As the league year progresses and the NFL draft grows ever-closer, it's become clear the New England Patriots will not be looking for a quick-fix answer at quarterback in 2020. The time to trade for Andy Dalton or sign Cam Newton seems to have come and gone. This means Jarrett Stidham will get his opportunity to take the starting job.
It is admittedly hard to feel optimistic about his chances. He was a fourth-round pick in 2019 after an underwhelming final season at Auburn where he completed only 60 percent of his passes for 2,794 yards and 18 touchdowns to pair with five interceptions. Stidham looked good enough in the preseason (731 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception on a 67 percent completion rate) to win sole ownership of the backup quarterback job last year, but preseason adequacy isn't exactly a tried-and-true path to starting-caliber play.
You can count Todd McShay among his doubters. The ESPN draft expert went on Get Up on Monday morning and said Stidham isn't ready to take the reins of this offense, hard stop (starting at the 6:30 mark):
"From everyone I talk to in the organization, they’re excited about [Stidham's] development. He has so much potential. He is gifted. He’s been through a lot in his life. He’s got some character and some grittiness and some toughness to him," said McShay. "But he’s not ready yet. That’s the bottom line. He is not ready to lead the New England Patriots yet, in my opinion."
I'm not sure anybody would really be "ready" to step in as Tom Brady's successor, but there's very little evidence to suggest McShay will be eating his words in six months. Stidham's draft stock was highest after his 2017 season when he completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,158 yards, 18 touchdowns, and five interceptions, but even then nobody was high enough on him to believe he could come in and start right away. His ceiling has always been that of a high-end backup or low-level starter after some years of grooming. That didn't necessarily change because of one year under Brady's tutelage.
Stidham can always come in and surprise everyone. We probably feel that's more likely in this case because it is the Patriots, after all. Bill Belichick regularly finds diamonds in the rough. But from the tape available, he still has a long way to go.