Packers: What does 2018 hold for Brett Hundley?

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 23: Brett Hundley
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 23: Brett Hundley /

What’s next for Brett Hundley?

The arrival of DeShone Kizer this offseason was not a positive development for Brett Hundley. This after the Green Bay Packers’ 2015 fifth-round pick was handed an unexpected opportunity to shine in 2017.

Nailing that audition would have guaranteed a backup position in 2018 with a real chance to score in free agency later. None of that happened.

Hundley’s struggles as a starter were obvious and well documented. Averaging almost two turnovers per start (12 interceptions combined with four fumbles) is far from championship-caliber football.

Now, with his career at a crossroads, what does 2018 hold in light of Kizer’s arrival and Aaron Rodgers‘ return?

The case for Hundley

Until Rodgers’ collarbone injury, Hundley hadn’t really played meaningful NFL football. Preseason aside, he recorded just two career completions (in 2016). Without starter’s reps in practice and  lacking game experience, what was to be expected of a young backup?

The 2017 Packers were far from a well-oiled machine. Injuries to an offensive line already gutted by free agency made protection sketchy at best. Even Rodgers was forced to run around and improvise and he took a beating in the pocket. Enter Hundley, whose pre-draft scouting report says he’s uncomfortable as a pocket passer, and the pressure overwhelmed him.

The offensive skill positions did not step up. Typically-reliable Jordy Nelson completely disappeared for long stretches. Tight end Martellus Bennett was a disaster, and Richard Rodgers and Lance Kendricks weren’t consistent. Injuries forced the Packers to turn to two rookie running backs to carry the ground game.

Let’s not even discuss the defense and its lack of third-down stops.

Brett Hundley under pressure from the Detroit Lions' rush.
Brett Hundley Under Pressure /

With prototypical size and good athleticism, Hundley could still be a diamond in the rough. With the experience he’s now gained, and continued tutelage, he has all of the tools to be a viable NFL starter.

The case against Hundley

Hundley was a mid-round pick for a reason. His lack of accuracy and poor internal clock were apparent in college. Those demons haunted him in 2017 as he absorbed 29 sacks in 11 games. He was only able to muster a 60.8 percent completion rating, ranking him 23rd among qualifiers.

With those 16 turnovers, it’s fair to conclude that Hundley was careless and perhaps lacked the mental fortitude needed to play quarterback in the NFL. The ineptitude culminated in November with the shutout loss at Lambeau against the Ravens. Hundley’s 43.6 QBR reinforced how that game looked from the stands.

By his third season, Hundley should have been ready. Studying behind Rodgers for two-plus seasons, all under Mike McCarthy, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. Many quarterbacks do far more with far less. After playing in preseason games and mentally preparing for each regular season opponent, the on-field product should have been more polished.

Bottom line

Hundley will be a Green Bay Packer in 2018, barring a trade oppportunity. He has one year remaining on his rookie deal at just over $760,000 in total compensation, according to Spotrac.

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Even with the addition of Kizer, the Packers will need arms in camp. And he is simply too young with too favorable of a contract to give up on. Yet. But assuming Kizer gets the nod as Rodgers’ primary backup, and with unrestricted free agency available in 2019 – nothing further is guaranteed.