Packers need to draft a QB

In the fourth- or fifth-round, but not in the first

The most popular topic of conversation this offseason for the Green Bay Packers has been whether quarterback Brett Favre will return for another season or hit the links and ride his tractor.

So with that in mind, once again here's more to think about in regards to the Packers' quarterback situation.

The departure of Craig Nall to Buffalo means the Packers have just two quarterbacks on their roster worth a sniff in Favre and Aaron Rodgers. This means the Packers need to add a third QB. They could go the route of a free agent and look at a Kerry Collins, Jamie Martin or Jay Fiedler.

There's something about Collins I don't like. He just doesn't seem like the veteran Rodgers needs on his side, if Favre's gone. Martin has been, at best, an OK No. 2. Maybe he's good for a year. Fielder is coming off an injury, and never was a good thrower.

This leads us to the draft. Whether Favre returns or not, the Packers need to address their QB situation for the future. Maybe Rodgers will be solid when Favre retires, but unless Rodgers plans on starting 200-plus games in a row, the Packers need to find a stable backup.

This leads me to the draft. Green Bay doesn't need to draft Vince Young or Jay Cutler in the first round. I'm against this when you picked Rodgers a year ago and claimed he was Favre's successor. Until Rodgers plays like Scott Mitchell in the regular season, I'm not giving up on the kid. It's too early.

Also, A.J. Hawk or Mario Williams will impact the defense immediately.

I envision the Packers picking a QB in about the third or fourth round. GM Ted Thompson is sort of following former GM Ron Wolf's method of building through the draft and re-signing the team's own free agents. Yes, I know Wolf signed Reggie White and Sean Jones in free agency, but how often do players like that become free and affordable when you're making a serious run with an up-and-coming QB?

Wolf, who was GM through the 2001 draft, almost always drafted a quarterback. After acquiring Favre in 1992, Wolf drafted, in order, Ty Detmer (1992), Mark Brunell (1993), Jay Barker (1995), Kyle Wachholtz (1996), Ronnie McAda (1997), Matt Hasselbeck (1998) and Aaron Brooks (1999). Among these picks, Detmer, Brunell, Hasselbeck and Brooks eventually became starters elsewhere, and all were still in the NFL last season.

With Rodgers not yet an established starter, it would prove wise for the Packers to pick another young QB to groom as a backup, and, who knows, a potential starter. The club needs to prepare itself for the future at QB, and the Packers have shown in the past the best way is through the draft.

With that in mind, it's likely the Packers will consider Bowling Green's Omar Jacobs, Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst or Alabama's Brodie Croyle. None of these players are predicted for greatness in the NFL, but handicapping the draft is impossible. Brunell and Hasselbeck have been quality starters in the NFL and were drafted in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively. Furthermore, Brooks, Oakland's new starter, was a fourth-round pick.

There is quality to be found in the middle of the draft for quarterbacks. Quality at this position is something no team can afford to pass on. The Packers' quarterback situation is about as clear as mud right now. Favre may return, he may not. He could play two more years.

Rodgers is a prospect waiting for his turn. He could be a solid successor to Favre or he could be what most quarterbacks become when they follow Hall of Famers – a bust.

Nobody can say what's going to happen at quarterback in the future for the Packers. One thing is sure, though, Favre won't play forever and the Packers need to be ready to move on when he's done. If that's this off-season, has Thompson made the right decisions for the position in 2006? Right now, no, but the draft is coming and prospects are standing in line to get picked.

The Packers would be smart to consider one of those quarterbacks, because once Favre retires the team will need to rely on more than one quarterback. That's just the way the NFL has been, except in Green Bay and Indianapolis (Peyton Manning).

Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a regular contributor to E-mail him at

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