MOBILE, Ala. — If you were playing a game of Bill Belichick Bingo, Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta might check all the boxes pretty darned fast.
First, there are the football traits that this lesser-known prospect possesses. He's a quick processor and reader of defenses. Lauletta moves his feet well and delivers an accurate, catchable ball. For those doubting the FCS level of play, Lauletta did perform well in two matchups against ACC teams — Maryland in 2015 (zero turnovers, a rushing TD) and Virginia in 2016 (when Lauletta played a brilliant game, leading to a 17-point win over the Cavaliers).
On top of that, Lauletta's reputation suggests that he possesses strong leadership skills (he was a leadership studies major, for what that's worth), works hard at his craft and reportedly has strong football character.
That's all fine and nice. But what might get Belichick all lathered up has nothing to do with that. We think we now know who will replace Tom Brady as quarterback of the New England Patriots in a few years. This Jimmy Garoppolo trade is making more sense by the day!
Lauletta was a bit of an unheralded football prospect coming out of high school, with only two FBS offers — Toledo and Old Dominion — both of whom offered straight off his tape. But Lauletta strongly considered chasing his other passion as a prep: lacrosse.
"I was a big lacrosse guy, absolutely," he said. "For a while I thought I might enjoy playing that in college. I just enjoy football more. I think it’s a better team sport. But I’ve always grown up a lacrosse guy. My dad was an All-American in high school. My uncle played in college."
A-ha! Now we're really getting into Belichick's wheelhouse here. For the uninitiated, Belichick is an absolute lacrosse nut. He has a stick at the ready in his office and is always ready to toss the ball around with anyone who is interested and passionate about his second-favorite spot. Belichick also has spoken often about incorporating lacrosse strategy into football and said he loves listening to coaches of that sport talk about how they design their offensive and defensive strategy.
"You think about skills on the lacrosse field that translate to football — toughness, change of direction, lot of good things that helped me in football," Lauletta said.
We think he and Belichick will have a few things to talk about whenever their paths cross, perhaps at the NFL scouting Combine in a month. (Belichick is a little tied up with this Super Bowl prep thing this week.)
"A couple Patriots scouts came in to see me [at Richmond this season] and when they found out how much I liked lacrosse, that was one of the things they said, ‘Oh, Belichick will love this!’" Lauletta told PFW on Tuesday before practicing with the South Team, coached by former Belichick lieutenant Bill O'Brien and his Houston Texans coaching staff.
We can only assume that word has trickled back to the Death Star on this one. And if somehow it hasn't, Lauletta can pull at Belichick's sometimes cold heartstrings with this incredible nugget that hits even closer to home: Both Lauletta's father and uncle played for the Naval Academy.
Good lord almighty, Belichick might have to choloroform the kid and drag him back to Foxborough to ensure he gets his man.
Belichick's father, Steve, was a long-time assistant on the Cadets' staff, and Belichick grew up in the shadows of the legendary program that was led by players such as Roger Staubach in the early to mid-1960s. Belichick has always held reverence for the program and addressed the staff last year while visiting his elderly mother who still lives in the area.
Joe Lauletta, Kyle's father, was a quarterback for Navy in the mid-80s. His uncle, Lex, was a punter in the late 1970s. Dollars to doughnuts says Belichick has broken down both of their tape. I mean, a punter at Navy, are you kidding? Belichick recently held a dissertation on the finer points of punting on a Patriots media conference call that stretched out to the 25-minute mark. We have a feeling he could have gone on longer than that.
This is just central casting right here. Write your mock drafts in dark ink now.
Lauletta has respect for the Navy, obviously, but didn't consider them for football because of the triple-option offense they ran not being conducive to his skill set. That's understandable. Actually, Lauletta is one of the few quarterbacks in Mobile this week who has experience running a pro-style offense — including for one year under John Garrett, brother of Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, in 2016.
In his first Senior Bowl practice, Lauletta had an auspicious start. Though not flashy, he consistently connected on short and intermediate passes and gave his receivers great chances to make catches and plays after the catch. He'll have more opportunities to shine on Wednesday and Thursday, working alongside what appears to be lesser-talented South Team quarterbacks. (Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen are on the North Team.)
"I’d say if you look at quarterbacks who have been successful over the long haul, accuracy is the most important attribute," Lauletta said, "and I think I’ve shown that my accuracy is elite. Anytime you can put the ball where you want it to be, I think you have a chance at the next level. First and foremost, I do think that is my best attribute, quarterback skill-wise."
It's actually remarkable that Lauletta asserted himself as well as he did on Day 1 considering that two nights earlier, right after he arrived at the Senior Bowl on Sunday night, he was up all night vomiting profusely.
"I was throwing up all throughout the night Sunday night," he said. "I started throwing up at like 10:30 that night and every hour on the hour I was in the bathroom. They took me to the ER.
"They gave me a couple IVs to get the fluids back in and stuff. But that was scary."
Our theory? It was Belichick. He must have slipped something into Lauletta's chicken salad as a way of keeping him off the field and letting the quarterback impress another team. What, you're not buying that theory? Don't underestimate Belichick's long-range chess moves, people.
And for all of you who still harbor serious doubt about the Patriots' decision to trade Garoppolo, consider this: The quarterback whom Lauletta has most often heard his game compared to is ...
"Jimmy Garoppolo, an FCS guy, a guy I’ve been compared to a few times throughout the process," Lauletta said. "He’s a great guy to be compared to; he’s doing really, really well. That whole system they have, the success speaks for itself.
"You look at the quarterbacks they’ve taken over the years, and I think I fit that profile as far as a guy who processes information well, good football IQ."
That's it, blow the whistle, we've heard enough. And we suspect Belichick has, too. Oh sure, he's up to his sleeveless armpits in the Philadelphia Eagles right now leading up to Super Bowl LII. But in a few weeks? It'll be a whole lotta Lauletta on his radar.