Part of B.J. Coleman’s preparation for the NFL draft included workouts in Hattiesburg, Miss., where a certain former Green Bay Packers quarterback happens to reside.
Sure enough, Brett Favre would come by once or twice a week during the two months Coleman spent in Mississippi this winter. Little did Favre know it at the time, but he was helping Coleman impress the very team that spurned the three-time NFL MVP nearly four years ago.
The Packers drafted Coleman in Saturday’s seventh round with the 243rd overall pick, the team’s final selection in the three-day draft. The connection between the 21-year-old Coleman and Favre was Bus Cook, Favre’s long-time friend and agent, who also represents Coleman.
“What a great experience,” Coleman said of working with Favre.
Coleman spent most of January and February in Hattiesburg, training at an area high school. Favre would come by a couple of times week, and Coleman estimated that they had eight or 10 sessions together.
“Every second I was with him, you can learn something new,” Coleman said. “From just the mental aspect of the game to picking up different coverages and maybe the subtle things like how a corner is turned, whether a safety is down or up, and then there’s the physical stuff of playing quarterback as most everyone knows is with your feet. You’ve got to be quick in your drops, and you’ve got to be able to give a play a second chance. It’s just endless.
“He’s one of the best. He’ll go down as one of the greatest, and to have an opportunity to speak with him and work with him was excellent.”
Perhaps Coleman might have been drafted sooner had his college career not taken a number of twists. He left the University of Tennessee after playing only sparingly in three games as a redshirt freshman in 2008. He transferred to UT-Chattanooga, his hometown school, where he was three-year starter and threw 52 touchdowns and 32 interceptions in 29 starts. As a senior, he missed four games late in the season because of a sprained throwing shoulder. He returned for the season finale but didn’t work out at the combine because of injury.
“I’ve been through a lot, but so has every other guy,” Coleman said. “Everybody’s got a story (about) where they’ve come from.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy liked Coleman’s size at 6-foot-3 and 233 pounds and big hands at 10 3/8 inches, even bigger than top pick Andrew Luck (10).
The Packers picked Coleman over Northern Illinois’ Chandler Harnish (who was drafted 10 spots later by Indianapolis), Boise State’s Kellen Moore (undrafted) and several other undrafted quarterbacks.
“A lot to be excited about as far as his skill set,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, the injuries probably were a factor in where he was drafted. He was clearly the most excited young man on the phone of the eight (Packers picks).”
The excitable Coleman went so far as to tell McCarthy he would be “the best pick we’ve ever made in Green Bay.”
Said Coleman: “I think that came out just with a little bit of excitement.”
Coleman became the fourth quarterback on the Packers’ roster, though they don’t have a proven backup behind reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. Behind Rodgers is Graham Harrell, who has bounced between the practice squad and the roster the last two seasons, and former Arena League quarterback Nick Hill, who signed with the Packers in January.
The last quarterback the Packers drafted in the seventh round, Matt Flynn, probably will be the Seattle Seahawks’ starting quarterback this season. The Packers picked Flynn at No. 209 in 2008, and he won the backup job as a rookie, beating out second-round pick Brian Brohm. Though the Packers didn’t get anything for Flynn when he left in March to sign a three-year, $26 million with the Seahawks, he gave them a capable backup for four seasons, and they should get a mid-round compensatory draft pick next season for losing him.
The Packers haven’t ruled out bringing in a veteran backup, but the options there are limited. At this point, McCarthy seems content to begin the offseason program with the three backups he has on the roster.
“I feel like we have really three candidates to compete for two spots or possibly three,” McCarthy said. “The roster will shake that out. And it’s our job as coaches to make sure they’re trained and they’re ready to go, regardless of how many years of experience they have.”
— email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @RobDemovsky.