Why Each First-Round Quarterback Should Start the Season on the Bench


The 2018 NFL Draft Class was lauded as one of the most talented ones, regarding the quarterback position, in recent memory, when combining the perception of these quarterbacks as prospects with their perceived potential. There were five were taken in the first round, with four going in the top ten.

They were Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson (in that order) and it’s more likely than not, that just one or two of them will live up to the hype. We will see a few of them “bust” for different reasons, whether it be their team’s talent and/or coaching is/are terrible, or they are rushed and not allowed to develop properly.

And the best way to lower the chances of busting is to have them sit for the year or at least half-a-season, to help them learn and get more comfortable. That’s how it used to be, but we have seen a change in that philosophy. Rookie quarterbacks are starting from Week One more and more today.

Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Jake Locker, Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston, Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, Blaine Gabbert, Geno Smith, Dak Prescott, EJ Manuel, and Deshaun Watson are the most recognizable signal-callers that started from the beginning or near the beginning of the season.

However, it doesn’t always work out. Locker, Gabbert, Manuel, and Smith were big busts. Wentz struggled a bit as a rookie but was successful this past season because he had the best roster in football to support him. Wilson started his career as a game manager in the beginning because he had the best defense in the game along with one of the best running games. It wasn’t until later that the Seahawks realized they had something in him.

Prescott had an elite running game and the best offensive line as a rookie, which helped him shock the world. But we saw him struggle without either this past season. Mariota, even with a strong overall roster, has not lived up to his hype, and neither has Winston.

And even though Newton’s been a good quarterback, save for his MVP season, he has always left something to be desired. And in Goff’s case, he came in halfway through the season and looked like an enormous bust. But then the Rams got him protection, weapons, and an offensive-minded coach and he broke out. Andrew Luck is the only one who hit the ground running and kept it up.

It’s not always about whether the guy is ready or not. It’s about protecting your rookie QBs mainly because of a lack of talent and coaching. You draft a guy for the next 10-15 years, not the upcoming season. It’s in both parties’ best interest to no throw him to the wolves. You can use his first year to better set him up for those next 10-15 years by collecting assets to make the transition smoother for him. And while that’s happening, he will simultaneously learn and get up-to-speed, especially if the franchise already has a proven quality quarterback on the roster.

Each of this year’s first-round quarterbacks is in different situations but should all be sat, at least to start the season, and here is why:

Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Darnold is the most talented of the bunch and, overall, the former Trojan has looked good and poised in his first two preseason games. However, the Jets should not get desperate to start him so early. It’s been forever since they had a legitimately good starting NFL QB, and a passer that could be a franchise one. So because of that, they may want to start him sooner, rather than later.

But it would be a bad idea. First off, we shouldn’t forget that he just turned 21 and didn’t even start a full two seasons in college. He may be the most talented one, but he may have the most to learn because of the inexperience.

Plus, the Jets have one of the worst offensive lines in the game, with no offensive weapons (RB and WR) at Darnold’s disposal. That alone is a recipe for disaster for a rookie. But it will be even worse because he will be playing in New York, and the fans there will turn on him fast if struggles. So, combining all that up together, you can ruin a young QB easily.

Not to mention, Teddy Bridgewater, if healthy, is a nice starting NFL quarterback, so the Jets should play him to make him an attractive trade asset and flip him for help.

Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals

The former Bruin is the most pro-ready quarterback of the bunch but finds himself sitting behind Sam Bradford on the depth chart, and that’s not a bad thing. Bradford, when healthy, is a good NFL quarterback, but health is the one thing that has held back the former Heisman-winner in the pros. But he is smart and can teach Rosen a lot.

And the Cardinals themselves should be in no rush to start Rosen. They have the requisite weapons, but a very suspect offensive line which will only hurt him. Plus, two games will come against the bruising LA Rams, two against a 49ers team that has used a lot of draft capital on their front seven, and a Seahawks team that, although not the same, still has some rough-riders on defense.

They should see how long Bradford stays healthy, and if he gets hurt (more of a “when” than “if”) then take it from there. But it’s not like they are going to be contending for the playoffs this season, so what’s the rush?

Baker Mayfield

This one is simple. Mayfield can start if the Browns needed to, but he’s battling with Tyrod Taylor for the starting job. And the thing is, like Bradford, Taylor is a quality NFL quarterback who can help the Browns finally win games in the present. He is hands-down the better option than Mayfield at the moment, and the Browns should not risk anything.

Josh Allen

The Wyoming product is easily the rawest of all of these guys. Allen has the physical traits to be a franchise quarterback. He is 6’5, 238 lbs, athletic, mobile, and possess a rocket arm that may be the strongest in the league (some think he can touch 70 mph) and could, in theory, make any throw possible.

It’s the tools that scouts drool over; tools that shout “high potential.” But the word “potential” is also the most dangerous one in sports. You can have the body, but that will only get you so far.

Allen has some of the worst weaknesses a quarterback can have: terrible accuracy, lack of touch, not the ideal football IQ- struggles to go through progressions and read a defense and is too risky, leading to bad decisions. In other words, he’s extremely raw.

We have seen quarterbacks with amazing physical traits not pan out because they were raw coming out of college and/or were not appropriately developed for whatever reason; guys like Ryan Mallet, Jake Locker, JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Josh Freeman, etc. You need more than just athleticism and an arm.

And starting a guy like Allen, who still has loads to learn, from Week One is the worst thing you can do for his development. Remember, he completed just 56% of his passes as a sophomore and 56.3% last year, and he wasn’t even playing for a Power 5 school. He played for Wyoming in the FCS and couldn’t succeed, and struggled against his two legitimate Division I opponents. And you expect him to be successful so soon?

Lamar Jackson

The Lousiville product is the ultimate wild card of the draft. He runs like a receiver, has a strong arm, but isn’t a great passer. But he has the tools to be Michael Vick and then some (if he can learn to become a solid pocket passer). Like Colin Cowherd, host of The Herd, says it, “Lamar Jackson is a project, not a prospect.”

He is still learning. No one ones how he will be utilized, but the Ravens believe that he may be the future at the position for them. The belief is that he may come on for a series or two each game to help throw the defense off.

Jackson has not looked too bad during the preseason, but he is nowhere ready to become a full-time starter.

Featured Image via Google Images/ sportingnews.com

About Sunit Bhakta

Sports and food enthusiast. Love reading thriller and Comic books. Will talk almost any movie or tv show, especially Westworld!

Have a tip we should know? tips@rhd.news

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