During the lead-up to the 2017 NFL Draft, much was made about the lack of upper-echelon quarterback talent. However, that didn't stop teams from aggressively pursuing and selecting those signal callers on draft weekend. It all started with the Bears, who moved up one spot to take Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick. Then, the Chiefs and Texans vaulted up the draft board to nab Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, respectively, with several other QBs selected in the middle rounds. So much for the lack of faith in this class.
Now that we've made it through three weeks of the preseason, I thought it would be a good idea to study all of these rookies and provide a progress report. Spoiler alert: One of them clearly stands above the rest. Enjoy!
Note: Quarterbacks are presented according to their draft order.
Preseason analysis: Trubisky has been outstanding in the preseason. He's thrown with timing, accuracy and touch. He's shown plenty of arm strength to drive the ball and looks comfortable working through progressions from inside the pocket. He's also shown impressive athleticism, throwing on the move or picking up free yards with his legs when the opportunities arise.
Areas for improvement: I don't think there's a lot to criticize, based on his play in the preseason. He did miss a couple of easy underneath throws and will occasionally lock on his first read, but the good has far outweighed the bad. The biggest thing he needs: more game reps.
Expectations for rookie season: Veteran Mike Glennon will have a grip on the starting job to begin the season, but I would be surprised if Trubisky didn't take the reins by the halfway mark of 2017. When he does ultimately get the nod, I believe Trubisky will play well. Chicago has a strong offensive line and run game, which will limit the offensive burden on the rookie passer.
Preseason analysis: Mahomes has been an exciting player to watch in the preseason. He flashes some incredible off-platform throws, and his ability to extend plays is impressive. However, his footwork is still very much a work in progress, and he is quick to bail from a clean pocket if his first read isn't available. I've been impressed with his ability to change ball speeds and trajectory when needed.
Areas for improvement: Mahomes is still incredibly raw as a pocket passer. He's inconstant in his drop and can be reckless with the football. His off-script playmaking is what makes him special, but he needs to continue to develop his footwork/skills from inside the pocket.
Expectations for rookie season: I know some Chiefs fans are clamoring to see him take this offense over, but I believe that is at least a year away from happening. Alex Smith gives the Chiefs their best chance to win games this fall, but Mahomes is the long-term solution. I don't expect to see him play much in 2017, barring an injury to Smith.
Preseason analysis: Watson has made a few nice throws and shown the ability to generate yards with his legs, but overall, he's been very inconsistent this preseason. When his first read is available, he's been able to deliver the ball accurately. However, he has struggled to quickly work through progressions, and he's forced way too many balls into high-traffic areas.
Areas for improvement: I'm not a big fan of this offensive system. There are a lot of plays in which Watson has pressure in his face and no clear outlet for the football. That being said, he does need to improve his full-field vision and quicken the pace of his progression. He also has struggled to accurately drive the ball down the seam, missing too high on several occasions.
Expectations for rookie season: I think Watson had a chance to win the starting job with an outstanding preseason performance, but unfortunately, that didn't happen. Tom Savage will be the starter to begin the year, but he's been injury-prone in the past. I anticipate Watson getting a few starts this fall before taking over full time in 2018.
Preseason analysis: Kizer's play was up and down in the preseason, but it was good enough for him to win the starting gig in Cleveland. He has shown excellent poise and patience inside the pocket and plenty of arm strength to drive the ball down the field. He has forced some balls, but he's also displayed the ability to make big-time throws on the move.
Areas for improvement: Touch and decision-making remain a concern, based on my study of Kizer in the preseason. He still relies solely on the fastball, and that leads to poor placement on underneath and intermediate throws. He also has the tendency to hold on to the ball too long in the pocket or lock on and force the ball into crowds in the middle of the field.
Expectations for rookie season: Kizer should start the majority if not all of the games this fall for the Browns. He will flash big-play potential, but he will also take unnecessary sacks and likely produce more than his share of turnovers. I love his long-term potential, but there is some risk involved in playing him this early in his career.
Preseason analysis: Webb hasn't seen a ton of action in the presesason. He is a pure rhythm thrower. When everything is on time and clean in the pocket, he can deliver the ball with plenty of velocity and accuracy. However, if pressured off his spot, he falls off throws, and his accuracy suffers. He did show some awareness to consistently find his backs out of the backfield.
Areas for improvement: Webb needs to work on being firm with his base. When he has his legs underneath him, he can really drive the ball well. He also needs to improve his deep-ball touch.
Preseason analysis: Beathard has been solid in the preseason. He lacks foot quickness in his drop, but he throws from a strong platform and can drive the ball outside the hash with accuracy. He is very efficient in the underneath passing attack, and he's shown the toughness to hang in the pocket versus pressure.
Areas for improvement: He needs to speed up his feet and his clock. He is late getting away from center, and he will hold on to the ball too long in the pocket at times. He is much more comfortable throwing to the perimeter than he is working in the middle of the field. He will gain more confidence to attack the seams as he gains more experience.
Expectations for rookie season: I wouldn't anticipate seeing Beathard on the field this fall, unless Bryan Hoyer really struggles. If forced to play, Beathard would be serviceable, but I don't think he has huge upside.
Preseason analysis: Dobbs has shown some positive signs, but he's struggled for the most part this preseason. He has excellent size and athleticism, but he's made poor decisions with the ball, and his lack of accuracy is a concern. I do love the way he manipulates safeties at times to create passing windows, but he needs to pay it off with increased accuracy.
Areas for improvement: Ball placement and decision-making are the two big areas for improvement. He is very comfortable throwing on the move, but he's still got a long way to go to become a functional pocket passer at the NFL level.
Preseason analysis: Peterman has enjoyed a solid preseason. His stats are pedestrian, but he's been the victim of some dropped balls. He has shown quick feet, a quick release and the ability to make a variety of throws. He has answered some concerns about his arm strength by driving some hole shots against Cover 2. He is a very good athlete, and he can scoop up the free yards when he has room to roam.
Areas for improvement: He needs to do a better job of maneuvering within the pocket and finding clearer throwing lanes. He also needs to find a way to slow down his process when facing pressure. He gets flustered, he falls off throws, and it affects his accuracy.
Expectations for rookie season: Due to injury concerns with Tyrod Taylor, Peterman could see some action right out of the gate. I wouldn't be surprised if he took over the starting job at some point this fall, even if Taylor were to remain healthy. I believe he has a chance to be a pleasant surprise for this new Bills regime.
Preseason analysis: Rush has been much better than advertised this preseason. He doesn't have a big arm, but he throws with outstanding timing, touch and anticipation. He knows where to go with the ball when under pressure, and he doesn't look flustered.
Areas for improvement: The big concern with Rush is his lack of velocity. I don't know how much he can improve in this area. He just isn't a powerful thrower. He has shown the ability to beat pressure with his decision-making prowess, but he lacks the physical twitch/quickness to make the free rusher miss and extend plays.
Expectations for rookie season: I think Rush has a good shot to secure the backup job this season. I know the coaching staff has affection for veteran Kellen Moore, but Rush has outplayed him this preseason. Of course, as long as Dak Prescott stays healthy, it won't matter. This is Prescott's team for the foreseeable future.