NFL Draft 2011 Quarterback Edition: Why Would the Patriots Look at Jake Locker?
Recently, Bleacher Report's own Paul Brassard commented that the visit might just be a smoke screen and a way for Belichick to manipulate the board.
That might be true, and I would for sure think that Belichick would do his homework on any talent out there.
But let's pause for a moment, take a step back and look at what the visits of both Tebow and Locker could mean if Belichick is seriously considering adding the depth at the QB position that both Tebow and Locker represent.
If Belichick values anything in a football player, it's the intangibles. You need to be able to understand your role on the team, do as you are told and be extremely coachable.
At the QB position, the recent history of both Tom Brady and Matt Cassel tells the story of players with those kinds of talents.
With three Super Bowls under his belt Brady has nothing to prove and will go down in NFL history as one of the greatest QBs to play the game.
But with Matt Cassel, history also repeated itself, as the Patriots showed the ability to plug and play an unknown QB and still be a winning team—just as they did when Brady had to step in when Drew Bledsoe went down.
Now bear with me and remember that the main goal of the article is to explore why Belichick is taking extended looks at both Tebow and Locker.
The Patriots and Brady put up great numbers in 2010 and at some points seemed like an unstoppable machine—but again they were knocked out in the first game of the playoffs.
On offense, the biggest explanation of the loss to the Jets was the lack of a deep receiver threat to stretch the field—like Randy Moss when he was in his prime—and there is some valid argument to that. But when you play against top-notch corners this isn't a clear-cut solution
However, I will argue, that to a certain extent, the Patriots offense just got too predictable with Brady fixed in the pocket, dinking and dunking his way down the field on great timing routes.
And even though the Patriots did a great job of doing just that, I think you would have to ask, what if Brady had been a more mobile QB, so that the Jets defense also had to plan for rollouts and the occasionally run?
Should the Patriots look at drafting a QB with a different skill set than Tom Brady ?
Enter the Patriots interest in Tebow in 2010 and Locker in 2011.
Both Tebow and Locker have an abundance of all the intangibles that Belichick loves; they have both proven that they are team-first players, have lots of experience, are proven winners, can perform under pressure and they have both shown that they are willing and able to improve on deficiencies in their game. In that way you could argue that they are similar to Tom Brady.
However they are both very different from Brady in the way they play the QB position. This is most evident in that making plays with their feet is a big part of the games of both Tebow and Locker. Although both will have to become more of a pocket passer in the NFL, the ability to scramble, throw on the run and run with the ball are features that Belichick could find very intriguing.
So while there is no denying that Brady is a great QB, there is also an argument that the Patriots need to employ a more unpredictable and versatile offense. Both Tebow and Locker will never be able to run the Patriots offense like Brady—but in reality, who would? Both players however possess all the intangibles that Belichick values and their skill sets would allow the Patriots to build a whole new element into their offense.
There is no denying that Tom Brady will be 34 years old this year, and injuries are starting to creep up on him. And although I have no doubt that Brady still has the drive and fire inside him to take the Patriots to another Super Bowl, I also think that Brady could just be a serious injury away from retiring.
Tom Brady is not going to stay in the game without having a realistic shot of making another Super Bowl; he has nothing to prove and the family life on the West Coast is already demanding more of his time.
I think it could be the right time for the Patriots to draft another QB and I wouldn't be surprise if that QB had a different skill set than Tom Brady.
My previous articles about the need for young QBs:
NFL Draft 2011: Quarterbacks, What Teams Are the Perfect Fit
NFL Quarterback Gold Rush 2.0: To Draft or Not To Draft, That Is the Question
2011 NFL Quarterback Gold Rush: Panic Is Spreading Across the NFL
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