Today the “Patriots Draft Primer” segment will take a look at the Quarterback position.
Where we stand:
The Patriots quarterback room is currently made up of Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, and Jacob Dolegala.
Rumors and analyst commentary have been circulating in recent weeks that Cam Newton’s passing ability will be much better in 2021. Personally, I think that is a cop out statement. It really can’t be any worse than it was in 2020 so of course it is going to be better. Newton has never been known for his accuracy and perhaps his best days are behind him. The Patriots aren’t asking Cam to be Tom, but he must be better than what he showed last season. His style of play seeks out contact at times which is no way to sustain a healthy QB in the NFL. He needs to take care of the ball (both when throwing and when mobilizing outside of the pocket) and know when to get down. Newton’s mechanics, mainly his footwork, were awful during 2020. I expect to see a better performance in 2021 but I am not sure it will be enough, and he isn’t the long-term answer.
I am a big Jarrett Stidham fan from his days at Baylor. He showed promise early on as a gun slinger that translated well to his first year at Auburn. The talks after the 2017 season were that Stidham would be a first round selection in the NFL draft the following year. Stidham was truly a victim of circumstance during the 2018 Auburn season that saw him play behind a decimated offensive line along with his top two pass catching options out with injuries. Gus Malzahn’s wonky Auburn system also did no favors for a QB looking to show off his arm talent. The other rumored landing spots of Texas Tech, Texas A&M, or Oregon would have been better landing spots to showcase his skills.
During his first preseason Jarrett put up the best preseason numbers of any quarterback in the Belichick era, including those of Tom Brady and Jimmy G. However, his in-season performances have been less than stellar whenever he has seen game action. Having no 2020 preseason most likely hurt his development, but one would have to think that with all the shake up in 2020 if the staff felt like Stidham had what it took then he would have received a few starts down the stretch. Stidham has the arm, poise, and maturity to be the Patriots starter, but he has yet to show the decision-making ability. I want this to happen so badly, but I think this ship has sailed. Stidham has two more years remaining on his contract.
What we need:
What the Patriots need is a long-term plan at the quarterback position. Newton and Stidham are not the answer. My thinking is that they wait until a loaded 2022 NFL draft to take a QB early on. For 2021 they ride with Newton as the starter and Stidham as the backup unless the price of Jimmy G drops. They could also re-evaluate the Jimmy G situation next offseason or look for another bridge QB. Expectations need to be realistic for whomever is the long-term option. As much as we want them to be, they won’t be the next Brady.
The 2022 NFL draft will consist of QB prospects: Sam Howell (UNC), Kedon Slovis (USC), Bo Nix (Auburn), Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma), Tanner Morgan (Minnesota), Brock Purdy (Iowa State), Emory Jones (Florida), Sean Clifford (Penn State), Layne Hatcher (Arkansas State), Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), Dustin Crum (Kent State), Jacob Zeno (Baylor) Spencer Sanders (Oklahoma State), Jayden Daniels (Arizona State), JT Daniels (Georgia), Matt Corral (Ole Miss), and my personal favorite Jack Plummer (Purdue).
Howell, Slovis, Purdy, Daniels, and Plummer would all be great in the Patriots offensive system.
There are roughly 20 Quarterback options available in this year’s draft. I believe that there is only about a 10% chance at most that the Patriots move up to select a QB. Belichick values draft capital too much to spend the ridiculous price tag that it costs to move up to the 4-7 range. Instead I think they address other positions early in the draft and take a QB in the later rounds.
David Mills – 2nd to 3rd Round Grade – Stanford
NFL QB body build, nice delivery, strong arm, great mechanics, and footwork. Reads through his progressions while keeping his head up and moving the feet in the pocket. Limited field time (11 starts). Needs to improve his mental clock in the pocket. Medical flag on his left knee with a lengthy history. Tape shows some misses on overthrows high that would be NFL interceptions. Would be a great pick if he fell and we got him at a value. Do not reach.
Kellen Mond – 4th Round Grade – Texas A&M
Personally I was not a Mond fan when I watched Texas A&M this season. With that being said the links between Mond and the Patriots have been consistent and hard to ignore. A report came out this week that he has been texting and in regular communication with McDaniels.
Strong arm, comfortable throwing on the run, quick moving, no health concerns, coachable, impressive statistics from his career at A&M. Hard to see his play style translating to the Patriots offense. Struggles with touch passing. Stares down targets. Makes throws that were completions in college but won’t work against an NFL secondary. Lacks adequate progression reading. Jimbo Fisher raved about his leadership skills. Plays a similar game to Colin Kaepernick.
Jamie Newman – 6th Round Grade – Wake Forest / Georgia
Great build, leader, plays with confidence, back shoulder fade stood out on tape. Opting out of the 2020 season really hurt his stock. Awful senior bowl highlighted by inaccuracy. Needs to improve accuracy to play at the NFL level. Needs to speed up his game from his reads to his release. More of a project, but the Athletic compares him to Jacoby Brissett. Worth a 6th round flyer to develop.
Shane Buechele – 7th Round Grade / Undrafted – SMU
Lacks NFL size (6ft), mobile, consistent on short routes, extends the play using legs, competitor, solid output, inconsistent on whole body of work, lacks ideal accuracy, poor mechanics, needs to improve arm strength, quick release, needs to improve timing.
Zach Smith – Undrafted – Tulsa
Big body, quick release, good arm, lacks mobility, poor decision making, bad internal clock when in the pocket, inconsistent, struggles to come back when things go wrong.
KJ Costello – Undrafted – Mississippi State
Good frame (6-4 225), injury history caused him to miss time while at Stanford, poor decision making, awful under pressure, inconsistent. Has the raw tools but would be a project to put it together.
– Lawrence, Fields, and Wilson go 1,2,3 on my big board. Fields is more impressive than Wilson.
– There is not enough film on Lance that I would feel good enough to move up to grab him. Boom or bust prospect.
– I will pass on Mac Jones. Alabama open is not NFL open. I see a lot of similarities between him and Mitch Trubisky.
– Trask’s success was driven by those passing options. Look how well he fared without them in the bowl game. Moves with heavy feet and inconsistent mechanics. I think like Tim Tebow there are just quarterbacks that are made to thrive in college ball, but their game doesn’t translate to the NFL. Player comparison of Mason Rudolph.
– The 2022 QB draft class offers a lot more depth than the 2021 class. I think we take a project candidate in 2021 giving him the season to develop then go with someone in the loaded 2022 class.