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Could Tim Boyle win the Packers’ No. 3 QB job in training camp?

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After a rocky 2017 season as a starter, Brett Hundley may face tough competition from not only DeShone Kizer, but an undrafted free agent.

NCAA Football: Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the 2017 campaign, much attention was given to the potential trade value of the Green Bay Packers’ former fifth round investment Brett Hundley.

After a strong preseason, Hundley was given a tremendous opportunity to showcase his talents to the league as a starter in the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ injury. Despite being given a long leash in the starting role, the third-year pro floundered over the majority of his nine starts and showed few signs of becoming a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL. Now, with DeShone Kizer almost assured of a spot on the roster after being swapped with Damarious Randall in the offseason, Hundley’s role is in jeopardy. But it’s not all about Kizer.

The Packers swooped in to pick up Eastern Kentucky quarterback Tim Boyle at the draft’s conclusion, signing the former Connecticut transfer. Boyle, who had visited Green Bay before the draft, did not put up the gaudy numbers in his lone season in Richmond, Kentucky that are typical of an NFL prospect from an FCS school. Yet, at 6’4” with a strong arm and some impressive long throws on the highlight reel, Boyle provided enough to warrant a free agent look. It was also enough for the Packers to cut ties with Joe Callahan, a two-year Division III project who carried a seemingly strong connection with Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Boyle even got Callahan’s number six jersey.

So far, the results have been intriguing with the rookie quarterback making some plays in minicamps before the pads come on later this summer.

Under McCarthy’s tutelage, there’s hope that Boyle can pair his intriguing physical makeup with the mental component of the game. Boyle only started one season in Eastern Kentucky after enduring a difficult coaching situation at UConn where he had three head coaches, offensive coordinators, and quarterbacks coaches in three years. That kind of change can stunt a player’s development, especially at the quarterback position. However, for Boyle, it gave him an opportunity to experience a variety of offensive systems and concepts to help transition to the pro level. Among the tallest signal callers McCarthy has worked with in Green Bay, Boyle is in good position to compete as an undrafted free agent, following in the footsteps of Callahan and Taysom Hill in recent years.

Although the Packers initially kept just two quarterbacks last season, the organization must have some regrets about not retaining Hill, who has gained a lot of hype in New Orleans as a potential heir apparent to Drew Brees. After the injury to Rodgers exposed the lack of talent and depth behind the all-pro, it’s certainly fathomable that Green Bay keeps three quarterbacks on the final roster in 2018.

Boyle’s arm strength is his calling card, highlighted by a tight spiral that catches receivers in stride. While he threw more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (11) last season, Boyle did complete over 60% of his passes and is a pro-style fit in many ways as seen in the clips below. His athletic traits are enviable for the position, as he posted a 4.75 second 40-yard dash, a solid 7.03 three-cone drill time, and impressive jumping numbers. There’s some burst in his game to become an improviser outside the pocket.

New quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti, Jr. stressed the importance of going back to the basics this offseason with all quarterbacks, specifically Hundley. But the education in the fundamentals of footwork and reads will be a true benefit for Boyle. Cignetti was pleased with what he saw from Boyle in early June, saying, “You could see it in rookie camp. He’s bright. He does a great job in the classroom. Functionally intelligent. He throws a nice ball. He’s done a really nice job. It’ll be exciting to see him moving forward.”

While we await the growth of Boyle during live action, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which the Packers move forward with Rodgers and two higher-upside players in their first two seasons with the team. Although Hundley enters an inexpensive last season on a rookie contract in 2018, the financial impact of releasing him is also relatively low. Having been demoted with the addition of Kizer and lost any sort of trade value he may have had after his play last season, Hundley is in a tough position as a returning player. Even if Hundley makes the final 53-man roster, there seems to be little chance of Green Bay re-signing the UCLA product.

Once the preseason lights come on, Boyle could falter. Hundley’s starting experience could certainly win out. Cignetti acknowledged that the gap between minicamp and training camp must be filled with individual preparation. But anticipating Boyle to display long-term potential in limited action, this is one preseason battle I’m excited to keep an eye on.