Matt Flynn was a winner in college who had great intangibles and could process the game quickly.

The one thing the former LSU quarterback lacked, however, was a great arm. That was the main reason 208 players were selected before the Green Bay Packers chose Flynn in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL draft.

Look at Flynn now. He's a dependable backup who played well in his only career start, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers' 31-27 loss at New England last December. Some believe he's ready to be a starter in the league, though he'll serve as Aaron Rodgers' backup as long as he remains in Green Bay.

Flynn's story gives inspiration to quarterbacks such as the University of Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien, who will have to wait until deep in next week's draft to hear his name called — it it's called at all.

It'd be a reach to suggest Tolzien is the next Flynn, but there are plenty of interesting similarities between the two.

Like Flynn, Tolzien appears to have the mental makeup to handle the intricacies of an NFL offense. Both are extremely smart players who are eager to learn more.

Flynn led LSU to a national championship in his only season as a starter. Tolzien was 21-5 in his two seasons as a starter at UW and helped lead the Badgers to the Rose Bowl as a senior.

They are similar in size. Tolzien is listed at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds; Flynn, now in his third season with the Packers, is 6-2, 225.

"He's a guy that's going to continue to improve because he has all those intangibles," a scout for an AFC team said of Tolzien, UW's all-time leader in completion percentage (68.1) and pass efficiency rating (153.2). "He did an exceptional job at Wisconsin. And there are some things to indicate he will contribute in this league for a long time."

The biggest knock on Tolzien, as it was for Flynn, is the lack of velocity on his passes. But there's reason to believe Tolzien could improve in that area, just as Flynn has done under the tutelage of Packers coach Mike McCarthy and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements.

"The term ‘arm strength' is thrown around so frequently, but really it's more about the mechanics - the entire mechanics - and Scott has some issues with that," the scout said. "Scott's issue is not necessarily arm strength as much as footwork that led to a decrease of velocity on the football. Scott has a strong enough arm, he just needs to work through some body mechanics to deliver with the appropriate velocity that he has. I think he's done that and he will continue to improve that."

Tolzien doesn't need a blazing fastball to keep a job in the NFL. He points to Chad Pennington as a player who has had a successful NFL career with limited velocity on his passes.

Still, Tolzien admits he can improve in that area and is eager to do so.

"It all starts at the bottom," Tolzien said. "Everybody always wants to talk about, ‘Oh, he's got a smooth throwing motion.' There are guys that throw it a lot of different ways, but the one constant is they all have great balance and great feet."

Tolzien is also working to alter his delivery. His natural throw is from a three-quarters angle, but he's been working at an over-the-top approach.

"It saves a lot of stress on your arm and elbow when you're throwing on a downward plane," Tolzien said. "And when you're talking about tipped passes and that sort of thing, there could be a six-inch difference, and that's the difference between getting a ball tipped and it not getting tipped."

A handful of quarterbacks could be selected in the first round of next week's draft. Auburn's Cam Newton is expected to go No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers, while Missouri's Blaine Gabbert could fall in the top five.

As many as seven quarterbacks could go in the first two rounds.

Tolzien, meanwhile, will play the waiting game. Just like Flynn did.

"If he's in the right place, I think he still can get better," UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, who also coaches the quarterbacks, said of Tolzien. "I think he's a guy that's worthy of an opportunity, and I think he can do well with it."

 

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