J.T. Barrett couldn’t have come into the NFL at a better time. I know, it sounds a little ridiculous to say something like that when one of the winningest NCAA QBs of all time (#6 with 38, one behind Peyton Manning, if you’re counting) just went undrafted during the NFL’s annual draft. What I mean is that the NFL’s aversion to quarterbacks who don’t stand 6’5”, 225Lbs, and look like the second coming of Joe Namath is coming to an end.
When Drew Brees was drafted 2001 there were only four starting QBs who stood less than 6’2” (Jeff Garcia, Kordell Stewart, Mark Brunell, and Doug Flutie), of those Flutie was the only one who was less than 6’1”. Maybe not surprisingly, it was San Diego who chose Brees despite his less-than-ideal height.
Since then we’ve seen a bit of relaxing of the “nobody under 6’2” rule” NFL draft rooms have had for… ever, I think. Brees’ success likely helped that along, making scouts consider if that guy they’d dismissed should get a second look. In the early 2000s we started to see a few players benefiting from this like Cade McNown, Rex Grossman, and Michael Vick drafted in the first round (to be clear, the players benefited, not necessarily the teams).
Now with players like Brees, Seattle’s Russell Wilson, and Denver’s Case Keenum (among others) starting and producing we’re seeing teams more willing to bet on a player even if they have less than ideal height. Need proof? Look no further than a couple hours up the road to Cleveland. The Browns selected Heisman winner and quarterback extraordinaire Baker Mayfield, who, at the NFL combine measured a full 6’.625”. That’s right, the Browns drafted a QB who was just over six-foot tall with the first pick in the draft! *Gasp* The horror! Maybe this blows up in the Browns face, but I think Mayfield is the guy to turn around the moribund Cleveland franchise.
So, with all of that said, barring a catastrophic series of injuries, J.T. won’t be starting this year or next. He can sit, learn the playbook, and just generally soak up knowledge from Brees about what it takes to be a little guy in a big league.