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What fourth-round quarterback Jarrett Stidham can bring to the Patriots

Auburn’s quarterback has the tools to be a decent passer in the Patriots’ system but will he develop the way we hope him to?

NCAA Football: Auburn at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrett Stidham was selected by the Patriots in the fourth-round of the NFL draft on Saturday, and there’s been a lot of buzz regarding him being the potential ‘successor’ to Tom Brady. Stidham is now the fourth quarterback taken by the Patriots in the last six drafts and is the second-highest drafted at 133, only behind Jacoby Brissett, who went 91 in 2016.

I’m not a future-teller so I can’t confirm that he’ll take over the reign once #12 hangs them up. However, when looking at more of Stidham’s background, the pick seems more and more intriguing.

Stidham started his college year at Baylor before transferring to Auburn through McLennan Community College. All in all, he started in 30 games in three years (2015, 2017 and 2018) at Baylor and Auburn, and finished his career with a 20-10 record. When looking at his stats in college, he had a 48-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio, so he hasn’t been known to turn the ball over, something we know Bill Belichick values in all of his players.

The one thing that stands out is Stidham’s completion percentage: he completed 64.3% of his 848 college attempts. His career-low 60.7% completion percentage this past season was due to an interesting Auburn offense that was more of a run-first unit and had him get out of the pocket faster than needed, more so due to poor pass protection. Furthermore, his receivers dropped plenty of catchable balls.

Stidham excelled as a game manager and when it came to completing passes on short routes across the field (in this regard, he seems to fit the Patriots offense just fine). However, he also struggled a bit with his downfield passing as he sometimes overthrew receivers down the field and had trouble fitting the ball into tight windows.

While it’s been said that ‘you can't teach accuracy’ Stidham definitely has the potential to improve, mainly because of his mechanics and the way the ball comes out of his hands: one thing that really stood out to me when watching his tape was his release. When speaking about the Patriots’ fourth-rounder, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said that he threw the ‘best ball’ in the draft. He indeed has got smooth mechanics and the ball comes out very pretty off his hand.

Stidham is definitely a project and who knows what his ceiling is, but when you have Tom Brady continuing to play at the level he is, there is room to take a shot in the dark at someone like Stidham. The Patriots’ offense and system seem to fit his style of play pretty well and with a few years of learning and development, it will be interesting to see how he pans out.