Assessing the NFL’s Young Guns

A changing of the QB guard is inevitable, and NFL staples like Brady, Ben, Eli, Rivers, Brees, and Palmer all could likely retire within the next three years. This opens the door for the NFL’s younger faces to step up and take the league into the next decade. Yes, QB’s like Luck, Ryan, Stafford, Newton, and Wilson can all move into that role, however there’s still plenty of room at the top.

For this exercise, I wanted to stick to guys who were selected in the 2015 and 2016 draft. I chose to do this because I feel as if the guys from 2014 (Carr, Tannehill, Bortles) have established who they are in the NFL. As far as the rookies, there’s too much speculation as far as who will actually play this year for me to really evaluate them as guys who can become faces of the NFL. I’ve narrowed it down to 6 for your reading pleasure.

Dak Prescott

If the Back Judge had existed one year ago, you would know for a fact that not only have I been on the Dak Prescott bandwagon since the 2016 pre-draft process, I’ve been driving the bus. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to take my word for it, but don’t let my fandom distract you from the fact that Dak Prescott had a spectacular rookie season. As a 4th round pick, Prescott took over as the starting QB for the Dallas Cowboys after a Romo pre-season injury forced him into the spot.

He never looked back.

Prescott made talent-evaluators look silly as he excelled at the NFL level while the first two overall picks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz had their fair share of struggles. He threw for 23 TD’s while only throwing four interceptions, lowest in the NFL for QB’s who started all 16 games. He guided the Cowboys to a #1 overall NFC seed with a 13-3 record, and lost to the Packers 34-31 in a valiant effort. Even with the loss, Prescott proved he was built for the moment posting a stat line of 302 yards and 3 touchdowns.

I fully expect Prescott to continue growing and have an even better 2017. He will be a face of the NFL shortly.

Carson Wentz

Wentz got his Eagles off to a hot 3-0 start, but after his first career pick led to his first career loss at the Ford Field Cathedral, the wheels started to come off the Wentzmobile. They went 4-9 the rest of the way, due largely to lackluster o-line play and, in my humble opinion, putting too much on the shoulders of their young QB.

Image result for wentz eagles

In week 13, Wentz was asked to drop back and pass 60 times by Doug Pederson and his staff, which is absolutely inexcusable. For a coaching staff to ask their rookie QB to do this is dangerous and can lead to confidence issues. He ended up throwing 3 picks in a disaster of a game.

I believe in Wentz, and this off-season he was given some help in the form of new toy Alshon Jeffery. I think the Eagles have a strong defense to boot, and this will be a big year in his development.

Jameis Winston

This is Jameis’ season. The #1 overall pick now has everything at his disposal to take the Buccaneers to the playoffs, and Tampa will be from now on known as Disappointment Bay if he can’t get it done.

The biggest issue with Winston is his turnovers. He struggled with them at Florida State, and it has followed him to the league. He threw 15 in his rookie year, and 18 last season. It is part of his play style and DNA, however Winston needs to mature and learn how to accept defeat on a play every once and a while.

With a top-ten level performance this year, Winston can put himself into the conversation with the top guys in this league.

Marcus Mariota

Mariota is perhaps one of my favorite quarterbacks in the NFL. I love the way he carries himself on and off the field, and I think he was a great pick for the Titans as the face of their franchise. It’s been a rebuilding process in Tennessee, but much like his 2015 draft counter-part Winston, it’s put up or shut up time for Mariota and the Titans are due for a playoff appearance.

Mariota’s only two years in the NFL have ended on the trainers table, and if he wants to become a great QB he needs to stay healthy. Whether that involves more strength training, adding weight, or taking less hits, it needs to happen.

I believe Mariota has a better chance to make his first Playoff appearance this year than Winston, purely because of the division he is in. The Jags, Colts, and Texans are all very beatable, and it shall be Smashville once more come January.

Jared “Boy King” Goff

Image result for boy king

Goff had one of the worst first seasons I’ve ever seen, however he was likely given the least to work with out of any of the aforementioned QB’s had in their rookie seasons. Goff never won a game he started (0-7), and threw more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (5).

My main issue with Goff has little to do with his skill-set or rookie struggles. When I watch Goff on TV, in Hard Knocks, or All or Nothing, I see a QB with little to no leadership ability. He seems to be in over his head at all times, so much so that my new nickname for him shall be the ‘Boy King’.

Any hope for Goff rests in Sean McVay’s hands.

Paxton Lynch

Since he has little playing experience, I hesitated to put Lynch on this list. However, he was a first-round pick and first-round picks need to play. I like Lynch’s potential, but will be very concerned if he does not start this season. He is clearly a more talented prototype for the position than Siemian, but being second string once more would imply a lack of feel for the NFL game even after his second training camp.

Overall, I like Prescott, Mariota, Winston, and Wentz out of these 6. They all have great chances to become part of the NFL’s great QB club and be faces of the league for years to come.


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