Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees…who will take the reigns when they retire?
The NFL is currently being run by some of the greatest quarterbacks we have ever seen in the league today. They have been around for so long that we couldn’t imagine a league without them. But what is going to happen when they are gone? Is the future of the quarterback position in jeopardy of going on a gradual decline?
For so many years we have seen a type of dominance from some of these quarterbacks that we have to wonder if it will ever be repeated again. We may never see the clutch gene of Tom Brady, the pure arm talent of Aaron Rodgers, the grit of Drew Brees or the toughness of Ben Roethlisberger ever again. The factors that these players have brought to the league over the years have been the reason for the NFL’s success as a professional sports league, and they will continue to be that reason until they hang their cleats for the final time.
Some may argue that the future of NFL quarterbacks has never been in better hands, and others may argue that it will never be the same. The most difficult position in all of pro sports, the quarterback is asked to do a lot for a football team. As offenses in the NFL get more and more complex, the more difficult it is for a quarterback to adjust to the pro level.
However, it seems as though quarterbacks are adjusting to the pro level better than they ever have. Many college systems run an air-raid or west-coast offense that does not always translate to the NFL, but coaches are now finding ways to incorporate a college offense into their own.
The quarterbacks taken in the 2017 draft were especially beneficiaries of this, as some were thrown into the fire of a starting job right away.
Players such as Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky, CJ Beathard and Nathan Peterman were all relied on to lead their teams in their rookie seasons. While not all of them were successful, it still goes to show how teams are getting desperate in regards to the quarterback position.
The 2017 Draft class has made a big impression on the NFL already, and it seems that they will be doing so for a very long time.
Let’s go over the top candidates from the 2017 draft to take over the future of the NFL.
One quarterback who is really coming into his own, Mitch Trubisky is a great talent. He had to adapt to not only the NFL atmosphere, but also a brand new scheme with Matt Nagy, all in the span of two years.
The former #2 overall pick in the draft, Trubisky was regarded by many NFL scouts to be the top draft prospects, despite being the starter at North Carolina for just a single season. He led the Tar Heels to an 8-5 record, and threw for over 3,500 yards and 30 TDs.
Transitioning to the NFL seemed to be a very slow process for the former Tar Heel, and many believed he was thrust into the fire too soon. However, he has taken the reigns in Chicago, and ran with it.
While many argue that Trubisky is a system QB and is only having success because of the scheme that Head Coach Matt Nagy draws up, he is still putting up high quality results. With 3,200 yards, 24 touchdowns and a passer rating of 95.4 in just his second season, Trubisky has given the Bears a quarterback that can run the offense, and run it well. While 6 of those 24 touchdowns came in a single game, he did not need to throw that many touchdowns with such a complete team. Trubisky is mobile, and when he has a clean pocket he can make any throw on the field.
However, put some pressure on the kid, and he will slip up. Luckily, the Bears’ offensive line protected Trubisky very well this season, as he was sacked just 24 times. But his decision making under duress is what caused him to throw 12 interceptions. When pressure was put on him, Trubisky would try to get rid of the ball quickly, often times throwing into double coverage or making errant throws.
Trubisky was vastly better than he was in his rookie season, and has shown that he can be a winning quarterback in this league. A lot of scouts were worried about him only starting in one season while at North Carolina, but Trubisky is beginning to erase that narrative all together.
The future is bright for the Bears, and if that offense can improve even more to go along with that defense, they will put the league on notice.
After tearing his ACL in the middle of the 2017 season, Deshaun Watson picked up right where he left off. The Texans started off the year 0-3, then won 11 of their next 13 games, earning themselves the 3 seed in the AFC. Watson continued to do the things that wowed us in his rookie season.
Watson had it all when he played for Clemson. He was smart with the football, he ran the offense with poise and grit, and when the team needed him most, he came through for them. Those qualities cannot be taught, and it is what made Watson such an attractive prospect. A guy that can come out and lead the team with heart is what made guys like Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Peyton Manning so successful. NFL scouts saw this in Watson, and knew that this would translate right over to the pros.
In his first year as a starter, Watson set the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a player’s first 7 games with 19. Unfortunately, Watson was unable to set more records after that, as he tore his ACL in a practice prior to the week 9 matchup against the Colts.
The way that a player returns from injury is what defines them. Recovering from a torn ACL is not a given that you will return the way you were before, but Watson came back even better. Throwing for over 4,000 yards, 26 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions. He was a smarter quarterback, and played a much more efficient season. The defensive improvements that the Texans made surely helped, but Watson is what made the offense go.
There was no real question about Deshaun being able to play in the NFL. Everyone knew he could, and he would. However, when he tore that ACL, we started to wonder if a player that young would be able to overcome so much pressure. It is truly special what Watson has accomplished thus far, and as long as he is at the helm, the Texans will be in good hands.
Deshaun Watson has that “it” factor that analysts talk about. The trait that separates the successful quarterbacks from the rest. It can’t be taught, it can’t be emulated. A player is born with that trait, and Deshaun Watson sure as hell was born with it.
Patrick Mahomes II
Who saw this one coming, huh?
The second youngest player to ever win the NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes shattered all doubt about his game and threw for over 5,000 yards, 50 touchdowns and a passer rating of 133.8. Nearly taking his team to the Super Bowl (screw you Tom Brady), Mahomes led the Chiefs to a 12-4 record and the #1 seed in the AFC while also operating the third highest scoring offense in NFL history.
Mahomes put up video game-like numbers in college as well, but everyone overlooked it because of the notion that Big-12 quarterbacks are not typically successful in the NFL. Records such as most yards of total offense in a game (819) and most passing yards in a single game (734) were set by Mahomes and the high flying air-raid offense that Texas Tech boasted at the time. Patrick Mahomes was given the title of a “gunslinger.”
However, Mahomes put that narrative to rest this past season in the NFL. After constant talk by sports analysts of “struggling with turnovers when he gets on the field”, and the “Chiefs will regret trading Alex Smith,” things are looking pretty good for Kansas City and their young gun quarterback.
Giving the sports world dazzling highlights week after week such as no-look passes, left-handed throws and scrambling away from defenders, Mahomes showed on the field why he is called “Showtime.” He did things this year that no quarterback has ever seen or done before, and that is why he was the biggest storyline in the NFL.
The Chiefs have long struggled with the quarterback position, and they have finally settled on someone who will help them win for years to come. As long as Mahomes is out there on the field, Kansas City will have a chance to win. This is what so many teams in the league long for, and the Chiefs finally have theirs.
“This is just the beginning, we have a long ways to go.”
Chiefs fans, you have a reason to be excited for a very long time.
Taking control of a team as quickly as these three did can be overwhelming to some young players. Some may have trouble understanding their coach’s offense, some may struggle with the defensive coverages that they see, and some may just be plain nervous to be a pro. None of these guys are afraid of anything. They all took charge in their respective cities and have given hope to their fans for the next several years. The next dynasty of NFL quarterbacks is upon us, and we haven’t even realized it yet.
Brady, Rodgers, Brees…move over.
There’s a new generation in town.