When Graham Harrell signed with the Packers in 2010, he had the pedigree to prove he belonged in the NFL.
A two time 5,000 yard passer during his time at Texas Tech, he ended his college career as the all time leader in passing touchdowns with 143. His 15, 793 passing yards ranked second all time. And following a Senior year which saw him throw for 5,111 yards and 45 touchdowns, he finished fourth in the Heisman Voting.
He had all the makings for a solid NFL career. Or so he thought.
His pro career came to a dead end before it even started when he went undrafted in the 2009 NFL draft. Forced to weigh his options, the one time all everything at Texas Tech was reduced to playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League during 2009.
Harrell was at a crossroads professionally. He needed something to jump start his career. He needed a place to learn how to play quarterback in the National Football League.
He got his opportunity in 2010, when the Green Bay Packers came calling.
Being able to study under Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers gave Harrell a chance to bide his time during 2010 and most of 2011 on the Practice Squad. What he learned was being an effective quarterback in the NFL was a far cry from the spread offense he ran in college. Probably part if not most of the reason why he was undrafted coming out of college.
The problem for Harrell is in many ways he is still performing at his 2010-11 level.
This week’s Midweek Movie will look at the advancement, or lack there of, of Graham Harrell since he joined the Packers.
The first video is his performance against the Chiefs in 2010. Note his often inaccurate passing to the receivers, as well as lack of arm strength-things which continue to plague him to this day:
All told, a relatively forgettable performance for the rookie at the time.
The second video is highlights of the Packers against the same Chiefs in 2012. Harrell, perhaps playing for his Packers career, had a truly memorable game, going 13/15 for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns. He showed much better command of the game than he did two years earlier, and was incredibly accurate with his passing.
Click this link to watch highlights from that game.
The issue Harrell is currently facing is it appears as though he has progressed as far as he can, if not regressed back to his 2010 ways.
This preseason, Harrell has been under constant scrutiny for his play. His unimpresive camp led to the Packers signing Vince Young to compete for the number two quarterback spot with Harell. An unremarkable 12/19 for 98 yards and an interception against the Cardinals in the first preseason game did not help matters either.
McCarthy put Harrell on notice following that performance, that his job as the primary backup to Aaron Rodgers is far from secure:
“Graham has to play better, and it’s tough…Playing quarterback in the preseason, it’s never clean, and it’s been like that as long as I’ve been in this league.”
It is up to Graham Harrell to determine the next step in his career. Improve his play immediately, and he can continue to be the backup quarterback on a very good team which has Super Bowl potential written all over it.
Play poorly, and the most memorable play in Harrell’s NFL career may be this gem:
Will the real Graham Harrell please stand up?
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.
You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at email@example.com.