Best quarterback fits in 2022 NFL Draft class


Perry: Why Patriots might benefit from drafting one of these QBs originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Would the Patriots really add a quarterback in this year’s draft after finding their starter last year? After bringing back Brian Hoyer to serve as their No. 2?

They could. For a couple of reasons.

First, Hoyer can’t be the backup forever. Second, Jarrett Stidham is in a contract year. And if the team feels as though it would like to find a fresh face as a potential long-term fill-in, now wouldn’t be a bad time to go shopping.

If the Patriots are looking here, what do they like?

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Well, since 2000, Belichick has typically selected quarterbacks who played in Power Five conferences and stood 6-foot-2 or taller. Their hands usually measure more than nine inches. He’s exclusively drafted quarterbacks who have spent at least four years in college, even if they didn’t have four years of playing experience.

Their career touchdown-to-interception ratio averaged out to be better than 2-to-1. Their yards per attempt was often 7.5 or better. And they normally completed more than 60 percent of their passes. Most had at least 800 pass attempts under their belts.

Not every quarterback checked every one of those boxes — Tom Brady hit on six of the nine categories listed above; Jimmy Garoppolo played at the FCS level — but most hit most.

For more context on what Belichick is looking for at the position, it’s also worth noting what he told Browns scouts back in the 1990s when he was establishing his program there. The following is from a Cleveland scout’s notes, passed along by NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah.

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“[No. 1] is to make good decisions — then arm, size, physically tough, leadership, guys look up to and have confidence in,” the notes read. “A real competitor. Accurate rather than a guy with a cannon. Emphasis on our game will be on decision, timing, accuracy. Guy needs to be confident.

“Intelligence is important but not so much as field awareness and judgment. Can’t be sloppy fundamentally unsound guy with ball-handling, [techniques] … footwork, drops, release, etc. Quarterback has to be able to throw the ball with accuracy.”

Nothing there about athleticism or mobility or making the first pass-rusher miss …

Let’s get to this year’s list, leaving out Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and North Carolina’s Sam Howell. All five have had their names included in first-round discussions this offseason and would likely be off the board before the Patriots would even think about an addition at this position.

Jack Coan, Notre Dame, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds

Coan is one of the few players in this year’s class who checks every box listed above that the Patriots usually want to see in draftees at this position.

He has the size. He has experience in big-time college football (transferred from Wisconsin to Notre Dame before last season). He spent five years in college, racking up 822 total attempts, 66.9 percent of his passes and managing a better than 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

One AFC evaluator believes Coan has all the intangible traits the Patriots would love, too.

“Pro’s pro,” he said. “Works extremely hard. Knows what he’s doing and why. He’s going to grind. From a personality standpoint, he fits New England.”

Coan won’t blow anyone away with his arm talent or his athleticism, but he has enough. And he’s poised enough and intelligent enough to keep his hands at 10 and 2 if forced into a game in an emergency situation. There may not be much upside there, but he can manage the game, and he may be more ready than most Day 3 quarterback options this year to come in and be a No. 2 immediately.

He ran a pro-style offense in South Bend, he knows how to run a huddle, he played under center and out of the shotgun. He understands how to go through progressions. If the Patriots are looking for a ready-to-go backup, Coan feels like their type.

Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky, 6-feet, 215 pounds

Zappe isn’t from a Power Five conference. And he doesn’t hit the height threshold the Patriots have drafted most often in the past. But he was prolific at Houston Baptist, then transferred to Western Kentucky for his fifth collegiate season and lit it up with a 69.2 completion percentage, a whopping 62 touchdowns against 11 picks and almost 6,000 yards on almost 700 attempts. Safe to say his arm got a good workout in 2021.

He looks like he has the potential to be a functional, long-term NFL backup. One AFC quarterbacks coach compared to Zappe to Nick Mullens, who’s also just a shade over 6-feet and has arm strength issues the way Zappe likely will (by the way, Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler just signed Mullens in Vegas). Zappe loves football. He’s smart. He’s accurate. He makes good decisions. But his ceiling could be severely hampered by his arm.

But, in New England, where if he has to see action he’d likely be asked to find his checkdown and deliver accurately, Zappe is a fit.

EJ Perry, brown, 6-foot-2, 211 pounds

Perry has more to work with from a physical standpoint than either player mentioned above. His arm is better, according to scouts. He’s a better athlete. (He checked in with a very impressive combine, running a 4.65-second 40, a 6.85 three-cone drill and a 4.18-second short shuttle.) And he’s as smart as you’d expect, hailing from an Ivy League program.

The issue? He hails from an Ivy League program, and the jump he’s making to the NFL is massive in terms of the talent, speed and scheme complexity he’ll be facing.

But, in Foxboro, where he’d have time to learn from Hoyer and Mac Jones… where he wouldn’t need to be a No. 2 off the bat… where his football IQ and study habits should help him adapt to a complex system as he makes a gargantuan leap in terms of the level of talent he’s facing… he could grow into becoming a long-term quality backup.

“If he can handle the pace, he’s more physically gifted (than other later-round quarterbacks in this class),” an AFC quarterbacks coach said. “His speed. His arm. The intelligence is there. He becomes more appealing to me now as a (No.) 3. I would love to get him in the building. Learn from Hoyer. Learn from Mac. Shut your mouth. Pick things up. Maybe he’s on the practice squad to start. But if he develops, he has enough tools to be a long-term backup in the league.”

In terms of making this list, Perry doesn’t have much of what the Patriots usually want. Though he started his college career at Boston College, he saw very little time against Power Five competition. He threw more than his share of picks (47-to-27 touchdown to interception ratio). And he wasn’t uber-efficient (6.9 yards per attempt for his career).

But he has plenty of other gifts with which to work, which means it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Andover, Mass., native stick in the area to begin his pro career.

Skylar Thompson, Kansas State, 6-foot-2, 217 pounds

If the Patriots wait until after the draft has ended to take a chance on a quarterback who could be a practice-squad fit, they could do worse than Thompson.

He has the requisite size and he’s not a bad athlete (7.00-second three-cone drill). He got loads of experience in the Big 12 — he started a whopping 40 games in his career — and has seen enough football that he looks like a good decision-maker. He also showed he has the ability to put necessary touch on the football on his short-to-intermediate throws at this year’s East-West Shrine Bowl.

Chase Garbers, Cal, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds

Size. Experience (985 attempts in 34 starts). Enough accuracy (60.7 career completions). Enough in the way of touchdown-to-interception production (50-to-24 for his career).

Garbers barely hits just about every measure the Patriots have typically drafted here, save for his per-attempt efficiency (6.7 yards per attempt for his career). He’s not a downfield dart-thrower. His accuracy there isn’t dependable. He may not be the quickest through his projections. But he’s a pocket passer who knows how to work the area of ​​the field the Patriots would want their backup to work.

Like Thompson, he may be available after the draft as a priority free agent.





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