Jarrett Stidham didn't see too much action during the 2019 regular season as a rookie, but it's clear he left a positive impression on his New England Patriots teammates during practice and other activities.
Stidham is the favorite to win the starting job among the quarterbacks currently on the Patriots' roster, which includes veterans Cody Kessler and Brian Hoyer. A quarterback competition is an unfamiliar situation for the Patriots, but it's the reality following Tom Brady's decision to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.
McCourty, speaking on a conference call with reporters Wednesday, was careful not to hype up Stidham too much. The veteran safety understands the challenges Stidham will have this season, most notably replacing an all-time legend. There's no reason to add extra pressure. But McCourty did have plenty of praise for the second-year quarterback.
On Stidham, McCourty didn't want to go full-on scout.— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) March 25, 2020
"If you ask me to evaluate and pick a QB, your team's probably going to lose a lot of games...I love how he's come in. He's eager to learn. Great personality. Great attitude. I would say he's one of the more mature guys."
McCourty also praised Stidham's maturity earlier this week on his "Double Coverage" podcast.
“I think, to me, the best thing for Stiddy was he had to go against our defense every week. He didn’t have it easy,” Devin McCourty said. “I love his poise. I would be faking a blitz sometimes and we'd make eye contact and he'd just start smiling and laughing.
"To me, there were weeks he was just on point and those were some of our best weeks as a defense mainly because Stiddy ate us up in practice leading up to the game, and I think put more pressure on us. So, I really admire just how hard he works and I've gotten to know him off the field as well. He's a really good guy. Young guy but very mature.”
The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Auburn. He didn't get many game reps in 2019, but he did impress throughout training camp and the preseason.
New England has limited cap space at the moment, so signing a veteran quarterback -- Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, or someone else -- doesn't really make sense. The best avenue to add a quarterback at this juncture is the 2020 NFL Draft, and several expert mock drafts have projected the Patriots to take a quarterback in the first round (23rd overall).
Stidham has plenty of potential, though, so the best course of action for the Patriots entering the 2020 season is to give him a chance and surround him with enough talent to be successful. It's time to find out if Stidham can be a quality starter at the NFL level.