April 16, 2000, will go down as one of the most important days in New England Patriots history.
That’s because the Patriots unknowingly positioned themselves for two decades of success by selecting quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round of the NFL draft.
The pick didn’t create much fanfare at the time, especially with the Patriots coming off an 8-8 season under Peter Carroll in 1999 and Drew Bledsoe firmly entrenched as New England’s starting quarterback. But Bill Belichick’s first draft as head coach of the Patriots proved monumental, to say the least.
So, what stood out about Brady? Why did Belichick decide to draft the Michigan QB at No. 199 overall?
The Boston Globe’s Christopher Price on Thursday — the 20th anniversary of New England drafting Brady — shared what exactly Belichick said that day about Brady while discussing each of the Patriots’ selections.
From the coach himself:
“The value board at that point really clearly put him as the top value. Brady is a guy that has obviously played at a high level of competition in front of a lot of people and he’s been in a lot of pressure situations. We felt that this year his decision-making was improved from his junior year after he took over for Brian Griese. He cut his interceptions down. He’s a good, tough, competitive, smart quarterback that is a good value, and how he does and what he’ll be able to do, we’ll just put him out there with everybody else and let him compete and we’ll see what happens.”
We’ll see what happens?
Well, what happened was Bledsoe got hurt in 2001, Brady took over and the Patriots won six Super Bowl titles in the next 20 seasons. Brady, who was fourth on New England’s quarterback depth chart upon joining the organization, has cemented himself as the greatest signal-caller in NFL history.
Of course, no one — not even Belichick — could have predicted the heights Brady ultimately would reach in New England. But credit the Patriots for doing their homework and taking a chance in Round 6. It sure paid off.
Not a bad birthday gift for Belichick, huh?