Jarrett Stidham should be feeling pretty good about himself now that the 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone. His New England Patriots decided to pass on bringing in another young quarterback to compete against him as the franchise's next potential signal caller as they enter the post-Tom Brady era.
While it's easy to get caught up in "the shiny new toy" effect that a given quarterback class can possess, Bill Belichick and company seemingly like the promise of Stidham more than any quarterback they could have realistically had in this draft. Jordan Love, Jake Fromm, Jalen Hurts, Jacob Eason and others were on the table to be had by New England and they instead elected to go in a different direction. That decision should be looked at as a significant vote of confidence in the 2019 fourth rounder out of Auburn, who spent his entire rookie season behind Brady in Foxborough.
With that said, Stidham isn't out of the woods just yet to secure the starting spot in New England. Not only will he have to battle it out with veteran Brian Hoyer over the summer, but Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio did say following Day 2 of the draft that New England will bring in a third quarterback to compete at some point. It's just a matter of when. It ultimately didn't happen at the draft, but there are still plenty of free agents out there who could be appealing.
Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are still on the open market and, now that Joe Burrow is officially a member of the Bengals, Andy Dalton's future in Cincinnati is murky at best. Heck, it wouldn't even be surprising to see Jacoby Brissett become available via trade now that Philip Rivers is entrenched as the starter in Indianapolis and after the club drafted Jacob Eason on Day 3.
The one thing that works in Stidham's favor, however, against those quarterbacks who are outside the Patriots organization is the experience he enjoyed over the course of the 2019 season. Because Stidham is already immersed in New England's system, has a rapport with various receivers and worked within the starting offense at times towards the tail end of the regular season as Tom Brady nursed various ailments, he has an advantage that other, more experienced quarterbacks simply don't have.
That point shouldn't be overlooked, especially when the NFL is in the midst of a very uncertain offseason where OTAs and minicamp are possibly in jeopardy of happening because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if a player like Cam Newton -- a former league MVP -- possibly has a higher ceiling than Stidham, it wouldn't be too shocking to see Belichick lean more towards a player with knowledge of his operation rather than a quarterback going through a crash course over the first month or two of the season.
That doesn't mean that New England won't swing for the fences with the likes of a Newton or Dalton if the price tag becomes so much of a bargain that they'd be foolish to not look into it. That could absolutely still occur, but it's hardly the certainty that it's being portrayed as by some talking-heads throughout the league after the club decided to forgo selecting a quarterback at the draft.
That decision, to me at least, has more to do with Stidham more than anything else and it may be about time that the NFL landscape comes to the realization that Bill Belichick's choice to usher in this new era of Patriots football could simply be to start Stidham in 2020.