With the 2017 NFL season on the horizon, a number of talented guys are still playing under rookie contracts. Now is the time to make some future loot! With that in mind, NFL Network analysts Ike Taylor, Willie McGinest, LaDainian Tomlinson, David Carr and Nate Burleson scoured the positions they respectively manned during their playing days (CB, LB, RB, QB and WR) to identify youngsters poised for a breakout campaign.
Today's list: David Carr's young quarterbacks to watch in 2017.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
2017 projection: 3,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards, 35-40 total touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Mariota is one of my favorite young quarterbacks because of the pressure he puts on defenses. He can do a lot, and his offense suits him well. We already saw improvements from Year 1 to Year 2, and 2017 will see Mariota become a top-10 quarterback. He's already quite good at seeing coverage and being able to pull the trigger downfield. But he also adds that element of being able to pull the football down and run. Because Mariota doesn't have to put the ball in potentially detrimental situations, we've seen steady improvement.
The Titans' offense is set up for Mariota to have an outstanding season. Veteran tight end Delanie Walker is a mismatch nightmare. Rookie Corey Davis tracks the ball well and will bring another element to the passing game. Free-agent acquisition Eric Decker's a huge bonus and will provide a 1-2 punch with Davis.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
2017 projection: 4,200 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Wentz proved he can play the quarterback position well at the NFL level in Year 1, especially early on. The Eagles struggled down the stretch because they didn't have any big plays. In 2016, the offense tied for 26th in passing plays of 40-plus yards with six and tied for 28th in passing plays over 20 yards with 39. The front office did a good job bringing in some pieces to help Wentz get the ball downfield. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith will pose as deep threats, and that's what the Eagles need if they want to compete in the NFC East.
Cody Kessler, Cleveland Browns
2017 projection: 3,500 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
I thought Kessler did a good job with Hue Jackson's offense a year ago. In nine games (eight starts), Kessler had a 65.6 percent completion rate, a 6:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 92.3 passer rating. The kid is pretty accurate and reminds me a lot of Drew Brees. He gets the ball out of his hand early, understands what it takes to be successful in this league and has a great QB coach. Like Brees with Sean Payton, Kessler benefits greatly from Jackson's wise offensive mind.
The sophomore out of USC will compete against Brock Osweiler and DeShone Kizer for the starting job and has all the intangibles to win it. A full offseason in Jackson's system is crucial -- as is getting contributions from a healthy Corey Coleman and rookie tight end David Njoku. I don't expect the ground game to be super strong this season, and the Browns will be playing from behind quite a bit, giving Kessler the opportunity to rack up numbers.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams?
2017 projection: ???
You know, I really thought about putting Goff on this list. I wanted to. But I just can't. I don't believe he's quite ready to take it to the next level. I hope he proves me wrong, though.