In recent weeks, the Patriots' succession plan to Tom Brady appears increasingly likely to include Jarrett Stidham.

While Stidham, the team's 2019 fourth-round pick, played sparingly as a rookie, his college coach seems confident in his ability to lead New England.

“It definitely helped him to learn under the best and see what that looks like, but he’s the kind of young man, too, this is what he’s been waiting on," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn told ESPN's Mike Reiss. I’ll tell you, the moment won’t be too big for him. He’ll be up to the challenge, that’s what I expect."

Mulzahn added that he felt New England was a "perfect spot" for Stidham and praised the second-year QB's ability to change protections and fit in with New England's scheme.

Stidham finished the 2019 season with just two completions on four attempts for 14 total yards and one interception.

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The Patriots didn't find their successor to Brady in the 2020 NFL draft. New England passed on Utah State QB Jordan Love at No. 23 and every other QB available in each of the event's seven rounds.

Head coach Bill Belichick said the Patriots were weighing other needs as they considered their quarterback options.

"If we feel like we find the right situation, we'll certainly draft them. We've drafted them in multiple years, multiple points in the draft," he said last week. "Didn't work out the last three days. That wasn't by design."

They did, however, add former Louisiana Tech QB J'Mar Smith and former Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke as undrafted free agents. New England also signed veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer this offseason.

The Patriots went 12–4 last season but underwent dramatic changes this winter when six-time Super Bowl champion Brady signed with Tampa Bay in free agency.