Could the Patriots Be Looking At Washington State QB Luke Falk?

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
James Snook-USA TODAY SportsJames Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State's Luke Falk has struggled recently, but has still performed well overall for the no. 25 (7-2) Cougars.

The New England Patriots' quarterback situation got a little murky on Monday after the team traded touted backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a high second-round pick. Many people, including reportedly the Patriots, saw Garoppolo as the heir to Brady's throne, but he didn't want to wait. As a result, the Patriots dealt him. They need a backup now, but more importantly, they need a young heir to the Patriot dynasty who can develop behind Brady. Looking at the scouting report of Garoppolo, could the Patriots be looking at Washington State senior Luke Falk as that heir? It's an interesting question.

Jimmy Garoppolo's scouting report from 2014 had a lot in common with scouting reports on Falk thus far. Garoppolo, out of Eastern Illinois, was a shotgun quarterback in a spread offense, much like Falk. His scouting report, first of all, commended his "quick release and quick decision-making" in addition to having "good anticipation on throws." This reveals a lot about what the Patriots wanted. It's not a secret the Patriots like to throw quickly, so Garoppolo's quick release was likely something they valued highly. In relation to this, quick decision-making allowed Garoppolo to make these snap throws without committing an error. The Patriots also valued Garoppolo's anticipatory abilities, as in a quick-release system the team would need to have him make throws before receivers were open. Thereby, these were clearly important skills in the Patriot offense. Luke Falk's scouting report says he is "quick to scan the entire field" and "throws with anticipation." The fact that he is quick to scan the field allows Falk to make snap decisions, much like what was detailed in Garoppolo's scouting report. The fact that his anticipation is being commended shows that he, like Garoppolo, can function in a quick-throw system which requires the quarterback to throw the ball before the receivers are open.

Secondly, both players' scouting reports detail their throwing abilities. Garoppolo was called a "very accurate passer" who can drop throws in the bucket or make tight-window ones. This is important because the Patriots' offensive system includes quick throws to all levels, and often utilizes better matchups rather than better separation. Accuracy is highly important in this system for quarterbacks, like Brady and Garoppolo, to put the ball where the receiver has the best chance to make a play. Falk's scouting report says he is "very accurate at all three levels" and can make touch throws. This shows that he possesses this ability to put the ball where receivers can make plays, and his ability to read the entire field will make this a great asset for him when throwing based on matchups.

Both players have, of course, come into question. However, even many of their problems are similar in scouting reports. Garoppolo was a "shotgun quarterback who needs to improve footwork and deep ball accuracy." He also was said to "not throw with high RPMs" and additionally threw some interceptions in college. Garoppolo threw at least 9 interceptions per year in college. These were all problems that, as evidenced by his limited starting time, were mostly fixed in his three and some years in New England. Falk's main issues, per his scouting report by Daniel Jeremiah, are that he "doesn't have a huge arm," "doesn't throw with high RPMs," and operates in the shotgun. Garoppolo's report said that he lacked deep ball accuracy and forced receivers to work downfield, which shows that he had a similar problem to Falk. In his limited time with New England, Garoppolo showed that this improved (his first touchdown pass was a long one to WR Chris Hogan). This could mean that the Patriots could help Falk improve this. Both quarterbacks didn't throw with high RPMs, which Garoppolo has improved as well. While Garoppolo had to specifically improve his footwork, there are questions with Falk about his experience as a shotgun-only quarterback. This would make his footwork limited. Well, Garoppolo again managed to improve this in New England, so Falk likely could too. In addition, there's no better quarterback to learn footwork from then Tom Brady, as Tony Romo pointed out in the team's game against New Orleans in week two.


The similar scouting reports of Jimmy Garoppolo and Luke Falk evidence that the Patriots may look at the Washington State signal-caller this year. The two are similar players, and the Patriots could do what they did with Garoppolo with Falk. The similarities between the two include:

- Very good accuracy

- Quick release and good anticipation on throws

- Functional athleticism to extend plays

- Lacked solid deep arm in college

- Both operated in shotgun and need(ed) to improve footwork

- Scan the field well and in short periods of time

- Throw with low RPMs

- Very high statistical outputs (Garoppolo '14: 5,050 yards, 53 TDs, 9 INTs | Falk '16: 4,468 yards, 38 TDs, 11 INTs | '17 Projection for Falk: 3,434 yards, 31 TDs, 9 INTs) - Update: Falk '17: 3,593 yards, 30 TDs, 13 INTs (Pre Bowl Game)

December Update: Falk has struggled in his senior season and displays a concerning lack of ability running and moving outside of the pocket. However, with the Patriots' starter being Tom Brady, it's clear running ability is not priority number one. Falk looks like a good fit and could use time behind a veteran like Brady to get his career started. Falk could be a third or fourth round pick, but could elevate his draft stock should he perform well at his bowl game, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL Combine.

March Update: Per SBNation, the Patriots interviewed Falk at the Senior Bowl. Falk did not play at the Senior Bowl but practiced all week.