Brett Hundley’s introduction to the NFL has come fast and furious.
“My flight left L.A. at 6 o'clock in the morning (on Thursday), I got here at 2, came in, got to see the stadium,” Hundley said after Friday’s rookie orientation practice. “There was no, 'Hey, welcome.' It was all like, 'Let's jump into it and let's roll.' That's what you want, just to start playing football again. So it's been nonstop and I'm enjoying it.”
Hundley has a lot to learn. During a record-setting career at UCLA, he didn’t call plays in the huddle. He didn’t take a snap from center. Those are just two of the things that challenge quarterbacks who operated spread offenses in college.
Dennis Gile doesn’t think Hundley will be overwhelmed by it all.
Gile should know. Gile is a coach at The Quarterback Academy. A former professional quarterback who has worked alongside Tom Brady, Gile has coached Hundley since his sophomore year of high school in Chandler, Ariz.
“I think Brett’s a very intelligent kid that understands the game in a high regard,” Gile said on Friday. “He gets defenses, he gets blocking schemes. He gets the whole picture. Is he going to go in there and understand the Packers’ offense now? Not 100 percent. But I think he’s such a highly intelligent kid that I think he’s going to pick it up pretty fast.”
One major knock on spread-offense quarterbacks is they line up in the shotgun almost 100 percent of the time. So, they have almost no experience in taking a snap, taking a three-, five- or seven-step drop, and going through progressions.
But Gile has had Hundley working under center for years in preparation for his arrival in the NFL.
“A lot of things that I do with my kids is under center,” Gile said. “I don’t do a whole lot of shotgun stuff. Ninety percent of the stuff is from behind center because I know their (college) coaches are going to do shotgun stuff anyway, so I always feel like getting the proper drops and footwork and base is highly important. He knows how to take the drops. He understands the proper footwork, he understands how to use his lower body.”
Hundley, who entered the draft following his junior season, expected to be taken early in the draft — potentially with a chance to compete for a starting job as a rookie. To get himself ready, Hundley also spent time with former star quarterback Kurt Warner and another quarterbacks guru, Bill Cunerty, who has worked alongside Mike Holmgren, among others. San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick joined Hundley for those workouts.
It’s all a part of being a “football nerd,” as director of pro personnel Eliot Wolf called him after the Packers moved up to take Hundley in the fifth round last week.
“I love school but, at the same time, I love football,” Hundley said. “I just like learning. It's so interesting to me. I'll read books. I'll do anything I can. I'll watch film. I'll just sit in the film room for Lord knows how long. I'll just sit there and watch film because it's interesting to me to see different techniques and reads. But it's even more fun to me know because you get so much more knowledge. You don't know what you don't know, so at the same time when you get to this level you have so much more coming at you and you can learn that much more now.”
Hundley certainly looks the part of a record-setting quarterback. An impressive 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds, Hundley ran his 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds at the Scouting Combine. He flashed at times at Friday’s rookie practice, showing a lively arm capable of making all the throws.
For Hundley, this season will be all about learning. He’s obviously not going to beat out Aaron Rodgers to be the starter. Even knocking off Scott Tolzien to be the No. 2 will be an uphill battle, considering Tolzien’s extensive knowledge of the offense and his familiarity with the techniques taught by coach Mike McCarthy.
Hundley, with his perpetually glass-half-full outlook, is looking forward to learning behind Rodgers rather than pouting about his predicament.
“All I can do is compete every day and learn as much as possible because it's the best place to do it at, and that's really my mind-set,” Hundley said.
That’s Gile’s belief, too.
“The thing that I told him, it’s kind of crazy, to me, that he fell as far as he did,” Gile said. “But what a great situation to learn from if not the best quarterback than the second-best quarterback in the game. Between Aaron and Tom (Brady), I don’t see how you could learn from somebody better. I told Brett, ‘You might not go in and be a starter right away because you’re behind the best guy in the league, but, hey, that’s actually a great thing.’ I don’t really think any guy coming into the NFL is ready for that.
“It’s such a great thing for him. For him, it’s such an amazing opportunity to learn from a guy that’s going to be able to coach him at such a high level and take him under his wing. Brett is such a cool kid that he’ll get along with him and soak up everything he can.
“I don’t think the transition (from spread to pro-style offense) is going to be hard at all, and he’s not going to be put into a situation where he has to be the starter. He’s going to learn from one of the greatest of all-time. It gives Brett a sense of relief of, ‘Hey, I don’t have to go in there and do anything special and I can show what I can do physically but I can learn from a guy mentally and not have to worry about making mistakes.’ When I saw the Packers drafted him, I said, ‘Holy smokes, what an unbelievable opportunity.’”
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.