The Brian Brohm Conundrum « Ol' Bag of Donuts

The Brian Brohm Conundrum

After trading defensive tackle Corey Williams and trading out of the end of the first round in the 2008 draft, Ted Thompson armed himself with three second-round picks, not a bad scenario for a team that was an overtime away from the Super Bowl.

While not a big area of need, the selection of Jordy Nelson worked out as he contributed nicely in the recieving corps and special teams last season and showing a lot of promise.  The selection of Pat Lee also is justifiable, even if he hasn’t done much yet.  Cornerback was an area that needed youth and depth (the resigning of cornerback/safety/bain of my existence Jarrett Bush does not improve this). Thompson drafted the right choice of position, now Lee just needs to prove himself.

But the move that scrated the most heads then and even more so now is Brian Brohm.  The move could have been defended on draft day.  Recalling a draft-day phone converstation with Chris, the facts brought up were:  Best player available, which Thompson follows like scripture; Trade bait for future; Better than any free agent on the market at the time to back up Rodgers; Don’t know 100% what you have in Rodgers yet.  Chris wasn’t entirely talked off the ledge, but at least now he had to get a running start.

Fast forward one year later and almost of those above-mentioned points have fallen through.

Best Player Available:  Hardly, especially when seventh-rounder Matt Flynn beat Brohm out for the #2 job.  There is no point going through a list of rookies drafted after Brohm who had more  impact last season because Rodgers was the starter all year.  However, Chad Henne, selected one pick after has shown more promise in Miami than Brohm in Green Bay.

Trade bait:  If Thompson looked at Brohm as soley as trade chip for the future, that’s could be somewhat justified.  There have been enough scenarios where this has happened, most notably in Green Bay with Matt Hasselbeck and recently with Atlanta trading Matt Schaub to Houston.  However, Brohm’s value has dipped so low that it would be hard to anything close to equal value in return right now.  Best case scenario is that he lights up training camp and preseason the next two years and ups his value to at least the level he was drafted at.

Better than any free agent back up:  This is the only point that hasn’t gone bad.  At the time Brohm showed a lot of promise and remember that shortly before the draft the team was interested in bringing in Daunte Cullpepper.  Seeing what was out there, Thompson made the right move to gamble on Brohm instead of brining in any retread or washed up quarterback.

Don’t know what you have in Rodgers:  There were plenty of question marks with Rodgers going into last season.  How would he handle the pressure of following Favre?  Has he had enough live game experience?  What if he is a bust?  Is he an injury-risk?  And the list goes on.  However, from the beginning Thompson and McCarthy showed ultimate faith in Rodgers suceeding.  If that is the case, why draft a quarterback in the secon- round for competetion?  Well, as it turned out there was no competition, Rodgers had a border-line Pro Bowl season, and Thompson and McCarthy misjudged badly that Brohm could have an impact.

All is not lost for Brohm.  In reality, he is only a second-year quarterback and rookie seasons like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco had in 2008 are very rare.  However, with Flynn beating Brohm out for the #2 position does raise some red flags.  This is not a shot at Flynn, who may develop into a solid NFL quarterback, but Brohm was once considered a can’t miss prospect and far from being raw out of college.

After his junior year at Louisville, Brohm was talked about in the breath as first-round picks JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, and some ranked him ahead of one, if not both players.  Playing in an NFL-style system in college, Brohm earned Orange Bowl MVP honors after leading the Cardinals to victory over Wake Forest as a junior.  It was widely speculated that he would enter the NFL draft and be among the top picks selected, but decided to return for his senior season.

A player coming back for his senior year shouldn’t be looked down on, but like Matt Leinart, Brohm saw his draft stock worsen his senior year despite setting numerous school and Big East Conference records, including most career passing yards, completions and attempts.  Brohm also said on draft day that returing for his senior year helped him improve and mature as a player, so at the time some could say the Packers got a steal.

Well, it is only a steal if they can trade him for equal or greater value than when they drafted him.  The day Rodgers signed his new exentsion, Brohm’s value dropped even more and don’t think other NFL teams in need of a young quarterback didn’t take notice.

The question has never been about talent with Brohm, who has as much upside as almost any young quarterback in the league.  The questions are is if he can put it all together and if he will get the opportunity in Green Bay.  With Flynn as the #2, Brohm is getting less reps with the team’s top unit.  Also, if Rodgers gets hurt Flynn is the first off the bench, as was seen in the Tampa Bay game last year.

The Packers need Brohm to be the #2 this year in more ways than one.  While Rodgers stayed relatively healthy last season, he isn’t Favre and fans will have expect him to miss some time in the future.  Flynn has been solid in his back-up role, but Brohm presents more talent and potential.  If Rodgers goes down (God help us that he doesn’t), it could give Brohm the chance he needs.  However, he needs to prove himself first in the pre-season where he was awful last year.  The front office also need him to improve his trade value, so it doesn’t look like they wasted a second-round pick.

Coaching plays a vital part in this happening.  Can McCarthy, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements coach Brohm up enough to take over as the #2 and prove to the rest of the league that he isn’t a bust?  With Rodgers entreched as the Packers starter for the foreseeable future, Brohm’s stay in Green Bay will not be long.  When a quarterback is drafted in the second-round the hope is that he will be a future starter, or they can show enough to garner a high return in a trade. 

Right now Brohm and the team can’t do either, which means the 2009 season is arguably as critical to Brohm as it is to any current Packer.

-Adam Somers

2 comments to The Brian Brohm Conundrum

  • [...] Somers over at the great new Packer blog Ol’ Bag of Donuts has a good overview of the pros and cons of Thompson’s selection of Brohm in the second round of last years draft [...]

  • Nice blog and interesting post.

    I would counter by saying Brett Favre was a second-round pick, and Ron Wolf gave up a first-round pick for him after he was buried on the Falcons depth chart. I’m not making any such claim on Brohm as to his future development, other than to say it’s far too early to claim his value is nil.

    I look forward to more posts.

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