The six-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have been making smart decisions with their picks in the NFL player draft for many years, and their selection of former Stephenville quarterback Jarrett Stidham Saturday could prove to be one of the latest examples.
Stidham, a 2015 SHS graduate, was taken Saturday in the fourth round as a junior out of Auburn on the final day of the annual three-day draft event, held this year in Nashville.
Stidham announced in December that he was leaving Auburn, letting the world know he was making himself eligible for the draft after starting two seasons for the Tigers. Stidham, who is 6-2 and weighs 218, was one of the more highly recruited quarterbacks coming out of college.
His freshman season was at Baylor, where he played in 10 games and had three starts under former SHS head coach Art Briles. After the Baylor University scandal involving allegations of sexual assaults alleged to have been committed by other players there, Stidham left Baylor and eventually went to Auburn, where he became the Southeastern Conference Newcomer of the Year for the 2017 season as a sophomore.
Although the Patriots are coming off their sixth Super Bowl championship and have Tom Brady — the man some consider the greatest quarterback of all time — he is the oldest quarterback in the league (41) and his current contract runs out after the 2019 season.
In an Associated Press article about the draft, Stidham said, “I don't think I feel any pressure," he said. "It's an awesome opportunity to learn from a guy like Tom. He's played so much, he's seen everything, he's won a lot, there's just so many intangibles that I want to soak up from him. I'm sure everybody wants to be as good as Tom Brady someday ..."
The AP also quoted Stidham as saying, "It's a tremendous opportunity to learn under him and (backup) Brian Hoyer," said Stidham, the Auburn quarterback selected Saturday by the Patriots in the fourth round of the draft.
"To be in the same room with those guys and to learn from them, it's going to be great and I'm really looking forward to it."
'ALL OF THE TOOLS'
Although Stidham’s junior season at Auburn was not as successful as his sophomore year had been, many of the experts noted that they considered his passing skills to be among the best of all the quarterbacks available in the 2019 draft.
One ESPN analyst said Stidham has “all of the tools” to succeed “at a high level in the NFL. He’s got decision-making processing powers. He’s got accuracy. He knows when to put speed on the ball, he knows when to take speed off of it.
“He has got some tools, man. And he went to the perfect place. Who better to learn behind than Tom Brady. This is the best teaching org in the NFL.”
The AP noted that “Stidham, a two-year starter at Auburn, was the 133rd overall pick, 66 positions higher than Brady's selection in 2000.”
Immediately after the selection of Stidham was posted, one ESPN analyst said, “I’ve got bad news for the rest of the teams in the league. The Patriots are serious about continuing to win Super Bowls.”
It was noted during the draft broadcast that Stidham is the sixth quarterback drafted in the first four rounds of the draft since they drafted Brady. There have been nine quarterbacks drafted by the Patriots in all during the Brady era.
During the ESPN discussion, one analyst asked another if he thought New England head coach Bill Belichick thinks that Stidham could be the team’s heir apparent to Brady.
“I would say this, from a skills perspective, I’m sure he loved a lot of the things he’s seen in this guy and is hoping, you know what, we’ve got tremendous value here as far as picking in the fourth round, let’s see what we can do with him.
“He’s hungry to be successful and I think he’s just going to pour it all in and I think Brady’s going to really warm up to this guy. You will find out who you are in this program, at the very highest level. And I think that’s exactly what he needs.”
The Patriots drafted a wide receiver as the No. 32 pick in the first round, followed by a defensive back in the second round, a defensive end, a running back and an offensive tackle in the third round and a guard earlier in the fourth round before they chose Stidham.
ESPN, along with other media outlets previously, noted that Stidham recently became engaged to Kennedy Brown, who was a soccer player at Baylor when Stidham was playing for the Bears. Brown is a daughter of the CEO of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.