What Belichick had to say following the incredibly fortuitous decision to take a flier on Tom Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft is illuminating in hindsight.
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By Doug Kyed
Bill Belichick has made a habit out of collecting quarterbacks in his 15 seasons with the New England Patriots.
Belichick made the shrewdest draft pick of his career in his first year at the helm of the Patriots, selecting Tom Brady No. 199 overall exactly 15 years ago on April 16, 2000. The Patriots already had Drew Bledsoe, John Friesz and Michael Bishop on their roster, so the selection was met with some head scratching.
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“Who’s the better player, I don’t know,” Belichick said when asked about the pick 15 years ago, via ESPN.com. “But too many quarterbacks is a lot better situation than not enough quarterbacks. We have five preseason games and I’ll just put (the quarterbacks) out there and let them play. We’ll see how they perform.”
Belichick’s philosophy has not changed over the years. The Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo No. 62 overall last season, when they already had Brady and Ryan Mallett on their roster.
“With the situation we have at quarterback, I think that we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future, so we’ll see how all that works out but I think you’re better off being early than late at that position,” Belichick said after taking Garoppolo.
The Patriots have drafted eight quarterbacks since Belichick took over in 2000 (Brady, Rohan Davey, Kliff Kingsbury, Matt Cassel, Kevin O’Connell, Zac Robinson, Mallett and Garoppolo). Only the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins have drafted more QBs since 2000, according to research by WEEI.com’s Christopher Price.
Brady has missed just 15 regular season games — all in 2008 — since taking over as the Patriots’ starter in 2001, but that hasn’t made Belichick any less cautious about the position. Belichick’s approach worked wonders in 2001, and it seems he’ll never allow himself to be left empty-handed at signal-caller.