Welcome to Perry’s Posits, where I (Perry Port) predict the future on the most trending topics in the world of sports. Although I may have the manners and politeness of a small-towner (or so my mom tells me), I’m checking them at the door as I bring out some raw, heated passion in this recurring feature. If you thought your French roast from Starbucks this morning was full-bodied and bold, then your taste buds are in for a rude awakening.
If you missed the first edition on NHL super-rookie Auston Matthews, be sure to check out our preview on Matthews’ Future article. But leave yourself some time for what I’m dishing out today regarding the future of the quarterbacks from the 2016 NFL Draft.
Quarterbacks are like a fine wine. If they’re going to reach their full potential, they need to age a little before being uncorked. At least, that was the common perception. It would appear the days of letting your rookie quarterback hold a clipboard and learn the pro game are behind us. Whether that’s a product of more pro-style offenses in college or more the NFL simply having more desperate franchises than in the past (cough, Cleveland) is a debate for another time.
For now, we’ll stick to what you should expect from 2016’s rookie quarterbacks moving forward.
Heading into Week 1 of the 2016 season, the NFL was anticipating the debuts of rookie quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott. Thanks to injuries, it didn’t take long for more rookie signal-callers to make their respective debuts in the league. We have now seen Paxton Lynch, Jacoby Brissett, and Cody Kessler make their first starts; while Trevone Boykin has taken some snaps for Seattle, and Kevin Hogan was forced into action for the Browns due to many, many injuries.
Most of their sugars, acids, and phenolic compounds have reacted in a pleasant way, especially Prescott’s, leading many to call for our first taste of the number one pick, Jared Goff, who’s currently sitting behind a pick-happy Case Keenum in St. Louis.
Are we going to see the Cal product on the field anytime soon, and will he follow in the footsteps of his cohort? That’s just one of the many questions I’m here to answer. Here’s what you should expect going forward from the quarterbacks of the 2016 class. (The ones worth mentioning, anyways.)
Perry’s Posit – Quarterbacks of the 2016 Draft Class
Jared Goff, 1st overall pick, Rams
I may not have the pleasure of knowing him on a personal level, but I do know Jeff Fisher is none too suggestible. Fans calling for Goff won’t sway the obstinate coach. One thing that is being misconstrued, though, is Fisher’s apparent old-school mentality on grooming rookie quarterbacks from the sideline.
Sure, Fisher made third-overall pick Steve McNair wait two full seasons before becoming the full-time starter, but McNair did start a total of six games in his first two years. Take a look at how the 2006 season unfolded for Fisher and the Titans: starting quarterback Kerry Collins was highly ineffective, so Fisher turned the team over to rookie Vince Young in Week 4. Young even spelled Collins in Week 1, as well.
Fisher won’t leave a rookie on the bench just because he’s a rookie, but he won’t throw a quarterback into the fire if he can’t handle the heat. This has been the case with Jared Goff.
In college, Goff ran a no-huddle offense; practically all of his snaps came from shotgun. Now he’s being asked to take command in a huddle, use verbiage he’s unfamiliar with, make reads he’s not accustomed to, and to do it all from under center (which requires a new brand of footwork).
Goff struggled in the preseason, completing 44.9-percent of his passes for 232 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and three fumbles. Those horrid numbers don’t even paint the entire picture. The first overall pick was indecisive with the ball, consistently failed to recognize the blitz, and panicked when under pressure.
I’m not going to tell you that Case Keenum is a great starting quarterback, but he is serviceable, which is more than you could say for Goff entering the season. However, we are now entering Week 8, and Goff has had two extra months to familiarize himself with the playbook and become more comfortable working from under center. News out of Rams’ camp confirms that Goff is coming along, as he is beginning to take some first team reps. I don’t see Fisher naming him the starter for Week 9 (following their bye), but another four-interception performance from Keenum will result in us getting our first glimpse of the rookie in a relief role.
In the long run, Goff’s slower entry into the league won’t hurt him. There is a reason he was drafted first overall. Goff has a very clean release, a big arm, and the mobility to maneuver in the pocket and escape from trouble. When he does fine-tune the rest, he will be a quality starter for the Rams. But he isn’t, and never will be, the best quarterback from this draft. Sorry, LA. You chose wrong.
Odds Goff starts in 2016: 1/4
Odds Goff starts in Week 1 of 2017: 1/7
Projected career stat line: 58-percent completions, 35,000 passing yards, 260 touchdowns, 180 interceptions
Projected career accolades: one division title, two playoff berths, one Pro Bowl appearance.
Carson Wentz, 2nd overall pick, Eagles
Thanks to Teddy Bridgewater’s season-ending knee injury, the Eagles made the Vikings an offer they couldn’t refuse. With Sam Bradford headed west, Philly abandoned its plan of having Carson Wentz learn from the pressbox, naming their rookie the opening day starter, despite only seeing him in action for one preseason game.
Out of the gate, Wentz had many rethinking who should have been taken first overall. Through his first four games, he completed 64.7-percent of his passes for 1,007 yards, seven touchdowns, and only one interception. Wentz has come back to Earth since: 27/50 for 317 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions in two games.
There’s absolutely no reason to worry in Philadelphia, though. Wentz has displayed above-average arm strength, beautiful touch on finesse throws, a lot of athleticism, great anticipation, a very high football IQ, and a Manning-esque preparedness. Not only is he going to have a lengthy career as an Eagle, but it will be a very successful one, too.
Odds Wentz wins the NFC East this year: 2/1
Odds Wentz makes the playoffs this year: 5/4
Odds Wentz finishes the season with a passer rating better than 100: 5/3
Projected career stat line: 63-percent completions, 51,000 passing yards, 340 touchdowns, 130 interceptions
Projected career accolades: one Super Bowl ring, four division titles, one first-team all-pro selection, five Pro Bowl appearances, two-time passing yards leader.
Paxton Lynch, 26th overall, Broncos
While Goff’s NFL-readiness was debatable entering the draft, scouts were in agreement that Paxton Lynch was a very raw talent. As he spent his college days in the gun, Lynch’s footwork, in particular, needed improvement. Scouts also pointed to his accuracy on the move and anticipation as areas that needed some work.
However, Lynch quickly made a case for himself to start Week 1 with a promising showing in the preseason: 40/68 for 458 passing yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. His play was not enough to win the starting job, but it certainly made Mark Sanchez expendable.
Entering the season as the backup, it only took one hit for Lynch to see some regular season snaps. His debut in Tampa Bay was a successful one, and furthered his argument to be the starter going forward. His first start, on the other hand, was less memorable. It was clear that the final quarterback taken in the first-round still has some parts of his game to work on; but he also proved that he is going to be a very good starter in this league for years to come.
Odds Lynch replaces Siemian as the starter in 2016: 7/4
Odds Lynch starts Week 1 of 2017: 1/3
Odds Lynch gets blown out in his first three Super Bowl appearances: 50/1
Projected career stat line: 61-percent completions, 44,000 passing yards, 320 touchdowns, 170 interceptions
Projected career accolades: two Super Bowl rings, six division titles, 140 career wins, two Pro Bowl appearances.
Christian Hackenberg, 51st overall, Jets
This was a wasted pick for a team that had its sights set on the playoffs this season. Hackenberg needs to completely rework his mechanics and, until he does so, will continue having a ton of accuracy issues.
Don’t believe me? Maybe you’d prefer some sort of stat to back that up then. How about his completion percentage of 53.5-percent during his final season in college? Or his preseason completion percentage of 36.2-percent? That’s right, 36.2-percent. Would you like to see it one more time? 36.2-percent!
Even if he does correct his mechanics and release, Hackenberg will not even be a journeyman quarterback in this league.
Odds Hackenberg appears in a game in 2016: 20/1
Odds Hackenberg starts Week 1 of 2017: 9/1
Odds Hackenberg ever starts for the Jets: 2/3
Projected career stat line: 30 starts, 54-percent completions, 4,500 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 20 interceptions
Projected career accolades: Is better than Geno Smith.
Jacoby Brissett, 91st overall, Patriots
He may have started two games this season, but the Patriots drafted him as nothing more than a project. In those two starts, Bill Belichick did not ask much of Brissett – 46 pass attempts.
Brissett is a big-bodied quarterback with a big-time arm, but has a lot of little flaws in his game. He will not ever be a franchise quarterback; he will be a reliable backup.
Odds Brissett starts another game for the Pats: 7/1
Odds Brissett succeeds Tom Brady as the Pats’ starter: 50/1
Projected career accolades: Wins a Super Bowl as a backup with the Patriots.
Cody Kessler, 93rd overall, Browns
For a Browns rookie quarterback, Cody Kessler has actually been pretty good. The USC product is completing 66.9-percent of his passes, has four touchdowns to one interception, and boasts a passer rating of 94.4.
Kessler was a safe pick because he plays the game in a safe manner. The issues with him coming into the NFL were his size and inability to make special plays. Kessler will never make jaw-dropping, Aaron Rodgers-esque plays on the regular, but he possesses the accuracy and patience to take all the underneath throws and play the part of a game manager.
Although he is taking a physical beating in Cleveland, he is in a very good situation under head coach Hue Jackson. The former Bengals offensive coordinator knows good quarterbacking and will get the most out of his rookie.
Don’t take it the wrong way if the Browns go back to RG3; it won’t be for long. Kessler will serve as a great placeholder for a handful of years until Jackson and the Browns find the quarterback of their dreams.
Odds Kessler starts the rest of 2016 if healthy: 5/6
Odds Kessler starts Week 1 of 2017: 3/5
Projected career stat line: 60 starts, 61-percent completions, 10,000 passing yards, 65 touchdowns, 20 interceptions
Projected career accolades: Goes 8-8 one season, becoming the most successful Browns quarterback since Derek Anderson.
Connor Cook, 100th overall, Raiders
This was a very intriguing pick, as some NFL scouts saw Cook as a legitimate future starter in the league. But, with Derek Carr continuing to impress, there’s no way the former Spartan will receive that opportunity in Oakland.
Cook has experience in a pro-style offense and has all the tools to be a solid pocket passer. However, he has yet to put it all together, and will need to improve in the mental aspect of the position.
Although his underwhelming performance in the preseason cost him the backup duties in Oakland, he will benefit from not being thrown into action this year. He’ll never be the Raiders’ franchise quarterback, but some other team will try to mold him into theirs. That said, I don’t see him being the longterm answer anywhere. Not even Cleveland.
Odds Cook gets traded by Oakland: 3/4
Odds Cook opens any NFL season as a starter: 3/2
Projected career stat line: 40 starts, 58-percent completions, 7,000 passing yards, 48 touchdowns, 22 interceptions
Projected career accolades: Continues trolling Michigan on social media for the next 40 years.
Dak Prescott, 135th overall, Cowboys
Finally, we’ve arrived at the quarterback you’ve all been waiting for, the man, the myth, the legend: … Dak Prescott.
While many were hesitant to compare him to Donovan McNabb, believing he lacked the same polish, Prescott is actually proving to be much further ahead of the former Eagles great at this point.
Outside of his first career start against the Giants, the fourth-round pick has recorded a passer rating of at least 103 in every game this season. Sure, Prescott may be leaning on the best rushing attack in the league and hiding behind the NFL’s best offensive line, but he has looked damn good while doing so. Not every rookie would, especially with the Cowboys’ receiving corps. Dez Bryant hasn’t played since Week 3, and Dallas’ next best receiving threat is a 5’8″ Cole Beasley.
Prescott is doing what the Cowboys are asking him to and executing the gameplan to perfection. When Bryant returns from injury, you’ll see the offense open up a little more. But I don’t see anything wrong with being 5-1.
The biggest issue Dak will face is negotiating his next contract. If he gets his massive payday, the Cowboys won’t have the cap space to keep their offensive line together, nor will they be able to address their defensive issues. He’s not a quarterback that can shoulder the offense and win games on his own. He is the perfect fit for what Dallas has going now, though. So don’t get greedy, Rayne! (That’s his real first name; Dakota is his middle name.)
Odds Prescott starts every game in 2016: 1/2
Odds Prescott starts Week 1 of 2017: 1/3
Odds Tony Romo is traded in the offseason: 1/1
Projected career stat line: 60-percent completions, 40,000 passing yards, 300 touchdowns, 175 interceptions
Projected career accolades: two Super Bowl rings, four division titles, two Pro Bowl appearances, and gets compared to Troy Aikman.
Cardale Jones, 139th overall, Bills
Nothing to see here. Jones won’t start for Buffalo, barring a lot of injuries in a short period of time, and won’t be valued by any other franchises either.
Projected career accolades: Gains honorary membership into Bills Mafia.
Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].