INDIANAPOLIS -- As Tom Brady marches toward his 42nd birthday coming off his sixth Super Bowl win, the reality is that the Patriots will need to start planning for the future of the quarterback position sooner rather than later.
Does that mean a high pick on a passer in this spring’s NFL Draft, a quarterback class led by top prospects Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins? If so, the highest New England would likely be in the market would be the end of the first round or the second round, a spot where second-tier guys like Missouri’s Drew Lock, Duke’s Daniel Jones and West Virginia’s Will Grier are expected to come off the board.
Grier in particular is an intriguing option after his Combine interview this week in which he discussed his history studying the Patriots offense in his role as not only a passer, but a part of the brain trust building out the game plans and offensive schemes for the Mountaineers.
“Honestly, Jake Spavital, my OC at West Virginia, watched a lot of Patriots film and built our offense off a lot of what they (do),” Grier said. “Obviously, different terminology, but we would see stuff and be like, ‘We’re going to do that.’ Tom Brady does all right. So, we watched a lot of Tom Brady film.”
Grier, who clearly has a pretty high football IQ to go along with his physical skills as a slightly undersized passer, then went into detail as to what West Virginia took from New England.
“In 2017, we were very wide-spread oriented, which is kind of what Spav brought to the game from other places he’s been. It’s different,” Grier explained. “A lot of what we did with the Patriots was we saw they were doing a lot of tighter split stuff, and they were getting free releases with guys, working isolations and different routes all the way across the field.
“You get a little bit more isolation when you bring guys tighter in. You don’t always get pressed up in that look. It’s been interesting to kind of watch how they get guys open underneath. A lot of guys in the Big 12 are in quarters, or they’re in cloud coverage, deep coverage. It’s hard to get guys open underneath, so we watched a lot of their film and kind of picked different things they were doing to get guys open underneath.”
While the Patriots brass has to be impressed with a quarterback who had so much say in his team’s weekly game plans and a history studying New England, Grier could only dream of getting the chance to play in the scheme he studied so much of.
“I don’t think you can really put into words thAT kind of opportunity,” Grier said of possibly backing up Brady. “The opportunity to learn from a guy like that would obviously be priceless.”
Grier, who is married with a young daughter, is slotted by some as a second-round prospect but in recent years similar guys have snuck into the first round as the process plays out. Regardless of where he comes off the board on draft weekend, he certainly won’t be lacking for swagger heading into his NFL career.
“I’m not totally sure where people have me. I’m a very confident. I feel like I’m the best quarterback in this draft,” Grier concluded. “I would have felt that way if I came out last year. I’m very confident in my abilities. It’s not just about my tape, which is really good, and I think it’s the best tape that there is. But it’s also everything else that goes into playing quarterback that I take pride in.”
That includes a history helping put game plans together and studying the Patriots in order to do so, an intellect that teams have asked about frequently this week in Indy.
“I knew our offense so well and was involved in game planning. There’s a lot of things that I was doing a little more advanced. They just wanted to pick my brain on that,” Grier said. “Spav (Spavital) and Dana (head coach Dana Holgorsen) were open and awesome with me, letting me be a part of it in game planning. We kind of built an offense. It’s not a traditional digit-system offense or a West coast offense. It’s kind of a blend of everything that worked for us. Teams wanted to learn what we were doing.”