Despite playing for a longtime college football powerhouse in the Michigan Wolverines, Tom Brady was far from the highest-regarded quarterback in the 2000 NFL Draft. By most accounts, he didn’t have a cannon of an arm or elite athleticism as a signal-caller, and for a good part of his senior season at Michigan, he wasn’t a full-time starter for the Wolverines. However, a new report looking back at Brady’s Hall of Fame-caliber NFL career in the light of his recent contract extension suggests that the longtime New England Patriots quarterback was impressive enough as a draft hopeful for the team to consider him worthy of a possible third-round selection.
As recalled by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports on Sunday, then-Patriots quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein was tasked by the team to visit the University of Michigan and scout Brady, who was considered a “draft mystery” that didn’t seem likely to catch on with any of the NFL’s 32 teams. As part of Bill Belichick’s plans to build his ideal roster early on in his tenure as New England’s head coach, Rehbein and other members of the Patriots’ coaching staff analyzed a number of likely mid-round quarterbacks, even as the team was led by three-time Pro Bowl selection Drew Bledsoe and had two “capable” players backing him up.
All in all, Brady had solid stats for Michigan as a senior – 16 touchdowns, six interceptions, and a 61.9 percent completion percentage – and stood out for his ability to deliver for the Wolverines when it mattered the most. However, Wetzel noted that the future Patriots superstar’s “very strong” play was often overshadowed by then-Wolverines head coach Lloyd Carr’s unusual method of rotating his top two quarterbacks.
“In Brady’s senior season, Carr employed a system where one player would start the first quarter and then the other the second quarter,” Wetzel explained. “Then at halftime, the coaching staff would evaluate who was doing better. That QB would play the second half.”
Tom Brady has reportedly agreed to a contract extension with the Patriots pic.twitter.com/ne83iaXLAH
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Instead of taking stock of how Brady had to split time with two-sport star Drew Henson at quarterback, the Patriots “went beyond the narrative” and focused mainly on his clutch ability and leadership skills, as well as his determination to remain with the Wolverines despite the challenges he faced with his playing time. And with Carr putting in a good word for Brady as someone New England wouldn’t regret drafting, that was reportedly enough for the Patriots to list him as a potential third-round choice in the 2000 NFL Draft.
As it turned out, the Patriots focused on other positions in that year’s draft due to Bledsoe’s presence as a tried-and-tested veteran quarterback. That resulted in Brady becoming an “overvalued” sixth-round selection at No. 199 and initially joining the Patriots as their third-string quarterback.
“By 2001, it all proved genius,” Yahoo Sports‘ Wetzel wrote.
“Bledsoe was hurt early in the season. Brady, always ready, stepped in and never relinquished the starting job. What he did to the Big Ten, he did to the NFL. He has never had the strongest arm or the fleetest feet. He won a Super Bowl in his first year as a starter though. There have been five more since.”
As noted by Forbes, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots reportedly came to terms on a two-year contract extension that will pay him $23 million in the coming 2019 NFL season. Brady, who turned 42-years-old on Saturday, is currently the oldest active non-kicker and the sixth-highest-paid quarterback in the league following the recent extension.