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Can rookie quarterback Danny Etling win a roster spot with the Patriots?

Etling is a camp arm until proven otherwise.

NFL: New England Patriots-OTA Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots rookie quarterback Danny Etling has an uphill battle to make the roster as a seventh round pick. There’s no guarantee he’ll make the team with both Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer ahead on the depth chart and because of Bill Belichick’s willingness to carry just two quarterbacks. In all likelihood, Etling is destined for the practice squad as the scout team arm.

But there’s a spot on the active roster with Etling’s name on it if he can develop over the course of the summer and show an upside that the Patriots can’t risk by placing the quarterback on waivers.

Etling’s had a chance to show off his ability with Brady not in camp, earning second-team reps behind only Hoyer, and he’s already making improvements with his throwing mechanics.

There were three major questions around Etling as a draft prospect that reasonably caused him to fall into the last round of the draft. First, he was never asked to shoulder the load of the Louisiana State offense that relied heavily on their rushing attack; Second, he showed inconsistent accuracy, in part due to his mechanics, but also because; Third, he had a tendency to rush his motions- whether throwing or deciding to scramble- in live action.

There’s nothing Etling could have done about that first red flag and it should be noted that Etling was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football when given the opportunity, averaging similar adjusted yards per touch (converting touchdowns and turnovers into positive and negative yardage) to Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen over the past two seasons. So if given a greater workload, perhaps Etling would have been more well-regarded in the college ranks.

As for the latter two flags, that’s where Etling will have to show his improvement. He will have to show that he can improve his accuracy and offer a more consistent throwing motion and he’ll have to show an increased calm while under pressure in the pocket.

If Etling manages to improve in both categories- and we won’t know until live action in the preseason- then he could force the Patriots to retain him on the active roster. If he only improves in one category, then he might still be destined for the practice squad.

And if Etling doesn’t show improvement in both facets of his game, then there’s a chance that the Patriots move on and look for another developmental prospect for their scout team.

Whatever happens, Etling’s play and development will determine his future with the Patriots.


Will Danny Etling make the Patriots active roster?

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