FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots continue to explore possibilities to succeed Tom Brady in the future, as they selected Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham on Saturday in the fourth round of the NFL draft.
Stidham, the 133rd overall selection, was the seventh quarterback picked overall, following Kyler Murray (first overall, Cardinals), Daniel Jones(sixth, Giants), Dwayne Haskins (15th, Redskins), Drew Lock (42nd, Broncos), Will Grier (100th, Panthers) and Ryan Finley (104th, Bengals). That's similar to Brady, the 199th overall pick of the 2000 draft who saw six quarterbacks -- sometimes referred to as the "Brady 6" -- selected before him.
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"Tom Brady is obviously a great player and, from what I've heard, a great teammate," Stidham said Saturday on a conference call. "So I'm just looking forward to spending some time with him. You can't play for 20 years and not have so much knowledge of the game, so just being able to sit there and soak up everything that he's gone through and pick his brain here and there about different things."
The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Stidham joins veteran Brian Hoyer and 2018 seventh-round pick Danny Etling on the depth chart behind Brady, and added that he's looking forward to working with them as well. Auburn wide receiver Darius Slayton, a fifth-round pick of the New York Giants on Saturday, said the Patriots are a perfect fit for Stidham.
"I think he can be Tom Brady-esque because Jared's really smart, he throws well from the pocket, he's good at making quick decisions. I think that is a great fit for him. And he loves Tom Brady to death. I'm sure that is like getting drafted by God for him," Slayton said.
Stidham completed 470 of 739 passes for 5,952 yards, with 36 touchdowns and 11 touchdowns over the past two seasons at Auburn after transferring from Baylor. His completion percentage dipped from 66.5 in 2017 to 60.7 in 2018, which has sparked questions.
"I think there's different things that happen throughout the season, and I think myself, Coach [Gus] Malzahn, Coach [Chip] Lindsey, if we were all to kind of look back through the season, I think we'd just open it up a lot more," he said. "When you lose a guy like [running back] Kerryon Johnson, and Braden Smith up front, some of those guys that have a lot of experience, you just have to find out your identity. And I think we found our identity during our bowl game against Purdue.
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"It's one of those things, but I wouldn't trade my time at Auburn for anything. I loved it there, and the great thing about Auburn is that it can really help prepare you for the next level. And sure enough, I'm lucky enough to sit here and be a Patriot and further my career a little bit."
How much longer he furthers his career, and how well the 22-year-old Stidham ultimately develops, could help the Patriots transition to life after Brady, who turns 42 in August and has said he hopes to play until he's 45. At the least, Stidham should have the luxury to develop behind the scenes in 2019.
Hoyer, the team's veteran backup, enters the final year of his contract. Meanwhile, Etling will vie for a backup spot after spending his rookie season on the practice squad. When Stidham visited the Patriots' facility in April, he said he shared lunch with Etling.
"I'm extremely excited," Stidham said. "I couldn't think of a better situation."