With only two quarterbacks on the roster, the New England Patriots opened the seventh round of the NFL Draft on Saturday by selecting former LSU quarterback Danny Etling.
Etling, the 219th overall pick, played at Purdue before transferring to LSU in 2016. In two years as a starter at LSU, he completed 325 of 544 passes for 2,463 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Below is an interview with Etling after he was selected:
Question: I read a story that you've been working with Tom Brady's throwing coaches. How did that come about and what kind of stuff have you been getting out of those sessions?
Etling: I've been throwing with 3DQB. That's (inaudible) near southern California. 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 because you have classes and things like that. It was really cool to focus on just creating better fundamentals, creating better mechanics and helping me really focus down on those things going into the draft and going into this process. That was a [inaudible] my time with during my time there and they really improved a lot on those basic fundamentals that I had not learned up to that point. They were a big help for me.
Q: Does Tom House reference Tom Brady quite frequently in those sessions?
Etling: Yeah, he mentions any quarterback he works with and any similarities he might see with anyone or something that might help the next quarterback progress. So every once in a while he might mention him.
Q: Have you ever met Tom Brady?
Etling: I have not.
Q: Are you looking forward to meeting him?
Etling: I'm looking forward to meeting a lot of people, especially my coaches and all my teammates. I'm so excited to be a part of this great organization. I'm just so excited about it. I'm so eager and just excited to learn from everybody and hopefully all these veterans and all these guys on this team that have so much more experience than I do -- just to kind of sit there and learn and know my role and know my place and continue to come in and work hard and develop and just continue to try to be the best quarterback that I can be.
Q: Did you meet with Josh McDaniels leading into the draft?
Etling: I met with a lot of different coaches, a lot of different people so it was kind of just a long process. I don't think one meeting really meant more than any other.
Q: Can you just tell us a little bit about what the moment was like when you got the call from the Patriots?
Etling: It was really exciting. I had all my family here. I had past coaches and just some people I knew would be very supportive. I knew it might be a long day so I just was enjoying the process, enjoying everything, taking it all in. When I got the call and saw my name on the screen it was very exciting. I just couldn't believe it was a dream come true and going to such a great organization and great coaches and a place where I really think I can develop into the player that I want to be someday. It was just a dream come true and I couldn't stop smiling. So it was really exciting.
Q: What type of pre-draft contact did you have with the Patriots?
Etling: About as much as any other team. Just meetings here or there. Nothing really special. Nothing too crazy. Just kind of was a normal kind of deal. We were in contact here and there and that was it.
Q: In terms of trying to approach your potential, you played for two different schools and a number of different coaches. Do you feel that you have your best days ahead of you and that you really have a lot of room to grow coming out of LSU?
Etling: I think I do. I think I've grown a lot actually just being able to work on my fundamentals, being able to sit there and just kind of learn all about different defenses. Really, all my stops along the way have helped me a lot. I've had to learn four different offenses (with) four different offensive coordinators at two schools. Had to kind of go in and kind of re-acclimate myself to different cultures, different people. It was something that ended up being a benefit for me in the long run. I was able to really grasp a lot of offenses quickly and hopefully I can do the same and continue to keep improving as a player. But I was able to keep moving on and keep finding great coaches and I think I found some of the best coaches around. So I'm really excited to get to work with them.
Q: How much do you think you were held back because of the back injury itself prior to this past season?
Etling: I think that -- I mean any injury will hold you back but you never want to focus too much on it. You don't notice it when you're out there playing or you wouldn't have been playing. I wouldn't have been out there if I wasn't ready to play. I went out there, played the best I could and I just continued to improve both with my fundamentals and as well as kind of learning football and learning to process information quickly. So I think that goes along with anything in creating a better opportunity for myself to play well.
Q: What would you say your strengths are as a quarterback?
Etling: I'm just going to make sure that I always lead the offense, make sure that I'm the CEO when I'm out there on the field and that I'm able to move the chains, get the offense in the right play. Then be accurate with the football, continue to improve always and just making sure that someway, somehow I'm always doing my job and whatever my job is and I do it to the best of my ability. I think that's all you have to do as a quarterback. If you try to do too much it can bite you in the butt and when you do too little and don't work hard enough then you're never going to be the player you want to be.
Q: For those just learning more about you, can you explain what led to the decision when you chose to go to Purdue and then to go from Purdue to LSU?
Etling: I originally left Purdue. I just felt like there was a different opportunity out there for me, something that could hopefully lead to something bigger and something more. I went down to LSU. I saw some great talent there. I saw a great opportunity to go in and compete and sit there and learn for a year as I sat out and be the scout team quarterback and continue to improve and grasp a great offense from Coach Cam Cameron who was the OC (offensive coordinator) there in an NFL style offense with NFL protections and a lot of different things. So I thought that'd be a great coach to learn under. I went there and competed hard and was able to earn the starting job and held on to it for two years and really improved a ton as I just continued to play and keep getting better. I just saw an opportunity to grow and get great coaching and I jumped at the chance.
Q: How comfortable did you feel when teams asked you to breakdown film or discuss coverages and concepts?
Etling: Extremely comfortable. I've learned from different OC's [offensive coordinators], I've had a lot of different coaches and all of them have been very demanding of me. All of them have been great. They expect a lot out of me and they expect a lot of hard work. Along the way I've had a lot of coaches to thank for that, and learning four different offenses isn't easy. Learning four different terminologies isn't easy, so it was quite the process and it really ended up helping me along the way because teams ask you to process the information quickly when they test you, and I was able to, hopefully, do that better than a lot of other people and end up impressing some teams.
Q: During your time at Purdue, did you get to know Ja'Whaun Bentley at all?
Etling: I did. I actually was pretty good friends with Ja'Whaun. We still texted back and forth when I was at LSU and he was at Purdue, kind of supporting each other and he's a hell of a player. I'm excited to be teammates with him again.
Q: Have you heard from him since you were drafted?
Etling: I'm not sure. I've actually had a lot of texts and calls, but I haven't got a chance to answer yet. I'll have to put that one on pause until I figure out who's actually texted or called me. I don't want to say something that isn't true.
Q: Did you play against Duke Dawson at all in college?
Etling: Yeah, we played against them. He's a great player, again. So, they know what they're doing. Obviously, he's a very talented player, someone that you game plan against, and we saw him as a talented person to go up against and it was a challenge for us. He's going to be a great player in this league.
Q: How do you view the opportunity to be in the same quarterback room as Tom Brady?
Etling: It's enticing. I mean, 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 continue to keep improving and 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, someone else who's been around the league and 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 continue to just learn and grow as a quarterback and a person.
Q: Growing up in Indiana, did you watch a lot of Tom Brady or were you more of a Peyton Manning fan?
Etling: Yeah, growing up I was a Colts fan, but I always watched Tom Brady because they had that great rivalry. New England and the Colts had such a great rivalry. 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 was just one of the people that I've loved to watch and loved to just dissect the tape and watch how his mind thinks. It's different footwork just here and there. It's incredible to just watch how precise he is and how great he's been. I'm really excited to be a part of that room with two great quarterbacks.