Patriots

Patriots

Few NFL players -- if any -- will be under more pressure next season than Jarrett Stidham.

The 2019 fourth-round draft pick is slated to be the next starting quarterback of the New England Patriots, following in the footsteps of a guy named Tom Brady. Not exactly the easiest shoes to fill.

It's clear, though, that those within the Patriots organization are confident in Stidham. They passed on selecting a QB in the 2020 NFL Draft and besides bringing veteran Brian Hoyer back for a third stint with the team, they haven't made a move for another player to compete with the 23-year-old.

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While that kind of pressure would be too much for some young players to handle, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn suggested in a conversation with ESPN's Mike Reiss that it'll have the opposite effect on his former QB.

"It definitely helped him to learn under the best and see what that looks like, but he's the kind of young man, too, this is what he's been waiting on," Malzahn told Reiss. "I'll tell you, the moment won't be too big for him. He'll be up to the challenge, that's what I expect."

Malzahn called Stidham the "steal of the draft" when the Patriots selected him, and his thoughts haven't changed a year later. He believes Stidham is the perfect fit for New England as both a player and a person.

 

"Even when he got here, before he played his first game, you could just kind of tell he was a mature young man," Malzahn said. "Like a gym rat, always at the complex trying to learn, study film.

"When he got drafted by the Patriots [in 2019], I thought it was a perfect spot for him system-wise -- spreading the field. He's so good with protections, changing protections, and scheme-wise everything that goes with it, and just the flexibility the scheme gives him. I think that really applies to his strength."

There's still plenty of time for the Patriots to bring in another QB to compete for the starting job, but it's looking more and more like Stidham will be the guy.

The Dallas Cowboys signed Andy Dalton on Saturday after there was some speculation about the Patriots possibly adding the ex-Cincinnati Bengals QB. Former Carolina Panthers signal-caller Cam Newton is still on the market, but New England likely would have to do some serious salary cap gymnastics to afford him.