The New England Patriots reportedly are keeping tabs on a lesser-known member of this year’s quarterback class.
The Patriots are one of several teams “closely vetting” Florida International signal-caller James Morgan ahead of next month’s 2020 NFL Draft, according to a report Sunday from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
Morgan split his collegiate career between Bowling Green and FIU, playing two seasons at each. He completed 65.3 percent of his passes, averaged 8.4 yards per attempt and threw for 26 touchdowns with seven interceptions as a junior in 2018, then saw his numbers slip last season, completing 58.0 percent of his passes with a 7.2 yards-per-attempt average, 14 touchdowns and five picks.
After the season, Morgan competed in the East-West Shrine Bowl and received the Pat Tillman Award, given annually to the Shrine Bowl participant who “best exemplifies character, intelligence, sportsmanship and service.”
“An area scout based in the Southeast said that Morgan has one of the three strongest arms in the draft and praised him for his intelligence and leadership,” Wilson wrote.
Morgan isn’t particularly athletic, ranking last among quarterbacks in the three-cone drill (7.51), second-to-last in the short shuttle (4.64 seconds) and in the bottom half in the 40 and both jumps at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he finished with negative rushing yards in each of his four collegiate seasons.
His NFL.com draft profile, written by Lance Zierlein, praises his arm strength but knocks his mechanics, mobility and instincts:
“It’s easy to tell that the Green Bay native favors quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers when you watch his tape. Unfortunately, while he has similar zip to the Packer legends, he’s nowhere near as accurate and lacks any semblance of touch. Morgan is very capable of making impressive throws to all areas of the field, but his violent release and inconsistent footwork hinder functional ball placement and accuracy. His lack of pocket mobility and instincts make him too easy for defensive coordinators to assault with a variety of blitz packages. He’s a tough guy with a big arm and the 2018 tape is the one to watch, but QB3 may be his ceiling.”
The Patriots are at a crossroads at the quarterback position following Tom Brady’s decision to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. They’re expected to add at least one veteran arm to compete with Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler and could draft another QB, as well.
Due to restrictions put in place to restrict the spread of COVID-19, all contact between teams and prospects ahead of this year’s draft must take place over phone or video call. The league also canceled the majority of pro days, including Florida International’s.
Morgan is unlikely to hear his name called before Day 3.