4. Derek Carr, Fresno State (6-2 3/8, 214, 4.69): Completed 454 of 659 passes for 5,083 yards with 50 TDs and eight INTs last season. …Was 24-15 in 39 career starts. … Athletic passer with excellent movement within the pocket or escaping outside. … Strong arm and quick release but needs to improve on deep throws. … Tough, instinctive player and mature leader with spread offense-fueled big numbers who must prove he can go through all progressions and adapt to next level
5. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois (6-2 1/4, 226, 4.98): Completed 375 of 568 passes for 5,050 yards with 53 TDs and nine INTs last season. … Had 23-22 career record in 45 starts. … Four-year starter with excellent production at FCS level who was durable and well-respected as a leader. … Extremely quick release and anticipation as a thrower. … Must prove he can elevate his game at the next level after playing in spread/shotgun offense where he wasn’t forced to make a ton of quick reads.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Tom Savage, Pittsburgh; A.J. McCarron, Alabama; Zach Mettenberger, LSU; Aaron Murray, Georgia; Brett Smith, Wyoming; David Fales, San Jose State; Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech.
“I play with a lot of heart, play with a lot of passion. I feel like I play like I’m 10-feet tall. A measurement to me is just a number. ... I’m looking forward to shoring up all the people that are saying that I’m just an improviser. [I] feel like I worked extremely hard this year to all-around hone in on my game, getting better as a pocket passer and as a quarterback in general.” – Manziel, on those who doubt him because of his lack of height and ad-libbing playing style.
Position analysis: It’s hard to imagine the Packers, who’ve done so much right in building a Super Bowl champion and perennial contender, bungling a position worse than they did the backup quarterback spot last year. Overestimating the talents of Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman, waiting so long to bring in Vince Young that he never had a chance to pick up enough of the playbook to put his best foot forward in camp, and being forced to add two backups (Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien) the week of the regular-season opener – it was so out of character for a regime that seems to always be developing young, up-and-coming starters-in-waiting. And wouldn’t you know it, the year they look the least prepared, they lose Aaron Rodgers for essentially eight games to a fractured collarbone.
The good news is, that problem appears to have been rectified. The Packers got lucky when Matt Flynn was dumped by the Buffalo Bills five days before Wallace tore a groin muscle on the opening series of his start against Philadelphia after Rodgers’ Nov. 4 injury, and Flynn had enough recall of his old playbook to go 2-2-1 in the five games he played, keeping the season alive until Rodgers’ heroics in the finale. Tolzien, meanwhile, has the football IQ and work ethic to make him an intriguing developmental prospect who comes with the added bonus of three games on NFL regular-season experience after he was thrown into the fire after Wallace’s injury. With Flynn and Tolzien behind arguably the league’s best player, the Packers now have insurance if their 30-year-old star misses time again.
“We’ve got a very healthy room. We’ve got an excellent room,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the quarterbacks. “We’ve obviously got the best player in football, we’ve got Matt Flynn, he’s a proven guy, there’s a comfort level definitely there. I know Matt wants to get better, he has room to improve in front of him. And we’ve got a young guy in Scott Tolzien that has a bunch of growth. So it’s a very healthy room, the personalities are excellent. It’s exactly what you’re looking for.”
Draft strategy: Even though McCarthy says the room has “exactly what you’re looking for,” that doesn’t mean the Packers won’t be looking at the position. They were among the teams to have Pitt’s Tom Savage in for an official visit, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein, and Savage could be the kind of long-term project that would appeal to McCarthy, a former Pitt assistant coach who loves the idea of developing young talent at the position. At the NFL Meetings in March, McCarthy said he’d love to bring four quarterbacks to camp, but he also acknowledged that reps are hard to come by in such an environment. That might mean a Day 3 flier on a quarterback who’s tumbled unexpectedly, or it may mean signing an undrafted free agent or two to participate in the post-draft rookie orientation camp.
While Ron Wolf drafted quarterbacks in seven of his nine drafts, Thompson hasn’t focused on the position as much. In the last 22 drafts, the Packers have taken 13 QBs: Ty Detmer (1992), Mark Brunell (1993), Jay Barker (1995), Kyle Wachholtz (1996), Ronnie McAda (1997), Matt Hasselbeck (1998), Aaron Brooks (1999), Craig Nall (2002), Rodgers (2005), Ingle Martin (2006), Brian Brohm (2008), Flynn (2008) and Coleman (2012).
NEXT: Running backs.
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.