Patriots

Patriots

The third of a five-part series looking at quarterbacks - and possible heirs to Tom Brady as the starter - the Patriots could draft. 

PREVIOUSLY IN THE SERIES:
Louisville's Lamar Jackson 
Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph 

The first thing you notice about Kyle Lauletta? His feet. They’re quiet. He’s like a puppy dog walking on cotton. Maybe it’s his lacrosse background (you did know he played lacrosse back in the day didn’t you?). Lauletta is quite comfortable operating off play-action or rolling out to either side. His accuracy on the run is excellent. Of the quarterbacks I’ve studied in this draft, he throws it as well as anyone on the move, at least in the short to mid-range areas. 

Lauletta’s also football-smart. His coach at the Senior Bowl, Bill O’Brien of the Houston Texans, lauded the former Richmond Spider for his ability to process the information daily and then apply it on the field. Lauletta capped the week by earning the game’s MVP, further solidifying his rise from FCS unknown to a potential second-day pick. It’s all happening…

Lauletta’s release is quick. I’ve heard it compared to Jimmy G’s. Let’s not get crazy. Garoppolo’s release is one of the best in the league. With Lauletta, you can see it coming, but those mechanics are sound and it looks like he’s eliminated a quick windup that showed up on tape more than once. That allows the ball to come out quickly and when it does, he’s usually on point. Lauletta completed 65 percent of his throws this past season with 28 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. 

 

Of course, it’s not all puppy dogs, sunshine and rainbows for Lauletta. If it were, we’d be talking about him versus Sam Darnold for the No. 1 overall pick. Scouts aren’t sure about the arm. I can’t argue with them. For as many times as he’s squeezed it into tight spots, I’ve also seen the ball labor in both short-area throws and especially when he’s trying to go over a defense. A few of those deep balls look like hot air balloons floating up, up and away. No bueno. 

There’s also the matter of those feet. Maybe it’s because Lauletta moves so well that he wants to take off at the first sign of pressure, especially up the interior. He lowers his eyes and tucks and runs. For someone who’s not an explosive athlete like Lamar Jackson or even Baker Mayfield, that’s not the best idea, especially as he moves up to the best league in the world. 

If the Patriots hell-bent on finding a young signal caller to groom, Lauletta checks at least some of the boxes including leadership - he was a two-time captain at Richmond. So, where’s the sweet spot to call his name on draft weekend? The early second-round pick, 43rd, is too high. In my opinion, that late second-rounder, 65th, is too high as well. The problem then becomes the amount of smoke that’s surrounding Lauletta. Are their teams that truly consider him a second-rounder or early third-rounder? All it takes is one, and pre-draft scuttle says there’s more than one thinking that way, including the Redskins. Is that right? And do the Pats like the player so much they’d disrupt the integrity of their board and “reach”? We’ve heard in the past that’s not how Belichick and company operate, but the truth is they’ve drafted for need and stretched many times. Will quarterback be the next position and Lauletta be the next player to make that happen? Stay tuned.

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