Depth at quarterback an issue

The NFL draft will offer the Green Bay Packers better quarterback options than free agency, says Packer Report correspondent Matt Tevsh

Brett Favre has finally retired. Aaron Rodgers is ready to take over. Beyond that, the Packers have some serious unknowns at their quarterback position.

As of Wednesday, only first-year backups Jerry Babb and Dalton Bell were under contract with the Packers, so general manager Ted Thompson has some serious work to do.

That the Jaguars' Quinn Gray paid a visit to Green Bay on Tuesday should indicate both how weak the crop of free agent quarterbacks is and how desperate the Packers are after learning last week of Favre's decision.

At this point, considering what is available, the Packers would be better off looking to draft weekend to solve their backup quarterback crisis. If that takes bringing in even two rookie quarterbacks, then so be it.

Outside of size, Gray (6-foot-3, 254 pounds) fails to give the Packers much as a backup. He is no more a veteran than Rodgers and would really almost be starting from scratch with the Packers.

After Gray, the list of free agent quarterbacks still available gets even worse. Mark Brunell (Redskins) might be an option as almost another coach for Rodgers, but the 15-year NFL veteran has fallen off so much at age 37 that the Packers would be in big trouble if he actually had to play. Then there are guys like Daunte Culpepper (Raiders), Byron Leftwich (Falcons), and Jared Lorenzen, whom might have some talent, but would appear to be a poor fit for the Packers' offense. Others that remained as of Wednesday included Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bengals), Tim Hasselbeck (Cardinals), Kelly Holcomb (Vikings), Jamie Martin (Saints), Dan Orlovsky (Lions), and Tim Rattay (Cardinals).

Craig Nall, who re-signed with the Packers late last year, is also unrestricted. He understands the Packers' offense, but probably has run his course in Green Bay. He has been with the Packers for just over three years during two different stints.

By acquiring an additional second-round pick in this year's draft with the trade of Corey Williams to the Browns, the Packers at least have some ammunition and hope that they can nab a capable rookie quarterback. Favre's retirement means that the Packers should address the position on Day One of the draft if someone is to their liking. If not, than Day Two will most certainly bring a quarterback. Throw in an undrafted rookie free agent and the Packers have some more depth to work with through the off-season camps.

The Packers have given no indication publicly who they may like at quarterback in the draft, so it would be pure speculation to say who they might grab after the top quarterbacks are gone in the first round. Quarterbacks Chad Henne (Michigan), Joe Flacco (Delaware), Andre Woodson (Kentucky), and John David Booty (USC) seem to be consensus second- or third-round picks however.

Of course, Thompson has been known to throw a surprise or two at fans around draft time. The Packers certainly have the money under the salary cap and a number of draft picks to work a trade with another team for a backup, or they could dig deep in their scouting reports to find a quarterback like they did in 2006 drafting Ingle Martin out of Furman in the fifth round. Though Martin was a flop, a similar small-school prospect can easily get overlooked.

Life after Brett Favre has thrown the Packers their first challenge – finding depth at quarterback. A veteran behind Rodgers would be ideal, but a search of the free agent market only reveals deficiencies in both knowledge and/or ability. Thus, building depth with rookies looks like the best way to go.

Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.


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