INDIANAPOLIS — When Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta met with media members Friday, he didn’t get a podium like 10 of the other quarterbacks at the 2018 NFL Combine. Instead he was relegated to one of the tables on the side.
Lauletta still drew a crowd, though, including a large group of reporters who cover the New England Patriots.
The reason is simple: Lauletta and Bill Belichick appeared to be a perfect match.
“I’ve heard it a few times from friends and non-football people,” Lauletta said of the chatter that’s he’s a dream pairing with Belichick. “But you don’t even think about stuff like that. It’s really a waste of my energy to try to make the connections.”
That was one of many questions he fielded about the Patriots.
“Learning from a guy like Tom Brady, you can learn so much just by the way he works and observing the way he goes about his business day to day,” Lauletta said. “Wherever I am, I think I’ll be in a good spot. But that would definitely be a good one.”
After trading Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers in October, the Patriots’ backup quarterback for Tom Brady — who is 40, in case you haven’t heard — is Brian Hoyer, a 32-year-old journeyman.
The Patriots need a successor for Brady and Lauletta seemingly fit the bill. Instead he landed in the fourth round with the New York Giants where he and Davis Webb will have a chance to show they can be the eventual starter.
There are many Kyle Lauletta-Jimmy Garoppolo parallels
New England used a second-round pick on Garoppolo in 2014 with the hope that he’d eventually take over for Brady. That didn’t come to fruition, but it wasn’t because Belichick missed.
Garoppolo was traded because his impending free agency meant the Patriots couldn’t keep him on the depth chart behind Brady any longer. His brief time with the San Francisco 49ers at the end of 2017 season was impressive enough to warrant a record-breaking contract in February.
So it would’ve made sense for the Patriots to go back to the well.
Garoppolo measured in at 6’2 1/4, 226 pounds at the 2014 Combine. Lauletta came in at 6’2, 5/8, 221 pounds on Thursday. Both found success as leaders of FCS squads. Garoppolo was the MVP of the East-West Shrine Game. Lauletta was MVP of the Senior Bowl.
“I definitely see some similarities,” Lauletta said of Garoppolo. “He’s obviously an FCS guy. He has quick feet. He’s accurate. He’s an outstanding leader from the soundbites I’ve seen. As a quarterback, you have to be a great communicator, and Jimmy is a great communicator. It just seems like he has a mojo to him, a little bit of a swagger to him, that is infectious. He’s a player I’d love to model my game around.”
If the Patriots were hunting for another Garoppolo, Lauletta might’ve been their guy. It didn’t come to fruition.
It was always silly to pencil him in to the Patriots, though
Of course, there are a few things that are ridiculous about the notion that he was destined to take over for Brady. Most notably:
- If he’s a Garoppolo clone, the Patriots wouldn’t have been the only interested team.
- Not every 6’2 quarterback from the FCS is Garoppolo.
Every team would love to find the next Garoppolo. The jury is still out if he’s actually worth $27.5 million per year, but the 49ers probably have a star on their hands. Who wouldn’t want that?
Even teams with an entrenched starter at quarterback are usually on the lookout for a young passer they can groom for the future. Maybe that’s what the Giants believe they’re getting.
If the Patriots thought Lauletta had what it takes to be an eventual starter in the NFL, they likely would’ve jumped at the chance to take him earlier. But what was especially silly about assuming New England and Lauletta were a match made in heaven is that there’s still plenty of evidence that he’s not the next Garoppolo at all.
Lauletta was projected to go in the fifth round by NFL.com and there are serious concerns about his arm strength. Garoppolo was a second-round pick due mostly to his lightning fast throwing motion. There weren’t many questions about his arm talent.
Plenty of other quarterbacks — like Washington State’s Luke Falk and Marshall’s Chase Litton — have more physical ability than Lauletta. And that matters to Belichick too. Seven years ago he took Ryan Mallett, a 6’6 SEC passer who’s nothing like Garoppolo or Lauletta.
The Patriots as a landing spot didn’t look any more likely than 31 other teams. Now Lauletta will try to make the most of his talent with the Giants.