Eason has been the quarterback who has stumped most of the scouts at the 2020 NFL Combine.
Regardless of whether or not Tom Brady re-signs with the New England Patriots for the 2020 season, Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio have to be thinking about the future. Brady's going to be 43 at the start of the season and even if he's playing at peak levels, at the very best of Patriots quarterback situation is set for about the next two years. There's been no indication that New England is comfortable moving forward with Jarett Stidham, and there's a good possibility that Stidham is probably nothing more than a career back up in the NFL. If you've been paying attention to a lot of the mock drafts lately the Patriots have been linked to drafting Washington quarterback Jacob Eason with their 23rd overall pick.
Obviously the most ideal situation would be Tom Brady re-signs with the Patriots for a couple more years and Eason has the opportunity to sit behind and learn from Brady. The Patriots could start planning and projecting if Eason would be ready to be the starter by the 2022 season. Eason seems to understand that it's going to take some time before he'll be a starter in the NFL and he's looking forward to the possibility of sitting behind Tom Brady, saying it would be a "dream come true".
Most quarterbacks entering the NFL for their rookie season shouldn't expect to be an instant starter. Tom Brady sat behind Drew Bledsoe, Jimmy Garoppolo set behind Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre, and Patrick Mahomes sat behind Alex Smith before all four quarterbacks eventually lead their teams to a Super Bowl appearance.
Eason has been the quarterback who has stumped most of the scouts at the 2020 NFL Combine. Some believe that he is the fourth best quarterback in the draft, while others are wondering if you should slip down to the third round.
Marino from The Draft Network describes Eason as:
"Pros: Tall with a rocket launcher connected to his right shoulder. Has all the throwing power needed to make every throw and hammer the ball into tight windows. Finds great success in the play action game and pushing the ball down the field. He can hit the deepest windows on the field. Has general accuracy but there are also flashes of outstanding ball placement. Doesn’t make overly risky decisions with the football. Upper body throwing mechanics are clean. Ball comes out fairly efficiently when he pulls the trigger. He’ll stand tall in the pocket and sling it, even with rushers closing in on him."
"Cons: Slow working through progressions, despite them primarily being high to low half-field reads. While his wide receivers at Washington weren’t great separators, Eason’s pace through his progressions created frequent contested situations at the catch point and very little production post-catch. Snap to release process has to be quicker, even when facilitating quick game. Operates from a balanced base but he fails to be consistent with weight transfer and I believe it impacts his ball placement. Has modest pocket mobility and he isn’t a dynamic threat to extend plays and work outside of structure. Takes his share of sacks when opportunities to get rid of the football were present. Why does he often look to roll to his left to avoid pressure? Lacks comfort under chaos - eyes drop and he panics with pressure in his face. Won’t be an asset for zone read or designed runs and the RPO game also falls victim to his slow process."
With that kind of draft profile it's easy to see why scouts are split on Eason, because there's a lot of positives being said about Eason's game, but there's also a lot that's left to be desired. Eason describes his game as a gunslinger, in fact he prefers that type of mentality when taking the field. He said he grew up idolizing players like Brett Favre and Peyton Manning who were known to sling the ball down the field, and it looks like he plans to continue that mentality as he gets ready to enter the NFL.
“Growing up, a guy like Brett Favre, a guy like Peyton Manning … were big inspirations in the way they play the game,” Eason said. “Their toughness, their competitiveness, those are guys I model my game after", according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “I prefer to have a gunslinger-type mentality: I’m going to cut loose every chance I get,” Eason said. “But obviously you’ve got to know the situation. You’ve got to know the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do with the ball. That’s all part of the process of becoming a better quarterback."
If the Patriots did draft Jacob Eason, this would be the second time since 2014 that Bill Belichick tries to find Tom Brady's eventual replacement. He drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round in 2014. Belichick also brought in Jacoby Brissett in 2016. But Tom Brady continued to play at high levels, and Belichick was forced to move on from two young quarterbacks who are now both starters with their teams. Jimmy Garoppolo obviously bringing the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl 54 before losing to the eventual Champions the Kansas City Chiefs.
“He’s got some really good tape. But then he’s got some bad,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said about Eason, according to Dunleavy. “You just want to see him be a little bit of a playmaker, instead of just being a pure thrower. I want to see him create some plays and extend some plays.”
I have been leaning towards the Patriots drafting Jordan Love out of this year's draft to eventually replace Brady. I also believe if Tom Brady did go sign with another team that Jordan Love could step in and be the starter this year. He would have to go through some growing pains, and the Patriots may not be seen as Super Bowl contenders for this season, but the outlook for 2021 and onwards would look great. Jordan Love could be a true winner and leader for the New England Patriots, but to date I haven't read that the Patriots are showing any interest in Love.
Jacob Eason is a very interesting case. His career is sort of reminiscent of Tom Brady. Eason lost out on the starting job in Georgia. Though Tom Brady eventually decided to stay with Michigan, Eason did go off and transfer to Washington. He tried his best when he made the move not to make it about him, and more about his team, which says that his mentality is somewhat reminiscent of the Patriots way.
Some of the bigger criticisms that has been written about Eason is that scouts and teams are saying that he's been too comfortable at the Combine. It's kind of a funny assessment because it is the exact opposite of his draft profile that says he panics under pressure.
It will be interesting to see if Bill Belichick thinks Eason can do the job. I don't think being too comfortable at the NFL combine will hurt his chances of being drafted by the Patriots. Earlier this year, Belichick shared a story that Rob Gronkowski had fallen asleep on the floor during his pre-draft visit to Gillette Stadium in 2010. I don't think it gets that much more comfortable.