The New England Patriots have been enjoying a strong NFL draft, most would agree, but they made a fascinating choice late in Round 4 that’s sure to get some attention.
It’s notable any time the Patriots take a quarterback, and they’ve drafted Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham with the 133rd overall selection.
The Patriots have now drafted 10 quarterbacks since making Tom Brady the 199th selection in the 2000 NFL draft. Six of those were in Round 4 or earlier, so it’s a position the team has stocked well even with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time still going relatively strong.
But it’s clear they’re trying to take fliers on some talented passers who might have a shot at replacing Brady one day. Whether or not Stidham is the guy remains to be seen.
Jarrett Stidham’s scouting report
The 6-2, 218-pound Stidham had a strong 2017 season that included an Iron Bowl win over No. 1 Alabama before things unraveled a bit in two losses to end that season. Sitdham returned to school and struggled with less talent around him last season with the Tigers, seeing his draft stock tumble from a possible Day 1 pick all the way to Day 3.
But he’s a talented passer who might have been held back in Gus Malzahn’s basic system, so the talent might be worth the gamble at this point.
That's an interesting pick. Huge scheme adjustment, but the Patriots must have liked the raw ability. And no one has ever doubted Stidham's raw ability. https://t.co/hyFv5X3197
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) April 27, 2019
Stidham has battled some injuries, too, suffering a torn labrum in his left shoulder in 2017 and a broken ankle back when he was at Baylor. He’s taken a circuitous route to this point, committing to Texas Tech (and Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury) before going to Baylor, spending a year in junior college (where he was the nation’s No. 1 JUCO recruit) and then heading to Auburn, where he started the past two seasons.
He has good athletic traits and a live arm and has flashed some decent running ability when needed. Stidham also has been hailed as a leader at Auburn. But he simply wasn’t asked to read defenses the way the Patriots likely will ask him to, and Stidham has caved against pressure from good pass rushes, so there’s a good reason why he was still available in Round 4.
Tom Brady’s timetable
The Patriots clearly have to think sooner rather than later about Life After Brady. As Brady turns 42 in August, the only other options on the roster currently are backup Brian Hoyer and 2018 seventh-rounder Danny Etling, who spent last season on the practice squad.
How the Patriots manage their QBs this season will be interesting. Can Etling beat out Hoyer? Is Stidham locked into a roster spot as a fourth-round pick? Would the Patriots still be in the market for a QB in next year’s draft? Those are all fascinating questions to kick around.
Perhaps Stidham can be developed — although that phrase has lost its meaning a bit — and give Bill Belichick another option heading into the 2020 season.
More from Yahoo Sports: