gutekunst said in April Rodgers wasn't going anywhere soon, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN:

"We've got the best quarterback in the National Football League, and we plan to have him for a while competing for championships. I can understand the fan base and people thinking, 'Why would you do this at this time?' But I just think the value of our board and the way it sat, it was the best for the Green Bay Packers, and we're really excited to get Jordan here and get him in the door and learning our system.

"I know a lot of people will look at this as not a move for the immediate, and I understand that, but the balance of the immediate and the long term is something that I have to consider, and that's why we did it."

The Packers' draft wasn't highly regarded by pundits despite Gutekunst's reasoning. NFL.com ranked Green Bay's draft the worst in the NFL. Yahoo Sports' Eric Edholm gave it a grade of a "C." Pro Football Focus and Pete Prisco of CBS Sports both gave it a "D." ESPN's Bill Barnwell ranked the totality of their offseason 27th in the NFL.