Danny Etling, 11th QB off the board, goes to Patriots in 7th round

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With an obvious need to develop a quarterback behind Tom Brady, the New England Patriots waited until the initial pick of the seventh round to make their move, selecting former Purdue and LSU signal-caller Danny Etling.

Selected 219th overall, Etling was the 11th quarterback picked in the draft.

"It's an opportunity to learn from the greatest quarterback," Etling said Saturday. "You don't expect anything, absorb as much information as you can and continue to keep on improving and prepare for your opportunity when it comes. You just want to watch a guy who has been so great and know how he does it. ... It's such a great quarterback room. I'm so excited to be a part of it."

Many projected the Patriots to select a quarterback earlier in the draft, especially after they traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers last October and signed 32-year-old Brian Hoyer as the new backup through the 2018 season.

But they passed over Louisville's Lamar Jackson twice in the first round, and then had multiple chances to select others at the position in the middle rounds: Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph (third round, Steelers), Richmond's Kyle Lauletta (fourth round, Giants), Western Kentucky's Mike White (fifth round, Cowboys), Washington State's Luke Falk (sixth round, Titans) and Nebraska's Tanner Lee (sixth round, Jaguars).

Five total quarterbacks were selected in the first round: Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (Browns, No. 1), USC's Sam Darnold (Jets, No. 3), Wyoming's Josh Allen (Bills, No. 7), UCLA's Josh Rosen (Cardinals, No. 10) and Jackson (Ravens, No. 32).

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. had Etling ranked as the 32nd quarterback in the draft.

"We knew we were going to add a quarterback to our team at some point, so it's relative to what other options we might have, relative to other positions," Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said. "There's no template like, 'Well we're going to take one here, we're going to take one there.' You just evaluate the player and we think Danny has some decent traits and some decent qualities to work with, so we'll put him in our program and see how he does."

As is the case for all seventh-round picks, the 6-foot-3, 222-pound Etling faces longer odds to emerge. As a senior at LSU in 2017, he went 165-of-275 passing for 2,463 yards, with 16 touchdowns and two interceptions (one was a Hail Mary).

Etling is an older rookie, as he turns 24 in July, which is a result of having to sit out the 2015 season after transferring from Purdue to LSU. A native of Terre Haute, Indiana, who grew up an Indianapolis Colts fan, he was a coveted recruit out of high school. He started 12 games over two seasons at Purdue (2013-2014), losing the starting job, which led him to transfer.

Etling said playing at LSU, under former NFL head coach/coordinator Cam Cameron in a pro-style offense, helped him progress. In addition, he said he has played in four different offensive systems under four coordinators, which has helped him adapt.

Asked his strengths as a quarterback, he said, "I'm just going to make sure that I'm always going to lead the offense, make sure that I understand that I'm the CEO when I'm out there on the field and move the chains, get the offense in the right play and be accurate with the football, and continue to improve always. Just making sure, some way, somehow, I'm always doing my job and to the best of my ability."

Although he has never met Brady, Etling has a notable link to him from recently working with his throwing coach, Tom House.