Patriots' Taysom Hill? QB Danny Etling switches to WR

Print

New England's pretty set at quarterback, so the Patriots are transitioning one of Tom Brady's backups to a different position.

Second-year player Danny Etling switched from quarterback to wide receiver on Thursday, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. Etling was still wearing No. 5 during Thursday's practice, but the color of his kit had changed from quarterback red to offensive player white.

"Everyone has a lot of different roles on this team, and I'm no exception," Etling said, per Reiss. "I'm excited to continue to keep trying to find a different role for myself and do whatever the coaches ask me to do."

A 2018 seventh-round pick out of LSU, Etling didn't see a regular-season snap in his rookie season -- Julian Edeleman had more pass attempts (2) than the rookie. In the preseason, however, Etling stood out, especially in New England's final exhibition when he took a read option 86 yards to the house. Etling finished the preseason completing 20 of 38 passes for 178 yards, one TD and two picks and rushing 10 times for 120 yards and a score.

Etling's multi-dimensional play makes him a useful piece for Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, who are always looking for an edge. One Patriots player suggested that Etling could play the role on New England that Swiss Army man Taysom Hill plays for the New Orleans Saints.

"We always knew Danny could play different positions. I always used to joke with him and call him Taysom Hill," receiver Phillip Dorsett told Reiss.

Etling and Hill are dead ringers, at least physically; Etling stands at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, while Hill is 6-foot-2 and 221. While it's not clear whether Etling will play on special teams coverage as Hill does in the Bayou, the Patriots are likely hoping that Etling can replicate Hill's type of production on offense; in 2018, Hill racked up 40 touches for 200 scrimmage yards and two scores.

Such a transition for a Patriots player is not out of ordinary. Julian Edelman was a quarterback coming out of Kent State before New England turned him into a star return man and eventual Super Bowl MVP wide receiver. Longtime Pats receiver Troy Brown played defensive back when New England was short in the secondary in the early aughts.

New England won't miss Etling as quarterback. Behind Brady is veteran acolyte Brian Hoyer and fourth-round rookie Jarrett Stidham. There looks to be no space for Etling in that QB room, making his transition to another position that much more sensible.

Print