BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
Football fans in Stephenville will be focusing more attention than usual to the upcoming NFL draft with Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham declaring he will forgo his senior season and drop his name into the hat.
While some have said they think he should stay in school another year Stidham’s declaring himself for the draft seems like the natural progression of what many scouts have been predicting since he was a Stephenville 8th grader.
“Jarrett Stidham has the potential to be an NFL quarterback.”
It really shouldn’t be a surprise Stidham decided 2019 was his year with CBS Sports penning about his draft stock as early as September of this year – even while Auburn was struggling early — CBS had Stidham as the number six quarterback draft prospect.
Before Music City Bowl, the 6-2, 210-pounder had completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,421 yards with 13 touchdowns against five interceptions. Those are not numbers that thrill NFL scouts but Stidham’s body of work, his mechanics, overall football savvy and what’s been called the “Most beautiful touch pass in all of football,” have everyone’s attention.
If Stidham’s draft stock slipped during Auburn’s disappointing season, it bounced back in his bowl game performance in which he rewrote the record books on a national stage in the Tigers’ 63-14 win. Auburn’s 56-point first half is the most ever scored in a bowl game, and their 63 points is a new SEC record as well as an Auburn record.
Stidham’s 15 of 21 passing for 373 yards and five touchdowns were all career bests at Auburn, and he put the deep ball on display with three scores for more than 55 yards.
That body of work is pretty impressive too considering the journey Stidham has taken in getting to Auburn where he completed 67 percent of his passes in 2017 for 3,158 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. As a true freshman at Baylor, Stidham stepped in after an injury and threw for 12 touchdowns against two interceptions for 1,265 yards completing 68 percent of his passes. An injury of his own was the only thing that seemed capable of stopping Stidham when he quarterbacked the Bears.
The drop in Stidham’s completion percentage might be attributed to one scout’s opinion,
“It’s the tale of two tapes,” said one scout. “I think he could end up being worthy of a first-round pick. He wasn’t playing with top bona fide receivers either in 2017 or 2018.”
Another NFL scout noted.
“Okay size; growth potential; high football IQ; good, but not great, arm with good mechanics and ability to change arm slot; better touch than power thrower; quick release to beat the rush. He improved his eyes versus pressure over the last nine games (of 2017). He has a good mental clock; very mobile with excellent speed for a quarterback; a legitimate threat on the ground – he beat Alabama because he continually broke contain on crucial third downs. Plus, he’s got an incredible story of perseverance that defines his mettle as a person. The kid is a legit winner. Those are all the types of positives that will make him grow quickly on general managers and directors as the season wears on if he continues his ascent. He’s built mentally and skill-set wise for the pro landscape and has the makeup and goods to run a franchise.”
“Not as physically gifted as Herbert in Oregon, but [Stidham] can throw a good ball. He has very good mobility to execute flexible scheme design, and his football IQ is as good as it gets. He’s a pro already in that regard, and it was pretty easy to see. Guys like him acclimate quickly and win locker rooms not just with
Since declaring for the draft, Stidham, of course, has been sought out for comments about his decision to enter the draft.
I just think for me personally, this has been a childhood dream of mine, to play in the NFL, ever since I was really, really little,” Stidham said.” “It’s just a really big opportunity ahead of me. Obviously, I wouldn’t be in this position without everybody that I’ve played with up to this point, so I can’t thank them enough for helping me get to this point. I think for my career and my personal life, my professional life, I think it’s just the right move.”
As for his decision to play in this year’s Music City Bowl game, “It’s like unfinished business,” Stidham said. “I just felt like, for me personally, I wanted to finish this season with the guys and try and finish this thing off the right way. I’m a proud alumnus of Auburn University now, and so I wanted to leave Auburn in a good place, so to speak, especially for next year, and