FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig provides complete coverage of the Packers and the 2015 NFL Draft in his 14-part preview. You can find the entire series here.
TODAY’S POSITION: QUARTERBACKS
Importance (1-to-10 scale): 5
On the roster
It’s a lot easier to build a winning roster when a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player is at quarterback. Aaron Rodgers is not only recognized as the league’s best quarterback, he’s also in the prime years of his career at age 31.
Rodgers’ 100th regular-season start happened this past season, and with it came several all-time records. While his passing yards (27,520) and touchdown passes (222) marks could be broken one day, it would take incredible efficiency for another quarterback to ever do better than Rodgers’ 4.11:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Rodgers’ ability to not turn the ball over while still taking shots downfield is masterful, and it’s what every football coach wishes his quarterback could do.
Rodgers has five years remaining on the $110 million extension he signed in 2013. As long as he can stay healthy, Rodgers’ presence alone makes the Packers a Super Bowl contender and an NFC North favorite through the 2019 season.
It’s the No. 2 spot on Green Bay’s quarterback depth chart that is the bigger topic heading into the draft. Scott Tolzien was signed to a one-year, $1.35 million deal this offseason, while Matt Flynn remains an unrestricted free agent and does not appear to be part of the Packers’ plans going forward.
Does general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy think highly enough of Tolzien to plan on the 27-year-old quarterback being their backup of the next five seasons? It’s only a one-year contract for Tolzien, so the team is obviously planning to make him earn his spot every year.
Last five quarterbacks drafted
Philosophy at the position
With just Tolzien and Rodgers on board, it’s very realistic that this is the year Green Bay drafts a quarterback at some point before the seventh round.
"Would I love to have three quarterbacks? Yeah, it’s the most important position in football," McCarthy said during a side session with reporters at the Scouting Combine in February. "Really, technically, you’d like to have three and a developmental, because you have 10 on the (practice) squad. But (then) you’re stressing someone (like the) extra offensive lineman. You keep one more than the norm, there’s a stress point somewhere else."
The Packers took a flyer on Coleman in 2012, but it’s always unlikely that the 243rd overall pick in any draft turns into a serviceable NFL performer.
McCarthy also found out the hard way in 2013 what happens when the No. 2 quarterback position isn’t ready to go, as was the case with Seneca Wallace.
"When you have something that happened like two years ago, you’ve got to have three quarterbacks," McCarthy said in February. "The reality for us, we didn’t have the No. 2 right. We didn’t have that part right. That really put us into a two or a three (quarterback situation).
"We’ve been spoiled here. We’ve had unbelievable No. 2s — hell, Aaron was a No. 2, for God’s sake. So we’ve done that part right. . . . If we would have had three quarterbacks trained going into (the 2013 season), I think we would have won more than eight games because we had some bad things go on just as far as the turnovers and the way they happened."
Marcus Mariota, junior, Oregon (6-foot-3, 222 pounds; age 21)
Is Mariota going to fall to the Packers? No. But he’s the only quarterback other than presumed first-overall pick Jameis Winston who will be drafted in the first round. Mariota could be selected as early as No. 2, but he might fall to somewhere in the 10-12 range. Green Bay obviously has no need for a starting quarterback right now, but where Mariota ends up will be one of the biggest stories on draft night.
Mariota said at the Scouting Combine: "As a competitor, any person would tell you that they’re the best. I truly believe that in myself. We’ll see whatever decision is made. I’ve got to go in with that mentality."
Day 2 name to remember (Rounds 2-3)
Bryce Petty, senior, Baylor (6-2, 230 pounds; age 23)
Petty is ranked as the fourth-best quarterback by Joel Klatt of FOX Sports. He’s also ranked fourth by NFLDraftScout.com, which lists Petty as having a fourth- or fifth-round grade. Would it be a reach for the Packers to draft Petty 94th overall in the third round? Perhaps. But if Thompson has determined that Petty is worth developing, it might be worth it. That’s especially true if Petty is one of the few quarterback prospects in this draft who Green Bay’s front office believes in. Petty will turn 24 years old less than one month after the draft, so he’ll be relatively old for a rookie. NFLDraftScout.com notes that Baylor’s one-read, shotgun system means Petty will have to re-learn several aspects of the quarterback position. Petty admitted at the Scouting Combine that the Senior Bowl was his first time ever experiencing an actual play-call coming in, as he’d previously only used a signal system.
Day 3 name to remember (Rounds 4-7)
Garrett Grayson, senior, Colorado State (6-2, 213 pounds; age 23)
Grayson has a fifth-round grade by NFLDraftScout.com and is the sixth-rated quarterback prospect by Klatt. Grayson received just two scholarship offers out of high school to play quarterback in college, but he really developed nicely during his junior and senior seasons. He comes from a pro-style offense, which is obviously beneficial to his early development in the NFL. Like Petty, he’ll turn 24 less than one month after the draft.