This is the first in a series of stories that’ll examine the Packers’ roster, position by position, leading up to the 2016 draft. The series begins with the quarterbacks.
GREEN BAY – The Packers appear to be handing the backup quarterback keys in 2016 to Brett Hundley, their fifth-round draft pick a year ago.
That doesn’t necessarily preclude drafting another signal caller this year, though.
Following veteran backup Scott Tolzien’s free-agent departure to Indianapolis, the Packers have a roster spot available should they want to carry three quarterbacks again in 2016.
After Aaron Rodgers and Hundley, the only other quarterback who will begin the 2016 offseason in Green Bay is rookie Ryan Williams. An undrafted prospect, Williams is intriguing with his 6-foot-4 frame and strong arm, but he started only 10 games in his college career between Memphis and Miami and will be starting his development almost from square one.
Another draft pick at the position would make it a crowded room with four quarterbacks through OTAs and into training camp, but the Packers did that a year ago before releasing Matt Blanchard in the first roster reduction, following the third preseason game.
With Rodgers entering his 12th year in the league and ninth as a starter, he’s long past the time he needed a full round of offseason and training camp snaps to get ready for a season. A fourth quarterback, in a year the Packers will have an extra week of training camp with a fifth preseason game, would help ease Rodgers’ workload if that’s his and the coaching staff’s desire.
As for Hundley, the former UCLA star has received heaps of praise from Head Coach Mike McCarthy this offseason for his growth as a rookie last year. He began his career with a promising preseason in 2015, and that’ll again be his time to shine in year two. The Hall of Fame Game to open the preseason in early August could become a significant, nationally televised showcase for Hundley.
Getting to spend a full offseason in McCarthy’s quarterback school for the first time should only accelerate Hundley’s progress, as it did for former Rodgers backups Matt Flynn and Tolzien.
The selection of Hundley last year was the first of a quarterback by General Manager Ted Thompson since seventh-rounder B.J. Coleman back in 2012. Thompson hasn’t taken quarterbacks in consecutive drafts since his first two years, with Rodgers (first round, 2005) and Ingle Martin (fifth round, 2006), though he did select both Brian Brohm and Flynn in the same draft (2008).
The Packers won’t be looking to spend an early-round draft pick on a QB, but if the right one is there in the late rounds, they could pull the trigger.