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Patriots flourished, flopped in seeking Tom Brady’s backup through draft

New England has drafted the third-most quarterbacks (11) of any NFL team since 2000.
Published Apr. 22
Updated Apr. 22

Should the Bucs use the 2021 draft to find Tom Brady’s potential heir, they probably won’t give much of a gaze to Bill Belichick’s wrinkled blueprint.

One can rightfully argue the one used for decades by the dour Patriots coach, in a seemingly endless quest to provide adequate backup to Brady, contains as many smudges as serviceable NFL signal callers.

As veteran NFL reporter Dov Kleiman recently noted, New England has drafted the third-most quarterbacks (11) of any team since 2000. None were taken in the first round, and only one — Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014 — was chosen in the second. Never in his 21 seasons in New England has Belichick taken a quarterback with one of the top 60 selections.

Of those 11 drafted quarterbacks, five have started an NFL contest.

Related: Should the Bucs draft a quarterback to follow Tom Brady?

Then again, the very first quarterback drafted on his watch in New England, with the 199th overall selection 21 years ago, evolved into the greatest of all time.

All of which is to say, Belichick’s draft foresight — while uncanny at times — also has its periodic blind spots. Here’s a snapshot of the careers of every quarterback drafted by the Patriots since they chose Brady in the sixth round in 2000:

Rohan Davey, LSU

Rohan Davey didn't have the best of luck as Tom Brady's understudy in New England.
Rohan Davey didn't have the best of luck as Tom Brady's understudy in New England. [ AL BEHRMAN | Associated Press (2005) ]

Fourth round, 2002

Attempted 19 passes in three NFL seasons

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech

Sixth round, 2003

Appeared in one regular-season game (for Jets in 2005)

Matt Cassel, Southern California

Seventh round, 2005

81 career regular-season starts; went 10-5 for Patriots in 2008 after Brady blew out his knee in Week 1

Kevin O’Connell, San Diego State

Third round, 2008

Made two NFL appearances, attempting six passes

Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State

Seventh round, 2010

Never appeared in an NFL regular-season game

Ryan Mallett, Arkansas

With Tom Brady, left, under center, Ryan Mallett didn't get much of a chance to shine in New England.
With Tom Brady, left, under center, Ryan Mallett didn't get much of a chance to shine in New England. [ CHARLES KRUPA | Associated Press (2014) ]

Third round, 2011

Amassed 3-5 record as starter over five seasons

Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

Second round, 2014

24-8 career record as starter; led 49ers to Super Bowl in 2019

Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State

Third round, 2016

12-20 record as starter over five seasons; 84.1 career quarterback rating

Danny Etling, LSU

Seventh round, 2018

Hasn’t appeared in an NFL regular-season game

Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Fourth round, 2019

Has completed half his passes (24-for-48, 270 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs) in eight NFL appearances

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