The most famous player chosen in the 2000 NFL Draft was the 199th pick in the sixth round: Tom Brady.
I hate it when cynics knock the NFL Draft and point to Brady being picked in the sixth round; many are nationally-known reporters such as Mike Lupica. Many like to say the draft is nothing but a crap shoot.
Nobody knew Brady was going to be the player he became at that time or he probably would have been the first player chosen.
His career at Michigan was solid, but unspectacular.
How many times have we heard he was the seventh-string quarterback when he entered Michigan in 1995? That’s not unusual for a freshman player, let alone a quarterback. He redshirted that year – again, not unusual. He was among a talented group that included Scott Dreisbach and Brian Griese. This was an 18-year old Tom Brady, not a 28-year old or 38-year old Tom Brady.
Dreisbach was the starter in 1995 as a redshirt freshman and in 1996, only to have both seasons cut short by injuries. Griese replaced him both years and was named the starter in 1997, with the Wolverines becoming national champions. With Griese graduated and headed to the NFL, Brady won the starting job ahead of Dreisbach and heralded freshman Drew Henson.
Brady’s redshirt junior year was good, but not great and in 1999, he had Henson breathing down his back. He split time with Henson to begin the season and eventually became the full-time starter; his highlight was leading his team from behind to defeat Alabama in the Orange Bowl.
After completing his senior year, he immediately went to the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis and he did not blow teams away. He was considered too skinny, not strong enough, did not have a good enough arm, too slow, running a 5.28 40-yard dash. Combine that with a solid career at Michigan and one can see how he wasn’t at the top of teams draft lists.
What was overlooked was his competitiveness and the hardest thing to evaluate is what is inside of that player or person. If the draft is a crap shoot at anything, it is this quality. That may have been easy to determine at the important personal interviews at the combine, except so many prospects are coached what to say and NFL personnel may not have overlooked this.
He showed what he can do in that Orange Bowl comeback against Alabama and it is not as if he was playing a weakling. Brady showed his confidence when he told Patriot owner Robert Kraft that he will be the best decision the franchise ever made. His preparation and work ethic are second to none; I always knew it and it was confirmed when I read Belichick by Ian O’Connor. Brady is also a leader who performs in the clutch, as proven many times over the years.
Brady did not have an easy road at Michigan. In today’s age, many transfer when faced with the situation Brady faced and he considered it briefly at Michigan. But his desire to meet the challenge kept him in the maize and blue. Looking back, he had to earn his position at Michigan; it wasn’t handed to him, and some of that may be behind what drives him today.
For lack of a better word, he came into a “loaded” situation at Michigan. Griese played eleven years in the NFL. Dreisbach had a very brief NFL career, was unlucky with injuries, and did not last long. Henson’s NFL career was just as brief and he also played minor league baseball, which may have taken away from his development as a quarterback. It is said competition brings out the best in people and this is the case with Brady.
We all know about his career and if the scouts underestimated him, it was his compete level and the rest of his intangibles. Brady was knocked to the canvas and got back up. In fact, he was knocked down before he was in the NFL and his success with the Patriots came quickly. He did not start in his rookie season in 2000, but his opportunity came when starter Drew Henson was injured and Brady became the permanent starter, winning the Super Bowl that year.
It’s fashionable to say he is the best quarterback to ever play the game. I do not know if he is or isn’t, but he is one of the best ever and a great quarterback. Let’s appreciate that.