Late-round QB prospects for Patriots fans to focus on
|05.06.14 at 1:24 pm ET|
Despite the fact that the Patriots have the steadiest situation in the league with Tom Brady under center the last dozen-plus years, that hasn’t stopped New England from finding at least one quarterback every year in the draft. Since Brady took over, the Patriots have drafted six quarterbacks: Rohan Davey, Kliff Kingsbury, Matt Cassel, Kevin O’Connell, Zac Robinson and Ryan Mallett. In addition, they’ve signed several undrafted free agents, including Brian Hoyer and Matt Gutierrez.
This isn’t to say that they drafted/acquired these quarterbacks with the expressed idea of beating out Brady. Even if you’re not grooming the next Brady, you should always be mindful of trying to improve your roster at the backup quarterback spot. Even if it’s an undrafted camp body who can keep the rest of the quarterbacks on a pitch count, it just makes good sense from a team-building perspective to grab a quarterback every year.
With some help from our pal Rumford Johnny, here are five late-round/undrafted possibilities for the Patriots this spring. (For purposes of this story, we’re not going to include the high-level prospects like Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater. Instead, our list is going to include guys who might be available from the fifth round on — Day 3 prospects, all the way down to undrafted free agent possibilities.)
Kenny Guiton, Ohio State — The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder, who started two games over the course of his career with the Buckeyes, has a huge arm, and even though there are some consistency questions, he has the capability of making some big throws. (He was 89-for-134 for 893 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions over the course of his career.) He’s almost certainly on New England’s radar for a few reasons, not the least of which Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer have remained pals over the years. As for the lack of game experience at a high level, Guiton invoked Cassel’s name as another college backup who found success at the NFL level, while adding that he’d love to join the Patriots.
Bryn Renner, North Carolina — Recently singled out by former NFL exec Bill Polian as “the quarterback sleeper” in this year’s draft, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder saw his senior season end prematurely because of a shoulder injury. A former backup to T.J. Yates at UNC, he passed for more than 3,000 yards in 2011 and 2012, and ended his college career with 8,221 passing yards and 64 touchdowns. A graduate of the Manning Passing Academy, he figures to be Day 3 draft possibility, and the sort of quarterback who can start off as a solid backup and potentially grow from there.
Connor Shaw, South Carolina — Shaw isn’t flashy, but is a blue-collar grinder type who was the winningest quarterback in school history, posting a 27-5 career mark as a starter. The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder completed 63.4 percent of his passes (180-for-284) in 2013 for 2,447 yards with 24 touchdowns and just one interception. For what it’s worth, Shaw had a recent workout with the Patriots, and could be another sixth- or seventh-round possibility for New England. (In terms of references, he’s got a certain No. 1 pick in his corner, as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has long been a supporter of Shaw, calling him a “great player.”)
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech — The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder is a mobile presence with a big arm. He threw for 9,003 yards and 53 touchdowns over the course of his college career. (Last season he was 227-for-402 for 2,907 yards with 16 touchdowns and 13 picks.) Considered one of the best prep tight ends in America before the went under center as a collegian, he could find a spot at the next level as a multiple offensive threat. Another Day 3 pick who could be there for New England in either the sixth or the seventh round, he had a March workout with the Patriots.
Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M — The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder has big numbers with 8,124 yards and 70 touchdowns over the course of his career, including 5,401 yards and 53 touchdown last year. For what it’s worth, he also apparently has a pretty good sense of humor about himself, having put together this highlight video of him working out in a Christmas sweater. He currently projects as an undrafted fee agent who would need time to get acclimated to the NFL level.