Draft Review: Drew Brees

One of only two passers in NFL history with 80,000 career yards

GOSSELIN DRAFT ANAYLSIS: Drew Brees grew up in Austin, Tex., home of the University of Texas, but was not offered a scholarship by any of the Southwest Conference schools because of his size. He was a two-year starter in high school at Austin Westlake, posting a 28-0-1 record, including a 16-0 mark as a senior when he won a state title and was voted the state MVP. So Brees went north to Purdue, where he became a three-year starter and the Big Ten’s all-time leading passer with 11,517 yards and 88 touchdowns. He was named the Big Ten MVP as a senior in 2000 when he passed for 3,393 yards and 24 touchdowns. He posted a 24-13 record as a starter with two 500-yard passing games, seven 400-yard games and 16 more 300-yard games. He also earned academic All-Big Ten honors as a senior with his 3.42 grade point average in industrial management. He measured 6-0, 213 pounds at the NFL combine, running a 4.81 40. Gosselin rated Brees the No. 2 quarterback in the 2001 draft (behind Michael Vick) and the 20th overall player on his Top 100 board. The San Diego Chargers drafted Brees with the first pick of the second round, the 32nd overall selection.

Here are comments on Brees from 13 talent evaluators leading up to his 2001 NFL draft:

Scout: Not as strong an arm as I initially thought. He’s bright, smart, accurate but doesn’t have a strong arm. Not as strong as (Cade) McNown. Is he a product of the system? Competitive, productive and can move around in the pocket. But he has limitations.

Scout II: Showed a stronger arm at Indy (combine) than expected.

Scout III: Could have more success than (Michael) Vick early if he goes to the right team because he has a football mind and is a problem solver.

Personnel director: He’s Jake Plummer – a winner. He’s ready to play mentally right now in a short passing game. Blows away the rest of the quarterbacks (in this draft) in terms of readiness, especially Vick.

Personnel director II: Pure quarterback – accurate, poised. Would have been the third guy in that great 1999 quarterback draft (Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith went 1-2-3).

Offensive coordinator: “Short” on him makes a difference than “short” on Vick because he doesn‘t have the unbelievable athleticism as Vick. Inconsistent on his throws. Out of the blue he’ll have five throws in a row that are dangerous. Second round.

Offensive coordinator II: Wish he was three inches taller. He’s a starter. He’s Eric Zeier. Same offense, shotgun player. Shaun King. When those guys get under center they can’t see squat. Brees had so many balls batted down in the all-star games.

Offensive coordinator III: Didn’t have a lot of passes batted down at Purdue.

General manager: Has all the intangibles to be a solid quarterback. Not a franchise. Like Brian Griese. Same arm strength with a little more accuracy. More of a team guy than Griese and a better runner. Good athlete. Needs an offense where you’re not going to have to drive the ball (with his throws). He can beat you with his head. Throws a receiver-friendly ball. If you’re an indoor team where his arm strength won’t he as affected he’s more attractive to you.

General manager II: A good 2 (second round).

Head coach: Not Steve Young. Lacks 4.5 speed and running ability.

Head coach II: All he does is complete passes. Throws it where it’s supposed to be. Tough, tough kid. Instinctive.

Head coach III: Has all the intangibles. Plays so well I can’t believe he won’t be a good player up here. Better than McNown with similar (size) concerns.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints

HALL OF FAME RESUME: If you allowed the NFL a re-do of the 2001 draft, Brees would have been the first overall pick and first quarterback, not Michael Vick. Brees sat his rookie season with the Chargers, appearing in only one game and throwing 27 passes as Doug Flutie’s backup. But Brees moved into the starting lineup the following season and stayed in an NFL starting huddle for the next 19 years. He spent his first five seasons with the Chargers and his final 15 with the Saints on the way to becoming the NFL’s all-time leading passer with 80,358 yards. He also ranks second with 571 career touchdown passes. Brees went to 13 Pro Bowls, won two NFL passing titles and took the Saints to their first (and only) Lombardi Trophy in 2010 with a Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Brees was named the MVP of that game. There have been 12 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history and Brees has five of them. No other quarterback has more than one. He also set an NFL record by throwing TD passes in 54 consecutive games from 2008 through 2012. He completed more passes than any quarterback in NFL history (7,142) and ranks second all-time with a completion percentage of 67.7. Brees also was selected the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2006 for his contributions on and off the football field. He’s now five years away from receiving a bust in Canton.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rick Gosselin spent 20 years as the NFL columnist for the Dallas Morning News, including 20 offseasons studying and researching prospects for the NFL draft. He didn’t watch any tape – he was a writer, not a scout – but he talked to the men who did watch tape. He built a network of NFL general managers, head coaches, personnel directors, scouts and assistant coaches from all 32 teams who would share with him their analyses of players. Gosselin used their insights to build his own draft board, Top 100 board and mock drafts. For 10 consecutive years he had the best Top 100 board in the country (2001-10), according to the Huddle Report, and three times he produced the best mock draft. Gosselin has resurrected his college scouting reports here for a look back at how NFL talent evaluators viewed the top draft prospects coming out of college.


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