Jimmy Garoppolo’s run to end the season with the 49ers has Patriots fans missing the days of having the best quarterback in the league backed up by one of the best quarterbacks in the league. As I type this sentence, Felger and Mazz are talking about Baker Mayfield to the Pats.
It’s not surprising that people would ask the question, but it would take a pretty big departure from Bill Belichick’s history with quarterbacks to actually go after the Heisman winner.
Mayfield is listed at 6-foot-1. Know what he probably isn’t? Six-foot-1. Belichick’s time with the Patriots has suggested he isn’t interested in smaller QBs.
The shortest quarterback the Pats have had under Belichick during the regular season or playoffs was Doug Flutie, who was a third-stringer never intended to take important snaps. Realistically, the shortest first-or-second stringers he’s had have been Jimmy Garoppolo and Rohan Davey, both of whom were 6-foot-2 entering the league.
Of the 223 quarterbacks drafted since the 2000 draft, the Patriots have drafted nine. The majority have been at least 6-foot-4 (Brady, Cliff Kingsbury, Matt Cassel, Kevin O’Connell, Ryan Mallett, Kevin O’Connell). All of them have been at least 6-foot-2 (the aforementioned eight, plus 6-foot-3 Zac Robinson).
Tall quarterbacks have advantages over short quarterbacks. That doesn’t mean a tall quarterback is automatically better than a short one, but you’ll take a 6-foot-5 guy over a 5-foot-11 guy with the same skill set any day of the week.
One obvious edge taller signal-callers have over their shorter counterparts is that they can see over the line better, but it’s more than that. An Ohio State study published in 2016 noted that tall people are better-suited to hit short-to-intermediate passes than short people.
From that study:
“New research shows that tall people are better than shorter people at correctly identifying the location of targets in their middle-distance vision -- between three and 20 meters away. (In football, that would be about three to 22 yards away.)”
Obviously, shorter quarterbacks have proven capable of success in the NFL, such as 6-foot-0 Drew Brees and 5-foot-11 Russell Wilson.
Furthermore, size has allowed good quarterbacks like Wilson to fall in the draft. However, that isn’t expected to happen with Mayfield, who is a projected first-round pick.
Currently, CBS Sports projects Mayfield to go 10th overall, so he could be long gone by the time the Patriots pick at the end of the first round. Taking a quarterback in the first round actually shouldn’t be discouraged for the Pats, as they would likely still have Garoppolo on their roster had they taken him in the first.
But for Mayfield? The combination of needing to move up and seriously drifting from philosophy makes it a tough scenario to imagine.