FOXBORO, Mass. — Had the New England Patriots drafted a quarterback in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, he’d have been viewed as the team’s QB of the future — the heir apparent. That would have been true of a second- or third-round pick, too, and maybe even a fourth-rounder.
Danny Etling will be spared from that pressure as he begins his NFL career in New England. As a seventh-round draft choice, even making the 53-man roster this year would be a tremendous accomplishment for the LSU product.
Speaking with New England reporters shortly after the Patriots selected him 219th overall Saturday afternoon, Etling said he will have just one goal as a rookie: learn as much as humanly possible from Brady and his veteran backup, Brian Hoyer.
“It’s enticing,” Etling said in a conference call. “It’s just an opportunity to learn from the greatest quarterback. You don’t expect anything. You have no expectations going in. You’re just going in to learn. You just sit there and take in as much as you can, absorb as much information as you can and just continue to keep improving — continue to prepare for your opportunity when it comes. You want to just watch a guy who’s so great and has been so great. You want to know how he does it, and you want to just be in that room.
“Not only with Tom, but with Brian Hoyer, (too) — someone else who has been around the league and has really continued to have great success. It’s such a great quarterback room, and I’m so excited to be a part of it. I can’t wait to just continue to learn and grow as a quarterback and a person.”
Growing up an Indianapolis Colts fan in Terre Haute, Ind., Etling had a front-row seat to the Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry that raged throughout the 2000s. Though he was pulling for Manning’s teams, he said it was impossible not to be awestruck by Brady’s abilities.
“Growing up, I was a Colts fan, but I always watched Tom Brady because they had that great rivalry,” said Etling, who transferred from Purdue to LSU after his sophomore season. “New England and the Colts had such a great rivalry, and it was hard not to realize and respect how great New England is and how great of an organization they are. It’s just incredible to be a part of it.
“I’ve always grown up just loving watching good quarterback play, and Tom is just one of the people that I’ve loved to watch and loved to just dissect the tape and watch how his mind thinks, his different footwork here and there. It’s incredible to watch how precise he is and how great he has been.”
Etling never has met Brady, who earned NFL MVP honors last season at age 40, but he has spent this offseason working with Brady’s longtime throwing coach, Tom House.
“I’ve been throwing with 3DQB, that’s the Tom House group out in Southern California,” the 23-year-old said. “They’ve been teaching me a lot of things, fixing a lot of mechanics that you don’t necessarily have time to do while you’re in college because you don’t have time with classes and things like that. It’s really cool to focus on just creating better fundamentals, creating better mechanics and having me really focus down on those things going into the draft and going into this process.”