Forget arm talent. For Jarrett Stidham to be successful with the New England Patriots, it could come down to how the young quarterback is wired between the ears.
While teammates, coaches and scouts since have praised Stidham, suggesting he’s a capable successor to the greatest quarterback of all time, NFL Media draft expert Lance Zierlein recently explained on WEEI that the second-year signal-caller first needs to mentally overcome his final taste of college football.
“The issue with Jarrett Stidham is not his throwing, it’s not his accuracy or placement,” Zierlein said, as transcribed by WEEI.com. “I think the biggest concern moving forward with Jarrett Stidham is going to be whether or not he is shell-shocked that year with Auburn. People may think that’s ridiculous. It’s just one year. But I’m telling you, I have been in Houston doing radio and NFL stuff for a while, and I will never forget watching David Carr at Fresno State coming out of the draft and what happened to David over time with the subpar offensive line and then David also held onto the ball too long. He got shell-shocked and nothing was the same. Everything was a check down, check down, check down. Always looking to escape. Eyes dropping from the pocket.”
No NFL quarterback wants to be compared to Carr, one of the biggest busts in league history. And it’s probably unfair to attach similar hype to Stidham, seeing as the Patriots selected him with the 133rd overall pick in 2019. The Houston Texans drafted Carr with the No. 1 overall pick in 2002.
But Zierlein’s example speaks to how important it’ll be for Stidham to put his final season at Auburn in the rearview mirror if indeed Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels hand him the keys to New England’s offense in 2020. Or else the Stidham era could wind up being nothing more than a one-year experiment until the Patriots find a better option.
“He’s got the talent to be an NFL starter,” Zierlein said, per WEEI.com. “The question is what does his poise look like and how does he deal with adversity? The only way you find out is to let that play out. And you don’t let that play out with one or two games. You let that play out over the course of a season because you don’t just overcome adversity in a game. That is a process. There is a learning process. There is coaching to be had. And I don’t think it’s fair to Jarrett Stidham to not really give him any kind of an opportunity to go through the same process other quarterbacks get.”
This is unfamiliar territory for the Patriots, as it’s the first time since 2001 they’ll enter a season without Brady as their starting quarterback. But it’s the new reality, and all signs point toward Stidham, who turns 24 in August, getting the first crack at replacing the six-time Super Bowl champion.
It’ll be fascinating to watch whether Stidham is up to the challenge — physically and mentally.