This is the first in a series of stories that'll examine the Packers' roster, position by position, leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft. The series begins with the quarterbacks.
GREEN BAY – The question on everyone's mind is when.
When do the Packers start looking to acquire a successor to Aaron Rodgers, and investing the requisite high draft pick to procure him?
It might be this year. Then again, it might not. There's no firmly established timeline.
General Manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters in a pre-combine media session he would not hesitate to take a quarterback with the Packers' first draft pick, at No. 30 overall, if one of the top prospects fell that far.
But here's the thing: Would he actually do that, with Rodgers having four years left on his contract, professing a commitment to play into his 40s, and having just gotten the Packers within a game of the Super Bowl?
Take a look at photos of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers from the 2019 season.
Or, if a top quarterback were indeed available at 30, would Gutekunst trade the pick to a QB-needy team to recoup more draft assets to build for another, more immediate championship push with Rodgers?
It's a fascinating question in many respects, and all reports coming from Gutekunst and Head Coach Matt LaFleur when the season ended indicated a high level of satisfaction with Rodgers' play in 2019, and optimism for the future.
Statistically, Rodgers did not put up numbers resembling his two MVP years of 2011 and '14, as he completed 62% of his passes and posted a 95.4 passer rating. Those stats were also down from 2016, the Packers' previous run to the NFC title game (66%, 104.2 rating).
But, as he's done throughout his career, he kept turnovers to a minimum (four interceptions, four lost fumbles) and, while learning a new offense, directed a number of clutch, fourth-quarter drives that produced a 13-3 regular season and home playoff victory.
Perhaps the greater unknown than how long Rodgers has left is what he might do in his second year in LaFleur's offense, with potential upgrades at the receiver and tight end positions in the draft?
Gutekunst's decisions in the early rounds, depending on how the draft falls, could indicate which projection he's more focused on. The Packers were one of the last four standing with only one pass-catcher, Davante Adams, providing a consistent presence that concerned opposing defensive coordinators week after week.
As for the later rounds – Gutekunst heads into the draft with seven picks on the third day – adding more competition for the backup QB spot is certainly a possibility.
In his second year in Green Bay in 2019, former undrafted QB Tim Boyle put together a decent preseason (60% completions, six TDs, zero INTs, 112.9 rating) and will look to grow in LaFleur's offense as well.
Boyle is such an interesting prospect because those preseason stats are better than anything he put up in a roller-coaster college career at Connecticut and Eastern Kentucky. So the unreached ceiling is attractive, yet he's thrown just four NFL passes in games that count, all at the end of the blowout loss at San Francisco last November.
The No. 3 currently is the undrafted Manny Wilkins, who spent his entire rookie season out of Arizona State on the practice squad. He's less the pure pocket passer Boyle is, and operates as more of a dual-threat type (six passing attempts, seven rushes in the 2019 preseason).
Any quarterback the Packers might draft would change the landscape at the backup spot for 2020. How high a pick is used will determine the potential significance for the future.