The race to be the top quarterback prospect is on, yet no one has really come sprinting out of the gate. A new face is on the rise, a familiar one continues to shine while a few others might be who we thought they were. Could it really be a draft without a first round quarterback?
Speaking of quarterbacks, the 2017 class taught us a hard lesson about the evaluation process of the decision. Sometimes, talent and work ethic can only take you so far. For Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes, he’s taken both of those to a perfect situation for exceptional play early this season.
While Mahomes has taken off, some players are still waiting for their chance. How long will it take for Josh Rosen to start and should his tenure on the bench last any longer? Let’s take a deep dive.
A Turtle Race: The Battle for QB1
It’s a bizarre year where more than halfway through September there is no clear-cut, top quarterback prospect. Let’s take a look how the frontrunners are doing so far and whether they are trending up, down or remaining stagnant.
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn ↓↓↓
The Auburn senior had a golden opportunity last weekend against an LSU defense loaded with talent, but he was relatively underwhelming throwing two interceptions and completing 57.1% of his passes.
When Stidham is at his best, his skillset flashes with his size, arm talent and mobility. Does he have the IQ and mental processing to thrive against top competition? That’s what teams are concerned about and it could ultimately keep him out of the first round next Spring.
Drew Lock, Missouri ↔ ↔ ↔
The numbers on Lock through three games are fantastic: 1,062 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and only one interception while completing 69% of his passes, an astronomical jump from his 2017 rate of 57.8.
He’s done all of this even with his receivers failing him quite miserably at times:
While these stats are great and overall he does look good, there are two causes for concern: the first being level of competition and the second being a lot of the issues holding him back still exist.
Lock still gets out of wack with his base, leading to inaccurate throws. Combine that with questionable decision making and it’s the main cause of his turnovers or should be turnovers.
Overall there is a lot to like about Lock, most notably the jaw-dropping throws down the field he has the ability to make. With that being said, we’re going to learn a lot as he plays Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama over the next month.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State ↑↑↑
Haskins remains on the rise, capitalizing on being the quarterback with the ‘most to gain’ on this list as he is the only first-year starter. His accuracy, arm strength and decision making has been tremendous.
Most importantly, he performed against a big time program in TCU last weekend, with three total touchdowns and no turnovers in a Buckeyes win.
The biggest question surrounding Haskins is would he be a ‘one and done’ starter? If this quarterback class remains weak and he keeps climbing, why not? Capitalize on the ability to go round one, he certainly has the potential to if he keeps this up.
Justin Herbert, Oregon ↑↑↑
Don’t let Herbert’s 56.8 completion percentage fool you: he’s been making big time throws early in this season. Hurt by drops early on, that number will easily be over 60% by the end of the season.
At 6-6, 233 pounds the Oregon signal caller arguably has as much upside as anyone in this class. He’s extremely athletic, throws with great velocity and touch in the intermediate game and operates the Ducks offense with efficiency.
NFL scouts and executives I’ve talked to are high on Herbert, but questions remain on if he will declare for the draft. His brother Patrick, a four star tight end recruit, will be a true freshman for the Ducks next season.
While it’s hard to pass on NFL money, Justin could opt for one more college season playing for a Pac-12 title while throwing to his brother. A big decision lays ahead, as well as big matchups.
The QB Evaluation Conundrum: Situation Matters
The hottest debate in draft circles year after year remains centered around the quarterback position. This isn’t just between fans and analysts, but also in league circles. Last year after polling as many sources possible and gathering info, it was clear that Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and even Josh Allen found themselves as the top quarterback on various boards (both between scouting departments and coaching staffs).
As for me? I thought Josh Rosen was the best of the bunch. This is just another example of how different opinions can be, specifically when searching for franchise signal callers.
Flashback to 2017. One year college starter Mitch Trubisky was considered ‘the guy’ by many, while I had Deshaun Watson at the top of the class. The most polarizing of all was Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, a tremendous talent that was considered ‘raw’.
Yes, we’re only two games into the second season for each, but Mahomes looks like a superstar. Is he extremely talented and putting in all of the work it takes to be a franchise quarterback? Of course. Did he also get drafted to a team with the right coaching staff, scheme and skill players to maximize his ability? Also yes.
On the flip side, look at Josh Allen. While he was a much lesser prospect than Mahomes, his situation in Buffalo is nearly a guaranteed failure (at least this season). He’s not ready to play, they don’t have talent at wide receiver and the offensive line can’t protect him. For a player that doesn’t read the defense (specifically pressure) before the snap, this is a disaster.
Talent matters. Character matters. Situation matters. Evaluators can control the first two, but the final one is entirely out of their hands. This is what creates a conundrum in the process of evaluation the quarterback position and nothing is going to change that.
It’s Time To Start Josh Rosen
With playoffs far from expected, the Jets and most recently the Bills have opted to play their first round rookie quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Josh Allen.
This is the smart decision as both will not only gain experience right away, but their teams will be able to evaluate what’s needed around them. Both teams have plenty of work to do on offense, which should be addressed in the offseason.
The Cardinals, much like the Jets and Bills, should understand this is a season of evaluation. Sam Bradford has been horrendous through two games and is not the long-term answer for the future.
That long-term answer is Josh Rosen, the 10th overall pick of the draft that is wasting time on the bench.
It’s no secret Arizona is a bad team this season. The roster needs work, but they have skill players that would benefit from starting the rookie.
The Cardinals should look to gain momentum towards the future, not slowly sink with Bradford under center. Make the switch to Rosen.