With the 91st pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots Select Jacoby Brissett, Quarterback NC State. Yes, I was shocked to hear these words. Make no mistake the Patriots needed to draft a quarterback in the 2016 NFL draft, but why spend such a high pick on a player that may never see the field for the Patriots.
Tom Brady at this very moment is staring down starting the NFL season on the suspension list due to Roger Goodell’s power trip. Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starter if such a thing happens, and Jimmy G was a second round pick just two seasons ago. With any luck, Garoppolo will play well and be moved next offseason for a coveted draft pick, and Brissett will be the future of the Patriots when TB12 decides to hang up his Uggs. But can we trust that Bill Belichick didn’t miss completely on yet another quarterback?
Belichick will go down in history as the best head coach of all time in the minds of many peoples, including the opinion of this writer. However Bill Belichick hasn’t exactly been the greatest drafter and developer of Quarterbacks in his tenor as coach of the Patriots and before that, the Cleveland Browns. Obviously, Brady is the outlier, but no one and I mean no one could have predicted that a skinny kid out of Michigan taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft would be the greatest of all time. The Patriots will admit themselves that they lucked out on that pick, with both Belichick and Scott Pioli saying that if they had known the outcome they would have drafted Brady a lot earlier.
It is an extremely good business in the NFL to draft and develop quarterbacks and trade them if you have a great starter for assets down the road. The Green Bay Packers from 1992 to the trade of Brett Farve in 2008 made a habit of it. In those 17 years, the Packers drafted 12 quarterbacks listed below.
Obviously, with any draft pick, there were some hits, Aaron Rogers, and Matt Hasselback and some obvious misses such as Craig Nall and Jay Barker. However, Green Bay has turned drafting and then developing quarterbacks into future draft capital a science. Brunell, Hasselback, Brooks, and Farve combined to garner the Packers a first round draft pick, three third round picks, a conditional fourth rounder and a fifth round pick. The Packers drafted quarterbacks have thrown for 130,916 yards and 832 touchdowns.
Since Tom Brady took over as the starter in the third week of the 2001 season, the Patriots have drafted seven quarterbacks, not including Brissett. The Patriots have missed almost on just about all of these picks. The list of quarterbacks drafted by the Pats is below.
Matt Cassel, drafted in the seventh round in 2005, took over for an injured Brady in week one of the 2008 season and brought the Patriots to an 11-5 record. Cassel is the only quarterback on the list who has even had a semblance of a decent career. The Patriots were able to trade Cassel after the 2008 season for a second round draft pick. Ryan Mallett was traded for a conditional seventh-round draft pick. The other quarterbacks were released by the Patriots before their contract expired or not resigned. In all the Patriots drafted quarterbacks do not have the pedigree of the Packers.
The biggest issue for the Patriots is the draft capital that has been invested since 2008 in quarterbacks. Kevin O’Connell and Mallett were two wasted picks as neither developed. Mallett at least brought back a low-end draft pick. The Patriots could have been better served in 2008 by drafting another player in the third round and then selecting Matt Flynn later in the draft. Likewise, by wasting a draft pick on Mallett in the third round the Patriots missed out on someone who could have impacted their team.
Why Brissett will buck the trend.
When former Patriots coaches Bill Parcells and Charlie Weis give ringing endorsements of you as a player and person that’s a good place to start. Unlike Jimmy Garoppolo, Brissett played in a pro style offense at NC State and actually had a playbook. Unlike Ryan Mallett, Brissett isn’t a head case and is more than just a big arm. In fact, Brissett needs to grow into his arm, he already has great accuracy in the short and intermediate throws. Unlike Zac Robinson, Brissett will be given a chance as a third round draft pick to learn the system for a few years. Unlike Kevin O’Connell, Brissett comes from a program that played against top quality colleges. Unlike Kliff Kingsbury and Rohan Davey, Brissett has a more natural pedigree as a quarterback and is a student of the game. Finally, unlike Cassel, Brissett actually played in college. Brissett will sign a four-year contract with the Patriots and for the foreseeable future is a developmental quarterback.
Best case scenario for the Patriots.
The best case scenario in the event that Brady’s suspension is carried through is Jimmy Garoppolo playing well enough in his stint as the starter to at the very least receive a second round draft pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Cassel who is the only quarterback to bring back a valued draft pick was put into that position during the 2008 season. In this scenario, Brissett will be the backup for the first four games of the season and then relegated to emergency QB for the rest of his rookie year. Learning behind Brady will definitely help Brissett. With the Patriots spending such a high draft pick on another QB, Jimmy G will have added pressure on himself to prove his worth in preseason.
Tom Brady is obviously the best quarterback the Patriots have ever drafted. Many believe it is Brady that made Belichick and not the other way around. If Garoppolo fails in his starting stint. If Brissett is yet another swing and miss in the draft, then perhaps it may be time to put more sand in the Brady over Belichick bag. That is a debate for another time.
If however Garoppolo lands the Patriots a high draft pick, and Brissett succeeds Brady as the next quarterback of the New England Patriots, then we can confirm that Belichick can develop quarterbacks. That is a debate for another time.