Draft preview: Two stars lead QBs

QB Nate Davis (Gregory Shamus/Getty)

Packer Report continues its position-by-position preview of the draft with a look at the quarterbacks. This group is led by top-10 picks Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez. There's a huge group of developmental prospects who could interest the Packers late in the draft or afterward.

Editor's note: This is Part 2 of our 14-part position-by-position breakdown heading to the April 25-26 NFL Draft. We continue with the quarterbacks. The prospects are listed in order based on analysis by Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber and Packer Report, with the comments that follow them based on the beliefs of league experts and insiders.

The Packers' perspective

With Aaron Rodgers entrenched as the starter, the Packers would only be interested in one of the lower-tier quarterbacks as a developmental prospect to throw in the mix with Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn.

Flynn showed poise and maturity during the 2008 training camp and preseason as a rookie seventh-round pick. He might not be a great athlete or a great thrower, but he's a gamer.

Brohm was a second-round pick last year who was mostly horrendous in being passed by Flynn on the depth chart. His performance during the offseason and training camp will be something to monitor. Brohm had a brilliant career at Louisville. Will he play up to that ability or not, and if he doesn't, would general manager Ted Thompson be willing to give up on an early-round pick in such a short period?

The decision to add a fourth quarterback — either in the draft or as an undrafted free agent — will come down to the Packers' willingness to take away practice reps from Rodgers, Flynn and Brohm. It's not like having Brett Favre, when the Packers could take away some of his practice time because of his vast experience.

Cream of the crop:

There's a good chance the Detroit Lions will draft either Georgia's Matthew Stafford or USC's Mark Sanchez with the No. 1 overall pick. Most pundits think it will be Stafford; Steuber prefers Sanchez.

Stafford can throw the ball as well as any quarterback in the NFL today, but the critics question his decision-making skills and his accuracy. He's also got more experience as a starter, even though both entered the draft after their junior seasons. Sanchez has a big arm, has a high football IQ and played in a pro-style offense under Pete Carroll, but even Carroll questioned Sanchez's decision to turn pro.

Both figure to be high first-round picks, which improves the odds of a top-notch prospect falling to No. 9 or the Packers trading that pick if one of them remains on the board.

First-round prospects:

— Kansas State's Josh Freeman likely will be selected somewhere in the middle of the first round, based on ability and the relative weakness of this class of quarterbacks. He's an enormous man at 6-foot-6 and he can throw the ball a mile. He was Jordy Nelson's quarterback in 2007. His measurables are off the charts but his production never matched his ability. In the defense-impaired Big 12, he completed just 58.6 percent of his throws last year as a junior.

Just a notch below:

— West Virginia's Pat White figures to make an instant impact if he's paired with a creative offensive coordinator. He'll immediately be the best athlete at the position in the NFL, and he's a surprisingly good passer, even though his throwing mechanics need refinement and he spent most of his career in the shotgun. He did nothing but win at West Virginia. His athletic ability likely will elevate him into the second round.

Others to remember:

Insiders say these prospects will go from the fourth round to undrafted, though there's almost no consensus in the pecking order.

"There's about 15 to 20 quarterbacks who can go fifth to seventh round and nobody's going to shake their head and argue with you," ESPN's Mel Kiper told reporters in a conference call.

If the Packers like one of these guys and they slip on their draft board, they might pounce in the sixth or seventh round.

Stephen McGee, Texas A&M: McGee opened some eyes with a strong performance at the Scouting Combine. He's 6-foot-3, with good-enough arm strength and mobility. He barely played as a senior because of a torn labrum. In limited playing time, he completed 65.9 percent of his passes under the guidance of offensive-minded former Packers coach Mike Sherman.

Nate Davis, Ball State: Had dominant sophomore and junior seasons (averaging 3,700 yards, 28 TDs, 7 INTs) and turned pro early. Critics point to subpar competition, playing in a spread, being just 6-foot-1 and a learning disability. In the GMAC Bowl against Tulsa, he was horrible. But he lit up Nebraska in 2007, he's got a big arm and didn't have any problems running the offense. Interestingly, only the Colts showed up for his pro day.

Curtis Painter, Purdue: Which film do you want to look at? In 2007, he threw for 3,848 yards and 29 touchdowns with 62.6 percent accuracy. In 2008, he threw for 2,400 yards and 13 touchdowns with 59.9 percent accuracy. He's 6-foot-3, can make all the throws and came from a school that produced Drew Brees and Kyle Orton.

Brian Hoyer, Michigan State: Like Painter, it was a tale of two seasons. 2007: 2,725 yards, 59.3 percent, 20 touchdowns, 11 interceptions. 2008: 2,404 yards, 51.0 percent, nine touchdowns, nine interceptions. He's 6-foot-2 and has a good-enough arm.

Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State: Bomar left Oklahoma amid a scandal for receiving illegal payments for a job. As a senior, he threw for 3,405 yards and 27 touchdowns, but his 14 interceptions and 56.2 percent accuracy are major concerns. Quick release, good arm and OK size (6-foot-2). He was only decent at the Senior Bowl.

Graham Harrell, Texas Tech: Harrell doesn't have a big-time arm, he's only 6-foot-2 and there are concerns that his prodigious stats were the byproduct of offensive guru Mike Leach's spread offense. About those stats? How about 5,705 yards in 2007 alone and 93 touchdowns combined the last two seasons. He's accurate with great timing.

John Parker Wilson, Alabama: Sort of like the Packers' Flynn in that he's clutch and plays better than his measurables (6-foot-2) and ability (below-average arm strength). A three-year starter with 44 TDs and 29 INTs in that span.

Hunter Cantwell, Louisville: Replaced Brohm and had marginal numbers (2,493 yards, 58.6 percent, 16 TDs, 16 INTs). Couldn't end five-game losing streak to end season, but he's 6-foot-5 with a good arm.

Mike Reilly, Central Washington: See Steuber's sleeper at the end of this story.

Drew Willy, Buffalo: The four-year starter completed 68.4 percent of his passes as a junior and followed that with 65 percent, 3,304 yards, 25 TDs and six INTs as a senior. He's 6-foot-3 with a decent arm and good timing with his receivers.

Cullen Harper, Clemson: Went from 2,991 yards, 65.1 percent and 27-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2007 to 2,601, 61.4 percent, 13-to-14 in 2008. Senior season, though, was marked by the midseason firing of Tommy Bowden. Is 6-foot-3, with decent arm and good accuracy.

Todd Boeckman, Ohio State: Got lost behind hot-shot recruit Terrelle Pryor, so he barely played over the last 10 games of the season. Had solid junior season. He's almost 6-foot-5 with surprising athleticism. He impressed at his pro day to get back on teams' radars.

Tom Brandstater, Fresno State: He's 6-foot-5 with decent arm strength and mobility. Regressed from junior season (62.6 percent, 15 TDs, 5 INTs) as senior (59.6 percent, 18 TDs, 12 INTs).

Chase Holbrook, New Mexico State: Incredible sophomore season of 4,619 yards, 70.0 percent, 34 TDs, 9 INTs. Tailed off a bit from there but still had 85 TDs and 41 INTs in final three seasons. He's 6-foot-5 with questionable arm strength. Packers were one of a few teams to watch his pro day.

Chris Steuber's sleeper:

— Mike Reilly, Central Washington: The transfer from Washington dominated the Division II ranks. As a senior, he threw for 3,706 yards, with 37 touchdowns and six interceptions at CWU, which produced his hero, Jon Kitna. The huge numbers came against bad competition and in a spread offense, but on the plus side, he was smart enough to be given latitude in running the offense.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport

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