The Packers Did It, Again

Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

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This is a guest post from T.J. McCreight. McCreight has worked as a scout, director of pro personnel, director of college scouting, and a player personnel executive across multiple NFL teams.

It looks as though the Green Bay Packers have found another franchise quarterback.

For over thirty years the Packers have had a top level, All-Pro caliber quarterback, and that tradition might continue.  Their path to that outcome is now anything but traditional.  They have drafted quarterbacks when they did not necessarily need to.  They sat and developed the player.  Ultimately, they were rewarded in an era where sitting quarterbacks is becoming less common.

This process is not for everyone.  It takes a front office, coaching staff, and locker room that can make it work.  Differing incentives can speed up the timeline, and results are so often expected immediately after the pick is sent into the commissioner.  Most teams are not in the position to draft high enough to take a transcendent talent, however, so they must figure out different paths to finding a franchise passer.  The more ‘at bats’ you have, the better your chances are of getting a hit.

Because the quarterback position is so critical, an argument could be made to draft a quarterback nearly every year.  If you select a quarterback in the third round, a player with traits, the risk is minimal, but the reward could be astronomical.  Hitting on a quarterback in the middle or later rounds can change your franchise.  Dak Prescott (4th round), Russell Wilson (3rd round), Brock Purdy (7th round), Jalen Hurts (2nd round), and Kirk Cousins (4th round), are all active quarterbacks that were not first round picks.

If you take one and he shows some ability on film, even for a short period of time, you might look to trade that player for more resources (like the Kevin Kolb situation).  One of the advantages of taking a quarterback outside of the first round is there is much less pressure on that player.  When a team drafts a quarterback high, there is pressure to throw him into the fire quickly, but what may be best for the player and the franchise would be to have him sit and learn.

The growth period for a quarterback allows the player to go through a year of meetings and practice and learn the rhythms of the NFL.  Watching film behind a veteran starter can jump-start the process of building good habits.  It certainly looks like it was helpful to Jordan Love.  Love, who was a 22-year-old rookie from Bakersfield, California, basically sat on the bench for Green Bay for three years.  He watched Aaron Rodgers every day for over 1000 days.  He made his mistakes in practice and in the classroom.  He matured and learned how to be a professional.  Rather than have the pressure of taking his team to the Super Bowl, he sat in the passenger seat and grew.

And now, Green Bay finds itself with a quarterback that has taken the league by storm.  It is still early, but the Packers’ process seems to have hit a home run once again.

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