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. 

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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. 

2020 NFL Draft: Best available talent Patriots could target on Day 3

2020 NFL Draft: Best available talent Patriots could target on Day 3

In adding two edge defenders (Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings), two tight ends (Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene), and a safety (second round pick Kyle Dugger), the Patriots addressed a number of needs on Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

But by no means are they done. Nick Caserio has said the team will add a third quarterback. In a draft with a deep class of wide receivers, New England hasn't added one yet. The team still has no kicker.

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New England enters Rounds 4-7 of the draft on Saturday armed with six selections. Here's what Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio and company have at their disposal:

  • Round 4: no picks
  • Round 5: No. 159
  • Round 6: Nos. 195, 204, 212, 213
  • Round 7: No. 230

Currently, the Patriots won't be on the clock until 52 players have already come off the board, so it won't be a surprise to see the team trade up into Round 4 if they identify good value. (And when is it ever a surprise to see a draft day trade from Belichick?)

Our Phil Perry has identified the following players as the best ones available heading into Day 3. Their scouting reports are taken from Phil's Prototypical Patriots series. Could any of them land in Foxboro?

QUARTERBACK

Jake Fromm, Georgia: Fromm's arm strength is generally regarded as below average, but he's very accurate and takes care of the football. He completed 63.3 percent of his passes in college and racked up a 36-7 record.

Anthony Gordon, Washington State: Gordon only started one year under Mike Leach in Pullman. But he completed over 70 percent of his passes and had a 48-to-16 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions.

Jake Luton, Oregon State: With 28 touchdown passes and only three interceptions last season, Luton was one of only three QBs in the country with at least 25 TDs and three picks or fewer,

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn: Wanogho is still pretty raw, but he played both right and left tackle at Auburn. An interesting project who might take time to develop.

Ben Bartch, St. John's (Minn.): Like the Patriots' second round pick Kyle Dugger, Bartch hails from a small school, but don't discount him. He opened eyes at the Senior Bowl, with Jim Nagy saying he "moved up multiple rounds" based on his performance.

WIDE RECEIVER

Darnell Mooney, Tulane: Mooney didn't do agility drills in Indianapolis, but he has impressive explosiveness (4.38-second 40, jumped 37 inches in the vertical and 124 inches in the broad.)

K.J. Hill, Ohio State: Only Denzel Mims won more of his one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl than Hill, who has already met with Troy Brown at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

K.J. Osborn, Miami: After transferring from Buffalo, Osborn was a captain for the Hurricanes and led the team with 50 receptions and five touchdowns. He also has return experience.

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan: Peoples-Jones has impressive size at 6-2, 212 and he has punt return experience, traits that could interest the Patriots on Day 3.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Leki Fotu, Utah: At 6-5, 330, Fotu is a classic nose tackle and could fill the gap left by Danny Shelton in free agency.

Rashard Lawrence, LSU: He's a little undersized in terms of his height, but his long arms (34 inches) and massive paws (11 inches) will play at the next level as a run-focused five-technique.

Broderick Washington, Texas Tech: A two-time captain and a three-year starter, he seems like a high-character late-round add. He's not quite as explosive or as long as Lawrence, but on Day 3, he might make some sense. 

LINEBACKER 

Dante Olson, Montana: Olson was a first-team all-conference selection and an FCS All-American in both 2018 and 2019. He was the Big Sky Defensive Player of the year last season with 179 tackles (best in the country) that included 11 for a loss, as well as 3.5 sacks and a pick.

Derrek Tuszka, North Dakota State: The Missouri Valley Defensive Player of the Year, Tuszka tested well with a 4.79 40, a 120-inch broad and a blazing 6.87-second three-cone. If he's not a defensive fit, he could end up a late-round special-teams option. 

DEFENSIVE BACK

Darnay Holmes, UCLA: Holmes had eight career picks for the Bruins, including one when he cut off N'Keal Harry's route and took it back for a touchdown. Holmes, who clocked a 4.48-second 40, offers return ability as well.

Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame: A four-time state champ in track and field in high school, it comes as no surprise that Pride's deep speed is his calling card. Per PFF, he allowed just six of 38 deep (20 yards or more) targets to be completed in his college career.

Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame: Gilman had three interceptions and six forced fumbles in two years in South Bend, but special teams might be his best chance in the NFL, at least to start.

Geno Stone, Iowa: An instinctive free safety from a program led by one of Bill Belichick's old assistants (Kirk Ferentz), Stone is one of Pro Football Focus' favorite safeties in the class, compiling an elite 91.8 coverage grade on 883 coverage snaps.

K'Von Wallace, Clemson: Pro Football Focus docked him for just 18 missed tackles on 171 career attempts, making him one of the best tackling defensive backs in the country. Special teams could be where he makes his mark early.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin: Biadasz didn't test at the combine after having shoulder surgery this offseason. But Biadasz was a three-year starter for a program that loved to run the football, and he won the Remington Trophy as the best center in the country last year.

Nick Harris, Washington: A starter for more than three years at both guard and center, Harris might be a tad undersized to slow down behemoth NFL defensive linemen. Still, he's an athlete and should be able to get wherever he needs to in order to be effective in the NFL. Plus, he graduated from Tom Brady's alma mater, Junipero Serra HS.

Netane Muti, Fresno State: Achilles and Lisfranc injuries cut his college career short — he only played in five games over the last two seasons. But he has freakish strength, with 44 reps of 225 pounds, the fourth-highest total in combine history at any position.

2020 NFL Draft: Prototypical Patriot fits at running back

2020 NFL Draft: Prototypical Patriot fits at running back

Are the Patriots going to go with a big back? Maybe a pass-catcher? A do-it-all type? Will they go with a running back at all in the 2020 draft?

That position group is one of their deepest on paper, with James White, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden and Damien Harris all in the mix for next season.

As is the case just about every year, if they want at the position there's talent available to them.

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Lead backs, often bigger-bodied runners, have generally been around 220 pounds and in possession of good athleticism (4.6-second 40 time or thereabouts and around a 7.0-second three-cone drill). Sub backs have to have good hands, an ability to pass protect, and the wiggle to make people miss in space.

Let's get to some "prototypes" in case the Patriots feel like getting a little deeper here . . .

Click here for the gallery.