FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Within a few hours after the New England Patriots selected Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round of the NFL draft, one of the players who could be most affected by the decision took the field at Gillette Stadium for some extra work.
Danny Etling, the former LSU quarterback selected in the seventh round in 2018, went through a warm-up for the first time since the competition at the backup spot to Tom Brady notably changed.
Stidham’s arrival as the 133rd overall pick locks him into a roster spot behind Brady barring an unexpected turn of events. The question is whether there will be a third quarterback joining Brady and Stidham, with Etling and veteran Brian Hoyer potentially battling it out for that one spot.
The altered outlook at quarterback is a good example of the immediate trickle-down effect that a draft pick has on those already on the team.
As for what the Patriots do this season, history in the coach Bill Belichick era can serve as a helpful guide. In years when they don’t draft a quarterback in Rounds 3-4, they usually keep just two quarterbacks on their final roster. But when they have drafted a quarterback in the third or fourth round, the club has always kept three signal-callers on their initial 53-man roster.
In 2002, it was rookie Rohan Davey (fourth round) and veteran Damon Huard. In 2008, rookie Kevin O’Connell (third round) joined four-year veteran Matt Cassel. In 2011, it was rookie Ryan Mallett (third round) and Hoyer (then in his third season). And in 2016, rookie Jacoby Brissett (third round) joined third-year man Jimmy Garoppolo.
Belichick, of course, might also point out 2000, when the Patriots took the unconventional step of keeping a fourth quarterback, because there was a sense that rookie Tom Brady (sixth round) might turn into something special.
As for 2019, if Stidham shows he is a quick study, there remains a chance the club could keep just him and Brady.
With the selection of Stidham as a springboard, and how that affects others on the team, here is a position-by-position breakdown of the roster (rookies are in italics)