Brett Hundley tries to buck fifth-round QB trend

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Hundley was the 20th quarterback taken in the fifth round since the 2005 NFL draft. Of the 19 who came before him, only six have started an NFL game. And of those six only one -- John Skelton -- has more than a dozen starts to his credit.

"I think Brett's different," said UCLA associate athletic director Rip Scherer, a former NFL quarterbacks coach and longtime college coach who helped prepare Hundley for the draft, during a recent phone interview. "But I'm sure every one of those 19 guys probably thought they shouldn't have been a fifth-round pick, either.

"Probably some of them shouldn't have been a fifth-round pick; they should've been lower."

It might be years before we find out whether Hundley, the Green Bay Packers' most recent fifth-round pick, is more like Skelton -- or better -- than the other 13 who haven’t made a single NFL start (see chart below).

Scherer, who coached quarterbacks for the Cleveland Browns (and was assistant head coach) from 2005-08 and for the Carolina Panthers in 2009 and 2010 before returning to the college ranks, admitted it will be a major change for Hundley to go from a spread offense at UCLA to coach Mike McCarthy's pro-style West Coast offense.

"Going into the draft as we would meet and talk, I told him the best-case scenario for him was to get with a veteran quarterback," Scherer said. "Now ideally, you want to be in a situation where you have a veteran quarterback who is on the back end [of his career], where you can learn for a year or two, like an Arizona, where a guy like Carson Palmer may play a few years. So this is a little different.

"In some ways it's a great thing for him because there's no other choice but to sit there and learn. He doesn't have to worry about playing, although he's going to prepare as if he's going to play the next snap, and that's the way he will prepare."

The downside, however, is that even if Hundley has starting quarterback potential, it might be difficult for him to show it while sitting behind two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.

"It's going to take either a disaster, which hopefully doesn't happen, or it's going to somebody in three or four years wanting to either trade for him or signing him as a free agent after seeing his development in preseason games and whatever opportunity he can get to play," Scherer said. "From that standpoint, it's not ideal. But from a learning standpoint, I think it's one of the best situations you can have."

That was the scenario when the Packers drafted Matt Hasselbeck in the sixth round of the 1998 draft. Three years later, they traded him to the Seattle Seahawks, where he got his chance to start and flourished.

"I could see that same scenario," Scherer said. "That would be the ideal scenario for Brett. To learn to be a pro quarterback, to learn from one of the best, to learn from one of the best organizations, and yet take advantage of his opportunities to the point where whatever concerns people had, he can erase those over the course of some preseason games."

During last weekend's rookie camp, Hundley said he wasn't familiar with the recent history of fifth-round quarterbacks.

Nor did he care.

"I was drafted there, so I'll always remember that," Hundley said. "I'll always remember [being] pick 147. But at the same time I know that I can play, and I have a lot of confidence in my ability. I know I can play with the best of them. Now Aaron, he's an awesome quarterback. I've got awhile to get to that."

And that might be a good thing.

"I don't think they're looking at him as the quarterback of the future," Scherer said, "because the future's a long way off with the guy they've got."