In 2019, the Green Bay Packers’ roster looks very different from how it appeared at the end of the 2018 season. A large group of free agents, draft picks, and undrafted rookies will come to training camp to challenge for roster spots and a role on the team’s regular season 53-man roster. Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company will break down the roster position-by-position and reveal our compiled predictions for the 53-man roster.
It all begins at the quarterback position. That statement is true for every football team, but particularly for the Green Bay Packers, who have relied on Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback play for nearly three decades. The 2019 season will be no different, with Aaron Rodgers entering his 12th year as the team’s starter.
However, an interesting battle may be brewing behind him as three young challengers look to establish themselves as Rodgers’ backup. Will a Matt LaFleur-led team prioritize keeping three quarterbacks on the roster, as Mike McCarthy did a year ago? Or will the team keep just one backup and use another roster spot to maintain more depth at another position?
Here’s a look at the QBs on the team and stay tuned for our prediction later on this afternoon.
Experience: entering 15th NFL season
2018 Stats: 16 games played, all starts; 372-597 (62.3% completions), 4,442 yards (7.4 yards/attempt), 25 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 97.6 passer rating; 43 rushing attempts, 269 yards (6.3 yards/carry), 2 touchdowns
How Acquired: First-round pick in 2005 NFL Draft
Rodgers enters the season as the starter for the 12th straight season, having signed an NFL-record contract near the end of last year’s training camp. He will turn 36 years old in December, but is now signed through 2023, when he will turn 40.
There are two major questions facing Rodgers in 2019. First, can he stay healthy? He did not miss a start last year, but fought through a painful tibial plateau fracture suffered in week one. He also left the Packers’ week 17 game against the Lions with a concussion. Secondly, will he connect with a new head coach in LaFleur? The offense will need to start clicking quickly for this team to get off to a good start.
Experience: Entering 3rd NFL season
2018 Stats: 3 games played; 20-42 (47.6%), 187 yards (4.5 Y/A), 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 40.5 passer rating; 5 rushing attempts, 39 yards (7.8 YPC)
How Acquired: Trade with Cleveland Browns in 2018
Kizer split time with Brett Hundley and Tim Boyle in the preseason last year, but he became the first backup option behind Rodgers when the team traded Hundley to Seattle for a sixth-round draft pick. When Rodgers left the field twice last season, Kizer came in and was, in a word, bad. He nearly got the Packers into an insurmountable hole in week one against the Bears before Rodgers’ miracle comeback; then he was ineffective against the Lions in the final game of the year.
Now facing the challenge of learning a third offense in three years under a fourth head coach (including interim coach Joe Philbin), Kizer will be under the gun to show significant signs of improvement. Thankfully, he already knows LaFleur, who served as his quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame during Kizer’s freshman year in 2014.
Experience: Entering 2nd NFL season
2018 Stats: None
How Acquired: Signed as undrafted rookie free agent in 2018
A strong-armed young quarterback, the Packers liked what they saw from Boyle enough to ship Hundley out late in the preseason a year ago and make him their number three. Boyle never saw game action, remaining inactive for most of the team’s games once Rodgers demonstrated that he was healthy enough to play reliably following his leg injury.
In the preseason, Boyle was impressive, however, showing off that arm strength with some big downfield throws. However, he also made some questionable decisions, and he will need to clean that area up if he is to challenge Kizer for the number two spot.
2018 Stats (at Arizona State): 13 games played, all starts; 247-393 (62.8% completions), 3,025 yards (7.7 yards/attempt), 20 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 141.2 college passer rating; 112 carries, 452 yards (4.0 YPC), 8 touchdowns
How Acquired: Signed as undrafted free agent in 2019
A smaller, more mobile quarterback at 6-foot-2 and just 193 pounds, Wilkins was a productive passer for the Sun Devils as well as a capable running threat. He completed at least 62 percent of his passes in all three yeas as a starter, posting very consistent numbers in his time in Tempe.
It appears unlikely that Wilkins will seriously challenge for the backup job, but keep an eye on him as a potential practice squad candidate if the Packers decide to just keep two QBs on the 53.