There’s been times over the last few years that fans & local media have thrown around the Patriots searching for the “next” quarterback in line. Just a few years ago, the team scooped up a 1st round talent with a cannon for an arm in Ryan Mallett, but off-field issues made him drop to a draftable spot in round 3 for New England. Mallett has failed to really step up to give fans (and especially the team) any signs he’d be capable of keeping the organization a winning one, even against other team’s benchwarmers in the preseason. In addition, 2014 is the final year on Mallett’s rookie contract, possibly accelerating the Patriots process in attempting to find a better prospect to learn from Tom Brady.
Back in 2000, Tom Brady had several knocks on him as part of his pre-draft scouting report, here’s a taste of what scouts said he had going against him:
“Negatives: Poor build. Very skinny and narrow. Ended the ’99 season weighing 195 pounds and still looks like a rail at 211. Looks a little frail and lacks great physical stature and strength. Can get pushed down more easily than you’d like. Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush. Lacks a really strong arm. Can’t drive the ball down the field and does not throw a really tight spiral. System-type player who can get exposed if he must ad-lib and do things on his own.”
Of that analysis of Brady, he obviously improved in a few different areas he had been criticized previously; his ability to move his feet side-to-side has been noticeable through the years allowing more time to get his guys open. His arm strength built up by proof of his record-breaking season in 2007, throwing numerous long touchdown passes to Randy Moss on a seemingly weekly basis. His “ad-lib” ability is one that has probably been improved upon the most, with the hurry-up offense often employed by the Patriots, giving Brady the power to change plays based on his defensive reads.
Upon looking around over various reports around the web about this year’s quarterback-heavy NFL draft, there’s many options the Patriots could look at in any round for the next quarterback of the franchise. But, the sneakiest and most experienced (by starts in college) quarterback in this draft class, Aaron Murray from the University of Georgia. Many fans who don’t follow college football, except for the big-time games, may not know the resume Murray built up as a rarity in this draft class, a 4-year starter. While the likes of Johnny Manziel and A.J. McCarron got the attention in the SEC for being on national TV, Murray was hiding in the shadows as the best overall QB in the conference.
The biggest reason why Murray is a possibility to be available in the mid-round area is a torn ACL he suffered last November. He missed the combine and Georgia pro day recovering from his injury, but had a workout recently where he threw 54 passes; writers chronicled him having just two “bad” passes. He proved he can sling the ball around, throwing for over 3,000 yards in each of his 4 season at Georgia and had 30+ touchdowns in two of those years (2011-2012). In his scouting report, his strengths fit the New England system, including his quick delivery and keen ability to throw downfield and down the middle (Gronkowski, anyone?)
I’ve also seen comparisons to Andy Dalton with Aaron Murray, but as we’ve seen with Dalton, he has been able to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs and contending for division titles since entering the league. They say he may require the right pieces around him, but give him the future of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson and Julian Edelman and I see him being that guy after a little tutoring of the pro game from an all-time great like Tom Brady.