In evaluating the group of young quarterbacks, we’ve taken a look at the emerging group of third-year players and predicted what could make the incoming rookie class successful. Today we’ll look at the players in between, a number of second-year quarterbacks who were believed to be a part of one of the best groups of draft quarterbacks in quite some time. The jury is still out and their rookie seasons showed some ups and a lot of downs.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
I think his numbers would be even better if he had not endured part of those numbers with Hue Jackson. I love watching him play. It’s not because he is better than Drew Brees or Tom Brady, but as a guy who actually coaches quarterbacks, I enjoy watching how he just says screw the coaching sometimes and seeing the extreme good and extreme bad that comes with it.
Consistency is not him and may not ever be. The offensive line cannot always count on him being at a certain spot in the pocket, which can have its positives, but also negatives — cue more holding calls (drive killers). The receivers cannot count on him getting them the ball when they can look at the defense and know it should be coming to him on a given play because of alignment combined with their route, which could upset receivers when the route is run correctly. But he is a winner and that’s subjective and that’s when he has been surrounded with talented guys at Oklahoma and that’s when he was new in the league and no one really had much to study on him. But I think he wants to win so bad he will change some of those things mentioned above and be a consistent playoff quarterback. I think they make it this year to the playoffs and next year they win one playoff game. And one of these days, just maybe…
Sam Darnold, New York Jets
DVOA no pressure/under pressure: 28th/25th
The Jets and their fans think this is the guy. I think this poor guy is in way over his head. He does not keep his eyes downfield. He is not accurate enough, which could be due to him not being comfortable because he does not look prepared well to me. He moves when he should not. He won’t stand in the pocket for that extra tenth of a second and throw when it might make all the difference in the world. His play-calling was bad last year and he never had a chance coming out of USC. (See his last game at USC vs Ohio State for a look at the future). Darnold is not accurate for a few reasons, some mentioned above and others like footwork and mechanics. It’s yet to be determined whether a new coaching staff can help with that. If it’s not fixed, Darnold will never take a team to the Super Bowl and the Jets certainly won’t make it to the playoffs this year. Like Buffalo fans (that’s coming), the Jets need to hope someone realizes they need a quarterback still. It’s a shame that whole division is in shambles at quarterback except for the Patriots.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
DVOA no pressure/under pressure: 32nd/9th
Allen was pressured on 39 percent of his drop backs. Just wow! To give you something to compare it to, Drew Brees and Tom Brady were just pressured on less than a quarterback of their passes. While Buffalo did have a shaky offensive line, Allen ran himself into a lot of that pressure, both mentally and physically. Allen was, at least statistically, able to hold up against that pressure (he was ninth in DVOA under pressure), but studies have shown a quarterback’s play when not under pressure is more predictive of future play and Allen still struggled mightily in that department last season.
I got to see Allen in person and he, of course, has tremendous arm strength. But that only goes so far. When he escapes right, he is terrible. He simply doesn’t complete passes when going that direction. When he escapes left, he loves to run the ball and is effective. Teams will figure that out and pressure accordingly if they have not already. If I am a Bills fan, I am hoping Buffalo pulls an Arizona and cuts our losses and goes out get another quarterback sooner rather than later. Buffalo simply should not have drafted him without a quarterback whisperer on staff. He was one of the worst quarterbacks in college against any kind of pressure and has continued that in the NFL. The outlook is that he has little chance to lead them to a Super Bowl and not to the playoffs either for that matter for years to come.
Josh Rosen, Miami Dolphins
It’s almost not worth spending any time on Rosen because, at the moment, it appears he will not be playing anytime soon. Miami, at least early in training camp, appears to be favoring Ryan Fitzpatrick. Not all of this is Rosen’s fault, but it doesn’t help him get out of the situation he is currently in. His play-calling was awful last season, as was his offensive line, but Rosen also didn’t do enough to make up for it. I could rescue him, I think, but there aren’t many out there that could. His habits during the play are so bad now it would be a tough job. I mentioned in the first post how important coaching and game planning are for developing a young quarterback and this is already as bad a situation as one could get. We will have to see if the coaching staff in Miami is up for the task.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson didn’t qualify for the passing rankings, as he did not have enough pass attempts to do so. His DVOA when he did play would have put him about 28th in overall quarterback rankings which I would have guessed. His DYAR was around the same and his A/YA would have put him around 23rd. Although he helped Baltimore to the playoffs, it was clear passing was not the strongest part of Jackson’s game.
I predicted in an earlier article that I don’t think the Ravens make the playoffs and largely it is because of his skillset and decisions. If his accuracy doesn’t improve, his athletic traits will only get him so far in the NFL.