Green Bay Packers

The Packers Want To Start Drafting More QBs

Photo Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers fans had half a grueling season of quarterback uncertainty before it was clear Jordan Love was “the guy.” Other teams probably can’t relate to this seemingly infinite time period between good quarterbacks.

But QB2 Sean Clifford also looked solid in his limited appearances, even becoming the best quarterback of all time after a few throws.

The Packers are pretty good at drafting and developing quarterbacks. The last time they started a rookie QB was during the second Reagan administration. Green Bay’s process works, and its roster is in good shape at the most important position in the game.

So when Brian Gutekunst spoke to the media at the NFL Combine, it was interesting to hear him say he wants to continue drafting quarterbacks. “Getting back to drafting multiple quarterbacks is something that I’ve wanted to do,” he said. “We kind of went away from that for a few years, and I’d like to get back to that because I just think having young talented quarterbacks on your roster that the coaches can develop, I just think is really healthy and important for a franchise.”

It’s an intriguing comment from a man who recently solidified his team’s QB, but it makes a lot of sense and has historical backing. Green Bay has been good at drafting and developing quarterbacks even when they don’t immediately need one. How has this approach worked in the past, and what could it mean for roster-building in the future?

We know Green Bay has twice drafted a quarterback in the first round while their current quarterback was still playing well. Drafting Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love was surprising, and fans didn’t love the picks at the time, but both players had time to develop and got their shot. Rodgers will be a Hall of Famer. We don’t know how Love’s career will play out, but he proved himself as one of the NFC’s best in the second half of 2023.

But while Rodgers and Love are the best arguments for Green Bay’s process, they aren’t the only quarterbacks who were successful, thanks to their time in Green Bay.

Since trading for Brett Favre, the Packers have drafted 16 QBs, more than any other team. That may seem unreal for a franchise that spent most of my lifetime with only two starting quarterbacks. But it’s given them ample options and ammunition to trade for draft picks and other players.

Ron Wolf drafted and developed Matt Hasselbeck before trading him to the Seattle Seahawks in a package for a first- and third-round pick. Wolf drafted Aaron Brooks in the fourth round and traded him for a third-rounder a year later. Matt Flynn‘s time in Green Bay made him a lot of money. The Seahawks looked like they were going to make him their starting quarterback before Russell Wilson won the job. Brett Hundley was still in the NFL until 2022.

The Packers developed these QBs on the bench before handing them the starting position, which Gutekunst attributes to Green Bay’s non-traditional ownership, allowing for a little more patience.

Drafting and developing quarterbacks over time allows the Packers always to have viable backup options. They are constantly honing the ability to develop quarterbacks — identifying the right traits and modernizing their methods. Therefore, they can turn someone into a starter when they really need to, just like we saw with Love.

Wolf and Thompson were both QB trigger-happy, but Thompson slowed down in his later years. Gutekunst has only drafted Love and Clifford, but he trained under Wolf and Thompson. Gutekunst is ready to embrace that part of his scouting lineage.

Love has established himself as the starter in Green Bay and should get a big payday in the coming months. But while the team likes Clifford, his role as QB2 isn’t guaranteed.

However, Gutekunst likes what he sees from Clifford, saying, “I think he’s absolutely proven he can be a No. 2. Maybe more than that.” But while he’s excited about Love’s backup, he could maybe trade him down the road. Regardless, he’s ready to dive into drafting more quarterbacks.

Gutekunst spoke highly of his year’s crop of QB prospects, both at the top and those who will be drafted later. It would be shocking to see Gutekunst target a QB early. Still, don’t be surprised if he targets someone with traits he likes in the later rounds.

There’s certainly room for competition for Clifford or at least a practice squad spot for a QB3. USFL star Alex McGough manned the QB3 spot on the practice squad last season and earned a reserve/future contract. But the Packers could try to add a promising rookie there instead.

One thing is certain: The Packers don’t want to get complacent at the most important position in the league. The team didn’t do much to keep the backup cupboard filled in the late Thompson/early Gutekunst era, but Gutekunst is ready to change that.

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Photo Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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