Pen and paper may be just as important to Brett Hundley on his first day as is his new Packers helmet.
The self-proclaimed ‘football nerd’ and former UCLA quarterback was selected by Green Bay in the fifth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday. Hundley made 40 starts in his time with the Bruins, but his initial role will be different with the Packers.
“You guys asked me last time if each draft pick has a chance to start, this one probably doesn’t,” Director of Player Personnel Eliot Wolf said.
Disappointed he didn’t go much higher in the draft – he confidently thought he could have gone in the first round – Hundley has an opportunity few rookie quarterbacks get. The Chandler, Arizona native will learn the game of football and be able pick the brain of two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers on a daily basis.
“It’s awesome,” Hundley noted over a conference call. He had already been learning about the intricacies of Rodgers preparation through former Packers running back and teammate of Hundley’s at UCLA. “I used to ask him about him a lot. Just how he is in practice and how he is in the meeting rooms and now I actually get to be personal with it.”
He set school records in career touchdown passes (75), total offense (11,713 yards) and is second on UCLA’s all-time wins list (29). Hundley’s physical attributes and sheer athleticism are rare from any draftee – let alone a quarterback.
The other trait that Hundley says set himself apart is his drive to learn.
“It’s just who I am and what’s bred inside of me. I love being a quarterback and knowing everything about the game. I could sit there and watch film all day with you and just learn,” Hundley said. Wolf glowed about the quarterback in their meeting at the NFL Combine because football was the only thing Hundley wanted to talk about.
“I think Green Bay is the perfect organization to learn as much as possible,” he continued.
In college, he excelled in a spread offense with UCLA but has to learn a new system and a new language or terminology that comes along with the Packers’ offense. Hundley fits Green Bay, even though he isn’t your typical NFL quarterback.
“If there’s something you see that you can develop – and there’s definitely a ton there with Brett Hundley – that excites me,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “Obviously having Aaron [Rodgers], he’ll be an excellent mentor.”
He’ll have to contend with Scott Tolzien and Matt Blanchard for the pivotal backup role while continuing his studies.
But Rodgers knows better than anyone what it’s like to be an understudy. The Packers quarterback spent three years – throwing just 35 passes in that time – behind Brett Favre. It’s a test of patience to understand how to play quarterback in this league without actually playing, but the payoff is great.
“To be able to learn from him – I know he still has a lot of years to play so – but my job as a quarterback is to go in and compete,” Hundley said. “Just play football and learn as much as possible.”