'Never too early' for Packers to think about future of QB position
First in a 10-part Packers draft position-preview series: Quarterbacks.
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers' quarterback position is at once young and old.
Aaron Rodgers turns 36 in December, and though he signed a contract extension last year that takes him through the 2022 season, it will be the last major contract of his career. That time is nearing, ready or not.
He should still be one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks this season if healthy, which he hasn’t been the past two years. A broken collarbone derailed his 2017 season, and a tibial plateau fracture (broken leg) combined with a sprained MCL diminished his 2018. Rodgers also left the season finale early with a concussion, the third of his career. Overall, Rodgers could have prime years left, but he isn’t exactly a young 35.
Behind him, the Packers have a pair of backups they appear content to keep this offseason, even if neither has shown they’re ready to win games if Rodgers misses time with injury. DeShone Kizer, a second-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2017, enters his third NFL season and second with the Packers. He completed 20 of 47 passes (47.6%) with 187 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions, appearing mostly overmatched in three games last season. Tim Boyle, with his big right arm, might have more upside as a prospect, but the former undrafted free agent from Eastern Kentucky is very raw entering his second year.
Priority level: Low.
If this were next year, or maybe the year after, the Packers’ 30th overall pick might be a big, glaring, neon sign. Rodgers isn’t going to play forever. Considering how major injuries have significantly affected his past two seasons, Rodgers is nearing the point where the Packers will need to consider life after his career. Maybe a year from now, maybe the year after, an extra or late-first-round pick will be fertile ground for selecting Rodgers’ replacement.
Even now, perhaps, drafting a quarterback anywhere after the Packers’ initial first-round pick at No. 12 overall can’t be entirely dismissed. As one NFL scout said, it’s “never too early” to think about the future of the quarterback position. If Missouri’s Drew Lock or Duke’s Daniel Jones falls to No. 30, perhaps the Packers would be enticed to start the clock on their future now, even with the ink still drying on Rodgers’ record-breaking contract extension from last year. Lock reportedly is taking a top-30 interview with the Packers this week, and another report said they wanted to bring in Jones but the timing didn't work out.
Such a reality is very unlikely, especially because Lock and Jones are expected to be drafted well before 30th overall. But, remember, Rodgers was never supposed to last until 24th overall in 2005. The Packers would have to believe a quarterback is absolutely the rightful heir, a franchise player for the next 15 years, to select one high in this draft. But with Rodgers turning 36 in December, they’re on the fringe of their window to start considering what’s next.
Drew Lock, Missouri
The good: Ideal size with an NFL arm. Quick release with good vision helps him deliver the football on time. Good athlete, ran a 4.69 40 at the combine. Can make all the throws.
The bad: Inconsistent, especially with his accuracy. Needs refinement as a passer. Would benefit from time to develop in the NFL, rather than starting Week 1.
Daniel Jones, Duke
The good: Played for Duke coach David Cutcliffe, a quarterback guru who coached Eli Manning in college. As a byproduct, Jones enters the league with sterling throwing mechanics. Good pocket presence when facing pass rush.
The bad: Not a big arm. Needs quicker release. Benefited from playing in a quarterback-friendly system at Duke.
The Packers have been buoyed for almost 30 years by Hall of Fame quarterback play in the form of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Key to that transition was knowing when to look ahead. The Packers drafted Rodgers in 2005, and Favre turned 36 in October of that year. So it’s worth noting Rodgers turns 36 in December of this year. Of course, they are two different situations. By 2005, Favre had already hinted at retirement for years, while Rodgers has made clear he plans to play through age 40. Still, the fact Rodgers is the same age as Favre when the Packers drafted him is worth remembering.
Recent draft history
Year, Round, Overall: Player, School
2015, 5, 147 overall: Brett Hundley, UCLA
2012, 7, 243 overall: B.J. Coleman, Tennessee-Chattanooga
2008, 2, 56 overall: Brian Brohm, Louisville
2008, 7, 209 overall: Matt Flynn, LSU
2006, 5, 148 overall: Ingle Martin, Furman
2005, 1, 24 overall: Aaron Rodgers, California
A glance at what year the current players at the position are signed through and their age on opening day:
Aaron Rodgers (35)
DeShone Kizer (23)
Tim Boyle (24)