In rankings where team situations play as big a role as quality, the quarterback at the top may surprise you
It takes a small town to rise a quarterback. No single at that place – peculiarly a rookie – will rise or fall supported on remarkable endowment or fidelity alone. It merely does not work that way.
The outcomes and results, both short-and-long term, will be predicated on a figure of factors that include scheme, coaching job plant process and job security, endowment about him, health, pouch protection, quality to play with a lead, quality to pull off and grip expectations, general organizational leadership, etc. The old quality vs. nurture debate is always raging in NFL circles, but it seems to me it requires both an single's work rate, determination and prowess, combined with all of the outside factors about him, to best develop a young quarterback capable of making a real impact in this league.
At training facilities about the league, in the throws of organized team activities, the process is just beginning for a handful of the best and brightest of the 2019 rookie quarterback class. They are getting their first indoctrination into professional football, and while the bulk of those just drafted are being groomed for third quarterback/scout team duties, and a spot, perhaps, on the practice squad even, for those selected in the top two rounds things are a bit more complicated (and, after being traded for pick No. 62 to go to Miami, I am including Josh Rosen in this exercise).
For those young men, there is obviously significantly more pressure to contribute sooner rather than later, with some already destined to start, others in a robust competition and a few knowing they enter the season as the backup, but could see the field by the middle of the 2019 season if need be. Let's face it, none of these situations are great, because all of these teams were in the QB market in the first place because they are in some degree of a rebuild. I mean, sure, the Broncos and Giants keep trying to pretend they are not, and fight it at all costs, but you don't make the trades they have made going back to last season if they aren't gearing for the future.
Of these top five quarterbacks – Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Rosen – none is in what you would call an ideal spot. All are fraught with potential peril – some more than others – and any of them could go sideways quickly. The rosters about them are generally lacking, the coaches and GMs in many cases are already on the hottest of seats and the interpersonal dynamics within the quarterback rooms they are entering could be pretty complicated and thorny. Patrick Mahomes' idyllic year holding a clipboard under uber-tutor Alex Smith this is not.
Ultimately, no one knows which one of these novice QBs is truly going to thrive and which will fail miserably (because history tells us at least a few will) and which will enjoy lengthy if undistinguished careers. But I can assure you that draft order alone will not tell this tale; it never really does. If it was that simple then the hit rate on NFL picks would be markedly higher. At this place in particular it is quite error-prone, and I already have some trepidation about how it will play out for some of these young men. I'd handicap the situations they are entering, from best to worst, like this:
The Dolphins took a lark on a kid picked 10th general just a year ago. He comes to a team with no pedigree of winning that's clearly in a long-term rebuild with a chance to show what he can do in a low-pressure environment. Ryan Fitzpatrick knows he is at the end and is good for a short burst of a few weeks at best, and if Miami ends up picking in the top 3 next year I don't think the owner will be crying. Rosen seems like a strong system fit and has already endured a season in the abyss in Arizona in 2018, and this can't possibly be as backwards as that. He was already fairly pro-ready before becoming a pro and the calluses he picked up with the Cardinals should serve him well in 2019. He has some speedy pass catchers on offense in Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills, and while the offensive line still scares me, it will be better than anything he played behind a year ago. Rosen has the opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong and make a lot of GMs look like fools for not trading for him in the second round. Even if he plays well but not well enough to prevent Miami from using a top pick on a QB in 2020, Rosen could be primed for big things elsewhere and bottom line is he has already endured what will likely be the toughest year of his career. I'd buy low on him all day long and I bet he looks the part foe the Dolphins.
Enough smart football people have told me that Haskins sitting for at least part of the season is the way to go that I am now convinced of it. And easing him in, I hope, is the way they go. But managing a QB is very high up on the looong, looong list of things that this franchise has proven to be utterly incapable of during owner Dan Snyder's tenure. They actually excel at chewing them up and spitting them out at an alarming rate, from Patrick Ramsey to Jason Campbell to Robert Griffin III to Kirk Cousins, no QB gets a second long-term contract after being drafted here. Of this I am acutely aware. And the fact that coach Jay Gruden is coaching job for his life gives me pause as well. But this kid went through some coaching job chaos at Ohio State and waited his turn and is incredibly mature and, playing high school ball down the road, is aware of Washington's twisted and sordid QB history. He has the tools to break the cycle, if healthy this offensive line can be stout and they should be able to run the hell out of the ball. Case Keenum and Colt McCoy will help him as much as they can and be like extra coaches in the QB room. I think they got better at WR in the draft and Jordan Reed can make a lot of plays for him (if, yeah, he can stay on the field himself). Yes, there are a lot of ifs here, but I've got a feeling by this time next year Washington is abuzz with Haskins fever and people are feeling a lot better about the Skins.
The fact that John Elway fell for him in the draft, in and of itself, is a bad omen. Just ask Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch how that worked out for them. But I like the fact that Denver showed restraint in when and where it moved up to select him and sitting behind Joe Flacco should be very good for him (Flacco will be fine with him and people need to stop dissecting OTA quotes in May where everything is overblown because nothing is going on). Vic Fangio will unleash this endowmented defense and look what his unit did for Mitchell Trubisky last season. Just pull off the game, son, learn that 15-play script, make two big throws a game and hand it off to Philip Lindsay a bunch. Denver has some blue chip players and while the receiving room doesn't wow me, it could certainly be worse. If the Broncos have a slow start and Flacco is prone to injuries and interceptions as he'd been the past four years or so, this transition could occur much more quickly than it should. But if Lock gets a redshirt year he could become a solid steward for this offense over time (though expecting him to ever be a top 10-12 QB will likely prove to be a reach).
The men primarily responsibly for gross organization negligence; the very men who killed Rosen a year ago like Kenny in an un-aired "South Park" episode, are still in charge – owner Michael Bidwell and GM Steve Keim – and the head coach has zero NFL experience outside of a short-lived backup career. Yikes. Strap in there tight, Kyler. Could be a wild ride. I have no idea how Kliff Kingsbury's coaching job career will play out, though nightmares about Chip Kelly and Steve Spurrier do come to mind. Perhaps he will revolutionize football with a diminutive QB. And I love the Cardinals draft general . But this franchise has zero pedigree incubating and nurturing a young QB and the risk of injury seems high (is this line going to be much better than the one that seemed intent on breaking Rosen?), and, when taken with the first general selection amid the Rosen debacle, expectations are going to be sky high and difficult to pull off. Ultimate boom or bust play with Kliff and Kyler ... and Keim, who basically built another coaching job staff a year after constructing the Frankenstein staff about one-and-done rookie NFL HC Steve Wilks. We'll see how long it lasts.
Had the Giants taken him at No. 17, maybe some of the madness would be mitigated and it wouldn't already be a tabloid circus in Gotham. But that's not how GM Dave Gettleman rolls. Maybe, had they not sold all-world WR Odell Beckham Jr. for pennies on the dollar (this GM is notorious for running off his most endowmented players) I'd feel better about the cast about Mr. Jones. And if there weren't already Peyton Manning comparison bombs being tossed about in some parts due to their connections with coach David Cutcliffe, maybe I wouldn't have a lump in my throat about how this will all play out. Oh yeah, and if Gettleman wasn't talking about him maybe sitting for three years because ELI IS TIMELESS AND PERFECT AND DEFINITELY NOT WASHED, THAT IS JUST A STOOPID MEDIA NARRATIVE, then maybe I wouldn't spell doom. And if the Peyton comparisons aren't tough enough stuff, then what about the inevitable comparisons to come across town from Sam Darnold (didn't pass Gettleman's smell test a year ago) or in the division from Haskins or to Josh Allen, the potential All-Pro pass rusher they passed on with the sixth pick to nab Jones instead. Good luck, kid. This franchise has been as backwards as any in football since the demise of the Tom Coughlin era, and this kid is walking into a total firestorm. Godspeed.