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Natural leader added as reserve QB


Because of his physical stature, Rohan Davey has drawn comparisons to the likes of Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb. In reality, he is more along the lines of New England's own Tom Brady.

Yes, being 6-2 and 245 pounds with a cannon arm, Davey has some similarities with Culpepper and others. That is about where those comparisons end. Davey is not going to beat teams with his feet, as his 66 carries for 77 yards in college prove. Instead, Davey will beat you with his ability to rally the troops and be a leader, much like Brady was credited with doing last fall.

Leadership is an innate skill, and Davey oozes with it. People are drawn in by his engaging personality and want to help him. In high school he would organize games in his physical education classes when the teachers were too lazy to do it themselves. Davey took all the outcasts and lesser-skilled kids on his team to make them feel a part of things.

Leader is the first word that comes to mind when people are asked about Davey. He was so respected at Louisiana State that he was a near-unanimous selection as team captain during his junior season, when he was the backup to Josh Booty.

"He is hell of a leader," LSU teammate and fellow Patriots draft pick Jarvis Green said. "He had some hard times, some ups and downs at LSU, but I mean he never stops, he never quits. When he talked everybody listened and they did it. Really I respect him for that as a man and I can't wait to see him up there."

Count LSU quarterbacks coach Jimbo Fisher among the many people proud to be associated with Davey. Fisher watched him grow and lead the team from the sidelines, even when a knee surgery suffered in a pick-up basketball game cost him a shot at the starting job in 2000.

"The first impression of Rohan was that he was a man," Fisher said. "He looks you straight in the eye. Confidence oozes from him, but not in an arrogant way. He gives that persona that he is in control. He is a tough competitor who will do whatever he has to do, sacrifice himself to get the ball down the field. He is a flat-out playmaker."

While it's the intangible qualities everyone raves about, Davey also possesses the physical skills necessary to play in the NFL. He has reportedly thrown a ball more than 70 yards while flat-footed, but he's also accurate, having completed nearly 60 percent of his passes.

The key for Davey will be development. He didn't start playing football until his sophomore year of high school, and with only one year of significant playing time at LSU, there will be plenty for him to learn about the game.

"The only fact that's been knocking me is that I've only played one full season of football," Davey said. "You can look at that as either a strength or a weakness. If you look at it as a weakness, then I'm 'inexperienced.' But if you look at it as a positive, I'm like a sponge. I'm soaking up everything and I'm coming from some good coaching. It's not like I'm saying that I know it already. I'm soaking it up because I haven't played the game for a long time and I'm willing to come in and learn everything I can."

Besides experience, the other major question about Davey is whether he can keep his weight under control. Teams were scared off a bit when he showed up at the Senior Bowl weighing 252 pounds, but by the scouting combine he was back down to 242.

"You've got to tell Ro exactly what you expect from him," LSU Head Coach Nick Saban said. "I've also told Ro, 'You've got to be the kind of guy who has the self-discipline to stay at a weight that's going to be efficient and effective for you to be a good player.'"

With Drew Bledsoe being traded to Buffalo, the Patriots needed to address the quarterback spot, even with Brady in place. Davey will likely spend 2002 behind both Brady and Damon Huard, but it appears New England is taking a page out of Green Bay's history dealing with backups during Ron Wolf's days. Even with Brett Favre in place, the Packers drafted Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks, all of whom were traded away for more draft picks down the road.

"Rohan's a big, physical quarterback and he's got a lot of physical skills," Head Coach Bill Belichick said. "He's probably going to need a little bit of development, but I think he's got a lot of good tools to work with. He's been in a good system and he's led his team to an SEC championship. He was captain of the team as a junior when he wasn't starting, so I think that speaks a bit to his leadership abilities."

Belichick's comments were very similar when he talked about then-sixth-round pick Brady in 2000. For his part, Davey said he wouldn't model his game after anyone, though he likes the styles of McNabb and Oakland's Rich Gannon the best.

"Those guys play hard and give everything they have every time they play," Davey said. "No matter what needs to be done, they make the plays that are necessary to win the football game."

It's the approach any leader needs to take.

Strengths: Tremendous leader with unlimited arm strength. Very accurate passer who bumps game up a notch when pressure is highest.

Weaknesses: Needs to work on fundamentals. Tends to rely on arm strength and get away from mechanics. Still raw, with just one year of starting under his belt.

Personal: Davey moved to United States from Jamaica when he was 8 years old.

Comparable NFL player: Tee Martin, Pittsburgh – Needs time to develop after starting for just one season at LSU. Similar in size to Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper, but lacks experience. Could be a nice find a couple years down the road.

What they're saying...

"Developmental-type quarterback who is very raw around the edges but has raw talent. Needs to stay healthy and play to realize his potential as a quarterback. He is not going to be able to play right away in the NFL. Thus, it might be helpful if he goes to NFL Europe after his first year of pro ball."

Joel Buchsbaum, Pro Football Weekly