NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Did you miss me? It has been awhile since I have been able to put out any draft related content. I had to do some unexpected travel for that other job that pays this bills. Now that I am back and have a reliable internet connection I can start to piece together my Patriots big board. If you haven’t read War Room by Michael Holley, there is a section in the book that talks about how the Patriots tend to end up with a final draft board of around 75 players that they feel fit the team and their needs. I have decided to try and put together a similar board for this year and today I start out with the quarterback position.
Current Roster: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Garrett Gilbert
Position Need: Low
Overall, this is one of the weaker quarterback classes in recent memory. The two obvious names are Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. After those two, there is a major drop off in talent and there is no real consensus on who the next tier of players are. Luckily for the Patriots, there is not a big need for them to draft a quarterback. There are no players that I would recommend using a day 1 or day 2 pick on. The team could use a late round pick or bring in some undrafted players as a developmental project to compete with Garrett Gilbert. In my opinion, I have only given two draftable grades at the quarterback position, but have several intriguing prospects that I would like brought in as UDFA’s.
Chris Bonner, Colorado St. Pueblo (6’7″, 230 Lbs.) 6th round grade
Bonner has NFL size for the position, which, in this draft class, is not easy to find. He has very good pocket awareness and footwork. Bonner does a nice job of keeping his eyes downfield even when he has defenders around him. He is willing to step up into the pocket and deliver the ball with a defender in his face. Bonner has a strong arm and a quick release. He played under center and ran a pro style offense. He needs to work on his touch and accuracy on the short and intermediate throws. Bonner also tends to stare down his targets too often, which allows defenders to make plays on ball. He also needs to work on getting the ball out quicker and throwing receivers open rather than waiting until they are open.
Brandon Bridge, South Alabama (6’5″, 237 Lbs.) 7th round grade
Bridge is a big, athletic quarterback in the mold of Cam Newton. He has an NFL arm and has good mobility and speed to be a threat as a runner. Bridge is raw and will be a complete project, but he has rare physical tools that, if developed, could make him a dangerous duel threat quarterback. Almost everything about his game will need to be worked on, but nothing is unfixable. He needs time in a consistent system to have a chance at any sort of success, but he shows enough on tape to think it is possible.
Frank Rivers, Albany State (6’6″, 230 Lbs.)
Austin Dodge, South Oregon (6’3″, 210 Lbs.)
Jerry Lovelock, Prairie View A&M (6’4″, 248 Lbs.)
Bryan Bennett, S.E. Louisiana (6’2″, 211 Lbs.)
Conner Halliday, Washington State (6’3″, 204 Lbs.)