Above all else, the Packers' 2013 season was defined by Aaron Rodgers' injury and depth at the quarterback position. While no amount of preparation can accommodate for the loss of a superstar signal caller, relying on backups with no experience in Green Bay proved as foolhardy as initially thought. While Green Bay lucked into a competent backup late in the season with Matt Flynn, more will be done in 2014 to prevent another catastrophe.
Head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that the team intends to retain three quarterbacks on the final 53-man roster. Competing for those spots are the returning Flynn and fourth-year quarterback Scott Tolzien. Because of the low cost -- and specifically low guarantees -- given to each player, neither is guaranteed a roster spot should performance dictate the team move in another direction. The Packers always enter camp with at least four quarterbacks, and with the free agency pool dried up, adding a rookie passer during or immediately following the draft is a lock.
While some have derided this year's quarterback crop for the talent at the top of the draft, it's rich with viable options in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency. One such quarterback is Northern Colorado's Seth Lobato, a raw prospect that possesses just about every physical tool required of the position.
Tell me more about these "tools"
At 6-6 and 230 pounds, Lobato measures in as one of the draft's biggest quarterbacks. He also owns one of the draft's best arms, allowing him to complete passes that the vast majority of prospects couldn't even attempt. Lobato sports a smooth release that requires little adjustment at the next level. Once recruited to play basketball in the Big 12, he possesses better-than-expected athleticism for a player his size. Lobato ran a 4.92 40-yard dash at his pro day along with 4.50 short shuttle and 7.07 3-cone. This mobility is readily apparent on game film, as Northern Colorado's offensive line often forced Lobato to extend plays with his legs.
So then how did the big schools miss on him?
They didn't. Lobato began his college career at the University of Colorado, but transferred after a redshirt year to pursue more playing time. After competing for the starting spot in 2010, Lobato won the job outright in 2011, holding it until he graduated. During his three+ seasons of starting experience, Lobato threw for over 8,000 yards and 53 touchdowns while running in six more.
There has to be a catch, right?
Indeed there is. Lobato struggled with accuracy during his college career, never completing more than 58.3% in a season. He also tossed 34 interceptions during that time. However, it's important to note that Northern Colorado ran an offensive system that over relied on vertical passing, forcing Lobato to attempt more long, high-risk throws than asked of most quarterbacks. In a pro style offense with better protection along with NFL coaching to iron out his footwork, Lobato can become a more efficient passer.
How much attention is he getting from NFL teams?
Several teams with established quarterbacks have looked into Lobato as a developmental prospect. The Patriots, perhaps the team with the most interest, spoke with Lobato at length during his March Pro Day. While it doesn't appear at this point that he'll be drafted, expect several teams to bid for Lobato's services after the draft concludes.
I've read this far, can I get my highlight reel with awful soundtrack now?
In an unprecedented development, the highlights available of Lobato don't feature a soundtrack at all. To remedy this "problem," we've also included some terrible music to play in the background.