Labor drama continues to dominate NFL headlines, but teams must keep their eyes on the ball as they prepare for the upcoming draft.
Pretty safe to say Tom Brady isn’t flying under anyone’s radar these days. Brady’s well-known rise to NFL stardom after falling to 199th in the 2000 draft was recently chronicled in the ESPN feature “The Brady 6.”
The “Brady 6” may serve as a cautionary tale for NFL teams (as well as their top selections) while forever serving as an inspiration for late-round selections.
Brady will be 34 years old by the beginning of the 2011 season, not young by NFL standards, and that number has been getting more and more attention these days, including in a piece I recently wrote, Life after No. 12.
For now there certainly doesn’t seem to be any reason to be concerned about Brady’s performance level. Brady’s 2010 season may very well have been the finest of his NFL career and resulted in him being an unheard of unanimous selection as NFL MVP.
Clearly Brady can make all the throws required of an elite QB, but with TB, it’s what’s inside the helmet that separates him from the competition. Spreading the ball around the field with lightning-quick decision making, Brady processes information as quickly and thoroughly as anyone in the league.
Throw in a legendary work ethic, unquestioned study habits and a brand of leadership among the best in all of professional sports, and you have one of the greatest QBs in NFL history.
Brian Hoyer has been Brady’s understudy since Matt Cassel’s departure following the 2008 season.
Hoyer was a five-year senior with plenty of collegiate experience under his belt, having started the final 27 games of his NCAA career, but he has thrown just 42 passes over his first two NFL campaigns.
Hoyer’s strong 2009 training camp/preseason allowed him to beat out former third-round pick Kevin O’Connell as well as fellow undrafted free agent Matt Gutierrez for the backup job. Hoyer is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
Former Tennessee Volunteer Jonathan Crompton was signed to the Patriots practice squad midway through the 2010 season. Crompton is a former fifth-round pick of the Chargers who has yet to throw an NFL pass.
Well, this summary is easy.
If Brady remains healthy, quarterback is not an immediate concern for New England. If Brady gets banged up, well, that’s another story altogether. Tough to gauge if Hoyer is ready to take the reigns of the franchise as Cassel did after Brady was lost for the season back in 2008. This is one of those times that Pats fans will probably have to rely on the “In Bill We Trust” mantra.
Will Belichick make a move here to provide additional depth at the position?
Tough to say, as BB has gone several different routes in the past when it comes to filling out the roster. He has opted for seasoned veterans (Testaverde, Flutie), young unknowns (Cassel, Hoyer, Brady) and highly respected competitive backups (Friesz, Huard) in the past. He has carried as many as four and as few as two QBs on his active roster.
Will New England select a QB in the 2011 draft?
You can probably spend an entire career being wrong if you get into the business of trying to predict what BB and staff will do, but why not take a stab at it anyway?
There has been a whole lot of internet chatter regarding the two-day visit of QB Jake Locker recently. I don’t buy it. Value is key in New England and Locker has consistently been tabbed as a potential first or second-round pick.
A selection of Locker early would mean the Pats would be paying an awful lot of money for someone to sit behind Brady, most likely for several years. There would be little opportunity to leverage the pick by developing/trading Locker, as it would be doubtful he would return much more than the pick he required to be selected in the first place. I just don’t see it happening.
I think the Locker visit is just a bunch of smoke intended to manipulate the draft board as perhaps the 2010 Tebow visit did.
Instead, I see the Pats considering mid-round options like Delaware’s Pat Devlin or perhaps even late-round, undrafted free agent Scott Tolzien of Wisconsin. In my opinion, the drafting of Brady’s eventual replacement will wait another year.
For other Patriot pre-draft summaries, checkout these links: