In the past when a quarterback was taken in the draft they were expected to sit behind the wily old veteran for a year or two and learn the ropes before eventually succeeding to the number one spot – think Carson Palmer who didn’t start any games for the Bengals in his first year or Aaron Rodgers sitting behind Brett Favre. In more recent years, quarterbacks taken in the first round are expected to play from day one and turn around a franchise that might have been going through a poor run of form.
In the 2018 draft, five quarterbacks were taken in the first round; Baker Mayfield by the Browns, Sam Darnold by the Jets, Josh Allen by the Bills, Josh Rosen by the Cardinals and Lamar Jackson by the Ravens. Out of them, which one is likely to play the most in 2018?
In Cleveland the Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor before they drafted Mayfield. This would indicate that they’re likely to start the veteran for at least the start of the season before turning over to Baker. Hue Jackson and his coaching staff did a terrible job with the quarterback position last year, virtually destroying DeShone Kizer by throwing him into the fire and pulling him out at any sign of incompetence (which there were many). This undoubtedly affected Kizer’s confidence and Dorsey, a proper football GM, is unlikely to let Jackson do the same with their prized No.1 pick. Taylor will start the season but if there’s a blow out win (or loss) then Baker could see some action. Towards the end of the season, if there’s nothing to play for then Baker could see some starts in preparation for 2019.
Darnold was, for a long time, the consensus No.1 pick in many mock drafts right until a few days before draft day. Then he slipped to No.3 and the Jets pounced and the XXth second coming of Joe Namath was announced. As well as Darnold, the Jets also bought in Teddy Bridgewater on a minimum contract and re-signed Josh McCowan. McCowan did a great job last year with a depleted team, probably one of his best accomplishments. By all accounts, he’s meant to have the makings of a great coach as well, so I expect him to be on board as Darnold’s mentor for 2018. I suspect the Jets took Bridgewater just to see what he has left in the tank following a gruesome knee injury. He may have some trade value if another team is in a desperate situation, but I don’t expect him to play. McCowan will start but quite quickly, Darnold will get some game time and be the established starter by the end of the year.
The Bills traded up to get Josh Allen after letting Taylor go to the Browns and picking up AJ McCarron in free agency. McCarron was expected to sign with a team that will give him a genuine shot at being the starter, but I don’t think that will happen in Buffalo. The Bills have themselves a raw quarterback in Allen but one that has the physical traits to succeed in the frigid north east. I could see Allen starting from week one should he prove his worth enough in training camps and pre-season fixtures. There is of course Nate Peterman as well…….
Josh Rosen was labelled as the most NFL ready quarterback of the group in the lead up to the draft but he had to wait until the 10th pick and for the Cardinals to trade up and take him. Following the retirement of Carson Palmer, the Cardinals bought in Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon before drafting Rosen so it’s a busy quarterback room. Bradford undoubtedly has starter ability and with a $20m pay cheque is being paid as such. The problem there is his injury history – the guy just can’t stay fit. He’s only on a one-year contract so I fully expect him to start for the year and let Rosen take over next year. That is of course in the event that Bradford’s injury curse doesn’t strike again! If it does, then Rosen will get the games. So where does Glennon fit in? Well Rosen also has a chequered injury history, particularly with concussions, so it’s not unfeasible that both quarterbacks could be out for a period of time!
Lastly, Lamar Jackson. The former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback was made to wait until the final pick of the first round where the Eagles gave up their first-round pick to the Ravens to allow them to come back into the first round to take Jackson. Joe Flacco is the starter and will remain so for 2018 but there have been increasing amounts of questions about his ability in recent years – especially considering the salary he gets paid. He has still got four years to run on his contract but there is a potential out for the Ravens after the 2019 season which would limit the dead money impact on the Ravens salary cap. I expect Flacco to play most of this season with Jackson coming in occasionally when the result of a game is not in question any more. With a new GM taking over in 2019 though the Ravens could change their game plan ready for Jackson to take over. This could result in Flacco either being traded away or dumped in following the 2019 season.
There you have it then. If you ask me now who’s going to see the most game time I would opt for Josh Allen. Of course, that will probably all change after Week One!