Our second look at this year's 2020 NFL Draft as it relates to the Green Bay Packers focuses in on the most important position in football: Quarterback. Locking up a premium, long-term starting quarterback probably isn't happening with the Packers' highest pick at #30 in the first round, but should Green Bay take on a developmental prospect, they've got seven Day Three picks to work with.
Green Bay's taken quarterbacks all across the Draft in the past couple of decades, most recently selecting Brett Hundley in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. This year's pool has an above-average crop of mid- to late-round prospects, although the overall quarterback depth takes a hit based on the questions about the top prospects in this year's class.
Here's the Packers' NFL Draft pick order as of today:
It is extremely unlikely that the Packers get their hands on one of the top quarterback prospects in this year's Draft. Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Herbert seem destined to be top-half first-round selections. Green Bay has almost no ammo to trade up very far to grab one of them if they slide into the mid- to late stages of the first round; doing so would almost certainly cost the team one, if not more, of their top selections in next year's NFL Draft. While each of the quarterbacks has the potential to move lower than their ranking on most consensus Big Boards across the country, it remains improbable that the Packers are in the mix for any of the top three QBs in this year's field.
We start by looking at Utah State senior Jordan Love of Utah State, who possesses franchise quarterback talent but has a number of reasons as to why he's projected in the back half of the first round. Of all of the top quarterbacks in this year's Draft, it seems he has the greatest boom-or-bust potential. Statistically, Love didn't have an exceptional 2019, but virtually every NFL Draft website has glowing reports about his physical ability. Should he remain on the board at #30 in the first round, the Packers will have some options. They could of course take him; the trend has Love going higher. However, a team that picks in the early second round that perhaps didn't get their QB in the top of the Draft, or is one of the teams without long-term plans at the position, especially after the musical chairs at the position this offseason, could offer up a package of picks that would give Green Bay some more flexibility on Day 2 of the Draft. Green Bay did exactly this by trading out of the first round in 2018, moving down to select Kevin King early in the second round, scooping up additional picks for later on in the Draft to help build their depth. Should Love be available at #30, it would be a fascinating turning point at the end of Day 1 of the event, and would be telling about the direction of the roster-building of this coming year's team.
A group of three productive college quarterbacks that were highly-touted high school prospects are next up: Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts (via Alabama), Georgia's Jake Fromm, and Washington's Jacob Eason (via Georgia) are all considered Day 2 locks, and provide three very different varieties of passer as they project to the NFL.
Hurts has plenty of intangibles, athleticism, and college production, and fits the mold of the emerging type of NFL quarterback that creative offenses tend to employ. Fromm is more of a classic quarterback prospect, who passes the eye test of what most people imagine a player at the position to be, but lacks the athletic dynamism of Hurts, and doesn't enjoy the same arm talent as Eason, the player he beat out for the starting spot at Georgia. Eason is the big-armed prospect that enters the Draft with questions about decision-making and consistency, like many who came before him that can boast raw arm talent. All three bring a little something different to the table, and all three should be off the board by the end of Day 2.
It's hard to place one with the Packers, given that Green Bay is picking at the end of each round. At least one or two of them should be available in the second round still, so if the Packers are seriously looking at the position, it seems Round 2 would be the decision point if that's the direction they're leaning. By their Round 3 pick, they might have a shot at one of them, but at that point, it's hard to tell if the trio would be considered to be in a slide. Either way, for a quarterback-needy team, the Packers sit in a somewhat enviable spot with selections late in the second and third rounds in which other teams may try to trade up to get their guy, allowing Green Bay to move back and pick up additional picks either this year or next year. It's worth noting that the Packers have taken a quarterback in the third round or higher just five times since the Lombardi Era, which suggests that Aaron Rodgers' successor might not be in this year's draft class.
Day 3 quarterbacks are lottery tickets, but there are some Wisconsin ties for likely NFL Draft selections. One player with plenty of upside is Ashwaubenon native James Morgan, who played at Florida International. Morgan is one of the fastest risers in this year's class, and may find his home in the third or even second round as one month out he's being linked to just about every team not picking in the top ten that needs a quarterback. Morgan, who also played at Bowling Green in college, has been linked to the Packers in several reports, and it goes beyond playing his high school ball a short drive from Lambeau Field. Sports Illustrated recently called him the Draft's deepest sleeper at the position.
The other Wisconsin tie is former Menomonie standout Nate Stanley, who had a good amount of success at Iowa in his career with the Hawkeyes. Projected as a late-round pick, where the Packers hold five of their 10 selections in the sixth and seventh rounds, Stanley fits more traditional pro-set offenses like what he ran at Iowa and in high school.
A pair of stat-busting quarterbacks in pass-heavy systems round out the top projected Draft selections: Washington State's Anthony Gordon and Hawai'i's Cole McDonald. The same questions about them follow any quarterback that comes out of a pass-heavy college football offense: How can they adapt to the NFL? Gordon has the higher projection, but both are solidly Day 3 prospects.
After the Draft, there are a bevy of undrafted rookie free agent targets, all of them seniors from Power 5 schools for the most part. A few may emerge as late-round developmental selections, but for the most part, if the Packers are picking up one of the QBs that are projected as late-round or undrafted players, they can lock on to their guy with one of their seventh-round picks and not worry about out-bidding other teams for a free agent following the NFL Draft.
It remains to be seen how the Packers approach the position in 2020. Aaron Rodgers is The Man until further notice, and after swinging and missing on the DeShone Kizer trade a couple of years back, Green Bay hasn't otherwise made a serious attempt to make a long-term plan at the backup spot since their draft-and-develop strategy with 2015 fifth-rounder Brett Hundley, now with Arizona. The Packers currently employ Tim Boyle and Manny Wilkins as the backups to their future Hall of Fame quarterback.
The NFL Draft is April 23-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo: Getty Images (James Morgan, Florida International)