Now Is Not the Time For the Packers To Draft A Quarterback

A poor draft class and Scott Tolzien's development make drafting a quarterback a long shot proposition for the Green and Gold. 

With the Packers reportedly bringing in Baylor's Bryce Petty for a pre-draft visit, and with the Packers being one of only four teams in the league currently rolling with only two quarterbacks on their roster, some folks have started to wonder if this is the year general manager Ted Thompson pulls the trigger on a quarterback in the draft for the first time since taking B.J. Coleman in 2012. 

Prior to the Coleman pick, Thompson had eschewed the quarterback position during the draft for many years. 

Packers fans remember that when Aaron Rodgers was heading into his first year as a full time starter, Thompson invested draft capital at the quarterback position by taking Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn.

(As an aside, the Brohm selection lead to a great moment in NFL draft media history...)

Obviously, after the car wreck that played out at the position in 2013, and with the team finally letting go of the Matt Flynn security blanket after watching him offer absolutely nothing in a few limited appearances last season, it would appear the 2015 draft might provide a good opportunity to replenish the quarterback cupboard, if you will. 

I'm not here to say Thompson will or won't. God knows I gave up trying to figure out what he'll do long ago. 

I am here to say he shouldn't take a quarterback this year. 

Now, I'm not as down on some of the prospects outside of the Top 2 of Winston and Mariota as some other analysts. I think Hundley, Grayson and Petty all have things you could work with and they would all certainly benefit from sitting behind the best quarterback in the game for four years. (Hell, I'd argue Mariota would as well, but I don't see that happening.)

Now, there's every chance one of these quarterbacks could drop late into the third day. That might make selecting one of them even more tempting, if Thompson senses he's getting a great value and a prospect to mold in his team's offense. Maybe he could even flip him down the road for a better selection, the way Ron Wolf did with Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell and Aaron Brooks. 

My problem is that any prospect selected in this draft is destined to lose in a training camp battle with Scott Tolzien. No, I'm not saying Tolzien is the long term answer behind Rodgers. There's a reason the Packers brought him back on a one year deal. We've seen plenty of guys over the years who look good in camp and preseason only to come back the following year only to fall apart. 

I don't think that happens with Tolzien and he certainly improved greatly from his first year in Green Bay, when he was thrown into the fire without so much as one live snap under his belt, to his second year when he showed great command of the offense, an ability to make every throw and, probably most importantly, a good knack of making things happen when things around him were falling apart. 

Again, I'm not here to say Tolzien is the second coming of Joe Montana. But he will most likely beat out any draft pick. 

So what happens to that rookie quarterback who is destined for third string? A year of scout team work and being innactive on game day. Is this the investment Thompson wants to make? Because that's what Ted usually lines up behind, what the investment of a prospect means for his ball club long term. Yes, a quarterback selection could pay off long term, but it's not like it's anywhere near time to start thinking about Rodgers' heir apparent. 

Meanwhile, saving that draft selection for the defensive side of the ball, for giving Rodgers some help or, most likely, fortifying a special teams unit that has gotten so bad it got its coordinator fired would seem to make a whole lot more sense. 

I usually buy what Ted is selling when it comes to "investing" in his draft picks. And I gave up long ago trying to predict what he's going to do over the course of a draft. 

But I'm here to tell him - it's not quite time yet to draft a quarterback. 

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Comments (40)

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 06, 2015 at 10:44 am

I agree and disagree with you Aaron.

I agree that this is not the year to draft a QB, high. But I disagree because I have no problem if they take a QB in the 6th-7th round area to develop.

There is nothing wrong with drafting a guy in the 6th-7th round that the team feels they could develop into a good player. Even if that means they get stashed away on the PS for a year.
If they decided to draft a player then, it would allow him to develop and possibly compete with Tolzien the following year and it will create a good competition.

For me if they are interested in Petty or anyone else higher up, I don't think I would use more then a 4th round pick on them. They would likely stay on the roster, but would likely be the 3rd QB on the depth chart the whole year.

For that reason I don't think they will go that high for a QB, but it makes sense to find someone in the 6th round area.

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PackerAaron's picture

April 06, 2015 at 11:12 am

"I have no problem if they take a QB in the 6th-7th round area to develop."

I don't really have a problem with it. I just think you could find a core special teamer there and I think that'd be a better use of resources.

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HankScorpio's picture

April 07, 2015 at 08:00 am

Obviously a drafted player is a better bet to contribute on ST than a UDFA. I think it is foolish to argue otherwise.

However, the approach of trying UDFA developmental QBs has been a bust under TT while he's found plenty of position players from the UDFA ranks. So I think a fair case can be made to invest in QB from a 'value above replacement' standpoint.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 06, 2015 at 11:23 am

Well, well, well. We are here again.

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@ballark's picture

April 06, 2015 at 11:23 am

I really liked what I saw from Tolzien in his limited opportunities, but competition is never a bad thing--especially at football's most important position. Given Rodgers' calf, collar bone and concussions, I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to make certain that whoever we have at #2 is someone who can execute.

But I think (as always) it boils down to the players available. If there's a QB they really like, a guy they think can be special, and he's on the board in the 4th, 5th or 6th round, then why not? Nagler's point that the pick would come at the expense of depth, or a possible contribution elsewhere is a fair one. But I think with picks in every round (plus 2 compensatory picks) we have the luxury of doing both.

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PackerAaron's picture

April 06, 2015 at 11:47 am

Good point about competition. I will also be very surprised if there's a QB they "love" in this draft. I don't doubt they'll bring in a UDFA for the offseason and camp.

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jmac34's picture

April 06, 2015 at 12:21 pm

They almost have to bring in a third guy just to get more reps for the wrs and tes

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Koostyroosty's picture

April 06, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Get a QB with one of the compensatory 6th rounders or our one in the 7th, or an UDFA. I imagine there will be at least one project QB in camp. Loved the video. Just goes to show you how hard it is for anyone to predict how a QB will pan out in the NFL. Even for the guys who played. I think I would rather hear a long time NFL scout give their analysis on how a college QB will be in the pros.

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tm_inter's picture

April 06, 2015 at 12:43 pm

I beg to disagree with Aaron Nagler in this article. He presumes that no rookie quarterback can beat out Scott Tolzien. Doesn't Nagler know that Bart Starr was drafted in the 17th round, and Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round. Another more recent overlooked quarterback is named Russell Wilson. So why don't we leave it up to Ted Thompson to try to unearth some overlooked quarterback with a late-round pick? It's his job, and it won't cost much.

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PackerAaron's picture

April 06, 2015 at 01:53 pm

You've listed three quarterbacks out of literally hundreds that were drafted "later" and didn't work out. Not my kind of odds, but as you say, it's Ted's job. We'll see.

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sonomaca's picture

April 06, 2015 at 02:09 pm

That's right. Over the past 9 drafts, QB's drafted later than round 2 have been terrible (with 3 exceptions: Wilson, Mallett, and Mettenberger). As I wrote earlier, your odds with a 1st or 2nd round QB are much, much better, although far from perfect. If you use a mid-to-late round pick on a QB, you're basically throwing it away.

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sonomaca's picture

April 06, 2015 at 02:12 pm

Oh, and Foles. Mallett, Wilson and Foles were all 3rd rounders. After that, it's Mettenberger and...bupkis.

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HankScorpio's picture

April 07, 2015 at 08:16 am

Sonomaca,

I would add a few names to your "not terrible' list for 3rd rd or later in the last 9 years. Some of the names I add will be sure to draw disagreement but I think situation is so important to QB play and I can see these guys being better with good solid coaching and development time---like they would get in GB. Having a less than horrible supporting cast is also huge in how a QB performs and many of these guys did not get that luxury.

Here goes: Charlie Whitehurt, Bruce Gradkowski, Trent Edwards, Tyler Thigpen and Kirk Cousins.

All of those guys did well enough to get on the field at some point.

If you add one year to the search to make it an even decade, you add Charlie Frye, Kyle Orton, Derek Anderson, Matt Cassell and Ryan Fitzpatrick to the list.

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sonomaca's picture

April 07, 2015 at 11:17 am

Yeah, there was a decent year back in 2005, I think. That said, the names you cite (Whitehurst, etc.) are really backups. It's nearly impossible to find a starter after round 2, or round 3 at the very latest. Yes, people are always trying to find the next Brady, but the chances are bordering on zero.

When you draft a QB high, ie no later than early 3rd round, your chances are much better (ie, not zero). I think that's why you'll see guys like Hundley, Petty, and Grayson go relatively early.

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HankScorpio's picture

April 07, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Agreed that none of those guys are stars but they do meet the standard of "not horrible", IMO.

I would love to have Kirk Cousins backing up Rodgers right now. He was given a chance and flamed out. But I doubt he would flame out surrounded by the offensive talent in GB.

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4thand1's picture

April 06, 2015 at 02:53 pm

Groom Cobb, he can throw it to himself.

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jh9's picture

April 06, 2015 at 03:42 pm

The Packers should only draft a QB if they trade out of the 1st round and get an additional later round pick. That would mean the Packers would have in total ten draft picks this year. I think with nine picks they can strengthen this team significantly and with the tenth pick they could use it for a QB in the 6th or 7th round. No big commitment and I think MM would like another QB to teach.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 06, 2015 at 09:24 pm

I like it. It'll never happen but I like it.

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sonomaca's picture

April 07, 2015 at 11:21 am

As I said, I think TT thinks he's holding a golden ticket with the #30 pick, as some team may want to move up and take Petty there. I've mentioned at least 15 teams which need or will need a QB in the next 3 years.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 06, 2015 at 04:23 pm

It is not a good year for QBs. There is no depth, Rodgers is too young to take a QB high (day one or two), and Tolzien appears to be an adequate back-up. TT has been doing quite well with his 4th and 5th round picks, so I wouldn't want to use a pick in those rounds. With 3 picks in the 6th, I wouldn't have a problem with taking a QB in the 6th or 7th, but I am sure I won't be excited by any QB taken late.

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HankScorpio's picture

April 07, 2015 at 07:48 am

Who is the 3rd QB?

Once upon a time, it was quite controversial to only keep 2 QBs on the 53 man roster. Now, it seems that keeping 3 raises eyebrows. I think the "once upon a time" view was the correct one and the current view that 2 with a 3rd on the PS being fine is playing with fire.

I know for sure that the Packers got burned...big time... in 2013 by not taking QB depth seriously. They screwed around with it all offseason. Then on final cuts, they purged everyone and started over behind Rodgers with Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien. They eventually had to turn to Matt Flynn to save their bacon just enough to qualify for the postseason. It was a desperate move that was fortunate to work. But I think everyone would agree that avoiding desperate situations is better.

I do think it is a waste of time to keep a 3rd QB on the 53 man roster if the guy has no chance of playing the position as a legitimate NFL caliber QB. Which highlights the need to invest more heavily than a steady line of UDFA. That's an even longer shot than day 3 picks.

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lou's picture

April 06, 2015 at 06:38 pm

Here is a simple approach, if you wanted to draft a WR based on the record, Ted is the guy you want to take the pick. If you want to draft a QB, also based on record then Ron Wolf is your guy. I know that Wolf had a "limited services" contract after he retired for several years. Why not contract with him again on a limited basis to assist in the evaluation of the college QB's ? Other teams have contracted with him in the recruitment of GM's and Head Coaches, lets at least look at the possibility of leveraging his skills again. Favre, Detmer, Brunnell, Hasselback, Brooks etc, what a track record.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

April 06, 2015 at 07:57 pm

I needed to see that video with the draft coming up... perspective. Thanks!

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4thand1's picture

April 07, 2015 at 08:59 pm

Lmfao Fitz. These clowns are the so-called experts.

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NitschkeFan's picture

April 06, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Great video! A timely reminder of what a crap shoot the draft and its instant analysis is.

As mentioned by others, late round QB picks very rarely amount to anything. I have no issue with them using a 6th or 7th round pick, but I wouldn't consider it anything but a long shot.

Use the first 5 picks to target needs and speculate on the long shot late in the draft if TT feels there is an appropriate QB left by then.

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HankScorpio's picture

April 07, 2015 at 07:31 am

I loved the approach Ron Wolf took at QB. He drafted one nearly every year. Some hit and some missed. Some he flipped for a pick later and some just walked away. But the Packers were always well stocked with credible backups at the most important position in the game.

I wish TT would take the same approach. I understand the point of view that the season is lost if Rodgers goes down for an extended period so they shouldn't bother. I just disagree with it.

As to the evaluation of the relative strength of the QB class for 2015 or any other year....I would have to say the ability of Holmgren's staff to develop QBs was at least as important as Wolf's keen eye in the success of Wolf's approach. Seems to me that both dynamics are still in place. TT has a keen eye and the staff is certainly capable of QB development.

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NitschkeFan's picture

April 07, 2015 at 08:51 am

Hank, I like your point. And QB is obviously the most important position on the team.

What pick would you think is worth using for this year? Would you be willing to use an early pick for a development prospect on a team that is very close to being in the SB? Team still has holes to fill.

I don't have the answers just questions. Hope TT has the right answers.

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HankScorpio's picture

April 07, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I dunno about where to draft a QB. I think that depends on the current roster and the draft board as it sits when the picks come up. Anytime on day 3 strikes me as ok. I'm reasonably sure that Brooks, Brunell, Detmer and Hasselback (Wolf success stories) all fell into that rather sizable range.

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sonomaca's picture

April 07, 2015 at 03:53 pm

If late round QB's worked at times in the past, not so much anymore. New England wisely grabbed Garoppolo in round 2 last year. They may have solidified the QB position for 10 more years with a measly 2nd round pick.

I think the injury situation with Rodgers of late has made it clear that the Pack are going to have to have a plan B at QB. If it's Tolzien, well, good luck with that.

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HankScorpio's picture

April 07, 2015 at 04:43 pm

I don't think things have so dramatically changed with QBs. Most of the good ones have always been early picks. Occasionally, a good one will slip through the cracks. The vast majority of later round guys will have serious warts that you hope can be covered up enough for them to be effective.

For the Packers, we're not talking about having to find the next Kurt Warner or Tom Brady. Just a guy that can bridge a few games in the event Rodgers goes down for a short time. Last time we saw Tolzien try, he was unsuccessful. Maybe he's improved enough that things would be different now. But investing a pick in pushing him forward, or even out the door, is not a bad idea, IMO.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 08, 2015 at 02:24 am

Things have changed regarding QBs since the days of Wolf (not sure if I'd say dramatically, though). The rules on hitting QBs are dramatically different. It made a lot more sense to keep 3 QBs in the 80's and 90's than it does today. Keeping 3 QBs last year cost us Rolle. You do make some good points, though, and I'd say 2 QBs vs. 3 QBs is a matter of preference (risk aversion) and how one feels about the quality of that 3rd QB.

Wolf drafted the following QBs: '92: Favre (Trade), Ty Detmer (9th); '93: Brunell (5th); '94: N/A; '95: Jay Barker (5th); '96: Kyle Wachholtz (7th); '97: Ron McAdo (7th); '98: Matt Hasselback (6th); '99: Aaron Brooks (4th); 2000: N/A. Wolf's track record drafting QBs is pretty impressive. He also had Steve Mariucci ('92 through '96) and Holmgren coaching those QBs, which I suspect helped those players really develop. I consider a decent back-up to be a hit if taken in the 3rd or later.

Wolf used a first rounder (trade) on Favre, a 4th (hit), 2 5ths (hit and a miss), one 6th (hit), 2 7ths (both misses), and a 9th (hit - today it would be a UDFA, I suppose). 8 QBs, 5 hits (62.5%). The sample size is so small that I could make an argument that 4th/5th rounds is the sweet spot (66.6%), or 5th/6th is good (66%), or that 7th/UDFA isn't bad (33% success rate). Or I could make the argument that Wolf was just really good at finding QB talent.

Mike Sherman drafted one QB: Craig Nall (5th) in '02.

TT's drafted QBs: '05: Rodgers (1st); '06 Ingle Martin (6th); '08: Brohm (2nd); Flynn (7th); '12: Coleman. TT used a 1st (hit), a 2nd (miss/bomb); a 6th (miss), 2 7ths (miss and a hit). 2 hits, 3 misses (40%). The sample is small, but I can't really find evidence that a GM needs to use round 2, 3, 4, or 5 pick to find a decent back-up QB, and I would suggest that missing on a QB constitutes bust in those rounds and really hurts a team.

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sonomaca's picture

April 08, 2015 at 03:58 pm

Great analysis. However, I would distinguish between career backup and starter. When you draft beyond round 3, you really expect no more than backup. You have almost no chance of finding a starter in the later rounds (which is why Mettenberger may be unique).

When you draft in the first two, and sometimes three rounds, you do hope to find a starter, and it's possible. Wilson, Foles, Kaepernick, and Dalton come to mind. So, from a Packer perspective, I think the question becomes, "are we looking for a career backup or a future starter." If the answer is backup, one who would be better than Tolzien, go ahead and pick one late. If you're taking a shot at starter, you really have to do it in the first three rounds.

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sonomaca's picture

April 07, 2015 at 11:26 am

The Petty head fake? Perhaps they want teams to think they like Petty in order to secretly pick up Hundley or Grayson. This is all very interesting.

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sonomaca's picture

April 07, 2015 at 11:34 am

Texans have Hundley in this week. They draft at #16. Other teams which might have an interest are St. Louis at #10, Cleveland at #12, and New Orleans at #13. There are several teams right after Houston which might want a shot at Hundley as well, namely SD, KC, Cleveland (again) and Philly.

I have a feeling someone will be trying to move up to get Hundley.

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4thand1's picture

April 07, 2015 at 03:06 pm

Remember the viqueens drafting a qb a few years ago with the 11th pick. Then having to draft another one. I bet the Pack drafts one late and tries to develop him.

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sonomaca's picture

April 07, 2015 at 03:49 pm

Late round QB's almost never work out.

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4thand1's picture

April 07, 2015 at 09:00 pm

A lot of early ones don't either, sono

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aj's picture

April 07, 2015 at 03:30 pm

Teams have guys in all the time who they don't draft in the 1st. That doesn't mean they automatically are going to pick him if they bring him in for a visit.

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Samson's picture

April 07, 2015 at 08:59 pm

Just don't see the argument here. --- If TT drafts a QB late it will be for camp purposes & development on the PS. If TT doesn't draft a QB he'll sign some UDFA for camp & the PS. ---- It's pretty simple. --- End of discussion.

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greenbowlpacker's picture

April 08, 2015 at 03:45 pm

QB is the most important position on the field. After the 1st round I don't have have a problem with taking a shot on a guy you like and can develop.

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