In a fun stroll down memory lane, New England Patriots fans couldn’t have imagined the kind of impact then-rookie quarterback Tom Brady would have when he was taken No. 199 overall back in the 2000 NFL Draft.
It’s crazy to think today marks the 20th anniversary of the New England Patriots selecting a relatively unknown and unheralded quarterback out of Michigan, Tom Brady. What’s even crazier is to think of all those other teams passing up on the player who would become the greatest of all time at his position.
In many ways, it’s reminiscent of what the San Francisco 49ers were able to pull off in 1979 with another G.O.A.T, Joe Montana, a Notre Dame alumnus who wasn’t seen as anything special in the NFL Draft either.
Brady, the Northern California native, idolized Montana as a kid. And it’s also crazy to think the former would have a path similar to his childhood hero.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. reminisced about his pre-2000 draft analysis on Brady recently, and the scouting report is actually quite telling:
"He’s a straight dropback passer who stands tall in the pocket, doesn’t show nervous feet, and does a nice job working through his progressions. He’s not going to try to force the action, rarely trying to perform beyond his capability. He threw a TD pass in all 16 games he started against Big Ten opposition, while tossing 15 straight completions during the second half of action this past season against Michigan State. He’s accurate, throws a very catchable ball, and also knows when to take a little off the pass."
Kiper projected Brady as a fifth-round pick. As it turned out, Brady would go one round later.
Interestingly enough, Kiper’s analysis actually paints an accurate picture of the traits Brady would flash over his 20-year career in New England. Looking at the notes, those are all well-understood elements to the future Hall of Famer’s game.
So why did Brady fall?
Not everyone was in love with the quarterback, obviously. In an article for The Athletic (h/t Hayden Bird of Boston.com), Bob McGinn broke down some of the scouting reports he had gone over leading up to the 200 NFL Draft.
“He had that great bowl game but I think he’s just very common,” one scout told McGinn. “He’s a bony, very thin kind of guy. God, you can see his ribs on his build. His arm is just adequate.”
“I don’t like him,” another scout said, according to McGinn. “Smart guy. That’s it.”
Brady didn’t exactly do himself any favors at the NFL Scouting Combine in advance of the draft. While it’s largely forgotten now, his completely sluggish 5.28 40-yard time was the second slowest in that year’s participating class.
Few of the other workouts made him look any better. But in hindsight, perhaps the combine isn’t the “tell all” many fans and scouts believe it will be.
At any rate, Patriots fans know the rest of the story. Brady would go on to have arguably the most productive career in NFL history, cementing himself as the greatest player of this generation and simply the best quarterback to ever do it.
Rings? Check. Records? Check. Legacy? Check.
As for the rest of the league? Well, they can go back and look at their draft boards from 2000 and wonder what they missed. They can scratch their heads and ask why they didn’t at least consider Kiper’s assessments a little more strongly. All those teams had their chances, yet ultimately they failed to take the shot.
Six Super Bowl championships later, the Patriots are sure glad they took the shot no other team was willing to take.