by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
While there is some potential upside in this year’s quarterback class, it’s hard to imagine much of an impact from any of them in 2017. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some production, and maybe someone ultimately emerges, but in one-quarterback leagues we wouldn’t be targeted any of them. In deeper formats (and in dynasty leagues) it’s a different story, but let’s take a look at the group and see if there is any glimmer of upside:
1) Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans
Just looking at the quarterbacks currently on the roster (Watson, Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden) tells us that Watson is highly likely to be starting Week 1. With one of the better defenses in the league, as well as a potentially strong running game and an elite wide receiver (DeAndre Hopkins), Watson will be asked to manage the games and deliver when the opportunity is there.
Then again there could be a lot of growing pains as he transitions from the spread offense to having to receive the snap from under center. That alone makes us wonder how productive he can be immediately, as Walter Football described him by saying:
“Watson has some strengths for the NFL that cause many to compare him to Dak Prescott. Like Prescott, Watson has great intangibles as a hard worker with good character off the field and leadership in the locker room. They both bring toughness and mobility to the table. When plays break down, they can use his athleticism to pick up yards on the ground and also can avoid sacks. Where the comparison breaks down is in terms of accuracy and ball security. Prescott was much more accurate in college and threw far less interceptions. Prescott threw only five interceptions as a senior with 11 as a junior. Thus, Watson threw more interceptions (17) in 2016 than Prescott did in his final two years combined.”
There’s some intrigue given the opportunity to play, but the risk could outweigh the reward. Outside of two-quarterback formats, there’s little reason to pay much attention.
2) DeShone Kizer – Cleveland Browns
We all know that the Browns are an absolute mess, and while Brock Osweiler or Cody Kessler could open the season as the starting QB it would appear that Kizer will get an opportunity. He possesses the size and mobility that NFL teams lust for, though his 58.7% completion percentage at Notre Dame in ’16 is going to raise some eyebrows. Things started off fine, but over his final seven games he managed to eclipse 20 completions just once, and he needed 38 attempts to get there.
He should be an immediate threat in the red zone, thanks to his scrambling ability, but in the NFL game you need to be an efficient passer as well. We’ve seen quarterbacks like this make a quick splash, but he’d be best served to be given time to develop outside of the spotlight. Considering not much is expected in Cleveland, they could try to afford him that.
3) Pat Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs
You would think the presence of Alex Smith would mean Mahomes has little chance to see the field in ’17. Of course Smith is a game manager, not a play maker, and he has yet to prove that he can take Kansas City to the promised land. That could easily lead to a change, especially given the upside Mahomes brings with him. Mike Maycock was quoted as saying:
“He is a big-time gunslinger like Brett Favre. He’s got the athletic ability. My question is can he learn to win in the pocket because to play in the NFL, at a certain point, you have to.”
How he develops will be intriguing, but a slow start will lead to calls for his promotion quickly. That doesn’t mean it’ll happen, but if he develops don’t look for Kansas City to be afraid to make the change. He may have the highest upside of any quarterback in this draft class, but he’s not #1 due to the questionable opportunity.
4) Mitchell Trubitsky – Chicago Bears
After going out and signing Mike Glennon to a big free agent contract, the Bears then went and spent the #2 overall pick on a quarterback with little experience. He started just one year at North Carolina, though he did post impressive numbers as he completed 68.2% of his passes for 3,748 yards, 30 TD and 6 INT. He has the prototypical size, listed at 6’2” and 222 lbs., and arm strength that NFL teams look for.
Generally a quarterback drafted so early would appear to be a lock to see the field early in the season, and maybe Trubitsky does, but with Glennon and Mark Sanchez already in the mix the Bears have the depth to afford him to carry the clipboard and spend the year learning under a pair of veterans.
5) C.J. Beathard – San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco is an absolute mess, though they have a pair of veterans who could handle quarterback duties in Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. That will allow Beathard time, but does it mean that he won’t get an opportunity? Sure he was a third-round draft pick, but we’ve often seen later round picks emerge given the chance presented to them.
Of course, a description like this from NFL.com wouldn’t get us overly excited:
“His 2015 tape was more impressive, but deep-ball accuracy issues, poor pocket awareness, and unnecessary hesitation as a passer shows up in both seasons. Beathard plays checkers with safeties rather than chess, which could always hinder his ability to attack down the field with success. Could be a career backup who finds himself in the action at some point down the road.”
Honorable Mention – Nathan Peterman – Buffalo Bills
Sources – NFL.com, ESPN, Walter Football
Make sure to check out our early 2017 Rankings: