NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
We are exactly one month from the start of the 2016 NFL draft. That means it is time to start putting together my Patriots big board. This exercise helps me get a feel for where the Patriots might be able to find value and what positions they may have to target early if they want to get a player to fill an immediate need. I like to break this process down position by position, creating the horizontal board first and then going back and creating the vertical board from there. Today, we start with the most important position on the football field, the Quarterback position.
We all know that Bill Belichick and the Patriots do things differently than the rest of the NFL. They are one of the few teams who do not subscribe to one of the two national scouting services and by looking at some of their picks over the years they have a different criteria for what they look for in players. Several years ago, someone wrote an article (I apologize for not remembering who it was exactly) that the Patriots typically have only about 75 players on their big board. If you have ever done a big board, you know that narrowing it down to just 75 players is extremely difficult. Typically, teams will have at least double or even triple that amount. Last year, I narrowed my board down to 118 draftable players. On that board, I had 7 of the Patriots picks (Malcom Brown, Tre Jackson, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flower, and Shaq Mason.Xzavier Dixon and Joe Cardona I gave UDFA grades). Once again this year I will try to create my board adhering to the 75 player premise. I most likely will go over, but if I can replicate last years success, I will be happy.
Priority: Low to Medium Low
Tom Brady (age 38, signed through 2019)
Jimmy Garappolo (age 24, signed through 2018)
Quarterback is an interesting position to prioritize. On one hand, the team has arguably the greatest Quarterback to ever play the game locked up through the 2019 season. On the other hand, Brady will be 39 when this season starts and may have to sit the first four games of the season because of the sham that is “Deflategate. ” That leaves the team with former 2nd round pick and unproven backup Jimmy Garappolo. With Brady being here for the foreseeable future, Garappolo could become interesting trade bait this year or more likely next year, meaning the team will need to think about bringing in someone to groom for the long term. I don’t see the Patriots using another high pick on a QB like they did a few years ago when they selected Jimmy G in the 2nd round, but with all those 6th round picks, I could see the team bringing in a guy to develop.
Quarterbacks with a draftable grade:
Brandon Allen-Arkansas (6’1″, 217 Lbs): I am a big fan of Brandon Allen. I know he does not have prototypical size, but I like how he had command of Arkansas pro style offense. He showed improvement as a player year to year and even within this past season. He throws with anticipation and accuracy. He has above average arm strength and showed that he can make all the throws necessary to make it in the NFL. He was a team captain and his leadership showed up on the field. He may never be a full season starter, but could be a successful back up who could win a team some games if need be. (6th round grade)
Kevin Hogan-Stanford (6’3″, 218 Lbs): Coming from another school that runs a pro style offense, Hogan has the size and intelligence to come in and be a back up right away. Hogan is a fiery competitor with a good combination of accuracy and arm strength. He has a funky delivery. That has improved but he will need to continue to develop a better throwing motion. Hogan is sneaky athletic and can make plays with his feet. He needs to work on reading defenses and working through his progressions. (6th/7th round grade)
Interesting UDFA options:
Nate Sudfield-Indiana (6’6″, 234 Lbs): Has size and arm strength, needs to develop footwork and accuracy.
Josh Woodrum-Liberty (6’3″, 231 Lbs): Decent size, throws with anticipation and accuracy. Small school product that needs time to develop but very intriguing.
Kyle Washington-Angelo St. (6’5″, 216 Lbs): Good pocket awareness and accuracy in the short/intermediate game. Must develop arm strength and overall strength. Long term developmental project.
Blake Fronhapel-Umass (6’5″, 230 Lbs): Good combination of size, accuracy, and anticipation. Needs to develop arm strength.