Jacob Eason

2020 NFL Draft: Which quarterback could Patriots add alongside Jarrett Stidham?

2020 NFL Draft: Which quarterback could Patriots add alongside Jarrett Stidham?

Through two days of the NFL draft, the Patriots have taken two edge rushers, two tight ends, and one Division II safety. 

Quarterbacks? Zip. Zilch. 

For the first time in 20 years, Bill Belichick and the Patriots don’t have a surefire answer at the most important position on the roster. This weekend’s draft represented an opportunity for the rest of the football-watching world to get a sense for how Belichick and personnel chief Nick Caserio would handle the quarterback spot in their first post-Tom Brady offseason. 

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Would they take a shot on a talented-yet-unpolished player like Jordan Love in the first round, acknowledging that because the position was so important, they might as well take early risks to help improve the chances they hit? Would they wait until Day 2 to take a flier on an athlete like Jalen Hurts, who might not be a starter Year 1 but might provide some value in specialty quarterback-run-game packages as a rookie?

Would they go for a big arm? A quick-footed passer with a big brain? Was it critical to nab someone with big-game experience?

But the football world is still waiting to see what the Patriots valued at that position in this year’s draft. As it turns out, what they valued was what they already had in Jarrett Stidham. 

That’s the implication, at least. Because unless Brian Hoyer beats out Stidham as the best man for the job in New England next season, it’s going to be hard for a player taken on Day 3 of the draft — even early on Day 3, like Stidham — to join the team after a shortened (if not non-existent) offseason program and challenge a player with good physical skills who has the benefit of a full season under his belt. 

Not impossible. But hard. 

I asked Caserio on Friday night if leaving quarterbacks alone through two days of drafting should tell us anything about the club’s affinity for Stidham. 

”There's still some players I think that have a possibility ending up on this team,” Caserio said. ”We have the picks sort of spread out [Saturday]. There's different ways that you can get the players on your team. 

“We're going to have a third quarterback on our roster, pair them up with Jarrett and Brian. These guys are working hard at the start of the off-season program. We're going to have another player here at this position. Where he comes from and how he gets here is sort of yet to be determined. There's a few guys I think that we like and we feel comfortable with. Now it's just a matter of how we get them on the team.“

That could mean Day 3 of the draft. It could mean something else. After all, the current free agents at that position feature big names like Cam Newton and Jameis Winston. Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton could be available via trade soon. Miami’s Josh Rosen should be as well. 

If it is the draft, though, there are some options who’d make sense at One Patriot Place. Here are some of the best available Prototypical Patriots in Day 3 at the quarterback spot. 

Anthony Gordon, Washington State

It took Gordon — who began his career at City College of San Francisco and then sat for three years — a long time to see the field for coach Mike Leach. But when he did, he tore it up. He completed 71.8 percent of his passes and had a 3-to-1 (48-to-16) touchdown to interception ratio. A baseball player first growing up, Gordon has a strong arm that's quick to strike. He explained at the combine that he watches Jimmy Garoppolo's compact delivery to polish his own mechanics.

Though Gordon made some bad calls to force passes into places they shouldn't have been, he was extremely efficient in the Cougars Air Raid offense in his first and only year as a starter. Still a young player in terms of game experience, his arm and tight delivery might make him the first quarterback off the board on Day 3.

Jake Fromm, Georgia

Smaller hand size than the typical Patriots quarterbacks, which is worthy of consideration given where and when (December, January) the team’s most important home games are played.  

Fromm has also only spent three years in college, is a below-average athlete, and possesses what is by all accounts a below-average arm. There are still a number of things to like about Fromm. A three-year starter for a Patriots-preferred program, he reads the field, he's taken snaps from under center, he covets possession (only 28 turnover-worthy plays in three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus), and he's accurate (63.3 percent completions for his career). He's just not the "prototype."

Jacob Eason, Washington

Eason is another big-bodied passer who has no problem meeting the size thresholds for the prototypical Patriots quarterbacks. He played one year at Washington after transferring from Georgia, where he lost the starting gig to Fromm in 2017. Though he has just two years of real college-playing experience, he's been in the collegiate ranks for four.

Eason completed just a hair under 60 percent of his throws (59.8) for his career and had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 2.4-to-1. He owns a cannon for a right arm and might be a fit for Belichick if mobility isn't high on the list of preferred attributes for The Next Guy.

Jake Luton, Oregon State

Plenty of size. Plenty of arm. So why isn't Luton more highly regarded? His accuracy might not be considered to be on the level of some of the best in this class, but it's just fine. He completed 62.2 percent of his career attempts (played six games in 2015 at Idaho before transferring), but his 7.1 yards-per-attempt number is a tad low. Unafraid of a good checkdown — evident in that YPA figure — Luton could be a little quick to get rid of the football. But does that sound like something that would interest the Patriots?

Luton's 28 touchdowns to just three interceptions in 2019 will be sure to catch Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio's attention. (Ohio State's Justin Fields and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa were the only quarterbacks last year with at least 25 touchdown passes and three picks or fewer.) Low interception numbers helped get LSU's Danny Etling picked by the Patriots on Day 3 a few years ago. The same could be true for Luton this year. He's already earned a pair of degrees (sociology and innovation management) and had a 3.43 GPA. He suffered a thoracic spine fracture in 2017, saw five starts in 2018, and came back last season as the full-time starter for the Beavers.

Tyler Huntley, Utah

Though only 6-1, shorter than the prototypical Patriot quarterback, Huntley had a helluva college career. A first-team All-Pac 12 selection and Shrine Game invitee, Huntley was a three-year starter. He completed over 67 percent of his passes in his career — including a whopping 73 percent last season — and he took care of the football with 19 touchdowns to just four interceptions in 2019. Huntley also scored 16 rushing touchdowns in his career.

Huntley is a Pro Football Focus darling, with the eighth-best quarterback grade in the country last season, the lowest turnover-worthy play rate among Power 5 quarterbacks, and the second-best accurate-pass rate in the country (behind only Joe Burrow) on passes of 10 yards or more down the field. On Day 3, he'll be an intriguing option.

Cole McDonald, Hawaii

With his frame and hands that measured over 9.5 inches, McDonald checks most of the boxes the Patriots have typically drafted when it comes to stature. He also came in as one of the most athletic passers at the combine this year (4.58-second 40, 36-inch vertical, 7.13 three-cone).

Though he's not a Power Five conference player, his statistical production was very good (61.4 percent completions for his career, over 8,000 yards passing, 70 touchdowns against 24 picks as a two-and-a-half-year starter), and he looks like he could be a late-round flier for Belichick if the head coach can get over McDonald's wonky throwing motion. 

NFL Rumors: Three QBs that could intrigue Patriots on Day 2 of NFL Draft

NFL Rumors: Three QBs that could intrigue Patriots on Day 2 of NFL Draft

The New England Patriots passed on taking a quarterback in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft. In fact, they passed on making a pick at all.

Instead, they traded the No. 23 overall selection the Los Angeles Chargers for picks 37 and 71, giving them five picks between Rounds 2 and 3. That sets them up for what could be an eventful Day 2.

Perhaps this will be when New England drafts a QB to compete with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer for the starting gig in 2020. There are several interesting prospects still on the board, including three that were discussed Friday by ESPN's Dan Orlovsky, Jim Nagy, and Mike Tannenbaum.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Orlovsky picked Georgia's Jake Fromm as the QB the Patriots should take on Day 2.

"Jake Fromm would be somebody that I think really fits New England. If you think about the things that -- the intangibles, right? That are totally in line with what New England wants.

"But also, he fits their style of offense. He's really good throwing the ball in-between the numbers, he's great in the pocket, he's got great command, he's a ball distributor, he's kind of your dink-and-dunk style of quarterback."

Nagy, a former Patriots scout, argued that if New England does indeed draft a QB, it should be Oklahoma's dual-threat Jalen Hurts.

"He kind of came into this draft as a fourth-round pick," said Nagy. "The more the NFL has spent time around this guy, the more they've bought into him.

"So just from knowing what New England values at that position, a guy that might not have the same arm talent and physical tools that Jarrett Stidham has, you're going to have to have some of these other things to compensate, and the two guys that have them are Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts."

QB No. 3 on the list? That would be Jacob Eason. Tannenbaum is especially high on the Washington product.

"He's sort of the prototypical in-the-pocket quarterback. He has to clean up his footwork, his accuracy. I think maybe at the bottom of the second or third round. I like his upside," Tannenbaum said.

"And even though Fromm has incredible intangibles, I just think at the end of the day, [for] Fromm, the field's going to be condensed so he can't get the ball outside the numbers, and that's why I would separate Eason over Fromm, because at least Eason can get the ball down the field outside the numbers."

Regardless of which QB the Patriots choose -- if any -- ESPN's panelists made it clear it won't be easy for them to beat out Jarrett Stidham for the starting job. Passing on Utah State's Jordan Love in Round 1 further emphasized their faith in the 2019 fourth-round pick.

Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft is set to kick off at 7 p.m. ET. New England's first pick of the night will be No. 37... unless, of course, they trade down again.

2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 quarterbacks in stacked group

2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 quarterbacks in stacked group

For the first time in two decades, the New England Patriots face uncertainty at quarterback.

Tom Brady has joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Patriots are now searching for a starter.

Luckily for them, the 2020 NFL Draft class is well-stocked at quarterback. The top seven players in this class all have the chance to become solid NFL starters rather quickly. And beyond them, there are several other intriguing developmental options.

The Patriots may opt to roll with Jarrett Stidham as their starter. Still, they could look to add some young depth to challenge him and/or develop behind him. And armed with many mid-round draft picks, they'll surely have an opportunity to target a passer if they want to.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Here's a look at the top 10 quarterbacks in the draft, starting with the likely No. 1 overall pick. 

1. Joe Burrow

College: LSU
Class: Redshirt senior
2019 stats: 76.3 completion percentage, 5,761 passing yards, 60 passing TDs, six interceptions, 115 rushes, 368 rushing yards, five rushing TDs

Joe Burrow burst onto the scene for LSU in 2019. After being a solid but unspectacular starter the previous year, Burrow caught fire in Steve Ensminger and Joe Brady's offense. He put up massive numbers en route to a Heisman Trophy and National Championship. Burrow has excellent arm talent, a knack for finding open receivers, combined with good mobility. Barring a surprise, he'll be the No. 1 overall pick for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Projected Round: First (No. 1 overall pick) 

2. Tua Tagovailoa

College: Alabama
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 71.4 completion percentage, 2,840 passing yards, 33 passing TDs, three interceptions, two rushing TDs

It's amazing that Alabama and LSU, two traditionally run-based offenses, have the consensus top two QBs in the draft. Before Burrow emerged, people referred to the process of NFL teams losing last season as "Tanking for Tua". The junior was only a two-year starter at Alabama, but he was a highly accurate passer and made 'Bama's offense one of the most dangerous in the nation. Had it not been for a brutal hip injury, he could've challenged Burrow for the top spot. Tagovailoa is progressing well in his recovery and should have a chance at being a Russell Wilson-type playmaker in the NFL, provided that he can stay healthy.

Projected Round: First (Top 5 picks) 

3. Justin Herbert

College: Oregon
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 66.8 completion percentage, 3,471 passing yards, 32 passing TDs, six interceptions, four rushing TDs

Herbert has a solid 6-foot-6 frame and possesses one of the better arms in this draft. He fits the bill as a prototypical pocket passer who has enough mobility to scramble and make throws on the run as he demonstrated time and time again in his four years as a starter for the Ducks. He seems likely to be a top-10 pick but if he slips, the Patriots could consider making a move up to get him.

Projected Round: First (Top 10) 

4. Jordan Love

College: Utah State
Class: Redshirt Junior
2019 stats: 61.9 completion percentage, 3,402 passing yards, 20 passing TDs, 17 interceptions, 81 rushes, 175 rushing yards

Love is one of the more raw passers in this class, but he has a cannon of an arm. He can make any throw but has to get better at reading the field and avoiding turnovers; those were a major problem for him last season. Love may take time to develop in the NFL, but some team will fall in love with him (no pun intended) and try to groom him as its next franchise QB.

Projected Round: Late First/Early Second

5. Jake Fromm

College: Georgia
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 60.8 completion percentage, 2,806 passing yards, 24 passing TDs, five interceptions

Fromm is almost the inverse of Love as a prospect. He doesn't have a very strong arm, but he reads the field very well and rarely turns the ball over. He may not have the best mobility, but he managed games well at Georgia, became a starter as a true freshman, and led the Bulldogs to a 36-7 record in his time there. His intelligence and high character will make a team believe that he can be an NFL starter.

Projected Round: Second or Third

6. Jacob Eason

College: Washington
Class: Redshirt Junior
2019 stats: 64.2 completion percentage, 3,132 passing yards, 23 passing TDs, eight interceptions

Eason actually started his career at Georgia but was beaten out by Fromm for the starting job. And now, he's behind Fromm on this list. Go figure. Eason, son of former Notre Dame receiver Tony Eason, not the ex-Patriots QB, has a great 6-6 frame and an excellent arm that he showed off at the combine. However, he only has two total years of starting experience that came three years apart (2016 and 2019). So, he may need time to develop at the next level. In particular, he needs to learn to use more touch on his throws and not just fire the ball as hard as he can on every pass.

Projected Round: Second or Third

7. Jalen Hurts

College: Oklahoma
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 69.7 completion percentage, 3,851 passing yards, 32 passing TDs, eight interceptions, 233 carries, 1,298 rushing yards, 20 rushing TDs

Hurts is a true dual threat who made some serious progress as a passer during his lone year at Oklahoma. Before he joined Lincoln Riley and the Sooners, he played at Alabama and was a rare true freshman starter at quarterback for the Crimson Tide before Tagovailoa took over. Hurts enjoyed an excellent season in 2019 and finished second in the Heisman voting. He still needs to work on his passing skill set and confidence in the pocket, but while he does that, he could be a Taysom Hill-type playmaker for a team willing to spend a pick on him.

Projected Round: Third

8. James Morgan

College: Florida International
Class: Redshirt senior
2019 stats: 58 completion percentage, 2,585 passing yards, 14 passing TDs, five interceptions, two rushing TDs

A smaller-school prospect who impressed at the NFL Combine, Morgan has been on the rise during the scouting process. He took a step back as a passer in 2019 but perhaps with a better supporting cast in the NFL, he could find success. He should be a solid mid-round developmental project for the right team and it's worth noting that the Patriots have been linked to him.

Projected Round: Third or Fourth

9. Nate Stanley

College: Iowa
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 59.4 completion percentage, 2,951 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, seven interceptions

Stanley is the latest quarterback to come out of Iowa's pro-style offense which utilizes a run-heavy game plan. He'll need to work on his accuracy as a pro, but he reads the field well and has a good arm.

Projected Round: Fourth to Sixth

10. Steven Montez

College: Colorado
Class: Redshirt senior
2019 stats: 63 completion percentage, 2,808 passing yards, 17 passing TDs, 10 interceptions

Montez has the size (6-5, 230) and athletic ability that teams look for in a QB, but he'll need time to develop. The sky is the limit for him but after a middling performance at the Senior Bowl, it's clear that he'll need a year or two before he can really factor into a starting QB battle.

Projected Round: Fourth to Sixth