In addition to hosting two highly regarded quarterback prospects last week in Duke’s Daniel Jones and West Virginia’s Will Grier, the New England Patriots also took a closer look at a pair of lesser-known signal-callers.
Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson both recently traveled to Gillette Stadium for pre-draft visits, according to a report Monday from NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.
Opinions on Stidham and Thorson vary, but most draft experts have them pegged as likely Day 3 selections. NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein projects Stidham as a fourth- or fifth-round pick and Thorson as a fourth-rounder, comparing them to A.J. McCarron and DeShone Kizer, respectively.
Stidham, who transferred from Baylor to Auburn in 2016, put up strong numbers in his first season with the Tigers but took a significant step back in Year 2, with his completion percentage dropping from 66.5 percent in 2017 to 60.7 percent in 2018. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound 22-year-old didn’t test particularly well at the NFL Scouting Combine but reportedly impressed at his pro day.
“The 2018 tape shows a player who lost both his confidence and poise and began to play a rushed brand of football that seeped into his pre-snap planning and his post-snap accuracy,” Zierlein wrote in Stidham’s NFL.com draft profile. “Stidham went from ascending prospect to developmental quarterback, and he needs to find the right set of coaches and system to help rehab his confidence and timing.”
Thorson, meanwhile, was a four-year starter at Northwestern. He steadily improved his completion percentage each year but threw nearly as many interceptions (27) as touchdowns (32) over his final two seasons after posting a respectable 22-9 mark as a sophomore in 2016. His average yards per attempt also never cracked 7.0 in any of his four seasons with the Wildcats.
“His limited field vision combined with plus physical traits (6-foot-4, 222 pounds) gives him a chance to become an average backup in a pro-style offense,” Zierlein wrote in Thorson’s draft profile.
Quarterback isn’t a pressing need for the Patriots, but they currently lack an obvious successor to Tom Brady, who turns 42 in August. The two players behind Brady on the depth chart are 33-year-old journeyman Brian Hoyer and 2018 seventh-round pick Danny Etling, who spent his rookie season on the practice squad.
The 2019 NFL Draft begins next Thursday night.