Patriots get ‘interesting guy’ in Michigan St. QB Brian Lewerke


Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke put himself on the NFL radar with an impressive sophomore season back in 2017 when started all 13 games for the Spartans, throwing for 20 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions while rushing for another five scores.

Unfortunately his next two seasons leading the Michigan State offense weren’t nearly as impressive, leaving the two-time Spartans team captain and one of the most decorated passers in school history to pursue his NFL dreams as an undrafted free agent with the Patriots.

But according to Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown, the 6-2, 213-pound Lewerke brings some intriguing attributes with him to the New England quarterback competition.

“I think he’s pretty good,” Brown said, having game planned for Lewerke in each of the last three seasons. “The year we lost to them, which was back in ’17, he had about a 25-yard scramble for a touchdown. The guy obviously has a strong arm, good movement skills. I thought he had a good feel for what they wanted him to do.”

Brown believes that Lewerke was not healthy when Michigan beat the Spartans in 2018. The veteran coach made it clear that Lewerke has the kind of arm that stands out at times, including in his final matchup with the Wolverines.

“I thought this year he played better against us, he made one throw over the middle that I remember and I’m like, ‘Damn, that’s a hell of a throw,’” Brown said. “You know what I mean? Like he leaned on it and it was a fastball, baby. The word on the street on the kid is that he’s a great kid, great team leader. Hard working guy. I was always concerned when we were playing him, he had my attention, that’s for sure.”

Interestingly, Lewerke joins a four-man post-Tom Brady New England quarterback depth chart that includes another former Spartans undrafted standout in 11-year NFL veteran Brian Hoyer, along with second-year former fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and fellow 2020 undrafted rookie J’Mar Smith out of Louisiana Tech.

Lewerke left Michigan State as the school’s all-time leader in total offense (9,548 yards) while ranking third in Spartans’ annals with 38 career starts.

Last fall Lewerke threw for a career-best 3,079 yards and set a school record for total offense. But he also threw a career-high 13 interceptions and completed less than 60 percent of his throws for the third straight season.

All in all, though, at least one experienced, veteran coordinator who had to deal with Lewerke for three years of Big Ten action thinks the Patriots are getting an “interesting” young quarterback to work with.

“I think he did a good job with what they were asking him to do,” Brown concluded. “They would try to move the pocket on us, play-action us. All those kinds of things. He had a good handle on it. But that’s an interesting guy to take, for sure. Good body, too.”