B.J. Coleman did his research before he arrived in Green Bay last week for rookie orientation.
In meeting with reporters for the first time in the Packers locker room, he started rattling off names and dates – Curly Lambeau, the Indian Packing Company, 1919 – as though he had just finished a stadium tour.
He’s just as aware, though, of the Packers history that more directly applies to him as a late-round draft pick and developmental quarterback prospect.
Those names and dates include Matt Hasselbeck in 1998, Aaron Brooks in 1999 and Matt Flynn in 2008. They are the late-round quarterbacks who got their start in Green Bay under Mike McCarthy, who was Packers quarterbacks coach in 1999 before returning as the head coach in 2006.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to come to an organization like this and to see the history and the success they’ve had with their guys, and how they develop them,” Coleman said. “They take it very seriously.
“You can tell when you shake the hands of the coaches how important it is to them with the development process and getting better. Being a part of that is special.”
Coleman, whom the Packers chose in the seventh-round out of Tennessee-Chattanooga, is correct in recognizing the opportunity in front of him, and it isn’t the first time he has accurately assessed his situation.
As a four-star college recruit rated as one of the top 20 quarterbacks in the country by two scouting services, Coleman originally elected to attend Tennessee, but after a redshirt year and meaningful action in just one game the following season, he transferred to Chattanooga for a better opportunity to play.
He started three seasons for the Mocs and set a school record with 52 touchdown passes. This past winter, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. called Coleman an “under the radar” prospect who could be drafted as high as the fifth round.
The Packers took him with their eighth and final selection of last month’s draft, at No. 243 overall. For what it’s worth, Flynn was taken at No. 209 four years ago.
“Draft night was great, but the next day I was already thinking about Minnesota and Chicago and Detroit, and trying to get ready to rock and roll,” Coleman said.
During rookie orientation, Coleman began what likely will evolve into a competition with former Arena League quarterback Nick Hill for the No. 3 job behind Aaron Rodgers and Graham Harrell. During the one practice open to reporters, it appeared Coleman has the stronger arm of the two, but Hill, who was signed in January, is more familiar with the offense at this stage.
McCarthy said on Sunday he considers four quarterbacks a “healthy” number for training camp, but he also suggested there could be discussion of trimming the number to three. If that’s the case, the Hill-Coleman battle will begin in earnest when OTAs get underway next week.
Either way, Coleman is coming in with the right attitude, which is not being afraid to make mistakes. Not repeating them is more his focus.
“That’s how you get better,” he said. “All I can do is go out there put my best foot forward. If you make a mistake, get back in the film room, learn from it, and the next day if you go out there, don’t make the same mistake.”
McCarthy said Coleman will have to be taught different footwork than to which he’s accustomed but, overall, McCarthy likes Coleman’s raw tools.
Time will tell if history repeats itself.
“I liked his command in the huddle,” McCarthy said. “He’s aggressive. He can throw it. He’s definitely a young man we’re excited about having here and working and developing him fundamentally in the philosophy we believe in.”