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THE BIG PICTURE
Starter: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is the NFL’s reigning MVP. Enough said.
Backups: Graham Harrell and Nick Hill, with Matt Flynn's expected departure in free agency. Neither Harrell nor Hill have played in an NFL game. Harrell spent most of his first two seasons in the league on the practice squad before earning late-season promotions. Hill has toiled in the Arena Football League.
“I like everything I’ve seen from Graham to date,” coach Mike McCarthy said at the Scouting Combine. “I like the way he fits in the classroom, I think mentally he’s finally getting to the point to where he understands the offense inside and out, but he needs quarterback school more than anybody I’ve ever coached because there’s things you can really find out about the quarterback. We’re going to be limited there, because we’re not going to have the opportunity to work with those guys like we have in the past, but I like everything that Graham brings to the table.”
Draft priority (1 to 10 scale): 10 — In 2008, the Packers used a second-round pick on Brian Brohm and a seventh-round pick on Matt Flynn. Brohm bombed but Flynn developed into a starting-caliber player. So, it’s not imperative that GM Ted Thompson use an early pick on a quarterback but he must find a heady player with the ability to throw the ball on the move.
Draft class grade (1 to 10 scale): 8 — The strength of this draft goes beyond Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Ryan Tannehill will go in the top 15 picks, and don’t be surprised if Kirk Cousins, Brandon Weeden or even Brock Osweiler go in the first round or very early in the second. For Green Bay, Kellen Moore, Chandler Harnish, Case Keenum, Russell Wilson, Ryan Lindley and B.J. Coleman have their warts but obvious strenghts, as well.
Andrew Luck, Stanford (6-4, 234): The son of former NFL QB Oliver Luck, he looks to be the No. 1 pick of the draft. Despite playing only three seasons, he ranks first in school history with 80 touchdown passes (John Elway had 77 in four years) and third with 9,083 passing yards. In 2011, he broke his own school record with 35 touchdown passes. Analysis: The Colts’ release of Peyton Manning has paved the way for him to replace a legend as the highest rated prospect by some since Elway 30 drafts ago.
Robert Griffin III, Baylor (6-2, 223): He won the Heisman Trophy as a junior, throwing for 4,293 yards with 37 TD passes and just six interceptions. His passer rating of 189.5 is the second-best in FBS history. He rushed for 699 yards and 10 TDs. He set or tied 54 school records and is one of three QBs in FBS history with 10,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards. Analysis: He lit up the combine, posting a position-best in the 40-yard dash (4.41 seconds) and vertical jump (39 inches), cementing his spot at the No. 2 player off the board on draft day.
Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M (6-4, 221): Coached by former Packers coach Mike Sherman, he played his first 30 games at wide receiver after losing quarterback battles against Stephen McGee and Jerrod Johnson. He won the starting job as a junior. As a senior, he completed 61.6 percent of his passes with 29 TDs and 15 INTs. Tannehill is a former walk-on who’s in medical school. Analysis: He’s a smart, technically sound QB who will go after the Big 2 – likely in the first round.
Nick Foles, Arizona (6-5, 243): He started his career at Michigan State but was the starter his final three seasons at Arizona. He set school records with 4,334 yards with 28 TDs and 69.1 percent accuracy as a senior, and career records of 10,011 passing yards and 67 touchdowns. Not since Bill Demory in 1972 has an Arizona quarterback gone on to play in the NFL. Analysis: A pocket passer with no scrambling ability, he has upside, but will be viewed as a project late on Day 2.
Kirk Cousins, Michigan State (6-3, 214): He is MSU’s career leader in passing TDs (66), yards (9,131), completions (723) and passer rating (146.1). He finished sixth in Big Ten history with career accuracy of 64.1 percent and 10th in yards and passing TDs. Cousins was just the second three-time captain in program history. He compiled a record of 22-5 in his final two seasons. Analysis: He’s an effective short passer who could eventually compete for a starting job in a West Coast Offense.
Brock Osweiler, Arizona State (6-7, 242): He didn’t start until 2011 but declared for the draft early. With 4,036 passing yards, he’s the Sun Devils’ first 4,000-yard passer. He set school records with 326 completions, 516 attempts and 63.2 percent accuracy. In 2009, he became ASU’s first true freshman to start at QB since Jake Plummer. Analysis: Has ideal size, but will have to adjust to taking snaps under center and is very raw. A Day 2 prospect that will need time.
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State (6-4, 221): Weeden (28) is 49 days older than Aaron Rodgers. A second-round pick by the Yankees in the 2002 MLB draft, he never progressed past Class A in five seasons and gave up baseball due to shoulder problems. He was OSU’s first First-Team All-Big 12 QB in 70 years, throwing for 4,727 yards and 37 TDs in 2011. Analysis: Some teams will pass merely on his age and lack of long-term experience, but he could go late in Day 2.
Ryan Lindley, San Diego State (6-4, 229): He threw for 3,153 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior. He was SDSU’s Offensive MVP all four seasons, is their career leader in passing yards (12,690), TDs (90), total offense (12,415), completions (961) and starts (49), and is the Mountain West Conference all-time leader in passing yards. His QBs coach was former NFLer Brian Sipe. Analysis: He isn’t mobile and needs to learn touch, but has a cannon arm that will get him drafted on Day 3.
Case Keenum, Houston (6-1, 208): He was the most prolific passer in college football history with 18,685 passing yards. He played in just three games in 2010 (torn ACL) but topped 5,000 yards with 44 or 45 TDs in his other three years. In 2011, he completed 71.7 percent of his passes with 45 TDs and five interceptions. He earned his bachelor’s degree in December 2010. Analysis: He is a system QB who will struggle to adjust to the pro game, and his lack of height will drop him to Day 3.
B.J. Coleman, Tennessee-Chattanooga (6-3, 233): Transferred from Tennessee after his redshirt freshman year to play in a pro-style offense. He started 29 games, completing 57.3 percent with 52 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. He missed three games during his senior season with an elbow injury. He shined during the East-West Shrine week. Analysis: A big-time competitor from a small-time school, he’s a highly competitive mid-round project QB.
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin (5-11, 204): He played three seasons at North Carolina State, throwing for 76 touchdowns and setting a national record by going 379 attempts without an interception. He played minor league baseball and, when asked to give it up in 2010, he refused and lost his scholarship. He guided the Badgers to the Big Ten title, throwing 33 TDs with just four picks. Analysis: His lack of height will be his biggest hurdle, likely pushing his to Round 4 or 5 on draft weekend.
Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois (6-2, 219): As a senior he had 4,595 total yards, 39 total touchdowns and led all quarterbacks with 1,379 rushing yards. He’s one of four quarterbacks in FBS history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season and one of three to finish his career with 8,000 passing and 3,000 rushing yards. Analysis: A four-year starter, he played almost exclusively out of a shotgun, so he will need a lot of refinement. A fifth- or sixth-round type of pick.
Kellen Moore, Boise State (6-0, 197): He isn’t an impressive physical specimen, but he wins games and makes plays. He was unwanted by Pac-12 schools despite being Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior after throwing a state-record 67 TDs — as a senior, he completed 74.3 percent with 43 TDs and nine interceptions. He is the only QB in FBS history with 50 wins. Analysis: A lefty dart thrower in college, he lacks an NFL skill set, but will get taken late given his experience.
Darron Thomas, Oregon (6-3, 220): He threw at least one touchdown pass in all 26 career starts (23-3 record) and finished with 66 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his career. The former prep All-American is a dual-threat playmaker but his stats were a byproduct of one of the most explosive supporting casts and an aggressive offense. Analysis: He’s a raw athletic talent who has a lot to learn, making him a Day 3 prospect.
Patrick Witt, Yale (6-4, 225): He started his career at Nebraska, playing briefly as a redshirt freshman in 2008 before transferring to Yale. He owns school career records with 549 completions, 913 attempts, 6,033 yards, 60.1 percent accuracy and is second with 37 touchdowns. A very intelligent player, he was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship. Analysis: Witt has prototypical QB size but will need time and an ideal system to ever succeed. He’s an undrafted free-agent type.
YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF ...
Monmouth’s Alex Tanney. A two-time finalist for Division III’s version of the Heisman Trophy, Tanney (6-foot-3) set an all-divisions NCAA record with 157 touchdown passes.
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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.