Today: Quarterbacks position preview April 15: Running backs/fullbacks position preview April 16: Offensive tackles position preview April 17: Guards/centers position preview April 18: Tight ends position preview April 19: Wide receivers position preview April 20: Defensive linemen position preview April 21: Linebackers position preview April 22: Cornerbacks position preview April 23: Safeties position preview April 24: Ted Thompson’s draft strategy April 25: Forecasting the first-round pick
TODAY’S POSITION: QUARTERBACKS
Importance (1-to-10 scale): 4
On the roster
Clearly, the Packers won’t be looking for a starting quarterback in this draft (or any time in the next six years or so). Aaron Rodgers is 29 years old and in the prime of his career, giving Green Bay an instant advantage over most NFL teams at the most important position.
Behind Rodgers, however, is still a question mark one year after letting Matt Flynn leave in free agency. Graham Harrell took over the No. 2 spot for the 2012 season and attempted only four passes all year. Harrell’s one meaningful snap was disastrous, when he fumbled the ball near the goal line and turned it over.
The Packers drafted B.J. Coleman in the seventh round last April. Coleman spent the entire season on Green Bay’s practice squad but appears to be the young quarterback coach Mike McCarthy and his staff are hoping to groom as the team’s backup of the future.
Last five quarterbacks drafted
2012: B.J. Coleman, Tennessee-Chattanooga: seventh round (243rd overall) — still with the Packers
2008: Brian Brohm, Louisville: second round (56th overall) — waived, September 2009, in the UFL
2008: Matt Flynn, LSU: seventh round (209th overall) — traded to Oakland Raiders, April 2013
2006: Ingle Martin, Furman: fifth round (148th overall) — released, August 2007, out of the NFL
2005: Aaron Rodgers, California: first round (24th overall) — still with the Packers
Philosophy at the position
General manager Ted Thompson nailed it with his first-ever pick as the front office leader of the Packers when he selected Rodgers in 2005. Thompson inherited a team with Brett Favre as its quarterback and instantly added a future league MVP. The biggest issue Thompson faced at quarterback wasn’t in trying to find one talented player (which is what most GMs struggle to find) but in handling the difficult situation of having two very talented players. Since then, Thompson hasn’t had to worry too much about this position. He found a talent in Flynn in the seventh round and is hoping history repeats itself with Coleman. Like his predecessor Ron Wolf, Thompson seems to like to have a young reserve on the roster for the coaching staff to groom.
Day 1 name to remember (Round 1)
The Packers have as much chance of drafting a quarterback in the first round as they do of trading Rodgers for Mark Sanchez. It’s just not happening.
Last year, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were going to be the top two picks in the draft. All of their prior work indicated that Luck and Griffin would be starters from Day 1 in the NFL, and both delivered on that. This year, there is no clear-cut quarterback deserving of being a first-round pick.
Sure, West Virginia’s Geno Smith could be drafted in the first 10 picks but only because so many of those bad teams are desperate for quarterbacks. This is not a good draft for top-tier QBs.
Geno Smith says: “I have a number of things I need to improve on. I work extremely hard to better myself as a whole, and every single aspect of my game is improving day by day. So that’s for someone else to decide. But I feel every single part of my game needs to improve.”
Day 2 name to remember (Rounds 2-3)
Matt Barkley, senior, USC (6-2, 230). Barkley has average arm strength and lacks ideal speed for a quarterback, but he is considered a relatively safe pick on Day 2 of the draft. Being a QB from USC isn’t a great thing for a player’s resume at the moment after the recent struggles of Sanchez, Matt Leinart and John David Booty. Though it’s highly unlikely the Packers would consider a quarterback in the second or third round, one thing to keep in mind is that the Denver Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler in the second round in 2012. Of course, that was to protect the Broncos in case Peyton Manning wasn’t healthy, but Denver was still a QB-set team that decided to invest in a quarterback in the early rounds. Still, though, there’s little reason for Green Bay to follow a similar path this year.
Day 3 name to remember (Rounds 4-7)
E.J. Manuel, senior, Florida State (6-4, 237). Manuel’s frame is exactly what NFL teams are looking for. He has great speed and can escape the pocket if defenses create pressure. Though Manuel also has very good arm strength, his accuracy is a problem. All of that adds up to make Manuel one of the draft’s wild cards. If a team believes he can perhaps be the next Colin Kaepernick, Manuel could go in the first or second round. Picking him so high, however, would come with great risk. He’s most likely a Day 3 QB, but with this draft class, some team could swing for the fences and hope Manuel is a difference-maker.
FOXSports.com’s draft expert Taylor Jones says: “I don’t know that with either one of those guys (Harrell or Coleman) that the Packers can feel very comfortable if Rodgers goes down. The team would never say it, but you’re pretty much saying ‘There goes the season’ with those two guys behind Rodgers. But that’s not all that different from other teams with big-name QBs. Harrell and Coleman have some potential, but are the Packers that comfortable with them? I wouldn’t be. But the Packers’ success obviously hinges on Rodgers’ health.”