It could be in the first round, or it could be in the seventh round.
But make no mistake. The New England Patriots will be looking for their future quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft. Even with Tom Brady winning a Super Bowl and an MVP award in the last two seasons, it is always important to be prepared for the following season. In a draft ripe with quarterbacks, there are multiple options for the Patriots to ponder over.
Unless a blockbuster trade occurs, it is likely the Patriots will not end up with Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock. Fans could have their eyes on Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, the current Heisman holder.
However, there’s another quarterback gifted with raw talent that could be on Belichick’s radar.
West Virginia’s Will Grier
Brian Hoyer is, and has been, a back-up (not a replacement) for Tom Brady. Looking back at the former “replacements” for Brady (Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, and Ryan Mallett), there is one trait they all exhibited: pocket awareness. Mallett had a rocket for an arm, while Brissett could make plays on the ground. Garoppolo has a strong grasp of the game and a winning gene similar to Brady’s. However, they all showed extreme willingness to develop into a pocket passer in the NFL, forgoing the strengths they exploited in college football.
Unlike the “replacements” listed, Grier has already shown comfortability in the pocket that is rare throughout college football, where gifted athletes have no issue escaping a pocket prematurely to make a play on the ground. Grier is also equipped with a potent arm and has displayed his football intellect by finding success in multiple systems in his college career. Last but not least, the transfer from Florida can create plays on the ground if need be.
The West Virginia product could go anywhere from the first night to the third day, but expectations are that he will go in the first three rounds.
There are real reasons for concern about the quarterback. He was suspended for a year while at Florida after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. A lot of scouts tend to view Grier as a raw product that needs the right coach. Sitting behind Brady for a year or two while learning from Josh McDaniels and Belichick could be just what Grier needs to jumpstart his NFL career.
The Patriots could be a great fit as they are not known to trade up for big school quarterbacks, instead preferring to find gems in the rough of the later rounds. Belichick has never taken a quarterback in the first round while with the Patriots. In fact, the earliest Belichick has drafted a quarterback was in the late second round when he took Jimmy Garoppolo with the 62nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. As one would guess, the Patriots’ colorful head coach is more than happy to go against the tide and draft a quarterback that he feels comfortable with in the later rounds.
Just like the six-time Super Bowl winner that he could potentially replace under center, Grier has a winner’s mindset and a dedication to the game of football. Watching the way he composed himself in his first season with West Virginia following his suspension boded well for his NFL future, as he was willing to accept his penalty as he looked to improve his game, and himself, for the next step in his football career.
There is a strong reason to believe that Grier will raise his draft stock following the 2019 NFL Combine. After playing three years in college, it is clear that while unpolished, Grier is an NFL-ready quarterback who is dedicated to learning any scheme he could be a part of. The quarterback has the stature to absorb hits and the physicality to fight for plays on the ground. Any coach that can help him mentally prepare for the NFL will have a talented asset on their roster.
While he isn’t being mentioned as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, there is little reason to doubt the ability of Grier. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound quarterback seems like a top candidate to be targeted by the Patriots on Day Two, as talent and willingness to learn and compete are traits the heralded head coach in New England likes to focus upon while dedicating a draft pick to the future.
Grier, who can be compared to a prototypical, futuristic version of the NFL quarterback that can throw as well as run, has the potential to enjoy a successful NFL career.