Jon Gruden says not drafting Aaron Rodgers to Bucs was one of his 'greatest regrets'

Jon Gruden returning to coaching? "I’m preparing myself to come back. I am. Every day. I’m preparing to come back."

Many executives and coaches are kicking themselves for not taking Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft when he famously fell all the way to the 24th overall pick. ESPN did an oral history of that moment, and comments from former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden stood out.

"I went and watched tape with Aaron. I can still remember it like yesterday. I watched tape with Coach Tedford and Aaron. Was really impressed in the film room and then we went out right there in the stadium. We walked right outside and started playing catch to loosen him up and then you look up in the stands and here comes this strange figure walking down the aisle and Aaron says, 'Who is that?' I said that's our receiver. He says, 'Well, who is it?' I said, 'You'll see.' So it's Jerry Rice. That was pretty good. That was a great day. I've still got the picture hanging right here at the FFCA [Fired Football Coaches Association]. It's a memento of why I was fired. You can see one of the greatest regrets in my lifetime."

Instead of taking Rodgers, Gruden selected running back Cadillac Williams from Auburn. The selection wasn't a bad one as Williams looked to be a promising back, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, but several major knee injuries cut his career short.

Rodgers would have been the better pick, in hindsight. At the time the Bucs had Brian Griese and Chris Simms at the quarterback position, and although Simms once showed a hint of talent, he wasn't even close to being a quarterback like Rodgers.

As to why Gruden felt like Rodgers wasn't worth taking at No. 5, well, he didn't have a solid reason. He explained in the ESPN story that, "Coach Tedford had some guys before him that didn't play great. So there was a little concern."

Of course there's no way of knowing for sure if Rodgers would have turned out to be the same stellar quarterback he is now if he had gone to Tampa. Maybe sitting behind Favre, and learning from the Packers coaches made him what he is today.


By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes