This year more than ever, rookie quarterbacks coming into the NFL have a lot of weight on their shoulders. Not only are they expected to be the face of the franchise, but their play also dictates the future of their teammates and, even in some cases, affects their coaches’ job security.
With the exception of Tray Lance in San Francisco, all other QBs taken in the first round of this year’s draft should start the NFL Week 1, in my opinion. Below is my reasoning for each:
It is no secret that the Jacksonville Jaguars are prepared to give the keys to the entire franchise right off the bat. After all, they did draft him #1 overall.
After a 1-15 record last season, it was clear that backup quarterback Gardner Minshew was not the answer. In Minshew’s defense, the quarterback spot was one of many glaring holes on their team.
First-year head coach, Urban Meyer, will try to build a positive culture with an impressive prospect leading his team. Although he is just 21 years old, Lawrence has been the consensus #1 overall pick for quite some time now.
His arm talent and accuracy at Clemson was off the charts. Not to mention, he did have some sneaky athleticism which will only benefit him even more in the modern-day NFL.
Especially without a true veteran QB on the roster, I expect Lawrence to start every game this season for the Jaguars, no matter how much he may struggle.
Similar to the Jaguars, Zach Wilson is the shoo-in starter for the New York Jets with another first-year head coach. Not only did they draft him #2 overall, they decided to give up on their “franchise QB” Sam Darnold, only three seasons after they took him third overall in the 2018 draft.
It is clear that New York is throwing all their eggs in the basket in Wilson. Despite his limited experience at BYU, he did show an immense amount of potential, especially in his last year, where he threw for 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Like Jacksonville, there are no veteran QBs the Jets even have on their roster to groom Wilson even if they wanted to.
If the Jets are smart, they will rely on the run game and keep the game fairly simple for Zach during the first half of the season. That way, the pressure will come off the rookie QB to some degree as they look to keep him upright.
Although I suspect veteran QB Andy Dalton will start for Chicago Week 1 as the safe decision, I do not think he is the best quarterback on the roster.
After all, Fields was considered the most pro-ready prospect coming out of Ohio State. It is no secret that the Bears wanted him, especially trading up at number 11 to select him.
The intangibles and arm talent Fields possess exceeds any attributes Andy Dalton has. Although he is a solid player, there is only so much he can do. If the Bears hand the keys to Fields, head coach Matt Nagy will be able to open the playbook in a do or die year for the head coach.
Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace do not have a lot of time. If they are not able to show management that Fields is finally the quarterback the Bears have been looking for, I believe their jobs will be safe,
If they decide to play Andy Dalton, however, the ceiling for the Bears season will be limited. Last year, Dalton was uninspiring on the Cowboys. I see them winning as many games as they lose, making them a fringe playoff team at best in a loaded NFC.
Despite Mac Jones’ limited mobility, he may be the most accurate passer in the draft. After two decades of success with Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels seem to have the right guy in place.
Since the two of them have so much experience, starting Jones Week 1 is completely different, in my opinion, from the other situations listed above. They will know how to maximize his strengths and put him in the best position to succeed.
Ever since Cam Newton’s recent injury history, he has never looked like the MVP caliber Quarterback he once was with the Panthers. Like last year, McDaniels will be forced to use Newton as a rusher more than a passer which limits the entire offense as a whole.
Accuracy has never been Newton’s strong suit which is why I believe Mac Jones is the better candidate for the job. After all, he did throw for 464 yards and five touchdowns in the national championship game.
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