Across the National Football League, strategies stray away from the norm pertaining to the first-year player draft.
Depending on the round, class, or roster they are dealing with, teams may draft by need, positional value, or best player available. These crucial decisions impact the quarterback position more than anyone else, as the talent one prospect possesses is immediately compared to those around him, including passers on his own roster.
Training camp is rapidly approaching, meaning it is finally time for rookies, among others, to compete for roster spots. Positional battles occur every year, especially at the quarterback position.
This year follows suit in that regard. Here’s a look at the top quarterback position battles to monitor this summer:
New York Jets
One of the biggest quarterback battles of this season will go down in the Big Apple, where rookie Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater will duke it out as we move towards September.
As seen here, the Jets can go in a variety of different ways when it comes to their free agent acquisition. However, this all revolves around their potential franchise quarterback.
The media and fan base will unequivocally be pushing for Darnold to start, but Todd Bowles will have to do what is right for both his team and their biggest investment, number 14.
Josh McCown is another factor in this as well. He will most likely be the third-stringer for the entire year, but his veteran presence and history with the franchise may land him a start or two.
In order for Darnold to start, he will have to earn his spot, the keys to a very talented roster are valuable, yet fragile. The upcoming months will be imperative to both the New York Jets of the present and the future.
Possibly the most laughable quarterback situation in the sport, the Bills traded Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns prior to the draft, and eventually moved up to pick the controversial gunslinger, Josh Allen (with Rosen left on the board!).
To add, they also signed Bengals backup A.J. McCarron, who has failed to impress thus far. The third competitor in this carousel is sophomore passer Nathan Peterman, who as Joe Caporoso of Turn On The Jets put it, maybe color blind.
If Peterman takes the necessary steps forward, he will certainly be put into the starter conversation. If not, he may have Sundays off as well. The biggest question here is how Allen develops and if he will be deemed ready by the coaching staff.
My guess would be no, the raw prospect will not magically turn himself into a starter-caliber quarterback by September, so I expect A.J. McCarron to take on the job week one. Contrary, Buffalo is not set up to win much this year, so Allen can definitely see snaps sooner rather than later.
Ozzie Newsome shocked the football world last April when he selected Lamar Jackson with a late first round pick. This splash could energize a stagnating offense that needs a push to get over whatever is holding them back.
Unfortunately for Lamar Jackson, it is still Joe Flacco’s team, and with his legacy and contract on his side, Baltimore will most likely take the conservative route and start the veteran.
One possibility is that they harness the Heisman winner’s innate athleticism to expand certain parts of their offense, without hurting Flacco’s playing time. This would keep both parties content until the keys are given to Jackson and Baltimore moves on from its struggling veteran.
The previously mentioned Cleveland Browns trade that sent Tyrod Taylor to Ohio has an impact on more than one quarterback competition. As we all know, Baker Mayfield was the first overall pick, so the pressure to play him will always be there.
Though by the looks of it, Taylor will start week one, Mayfield will certainly make himself hard to keep off the field. With the talent-filled roster Cleveland has, they may test their luck with the former AFC North rival before letting the rookie take over.
Like Darnold, Mayfield is this team’s paramount investment, so the handling of him takes on an even greater significance. My personal theory: upper management is protecting Baker Mayfield from Hue Jackson.
My QB1 from this past draft class was slept on and disrespected by falling to tenth overall. Josh Rosen, in my opinion, the best passing prospect since Andrew Luck, has already voiced his concerns about the teams that passed on him, and now there is one thing left to do: prove them wrong.
The one thing standing in his way is the twenty million dollar man, Sam Bradford. It is unclear at this point who has the advantage is Glendale, but if I am the Cardinals, I am not too worried.
Both guys are quality quarterbacks who can win you games in this league. Bradford’s injury history speaks for itself, so it seems Rosen will get his fair share of playing time no matter what.
Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles
I’ll lump these two together because while technically the starting spots are not guaranteed, there is no real competition.
Elite quarterback Andrew Luck looks to start week one, ending Jacoby Brissett’s time as QB1. Luck gives the Colts the best chance to win, but there is no way he plays a snap before he is 100%. Similarly, we come across the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Obviously, Nick Foles won Philly their first ring, but we can’t deny the show Carson Wentz let us enjoy for a good part of last season. Like Luck, the Eagles should not and will not play their prized possession if he is not in pristine health, and they can afford to because of their amazing depth at the position.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A sleeper, if you will, quarterback battle is already underway in Tampa Bay this summer following the Jameis Winston suspension.
While we do not know the full extent of the case, we do know that Winston will most likely be serving a three-game suspension, leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. Beneath him are Ryan Griffin and rookie Austin Allen.
At the moment, the starting job is Fitzpatrick’s, but crazier things have happened than rookie passers taking over because of a good preseason. Watch out for the former Arkansas quarterback, because with solid performances in front of his coaches and teammates we could see a shift in faith among Buccaneers’ signal callers.