Next Pats Podcast: Why Jarrett Stidham should be the next guy after Tom Brady’s departure

Next Pats Podcast: Why Jarrett Stidham should be the next guy after Tom Brady’s departure

With Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots after 20 years, it's time to shift the focus to who will replace the six-time Super Bowl champion under center.

Several names have been thrown around as potential fill-ins for Brady, including veterans Cam Newton and Andy Dalton. There's also a chance Bill Belichick looks to the 2020 draft to add another QB to the depth chart.

But what if the answer is already on the roster?

Jarrett Stidham spent his 2019 rookie campaign under Brady's wing after being selected out of Auburn in the fourth round. The 23-year-old didn't get much playing time, and his first season mostly will be remembered for the pick-six he tossed in his NFL debut vs. the New York Jets.

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But Patriots fans should erase that moment from their memories and come to terms with the fact Stidham may be their Brady replacement. In the latest Next Pats Podcast, Phil Perry talks with Jim Nagy, executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, about that possibility.

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Nagy made it clear he's a big believer in Stidham.

Jarrett's not your typical fourth-rounder. Usually, most fourth-round quarterbacks, you're drafting those guys to be -- if you hit on them as a backup, if they become a number two, you feel really good about it. But he's got so much more arm talent than those guys that typically go there.

Going into last year, I thought Jarrett had a chance to be a first-round guy if you just base it off arm talent and tools. He's up there with all the guys that got drafted last year in the first, the guys that are being talked about this year in the first.

As high on Stidham as he is, Nagy believes it'd still behoove the Patriots to bring in a veteran QB for competition purposes.

Jarrett's really talented. Could [the Patriots] bring in a veteran to compete? Yeah, I think that'd be smart. I don't know if I'd just hand Jarrett the job. But he's definitely got the talent to be a long-term starter in the league.

Nagy also breaks down which players in the draft could fill the voids at various positions for the Patriots. Perry wraps up with his seven-round mock draft

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How ex-Patriots staffer factored into Texans' trade for Brandin Cooks

How ex-Patriots staffer factored into Texans' trade for Brandin Cooks

You're probably wondering why the heck the Houston Texans reportedly traded their 2020 second-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a 2022 fourth-round pick.

You're right to wonder that; it's a head-scratching trade that attempts to solve a problem Houston created for itself by dealing star wideout DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.

But Bill O'Brien and the Texans had their reasons, and one apparently involves a former New England Patriots employee: Houston vice president of football operations Jack Easterby.

Cooks became very close with Easterby during his 2017 season in New England, where Easterby was the team's development director/character coach, per ESPN's Sarah Barshop.

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Easterby often retweets Cooks on social media, and their relationship was a "major intangible factor" in Thursday's reported trade, The Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson reported.

Easterby left the Patriots in 2019 to join O'Brien (a former Patriots assistant) on somewhat contentious terms: New England reportedly was "livid" that Houston poached one of its prized staffers.

Cooks posted over 1,000 receiving yards in four straight seasons from 2015 to 2018 but regressed in 2019, catching 42 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns.

The 26-year-old is now on his third team in four years, and the Rams are absorbing a massive dead money cap hit by trading him. But the Texans apparently see promise in the speedy pass-catcher -- in part thanks to Easterby.

2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 wide receivers in elite class

2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 wide receivers in elite class

This is a great year to need a wide receiver in the NFL Draft.

The 2020 class of wideouts has been deemed historically awesome by many draft experts, with as many as four or five of these players expected to be selected in the first round.

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A couple of these wide receivers played in the SEC, most notably the Alabama duo of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Both Crimson Tide stars are projected to land in the top 15. 

Whether you're looking for size, speed, contested catch ability or any other skill, you'll be able to find it in this wide receiver class.

Let's take a look at the top 10 wide receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft.

1. CeeDee Lamb

College: Oklahoma
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 62 receptions, 1,327 yards, 14 touchdowns

Lamb was the best wideout in the nation last season. He averaged an impressive 21.4 yards per catch in 2019, and he also tallied 25 touchdown receptions over the last two seasons. Lamb is a very reliable target, evidenced by his zero drops at Oklahoma on balls thrown 20 yards or more down field. He has great hands and the ability to make tough, contested catches. He's the safest bet to succeed of all the wide receivers in this class.

Projected Round: First

2. Jerry Jeudy

College: Alabama
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 77 receptions, 1,163 yards, 10 touchdowns

Alabama has produced some top-tier NFL wide receivers in the Nick Saban era, including Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Jerry Jeudy could be next.

Jeudy is the most complete wideout in this class and the best route runner. He has all the skills needed to be a No. 1 wide receiver for a long time. Jeudy also thrived in important games. In four career bowl/CFP matchups, he averaged 109 yards with a total of three touchdowns, including an incredible performance in last season's Citrus Bowl win over Michigan when he tallied six receptions for 204 yards and a touchdown.

Projected Round: First

3. Henry Ruggs III

College: Alabama
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 40 receptions, 746 yards, 7 touchdowns

Ruggs' best talent is his speed. Whether he's outrunning a defensive back down field, or catching a screen pass and beating everyone to the end zone, it's awfully tough to catch the Crimson Tide star. He had at least one reception of 25-plus yards in nine of the 12 games he played in 2019. Ruggs' big-play ability should make him a popular player on teams' draft boards in Round 1.

Projected Round: First

4. Justin Jefferson

College: LSU
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 111 receptions, 1,540 yards, 18 touchdowns

Jefferson had an incredible 2019 season as LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow's top target. He tied for the Division I lead in receptions and ranked second in touchdown catches. He also caught an astounding 92.3 percent of his contested targets, highlighting his ability to fight over defensive backs and make tough receptions. Jefferson stepped up when the bright lights were shining, too. He caught 30 passes for 448 yards and five touchdowns in the SEC Championship Game and two College Football Playoff games combined last season. His blocking skills in the run game are solid as well, making him a well-rounded and pro-ready wideout. 

Projected Round: First

5. Tee Higgins

College: Clemson
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 59 receptions, 1,167 yards, 13 touchdowns

Higgins was Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence's most reliable wideout in 2019, and it's easy to understand why when you look at his impressive talent and size (6-foot-4 and 215 pounds). Higgins tied the school record for career touchdown receptions with 27 and averaged a career-high 19.3 yards per reception last year. He's a tremendous possession receiver, and also quite versatile. He can play all over the field, whether that's outside, in the slot, lining up in the backfield or somewhere else. He'll give NFL coaches a lot of options.

Projected Round: First

6. Denzel Mims

College: Baylor
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 66 receptions, 1,020 yards, 12 touchdowns

Mims, at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, excelled as a slot receiver for Baylor and should be able to fill that role at a high level in the NFL. His speed also is fantastic, evidenced by his 4.30 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Mims was nearly unstoppable in 1-on-1 drills during Senior Bowl practices and his draft stock has risen as a result. He's definitely a player who could be drafted a lot higher than experts are projecting right now (April 9).

Projected Round: Late First, Early Second

7. Brandon Aiyuk

College: Arizona State
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 65 receptions, 1,192 yards, 8 touchdowns

Aiyuk has great speed, and it helped him rack up a ton of yards after the catch last season. He also has great concentration on balls thrown deep downfield. In fact, Aiyuk had zero drops in his college career when he was targeted 20-plus yards down field. His improvement as a sophomore was quite encouraging as well. He nearly doubled his receptions in 2019 compared to his freshman season, while more than doubling his receiving yards and touchdowns. Don't be surprised if Aiyuk rapidly moves up draft boards and becomes a lock to be a first-round pick over the next few weeks.

Projected Round: Late First, Early Second

8. Laviska Shenault Jr.

College: Colorado
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 56 receptions, 764 yards, 4 touchdowns

Versatility is one of Shenault Jr.'s best attributes. He saw snaps all over the field at Colorado, including on the outside and in the slot. Shenault also has all the physical tools needed to win 1-on-1 matchups down field. The main concern with Shenault is his durability. He battled through multiple injuries throughout his college career, but if healthy, he's one of the draft's most exciting pass-catching talents.

Projected Round: Second

9. Jalen Reagor

College: TCU
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 43 receptions, 611 yards, 5 touchdowns

Reagor is a very good route runner with the quickness and strength to create separation. The TCU star's 2019 stats look disappointing when you compare them with his breakout 2018 campaign, but the real issue for Reagor was his quarterback. Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan completed only 53.4 percent of his passes last season. He also threw 10 interceptions over TCU's final six games, which was the toughest part of the team's schedule and the only stretch where it played any top 25 teams. 

Reagor probably would be a slam-dunk first-round pick if he had a competent QB throwing him the ball last season. 

Projected Round: Second

10. KJ Hamler

College: Penn State
Class: Redshirt sophomore
2019 stats: 56 receptions, 904 yards, 8 touchdowns

Hamler is another one of the wideouts in this class with blazing speed, making him a real threat to score anytime he touches the ball. He had at least one catch of 30-plus yards in seven of the 12 games he played in 2019. The best play of Hamler's college career came against an elite Ohio State defense in 2018 when he caught a pass at his own 15-yard line and outran every Buckeyes player for a 93-yard touchdown. Hamler also was a really good kick and punt returner for Penn State. He averaged 21.3 yards on 44 career kick returns, while also tallying 37 career punt returns.

Projected Round: Second

  • 2020 Draft Rankings: QB | RB