Jacob Eason

NFL Odds: Here are the favorites to start at QB in Week 1 for the Patriots

NFL Odds: Here are the favorites to start at QB in Week 1 for the Patriots

The New England Patriots are facing uncertainty at quarterback for the first time in two decades. Tom Brady departed this offseason to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Patriots will need a new starting quarterback as a result.

That said, a favorite appears to be emerging to take over the job.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Jarrett Stidham is currently heavily favored to be the Patriots starter at least to kick-off 2020. Here's a look at the odds for each potential candidate at the position courtesy of FanDuel.

This lines up pretty well with what has come out of Patriots camp since Brady's departure. They seem to believe that Stidham is their future at quarterback, so why wouldn't they give him a shot to start? While Brian Hoyer isn't too far behind Stidham (+250), he's likely only that high because he has the most starting experience of the three passers currently on the Patriots depth chart.

The more interesting parts of these odds are the ones relating to veterans and rookies not currently on the team. Cam Newton (+900) leads the pack among the veteran options and is one of two non-Patriot quarterbacks ahead of presumed third-stringer Cody Kessler. The other is Andy Dalton (+1000).

While Newton is available, the Patriots don't have much in the way of cap space. So, it seems unlikely that they would sign him unless they have minimal confidence in the quarterback options on their roster or if one of their options suffers an injury down the road.

As for the rookies, Jacob Eason (+1900) actually leads the pack by a fair bit. He's still a longshot, but his odds are much better than the triage of other rookie passers listed; Justin Herbert, Jake From, and Jordan Love come in at +2600.

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Is this a sign that the Patriots like Eason? They're notoriously tight-lipped about the draft process, so it's hard to say. But if Eason continues to considerably lead the rookie pack as the draft draws nearer, that should be a good indication that the Pats have their eye on him.

Either way, Stidham is rightfully the favorite at this point and the Patriots seem content to give him a season to prove himself. But once the 2020 NFL Draft comes and goes, the picture at quarterback will be a bit clearer.

Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest 2020 NFL mock draft has Patriots picking QB in first round

Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest 2020 NFL mock draft has Patriots picking QB in first round

Could the New England Patriots find Tom Brady's replacement or his eventual successor in the 2020 NFL Draft?

The Patriots are projected to have as many as 12 picks (including compensatory selections) in April's draft, beginning with No. 23 overall in the first round. That's where ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has the Patriots picking a quarterback in his 2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 released Tuesday.

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Here is Kiper's reasoning for slotting Washington's Jacob Eason at No. 23 with the Patriots:

Yes, that's right, I'm now going with a quarterback for the Patriots, who still don't know if they'll have Tom Brady under center in 2020. Even if the 42-year-old free agent returns on a short-term deal, the Pats have to address the position on the first two days of the draft, so why not do it now? I like 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham's potential, but I'm not sold on him as a long-term starter. Eason has been getting a lot of buzz from people I talk to in the NFL lately, though he's not a lock to be the fourth quarterback taken; he's still battling with Utah State's Jordan Love, but I'll give the 6-6 Eason the edge for now. He has the best arm of any signal-caller in this class, though he can be erratic at times. It'd be ideal if he got a year or two to sit behind Brady, but he has a much higher ceiling that Stidham. Safety and linebacker are other positions to keep an eye on for New England's top pick.

Eason spent his first two collegiate seasons at Georgia before transferring to Washington. He completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 3,132 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season. The Huskies earned an 8-5 record and beat Boise State 38-7 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Eason is the son of a former Notre Dame wide receiver named Tony Eason. Jacob Eason is NOT related to former Patriots quarterback Tony Eason. 

It wouldn't make much sense for the Patriots to take a quarterback in Round 1 if Brady is coming back for the 2020 season. In that scenario, the Patriots should try to surround Brady with as much offensive talent as possible. This means finding a tight end who can make a genuine impact in the passing game, improving the wide receiver depth and bolstering an offensive line that was ravaged by injuries last season. The 2020 draft class is absolutely loaded with talented wide receivers.

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The Patriots also drafted Auburn's Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round of last year's draft. He has yet to get an opportunity to prove himself. 

Regardless of what Brady decides in free agency, the Patriots need to nail the upcoming draft if they're going to compete for a Super Bowl title in the 2020 season.

Perry: Could Patriots' 'Next Guy' be drafted next year?

Perry: Could Patriots' 'Next Guy' be drafted next year?

In all likelihood, Danny Etling isn't going to factor into how the Patriots handle their search for Tom Brady's successor. Never say never, but as a seventh-round pick, the LSU product probably isn't going to be the next face of the franchise. 

Many wondered if the Patriots would be all-in on finding that guy in this year's relatively deep class of quarterbacks. And according to Baker Mayfield's agent, they might've been all-in had Mayfield fallen to the No. 2 pick. 

But maybe that move is coming next year. 

The Patriots finished the draft last weekend having added future second and third-rounders, which provides them with all kinds of ammo to move up the board in 2019 if they so choose. At the moment, they own a first-rounder, two seconds, three thirds (including two projected compensatory selections), a fourth, a fifth, a sixth and three sevenths next spring.

It's impossible to know where exactly those picks will be slotted, but if the Patriots make it to the conference finals for the eighth consecutive season, they could move up from the bottom of the first round into a range that would be in or around the top-five if they were to package their first, both seconds and all three thirds. 

That's a haul, and more than the Patriots have ever dealt away to land one player under Bill Belichick. But the Patriots have never been in a spot under Belichick where the clock is ticking down on their search to find their next great quarterback.

Knowing that they could trade up - and jumping off of Tuesday's headlines that they might've been willing to trade up all the way from No. 23 to No. 2 for Mayfield - we took a look at a handful of the draft-eligible quarterbacks for next season to see which ones might be the best fits. 

Going off the criteria we used for this year's Prototypical Patriots series - the Patriots have typically drafted tall passers with good production in Power 5 conferences (though Jimmy Garoppolo bucked two of those three trends) - here are some quarterback names to keep in mind if you're watching college football this fall...All heights and weights are pulled from DraftScout.com.

PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS
RYAN FINLEY, NC STATE, 6-3, 210


Finley is another tall-enough, strong-armed quarterback with good production who the Patriots could find intriguing. For a team that typically likes at least a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the passers it drafts, Finley hits that on the nose (38-to-19). He's also averaging 7.4 yards per attempt and he's completing 62.6 percent of his passes - both strong marks from a Patriots perspective. He runs a pro-style offense at NC State, Jacoby Brissett's former home, and looks like one of the best Patriots fits in next year's class.

JUSTIN HERBERT, OREGON, 6-5, 225
Herbert has plenty of size compared to quarterbacks the Patriots have drafted in the past. And his production, when on the field, has been tremendous. His touchdown-to-interception ratio over his career is 34-to-9, he's averaging 8.5 yards per attempt, and he's completing 65.3 percent of his passes. Those all slot in range for what the Patriots have sought in the past. His issue has been durability. He's played in 16 games at Oregon over the last two seasons.

IMPERFECT BUT INTRIGUING
DREW LOCK, MISSOURI, 6-3, 225


Let's start with Lock in our "imperfect" grouping. He's among the quarterbacks who look the part, but whose numbers in college are slightly below the ideal marks for a team that values accuracy and efficiency. (We'll later get to the quarterbacks who don't meet some of the team's typical height standards but have great numbers.) Lock's rocket arm has helped him post a 71-to-31 touchdown-to-interception ratio and rack up a 7.8 yards-per-attempt average, but his 54.5 career completion percentage could use a bump. Even some of the sub-60 percent quarterbacks the Patriots have drafted before weren't that low: Kevin O'Connell (57.7), Ryan Mallett (57.8), Brissett (59.5).

JACOB EASON, WASHINGTON, 6-4, 235
Eason left Georgia after suffering an injury early last season and losing his starting job. Will his time under Kirby Smart help him in Belichick's eyes -- the Patriots just drafted two of Eason's offensive teammates in the first round -- or will the fact that he split the program hurt him? He has the size to succeed at the next level, and he sports a 2-to-1 ratio (16 touchdowns to eight picks), but he's also well below 60 percent completions for his career (55.2). 

NICK FITZGERALD, MISSISSIPPI STATE, 6-4, 230
Good size, great conference, OK production. That's Fitzgerald at this point. Can he keep his pick total low in 2018? Can he boost his 6.7 yards per attempt and 55.4 percent completion percentage? If he puts together a big year, who knows how far up boards he may climb. He has prototype size. 

CLAYTON THORSON, NORTHWESTERN, 6-3, 225
Thorson hasn't had the talent that some of the others on this list have had around them, but he's widely considered a draftable quarterback in next year's class. He's a sub-60 percent completions quarterback for his career, but accuracy may not be his biggest question mark at the moment. Thorson tore his ACL in last season's Music City Bowl making a catch on a trick play. He holds the record for wins as a starting quarterback at Northwestern (27).

JARRETT STIDHAM, AUBURN, 6-2, 214
Garoppolo was 6-2 coming out of Eastern Illinois so the Patriots aren't totally averse to taking passers who measure in less than 6-3. It's just that when you look at their draft history under Belichick, they typically lean toward taller players at the position. (Another reason why trading up for Mayfield, who's almost two full inches shorter than Garoppolo, would've been a break from the norm.) Stidham has been very productive (67 percent completions, 9.2 yards per attempt, 30-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio), and if he can keep that up in the SEC he should get some consideration at One Patriot Place.

JAKE BENTLEY, SOUTH CAROLINA, 6-2, 220
Bentley beat up on Harbaugh's squad in the Outback Bowl back in January. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 239 yards, two scores and a pick in the 26-19 win. He's completed 63.4 percent of his passes and if he's really as tall as the Gamecocks website says he is (6-4), then he'll end up much closer to the top of this list than the bottom by next spring. 

WILL GRIER, WEST VIRGINIA, 6-1, 214 
Grier can launch it deep, and he has some ability to extend plays with his legs and find open receivers down the field. A transfer from Florida, he's produced in a big way throughout his career, hitting about 65 percent of his passes and accumulating a nearly 3-to-1 (44-to-15) touchdown-to-interception ratio over his career. His size and style of play will draw some comparisons to Mayfield this time next year.

SHEA PATTERSON, MICHIGAN, 6-1, 193
Another undersized, athletic quarterback who transferred from the SEC. Patterson played seven games for Ole Miss before transferring and is expected by many to be one of the more exciting signal-callers to watch in college football next season under Jim Harbaugh.

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