The following is the first installment in a series of stories that’ll examine, over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, the Packers’ roster position by position. The series begins with the quarterbacks.
GREEN BAY – Two years after undergoing an emergency reboot at the backup quarterback position, the Packers suddenly have more than enough options.
At this point, the team looks set on bringing three additional signal callers to training camp behind reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers.
It can be tough enough for three QBs to get enough reps in camp and preseason games let alone four, but the Packers appear interested in seeing what Scott Tolzien, rookie Brett Hundley and Matt Blanchard all bring to the table.
Given his experience in the offense and his work during OTAs, Tolzien has the inside track for the No. 2 job. Part of the aforementioned emergency reboot in Week 1 of 2013, Tolzien has immersed himself in the playbook and in Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s annual QB school the past two offseasons.
Tolzien has made changes to his throwing mechanics, observed the league’s best in action and earned repeated praise from the coaching staff for his progress, the biggest reason Matt Flynn wasn’t re-signed.
Tolzien was a different quarterback in the preseason last year than the one who failed to post a win in 2½ games in relief of Rodgers’ in 2013. Last summer, he posted passer ratings of 100-plus in three of four preseason contests, and he’s even better equipped to run McCarthy’s offense in his third year in Green Bay.
He’ll be very difficult to unseat from the top backup job.
Hundley is a raw athletic talent McCarthy sounded excited to mold when the Packers drafted him in the fifth round back this past spring.
The three-year starter from UCLA has an impressive arm and can make plays on the move. By all accounts he’s a great teammate and a hard worker, and he’s entering the league determined to prove he should have been drafted sooner.
The Packers didn’t hide that they felt fortunate to get Hundley in the fifth round, given his athletic tools. He’s the first QB Green Bay has drafted since 2012, with the highest pick the Packers have spent on one since 2008.
He’ll be given every chance to develop in McCarthy’s system, and he won’t be facing undue external pressure as a rookie considering the confidence expressed in Tolzien. Where he stands a year from now will be more important than the current moment.
Blanchard is the somewhat unexpected entry in the QB competition. Signed two weeks before the draft, he has made a strong initial impression, sticking around all spring despite the drafting of Hundley.
Injured off and on the past three years, Blanchard has spent time on the practice squad for both Chicago and Carolina since entering the league as an undrafted rookie back in 2012. Asked about Blanchard toward the end of the offseason program, McCarthy said he was surprised the former Wisconsin-Whitewater star didn’t have a job in the league.
Earning a job in Green Bay will be difficult given the Packers’ investments in Tolzien and Hundley, but the fact Blanchard is coming to camp speaks to the team’s interest in him.
The primary interest, of course, is keeping Rodgers healthy so the QB depth discussion becomes a moot point. Coming off his second MVP award, Rodgers showed no ill effects this spring from the calf injury that hindered his mobility down the stretch last season.
His broken collarbone in 2013 remains the only injury that has cost Rodgers more than one start in any given season since he took the reins in 2008. The Packers’ ability to maximize their potential this season hinges on that staying true.
View the top QB photos from the offseason program