By KALLE SORBO
Here Come the Rookies
This pre-season I predicted when each first round rookie quarterback would start, and I was wrong on every one except Sam Darnold. That being said, week four is in the books, and this last weekend we got to see four of the five first round pick QBs start. It was an exciting weekend and showed a lot of promise for the future of the league. This week I’m going to re-evaluate my thoughts on the four rookie starters from the weekend and their bust potential.
Bust Likelihood: High
Josh Allen fell back to earth this week after his out of body experience in Minnesota. I think that game was an outlier, and the bills caught Minnesota resting on their laurels. Green Bay doesn’t have a defense to write home about and they made it hard for Allen all game. He threw for only 151 yards and was 16 of 33. That’s less than 5 yards an attempt. He also threw 2 interceptions, and threw a few more that likely could have been. It wasn’t a great game by any stretch of the imagination. He had a QBR of 5.4. Aaron Rodgers had played a tough game, looked like he was playing a different sport.
Allen was the major prospect, one who I had the least faith in going into the draft this summer. Allen is one of those players emblematic of “boom or bust.” His arm strength and athleticism are undeniable, but he was definitely a developmental prospect. Allen’s performance made me question what the Bills did with their QBs and was so confusing this off season. The team traded away Tyrod Taylor, who has a low ceiling but led them to the playoffs, and then they also traded away AJ McCarron. After Nathan Peterman’s below average first game they had no choice to start Allen, but he wasn’t ready. Allen has yet to prove himself as dominant player. He was All Mountain West honorable mention his senior year of college. That means he wasn’t even the best quarterback in the Mountain West Conference. Why was he a top prospect again? Allen had one of the best arms in his class, which was why he was drafted so high. The Buffalo Bills went to the playoffs with a different QB under center. Now they might have the first pick in the upcoming draft with their 1-4 record so far this season.
Bust Likelihood: Medium
Josh Rosen “fell” to the 10th overall pick in the draft. He was supposedly the most “polished” passer of the bunch headed into the draft. Sam Bradford has been plagued by injuries throughout his entire professional career, even last season with Minnesota he did not play the whole season. It was only a matter of time before Rosen would be called in. Bradford however, did not get injured, he just simply wasn’t winning for the Cardinals. He’s now their third string quarterback. That’s more of a cap-saving move than a play ability move. Bradford is a better football player than Mike Glennon and is a more successful and established QB, which would line him up as QB2 on the Cardinals depth chart, But Rosen is now the guy put in charge in Arizona.
I thought he played well this Sunday, but he looked a little overwhelmed. I don’t think he is used to the speed of the game at the pro level yet. However, he still throws a really pretty ball, and he has sound decision making. He had an 80.4 QBR. Seattle is no longer the “Legion of Boom”. Yet, I thought they played well, and it was a wildly entertaining game. Rosen, in his first start, looked exactly like the guy I thought he would be out of college. It’s his first start so it’s a ridiculously small sample size, which is why I put his bust likelihood at medium. If I had to bet I think he has the lowest ceiling of the first round QBs, but the highest floor.
Bust Likelihood: Low
This was the most entertaining game of the weekend. There were a lot of takeaways from the game, including Gruden’s first win. For the purposes of this article we’ll focus on one: Baker can play. That’s all that matters. We can all debate til we’re blue in the face whether or not he should have been the first overall pick, but at the end of the day Cleveland needed a QB and they have one.
Baker did not play his best on Sunday, especially in comparison to his play in relief of Tyrod Taylor against the Jets. Against a Jets defense that game planned for Baker instead of Tyrod, he looked like a rookie QB. He struggled with protecting the football and playing smart football, but his energy leads the team and was the most influential part of the Browns gameplay on sunday.
I still don’t know if Baker has that high of a ceiling. I think the Drew Brees comparisons are potentially a stretch. Baker still has to prove himself as it is early in his career. Comparing a rookie to a first ballot hall of famer seems a bit much to me. However, if you’re asking me if Baker is a bust? That answer is no. The kid can play, and he will win games. Most importantly he offers stability at the QB position to a team that has been desperate for that for two decades.
Bust Likelihood: Low
The Jets gave Darnold a hard time this week, and the Browns did last week. Those are two real defenses who are on the come up. Statistically he hasn’t been playing well for two straight weeks. He had a 15.6 QBR and averaged less than 5 yards an attempt this sunday. It’s not much better than Allen in fact.
The reason I don’t see Darnold being a bust is that it doesn’t bother him. His first ever NFL snap was a pick 6. He shook it off like it was nothing. He is the youngest Quarterback to ever start an NFL game, and that means he’s going to struggle as he matures. What matters is that emotionally he is ready to handle those struggles. He won’t face top 5 defenses every week, and he has a staff that supports him 100 percent. That is significant. Teams like Denver, Cleveland, and Buffalo has ruined QBs development by not being all in on their guys. The Jets are all in. Sam has the tools mentally and physically and he’s only 21 years old. He’s not going to win rookie of the year, but he’s not a bust either.