At the moment, the New England Patriots’ quarterback situation looks bleak: with Tom Brady headed for unrestricted free agency and no lock to return for a 21st season with the team, the Patriots offense is currently led by Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler. While Stidham has obvious upside and looked promising during his first ever training camp last summer, he is not guaranteed to succeed Brady whether in 2020 or further down the line.
With Kessler also a project entering his fifth season in the NFL, quarterback therefore remains a position New England might feel the need to address even if Brady is eventually re-signed. One (comparatively cheap) way of doing so is by selecting a passer in the draft — which is exactly what the team is projected to do in the latest mock draft by SB Nation’s Dan Kadar:
23. New England Patriots: Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
In any other year when they don’t have a second-round pick, the Patriots would likely move down. But strange things happen when a quarterback is at stake. In this case, it’s for the chance at landing a project player with upside in Eason. The Patriots could go from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady to a Drew Bledsoe clone.
While his size — 6-foot-6, 225 pounds — is among the first thing that jumps out about Eason, his performance in his only season as Washington’s starting quarterback also cannot be ignored: he completed 64.2% of his passes for 3,132 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Numbers only tell one part of the story about the former Georgia passer, who transferred west in 2018 after losing his starting job with the Bulldogs to Jake Fromm.
Eason, after all, is a mixed bag. He brings considerable upside to the table and is a naturally gifted thrower that has experience working both in shotgun formations and under center, but also has been inconsistent in terms of his mechanics and when it comes to going through his progressions on a play-to-play basis. As a result, he projects to be a developmental option at the next level that needs time to be molded into an NFL starter.
Considering all of this, would New England be willing to pull the trigger at the 23rd overall selection? The team trusts its process and the success of non-Brady quarterbacks groomed under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels — Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett — confirms this. When it comes to Eason, however, there are numerous factors at play beyond his skills and developmental upside. The biggest of which is obviously Tom Brady.
If the future Hall of Famer leaves via free agency, inserting Eason into the lineup as a starter would be risky considering his rawness; the Patriots would therefore likely be better off to go with Stidham or an experienced outside addition. If Brady stays, on the other hand, investing the 23rd selection elsewhere to maximize the window of opportunity and fulfill his wish for an upgraded arsenal of weapons would make sense as well.
Yes, Eason would benefit from sitting behind Brady for a few years before possibly taking over, but all things considered it seems unlikely the Patriots will go after him or any other quarterback with the 23rd overall selection — at least how things currently stand and with the 42-year-old Brady still projected to return.