Trickles of information over the past few weeks have suggested the Packers are interested in Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. It was reported earlier this week that they were hosting him on a top-30 visit, adding more fuel to the chatter.
Even more intrigue followed Tuesday when NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah released his latest mock draft and had the Packers taking Lock with their second of two first-round picks, No. 30 overall. Wrote Jeremiah:
“The Packers have been doing a lot of homework on quarterbacks this draft season. They once spent a first-round pick on a QB who’d become the eventual replacement for a 35-year-old future Hall of Famer, and they repeat history here.”
The narrative is quite convenient. Brett Favre was 35 in 2005 when the Packers, despite no obvious immediate need, drafted Aaron Rodgers late in the first round after he slid to No. 24. And yes, Rodgers is now 35 as the Packers perhaps contemplate a future succession plan.
The difference, of course, is that Favre had already dabbled in the retirement arts by 2005, with his status a seemingly yearly question. Rodgers ended up developing behind the scenes for three seasons before Favre was nudged out in 2008 — paving the way, a year later, for him to join the Vikings in one of the greatest story lines in local sports history.
Rodgers, on the other hand, seems geared up to play well into the future. He signed a four-year extension last year that made him the NFL’s highest-paid player until Russell Wilson eclipsed it Tuesday. The structure of it makes it VERY unlikely Rodgers will be going anywhere before 2022 at the earliest.
That said, there are more than just immediate needs to consider when drafting a QB — as Green Bay showed 14 years ago and other smart teams have since showed.
The Patriots have drafted a number of QBs during the Tom Brady era. Matt Cassel (7th round, 2005) became a functional starter when Brady was hurt and was later flipped for a second-round pick. Jimmy Garoppolo (2nd round, 2014) was Brady’s backup and helped New England win two games in 2016 before being traded to San Francisco for a second-round pick. Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett and Jacoby Brissett were all third-round picks or higher by the Patriots at QB since 2011.
If you look at the cost efficiency of drafting a quarterback, it starts to make a lot of sense. If the Packers take Lock at No. 30, they will owe him roughly $10.4 million total over the life of his four-year rookie scale contract while also holding a more expensive fifth-year option. That’s a reasonable price for a backup, at worst — and a chance to groom Rodgers’ eventual replacement at best.
It worked 14 years ago, and the Packers are now more than a quarter-century into one of the most stable and dynamic QB runs in NFL history.
The Vikings, by the way? They’ve only drafted QBs lately when they needed them — using first-round picks on Christian Ponder (2011) and Teddy Bridgewater (2014). Per our own Andrew Krammer: Minnesota has drafted the fewest quarterbacks (2) among all NFL teams in the past decade outside of Atlanta.
It’s telling that the Packers are at least considering drafting a QB in the first round this season while boasting a far more secure future at that position than the Vikings.