Patriots

Patriots

Why didn't the New England Patriots trade up in the 2020 NFL Draft to select Tua Tagovailoa?

If you ask Chris Simms, it's because they already have a better quarterback on their roster.

The NBC Sports analyst is counting down his top 40 quarterbacks entering the 2020 season and pegged Patriots signal-caller Jarrett Stidham at No. 35. Meanwhile, Tagovailoa didn't even crack Simms' top 40.

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So, is Simms saying the Patriots' 2019 fourth-round pick who attempted just four passes last season is superior to a Heisman Trophy finalist who just went fifth overall to the Miami Dolphins?

Why yes, he is.

"(Stidham is) more talented than Tua," Simms said Tuesday on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" radio show. "(Tua) is a creation of Alabama. You don’t think Jarrett Stidham or like Justin Herbert would have set the world on fire if they got to play with four first-round receivers and two first-round tackles?"

Tagovailoa indeed played for a powerhouse Alabama program that appeared in two national championship games and lost just four games total during his three seasons in Tuscaloosa.

Stidham's Auburn Tigers were no slouches, either, but the QB played with far less talent than Tagovailoa and worked with a new offensive coordinator in Chip Lindsey.

So, what's the ceiling for the 23-year-old kid who has to fill Tom Brady's shoes? Simms doubled down on his pro-Stidham take by referencing the reigning Super Bowl MVP.

 

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"Of the guys I have in the 30s, (Stidham) has the biggest potential to make a big-time jump," Simms said. "People thought I was crazy after Patrick Mahomes’ rookie year and I ranked him like 29 and people were like, ‘Oh my God, you haven’t even seen him play. He was 4-7 at Texas Tech.’ I was wrong to put him at 29. I should have put him at four or five, probably somewhere in there."

Mahomes was the No. 10 overall pick in 2017, but he backed up Alex Smith as a rookie and went somewhat overlooked before blossoming into a superstar.

The Patriots didn't take a QB in this year's draft and have passed on big names like Cam Newton and Andy Dalton in free agency, so perhaps they feel similarly about Stidham.

As for how he stacks up against Tagovailoa? We may find out in Week 1, as the Patriots host the Dolphins in their season opener.