In the time leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, I will be evaluating individual performances for different positions on a weekly basis in order to identify positions of needs. I start off my review with the quarterback position, where losing Aaron Rodgers to a collarbone injury not only cost the Packers a shot at the playoffs but also brought about a multitude changes in the organization never seen before during the Mike McCarthy era.
2017 Stats: 7 games started, 64.7% completion percentage, 1675 yards passing, 16/6 touchdown/interception ratio; 126 rushing yards
Contract Situation: Signed through 2019 season
The ultimate “what-if” of the 2017 NFL season, the Packers were 4-1 heading into their Week 6 matchup in Minnesota when one play ruined all hope for a potential Super Bowl season. Rodgers was playing lights out football, leading the Packers to a thrilling comeback just a week before against Dallas, and the Packers were a Super Bowl contender until Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr drove Aaron Rodgers to the ground, breaking his collarbone. Rodgers sat on the bench and watched for eight weeks as the Packers struggled to a 7-6 record heading into a matchup against Carolina with their playoff hopes on the line. Rodgers returned that week in an effort to win out and make the playoffs, but he was clearly rusty and not fully healthy, throwing three interceptions and missing on many throws he normally would complete. With a full offseason of rest for Rodgers and various changes to the coaching staff, the hope is that the Packers will be able to strengthen the team around Rodgers over the offseason in time for another title before the Super Bowl window starts to close in Green Bay.
2017 Stats: 8 games started, 9 games played, 60.8% completion percentage, 1836 passing yards, 9/12 touchdown/interception ratio; 270 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns
Contract Situation: Signed through 2018 season
While a drop-off from Aaron Rodgers to his backup was bound to be quite large, it’s hard to believe that the Packers would fall to one of the NFL’s worst in his absence. As a rookie, Hundley led the NFL in passing during the preseason and appeared prepared to make the other 31 teams regret passing on him through five rounds of the draft. Three years later Hundley did not show enough improvement to keep the Packers playoff chances intact. While he did show some potential in overtime comebacks against both Cleveland and Tampa Bay, as well as giving Pittsburgh a run for their money, overall Hundley was erratic and showed little confidence in the pocket. He struggled to throw the ball more deeper downfield and was prone to taking poorly timed sacks. Hundley did pose a threat with his legs, running for 270 yards and a pair of scores over the season, but overall the Packers needs to bring in competition in the form an experienced veteran to ensure that this team can stay afloat in the event that Rodgers misses an extended period of time again.
2017 Stats: 1 game played, 71.4% completion percentage, 11 yards passing
Contract Situation: Exclusive Rights Free Agent this March
A fan favorite from the 2016 preseason, Callahan became many Packers’ fans favorite player at the end of this past season, calling for him to start for a number of weeks in wake of Hundley’s struggles. While McCarthy never granted their wish, we did get to see him play on the very final drive of the season when the Lions had all but wrapped up the game. Callahan has his limitations, but in hindsight it definitely would have been a fun time seeing what he could do as the backup last season as he has much better arm strength than Hundley. It would not surprise me to see the Packers bring back Callahan on a cheap one-year deal to compete for the third-string job yet again this offseason. It would also not surprise me to see them move on and upgrade at the position behind Aaron Rodgers.
Position of Need: Medium
As long as Aaron Rodgers walks the halls of 1265 Lombardi Ave., the quarterback position will never be a true position of need. However, if Brett Hundley’s struggles taught us anything it’s that the Packers absolutely need to bring in competition, if not a straight upgrade, for the backup spot. Expect the Packers to draft a developmental quarterback on day three of the NFL Draft and sign an experienced backup along the lines of Ryan Fitzpatrick or Teddy Bridgewater in free agency to foster strong competition behind Rodgers in training camp.
All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.
All contract information courtesy of Spotrac.com.