It’s always more interesting to watch a young quarterback drafted and developed in the same organization get his shot than to see an experienced hand brought in from the outside. Human nature makes us believe that the ceiling of the unseen athlete extends higher. The suspense builds. The possibilities rattling around the imagination are endless.

For those reasons, the hope here has been that Jarrett Stidham is under center when the Patriots play their next game.

How realistic is that? Until recently, that’s been a tough call because the Patriots guard their information more carefully than The Hershey Company secures the recipe for its milk chocolate bar, the closest thing to a perfect food ever conceived.

As the NFL Draft nears, more and more “information” is leaking out about Stidham’s readiness. One week, it’s leaked that he is nowhere near ready. The next week, it’s a tossup as to whether Stidham or Brian Hoyer ranks higher on the Patriots’ depth chart. Not only that, somebody’s source advises to look for the Patriots to use a “premium” draft choice on a quarterback. At the moment, the Patriots only have one such pick, No. 23 overall, and don’t pick again until No. 87.

The timing of these leaks sprouting after so much silence about Stidham’s readiness as an NFL starter makes me so suspicious that now, more than ever, I’m convinced that Coach Bill Belichick likes Stidham’s potential and is ready to give him his shot.

‘Tis the season of misdirection plays on football information. Much has changed about this draft because of coronavirus-driven rules that prohibit teams from bringing in prospects for visits and ban team officials from flying to prospects for visits.

But nothing has changed about teams floating misleading information, and nobody does it better than the Patriots. Let the word leak that you want to trade up to get Baker Mayfield, and then go about your actual business. Make your competitors think that you’re going this way and then go the other. What’s the point? In sports, organizations tend to copy the work of the best, and the Patriots have stood atop the NFL for two decades now.

That doesn’t mean they have drafted the most talent, especially in recent years, but that doesn’t stop countless teams from attempting to mimic their every move.

So if word spreads that the Patriots just might use their first pick to snag a quarterback, maybe even moving up to do so, it could push teams on the quarterback-or-no-quarterback fence into drafting a QB, giving the Patriots one more chance at the player they really want falling to them.

This draft is loaded with talent at wide receiver. Quarterback? Beyond potential superstar Joe Burrow, this QB class is riddled with more question marks than the costume of the greatest of all Batman villains, Frank Gorshin as The Riddler.

Why would the Patriots join a litany of teams in draft history in talking themselves into overlooking a quarterback’s obvious limitations and/or flaws to take a risky first-round plunge in hopes that they get lucky? Desperate organizations, not disciplined ones, behave that way.

If a general manager thinks he is snagging a quarterback out from under the noses of the Patriots and bypasses whatever receiver, linebacker, offensive tackle, safety, or player at any other position that the Patriots crave, then the misdirection play works.

Count on the Patriots, who at the moment have 12 picks, using one to select a quarterback. Don’t look for it to be in the first round, because they don’t have the ammunition to trade up to the first pick. The Bengals have done some dumb things in their history, but no organization would be stupid enough to trade the No. 1 pick with Burrow, as close to a sure thing as comes along at the quarterback position, in the draft.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.