Brett Hundley in Green Bay: Backup, Successor, Project or Wasted Pick?
The only surprise bigger than Brett Hundley's drastic drop during the 2015 NFL Draft was the team that selected him.
With the 147th pick in the draft, the Green Bay Packers selected the speedy quarterback who was once among the top NFL prospects. The five-star UCLA recruit was just 34 passing yards short of becoming one of fewer than 10 NCAA quarterbacks ever to rush for more than 1,000 yards and pass for at least 10,000 yards in a college career.
In his three seasons as starting quarterback for the Bruins, Hundley accounted for more than 100 touchdowns (75 passing, 30 rushing, 1 receiving). He became the first ever UCLA quarterback to win at least nine games in three consecutive seasons and went 29-11 overall.
Coming into the draft, many analysts, including rated Hundley as the third best quarterback in the draft and had a second-round grade on him. He impressed scouts with a running back-like 4.63-second 40-yard dash and crossed the 20-yard mark in 2.72, which was just 0.01 slower than second-round running back T.J. Yeldon. He has a quick first step and is just as fast as most opposing defensive backs.
His athleticism is elite, but as an overall package as a quarterback, he's still very raw. Some critics suggest Hundley needs to refine quarterback subtleties such as pocket presence, reading defenses, and ball placement.
There's no doubt that a few years behind Aaron Rodgers on the depth chart will serve him well to develop these skills. Rodgers, who will not be eligible as a free agent until 2020, won't be replaced anytime soon, so why spend a fifth-round draft pick on Hundley?
Why Hundley Makes Sense in Green Bay
When Rodgers is healthy, the Packers have the potential to be the best passing attack in the NFL.
According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which quantifies a team’s production in comparison to expectation-level production, the Packers' Passing NEP per drop back -- once adjusted for schedule -- ranked fourth in 2010 (0.18), first in 2011 (0.38), third in 2012 (0.22), 14th in 2013 (0.08), and first in 2014 (0.29).
A shoulder injury suffered in mid-2013 kept Aaron Rodgers out of eight games, and the numbers show the significant difference that Rodgers makes over a replacement quarterback.
Speaking of replacements, Scott Tolzien is currently the backup to Rodgers. Tolzien has just one touchdown to five interceptions in his career, and he's only thrown 90 career passes. To avoid a repeat of the near-collapse in 2013, Green Bay had to find a quality replacement for Rodgers as insurance, and they found that in Hundley.
Until he's needed to fill in for an injured Rodgers, he will be given the chance to develop into a more consistent NFL quarterback. The worst-case scenario for the Packers is that Hundley becomes an average NFL backup, which is still worth a fifth-round pick. The best-case scenario is that Hundley develops into a promising starter and Green Bay can trade him for talent or draft picks in return.
He'll be the primary backup with an extremely high ceiling.