This is the first in a series of stories that’s examining the Packers’ roster, position by position, leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft. The series begins with the quarterbacks.
GREEN BAY – It’s been four years since the Packers drafted a quarterback, but it’s difficult to tell whether the streak will end or continue.
That’s because the Packers already have two backups to two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers on the roster in DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle. The situation doesn’t preclude adding another one in the draft, but it certainly doesn’t make QB an obvious target, either.
By all accounts, Rodgers has recovered from the knee injury he dealt with all last season, which he revealed last week was more significant (including a bone fracture, in addition to ligament damage) than anyone divulged while he was playing on it. He didn’t need offseason surgery and mentioned nothing about having any limitations as team workouts got underway.
The hope is to have a fully healthy Rodgers for 2019, of course, but should a backup need to step in at some point, the Packers will look for better production than they got a year ago.
Kizer appeared in both the opener against the Bears, when Rodgers first hurt his knee, and again in the finale vs. the Lions, after Rodgers exited with a concussion. The former Notre Dame standout, whom the Packers acquired a year ago in a trade with Cleveland, struggled considerably (20-of-42, 187 yards, two INTs, 40.5 rating) coming off his 15 starts as a rookie with the Browns.
To be fair, Week 1 was a rough spot to get thrown into, with Kizer just getting familiar with a new offense, but a lot more was expected in his three quarters of work in Week 17.
The results have opened the door wide open for Boyle, a promising undrafted rookie a year ago, to compete with the former second-round pick for the No. 2 job this spring and summer.
Coming to Green Bay with college stats from Connecticut and Eastern Kentucky that didn’t wow anyone (55.5 percent completions, 12 TDs, 26 INTs), Boyle impressed with his physical tools and poise in limited reps as the No. 3. The 6-foot-4, 232-pounder showed plenty of arm strength and a level of accuracy that belied his college numbers a bit.
How Kizer’s experience and Boyle’s raw abilities translate to new Head Coach Matt LaFleur’s offense are the great unknowns in what promises to be a closely watched backup battle.
If the Packers do add another quarterback in the draft, which they haven’t done since selecting Brett Hundley in the fifth round in 2015, not all three reserves behind Rodgers will survive final roster cuts. There simply isn’t room for four QBs on the 53.
But if another comes on board and looks like a keeper early on, it adds even greater significance and a larger consequence to the competition for this year’s No. 2 spot.