Packers In-Depth Position Preview: Quarterbacks

Packers In-Depth Position Preview: Quarterbacks

NFL

Packers In-Depth Position Preview: Quarterbacks

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The Packers will open training camp for the 2021 season in less than a week. This is the next in a series of in-depth articles previewing each position group for the Packers. We will discuss each player at the position, provide a depth chart and analysis of each player on the 90-man roster, their skill set, what they need to improve on and what is expected of them in 2021.

Today we will look at the team’s quarterbacks. Click here to see our look at the tight end position, here for an in-depth look at the defensive line, here for our analysis of the running backs, here for inside linebackers, here for safeties, here for wide receivers and here for cornerbacks.

The biggest issue of the offseason has been whether reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers will be returning to the Packers for the coming season. Rodgers remains one of the best signal callers in the league at the age of 37 and his return will be a key to whether the Packers will be Super Bowl contenders in 2021.

If Rodgers doesn’t return, Jordan Love becomes the favorite to be the starter but he has no NFL game experience.

Here is a look at the Packers depth chart at quarterback entering training camp:

  1. Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers threw for a league-leading 48 touchdowns in 2020 and completed a career-high 70.7 precent of his passes. He had the second highest quarterback rating for a season in NFL history with 121.5 which is second only to Rodgers’ 2011 season when he had 122.5.

Rodgers is accurate, elusive when under pressure and does an excellent job of protecting the football. He threw only five interceptions last year and hasn’t thrown 10 picks in a season since 2010.

But Rodgers expressed his unhappiness with the “philosophy” of the Packers front office and it is still not clear whether he will report for training camp at the end of this month.

If Rodgers is the starter this season, the Packers should be among the top teams in the league. If he doesn’t the Packers will likely have to fight for a playoff berth.

  1. Jordan Love

The Packers decision to trade up and draft Love in 2020 was a controversial one and Rodgers wasn’t pleased. Because of the pandemic, Love didn’t have a normal rookie season. There were no preseason games and he was not active in any regular season or postseason games as a rookie.

This offseason, he finally got to participate in live OTAs and because of Rodgers’ absence, he was getting reps with the first team which helped give him much needed time with his teammates and the coaching staff.

Love has a lot of physical ability but scouts felt he needed time before he could start in the NFL. If Rodgers doesn’t play for the Packers this season, Love is the favorite to get the job and he is considered the Packers quarterback of the future.

During OTAs, Love had some strong days and some inconsistent performances. That is to be expected given his lack of experience. The Packers would have to deal with his growing pains if he is the starter in 2021. Ideally, he wouldn’t have to start until 2022 at the earliest.

  1. Blake Bortles

Bortles gives the Packers an experienced backup if Rodgers doesn’t return. He led the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game after the 2017 season and threw three postseason touchdowns and no interceptions in three playoff games that season. While in Jacksonville, he worked with Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

In Bortles, the Packers have a serviceable backup with five years starting experience. He would be considered a below average starter if he had to take over, but he is certainly serviceable and able to move the offense consistently. He is still mistake prone and his inability to read defenses at an elite level keeps him from being a better starter.

Bortles would be the type of quarterback who could give the Packers a reliable short-term answer at quarterback if called upon. At 29, he can still play at his peak level for several more seasons.

  1. Kurt Benkert

Benkert was signed by the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He spent 2018 and the practice squad and 2019 on the injured reserve and then 2020 back on the practice squad.

He has a strong arm and a bit of a gunslinger mentality. Off the field, he is a dedicated eSports player and has a fun attitude.

He needs to pick up the Packers playbook quickly and show he can be a quality backup.

If Rodgers returns, Benkert will have to beat out Bortles and Jake Dolegala to earn the third quarterback spot (if the team keeps three on the active roster) or to earn a spot on the practice squad.

  1. Jake Dolegala

The biggest thing that jumps out about Dolegala is his size. The former Central Connecticut State star stands 6’7”. He spent the 2019 on the Bengals roster but did not see any game action. Last season, he spent the year on the Patriots practice squad but was waived this spring after New England drafted Mac Jones.

He has good arm strength and thrived as a pocket passer in college. He will have to improve his accuracy and ability to read defenses to earn a spot on the roster or practice squad with the Packers this year.

Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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