The Green Bay Packers have done the best job in the league in developing their back up quarterbacks since the Mike Holmgren/Brett Favre days. The organization has successfully developed Aaron Brooks, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Flynn, Doug Pederson, and Mark Brunell to move on to start for other teams around the NFL.
The most recent project has been with Brett Hundley. The Packers drafted him in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. Entering his final year at UCLA, Hundley was considered the favorite to be the number one pick in the draft, and a NFL franchise quarterback.
The NFL scouts were expecting him to have a great senior season and roll into the NFL, but his touchdown passes actually regressed his last year in Los Angeles. His redshirt freshman season, he broke onto the scene with 3,745 yards and 29 touchdowns. His redshirt junior season, 3155 yards and 22 touchdowns. But to his credit his interceptions regressed as well, from 11 his redshirt freshman season, to 5 in his final season.
The UCLA Bruins did not meet their team expectations in 2014, finishing the season at (10-3). Not meeting expectations as a top tier quarterback prospect typically causes their draft stock to plummet. In this case, all the way to the fifth round. I’d say the NFL made a mistake with Hundley, to the Packers great pleasure. He’s still possesses all the things that once made him a star prospect.
He’s played well in his time in green and gold, showing to be a far superior talent to previous backup quarterback, Scott Tolzien. He rolls out to his right with the best of them, hitting receivers in stride. He has the athleticism to be a dual threat quarterback, with the know how to keep himself relatively safe on the field. Hundley has a very similar skill set to Cowboys rookie sensation, Dak Prescott.
Last preseason, both he and the Packers suffered when he went down with a sprained ankle. Had Brett Hundley shown his improvement last offseason, it was possible that teams would have trade interest in him this offseason. Without much to go off, his trade market extends another season, although it would have been in the Packers best interest to keep him for another season anyway. Use the talented backup quarterback until the final year of his rookie contract.
If I woke up, and saw that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch called about him this offseason, I wouldn’t be shocked. But, I don’t think Green Bay would be capitalizing on their asset. Without more on the tape, I worry they’d have to settle for a third-round pick, which could be a huge steal for the 49ers down the line.
As bad as the Packers need assets heading into next season, trying to get their second championship behind Aaron Rodgers, it’s best to wait and get the product on tape. When Hundley shows just how talented he is next preseason, his worth will go up accordingly. If the Patriots can get a first round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo, there’s reason Hundley could provide the Packers with a similar asset.
He needs to do a number of things this preseason to get his trade hype up around the league. First, he needs to prove that he can audible at the line of scrimmage, and look off the plays primary target for the second and third options. It may be the most crucial aspect to being a quarterback behind slinging the ball 35 yards down the left side of the field to Jared Cook. If he can read an NFL defense, he’s a step above a lot of quarterbacks around the NFL. Second, he needs to be able to evacuate the pocket and hit his receiver in stride. With his athleticism and Aaron Rodgers being an attentive mentor, he should be able to prove this. Finally, he needs to prove that he has the arm strength to be a starting quarterback. A lot of backup quarterbacks just don’t have the physical attributes to take the leap, but Hundley should be capable of all three things.
Say what you will about the Packers front office, but they have a great eye for talent and development. They weren’t able to turn Matt Flynn into any picks, but I’m sure they’re going to push for assets this time around.
Enjoy your time with the current crop of talented backup quarterbacks, because he’s well on his way to greener pastures.