This is the first in a series of stories that’ll examine the Packers roster, position by position, leading up to the 2015 draft. The series begins with the quarterbacks.
GREEN BAY – Last year at this time, the Packers were heading into the draft with two understudies to Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien, and no acute need for an additional quarterback.
That has changed.
While Tolzien has been re-signed for 2015, Flynn has not, making it a virtual certainty the Packers will either draft a quarterback or add one through undrafted free agency before OTAs begin in May.
Whether or not that additional quarterback legitimately challenges Tolzien for the No. 2 job will depend on his readiness for the NFL, because the hard-working, veteran Tolzien will be difficult to unseat.
He’s entering his fifth season as a pro and his third with the Packers. Thrown into the fire for a few games in place of Rodgers in 2013 when he was still learning the offense, Tolzien was in a position to absorb more last season, and his re-signing just prior to the start of free agency last month speaks to the organization’s belief in his progress.
“Scott’s definitely an ascending player,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters at the scouting combine. “I think he still has more growth in front of him.”
As for a third quarterback, the ideal scenario would allow the Packers to find a late-round value on the third day of the draft, and get him going in the McCarthy/Tom Clements/Alex Van Pelt offseason training regimen ASAP.
Things haven’t fallen into place in that regard very often in recent years, however. Since selecting Flynn in the seventh round in 2008, the Packers have drafted just one quarterback, Tennessee-Chattanooga’s B.J. Coleman in the seventh round in 2012.
The Packers have brought in their share of undrafted prospects in that time, but only one (former Texas Tech star Graham Harrell) spent any considerable time on the team.
At the scouting combine, General Manager Ted Thompson – an adherent to maximizing the value of each draft pick without undue regard for positional needs – said the lack of picks spent on quarterbacks in the last half dozen drafts has not been intentional.
“Not necessarily,” Thompson said. “We like dabbling in the quarterback business. It just hasn’t worked out that way.”
The Packers will need that to change as well, or at the very least convince a promising undrafted rookie his best opportunity in the NFL begins with learning from the same coaching staff that helped develop a two-time league MVP.
“I don’t think you ever pass on a quarterback,” McCarthy said. “It’s the most important position in the game, and if you have one at a value that you’re comfortable (with) and he’s in position to pick him, I think you pick him.”