The Green Bay Packers will be going into the preseason with a very important position battle. Backup quarterback. The backup position might not seem important to a team with future Hall of Famer, Aaron Rodgers, but number twelve isn’t getting any younger and he already has an extensive injury history.
Since 2013, Aaron Rodgers has only played in 83% of Green Bay’s games, which means that 17% of the time, Packer fans had to watch the backup quarterback take snaps and that’s never a good sign. Going into the preseason, the Packers have Tim Boyle and DeShone Kizer battling for the backup position with dark horse Manny Wilkins hoping to secure a third-string spot. All of these quarterbacks are 24-years-old or younger (Rodgers didn’t start until he was 25) so the Packers may be looking at their future starter when Rodgers is gone as well as an efficient backup.
I am going to start off talking about my favorite candidate for the backup position, Tim Boyle. Although he has less experience than DeShone Kizer, Green Bay’s upper management is very high on Boyle. At 6’4” 232 pounds, Boyle has great size for an NFL quarterback with an incredibly strong arm. Green Bay coaches also like Boyle’s ability to stand strong and tall in the pocket. He looks more like a veteran in that scenario as opposed to an inexperienced quarterback. During last year’s preseason, Boyle was very up and down. He threw 53 passes, and completed 26 of them for 294 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 picks. His highs were highs and his lows were lows. The x-factor that makes Boyle a better backup candidate than Kizer, is the fact he is essentially Aaron Rodgers’ shadow. Boyle always has been and continues to be very eager to learn from Rodgers. He speaks very highly of the Packers’ starter. The more he hangs around Rodgers, the more he will pick up from him. Finally, even as a third-stringer last year, Tim Boyle was a locker room leader. Every good NFL quarterback needs teammates who will go to war for him and Boyle is that guy. You can’t teach intangibles but with Tim Boyle, you don’t have to, he already has them.
After a fairly successful collegiate career, DeShone Kizer was drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft by the Cleveland Browns. That year he was thrown into a starting position that he just wasn’t ready to handle. That season he was 0-15 as a starter with an abysmal QBR of 29.7. He threw the ball 476 times, completed 54% of them for 2894 yards. He threw 11 touchdowns and a league-leading 22 interceptions. The only positive he had that year was his running game. He ran it 77 times for 419 yards and 5 touchdowns. After that season, the Packers saw something in Kizer and acquired him in a trade. Last season with Green Bay, Kizer appeared in 3 regular-season games and didn’t look much better than he did with the Browns. He threw 42 passes and only completed them at a 47% clip. He threw for 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and fumbled once. Again, his only plus was his ability to run. He rushed for 7.8 yards per attempt on 5 carries. DeShone Kizer has all the physical tools to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, he is 6’4” 235 pounds with great speed and athleticism. However, the game looks too fast for him at times as he struggles with accuracy and decision making. He is still only 23-years-old and I think he has a future as a backup NFL quarterback, just not with the Packers.
As I stated before, the x-factor in this backup quarterback race is Manny Wilkins. At 6’2” 193 pounds, Wilkins will have to bulk up if he wants to make it in the NFL but he already has the accuracy to be effective. He doesn’t have the strongest arm but that will seemingly improve as he gets stronger. Wilkins will be coming into the 2019 preseason as an undrafted rookie out of Arizona State. Honestly, I’m a little surprised he didn’t get drafted late considering he was one of the best QB prospects ever to play for the Sun Devils. He even put up very good numbers with them. In his last two years at Arizona State combined, he threw for 6,295 yards with an average completion percentage of 63.1%. He also added 40 touchdowns and only 14 picks. In college, he also showed that he is an elite dual-threat quarterback, with his rushing yards and touchdowns in his last two years totaling 734 and 15 respectively. What I like the most about Wilkins is that he has the intangibles that Tim Boyle also has. Although he is only 23-years-old, Wilkins has gone through a lot of adversity and has an enormous amount to play for.
The preseason should be very interesting for Packer fans to watch this year, especially when it comes to the backup quarterback battle. If it was up to me, Tim Boyle would start week one as Green Bay’s primary backup. I really like his arm strength and his ability to stand tall in the pocket and make a throw. He has things you can’t teach and that makes him an excellent candidate to be the future starter. When it comes to the third-string quarterback, Manny Wilkins should be the guy who gets that spot. I’m ready to move on from Kizer, I don’t think he fits in with Green Bay but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he can make it with another team. DeShone Kizer just turns the ball over far too much for me to be excited about him as a prospect. With this quarterback battle, this will be the first year in a very long time where I will be looking closely at Green Bay’s quarterbacks during the preseason.