Patriots Insider Says It's Not 'If' NE Pick a QB, but 'When' in 2020 NFL Draft

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIApril 19, 2020

A New England Patriots helmet is seen on the bench during an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 in Foxborough, Mass. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The New England Patriots reportedly aren't done addressing the hole future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady left behind when he decided to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency last month.

"New England is picking at No. 23, and with just Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer on the roster, the question is less 'if' the Patriots select a quarterback, but 'when,'" ESPN's Mike Reiss reported about the Patriots' believed mentality entering the 2020 NFL draft.

Reiss went on to project who could be the best fit in New England: "Credibility matters. So when ESPN's Matt Bowen wrote before last year's draft that Stidham was the best QB fit for the Patriots, and then the Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round (No. 133), it made me seek out Bowen's opinion of this year's crop of signal-callers. Bowen's choice for the Patriots: Washington's Jacob Eason."

Stidham appeared in three regular-season games as a rookie behind Brady. The 23-year-old went just 2-of-4 for 14 yards and an interception.

The Patriots signed veteran backup Brian Hoyer on March 22, marking the 34-year-old's third stint in New England.

Hoyer's pro career began when the Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He remained with the team through 2011 before moving on to Arizona (2012), Cleveland (2013-14), Houston (2015) and Chicago (2016). He returned to New England following his 2017 release from the San Francisco 49ers and was cut by the Patriots in August 2019.

Head coach Bill Belichick addressed the Patriots' level of comfort with both Hoyer and Stidham with reporters earlier this month, noting he and his staff "certainly have a pretty good feel" for the two QBs:

"We've spent quite a bit of time with Brian and Stid. The circumstances will be different this year, and we'll see how everything plays out. To start with, I think the main thing is to give everyone a chance to compete, to get people comfortable with the skills at the position they're playing, the communication that's involved. We'll evaluate the players as we get an opportunity to evaluate them."

As for Eason, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked the former Washington Huskies signal-caller as having the best arm strength among quarterbacks in this class. Miller ranked Eason as the sixth-best quarterback but outside of his top-50 overall prospects.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler linked former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love to the Patriots earlier Sunday:

"If Love is available in the 20s (and that's a possibility since many teams will be turned off by the 17 interceptions in 2019), then New England at No. 23 becomes a crucial spot. The Patriots have done a lot of homework on the quarterback landscape. If Love becomes available to New England and it passes -- No. 23 might be too rich, and it has needs elsewhere—the notion of teams with picks in the early second round jumping the line to get Love comes into play.

"Here are a handful of teams that have done serious research on Love and are worth watching: New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins."

Michael Giardi @MikeGiardi

According to @PFF, Jordan Love did not perform as well when not under pressure during the 2019 season. That would concern me. What makes him different from say Jacob Eason? https://t.co/GwUxYoj2T3

The Patriots haven't had to worry about quarterback since 2000. Brady was selected in the sixth round (No. 199) overall but quickly proved to be their face of the future. The 42-year-old went on to win an all-time most six Super Bowl titles, four Super Bowl MVPs, three league MVPs and various other individual records.