By Max Feldman
1. Patrick Mahomes II
Kansas City Chiefs, 24 Years Old
Mahomes is a give-in here. The reigning MVP has taken over the league as one of the top gunslingers within 21 games as a full starter. Mahomes has put up eye-catching statistics to say the least under Andy Reid with 61 touchdowns and 6,928 yards. Mahomes has a overall QBR of 81.1 with 329 yards and 3 touchdowns per game at just 24 years old. The numbers have brought success as a team as the Chiefs are 16-5 with Mahomes under center, and have the second best odds to win the 54th Super Bowl. Patty’s combination of side arm, no look throws, on the run and off balance heaves and ability to trick safeties with pump fakes, Mahomes is going nowhere in terms of the quarterback hierarchy. The Kansas City Chiefs taking a shot on Mahomes as a project with a ceiling at the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft will go down as a franchise-altering move in the long run.
Houston Texans, 24 Years Old
Unlike Mahomes, Watson had a collegiate career full of wins and distinct success. Similarly, Watson gained the starting role in Houston after 8 games, while Mahomes had to wait 16 weeks. With all the success at Clemson, Watson was still the third quarterback off of the board at 12th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Watson quickly gained traction and gave the Texans direction creating an open, spread attack giving control to Watson to put his playmakers, debatabely the best Wide Out in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins and a budding star in Will Fuller, in positions to perform. Playing behind one of the worst offensive lines for 28 games, Watson has still thrown for 258 yards and 2 touchdowns per game tacking on 942 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground thus far in his brief career. Watson’s blistering speed, creativity in the pocket and a grow collection of weapons, his trajectory continues to grow and cement himself as the future of the NFL. Shoring up of the offensive line would only boost the two-time former Heisman nominee’s potential.
Baltimore Ravens, 22 Years Old
The former Louisville Cardinal, and 32nd selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Jackson, still only 22 years old, has had his skillset critiqued and questions since the Draft process began. Head Coach John Harbaugh took a shot on him as a first rounder, and a quarterback with too much skill as a scrambler and playmaker to pass over. Since growing his role and getting the starting gig after 9 full games, the Ravens offense has been tailor made to fit Lamar’s strongest traits. In 12 games as a starting quarterback, the Ravens have gone 9-3 and found direction under Jackson’s control. Jackson was consistently hassled about a possible transition to wide receiver with his speed (4.34 40 yard dash) and a 6 foot 2 212 pound frame, but his game has spoke with a high level tight spiral and the arm strength to beat safeties consistently. Decision making and accuracy continue to be developmental traits, with a completion percentage of 61% and 8 interceptions. As a thrower, Jackson has averaged 206 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game, but progress is already underway as he has thrown 11 touchdowns in just 5 games in 2019. With all the progress as a thrower, Jackson continues to run wild. Jackson has rushed 9.4 times per game with 5.1 yards per attempt and 6 total rushing touchdowns. Jackson was the youngest quarterback to ever start an NFL playoff game at 21 years old after leading the Ravens to a 6-1 record after getting the starting job from Joe Flacco. Lamar Jackson is still a work in progress, but 2019 has shown flashes of greatness and the glimpses of an all-around creative and proficient modern quarterback that the 31 other teams passed up on in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Los Angeles Rams, 24 Years Old
Goff, the former Cal Bear, was selected 1st overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. Not only holding the pressure of a first overall pick, Goff was the inaugural selection for the Los Angeles Rams, after the franchise returned from St. Louis. After sitting behind veteran Case Keenum for nine games, Goff started the final seven games of his rookie season, going winless in all seven games. 2017 marks the hiring of the youngest Head Coach of all time, Sean McVay, transcending Jared Goff’s statistic output and style of play. Goff’s standout skills have always been his pocket presence, arm strength, accuracy and feel. McVay gave Goff the tools and continues to space the field making Goff’s strengths glow. McVay has had Goff as his starting quarterback every single game, and since going 27-9 and finishing the 2018 season with a loss in the Super Bowl 53. In two seasons as a full starter, Goff has a touchdown to interception ratio of 60-19. Goff has a completion percentage of 63.4 and a QB Rating of 100.8 as a starter. In 2019, Goff is averaging 330 yards per game but just 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Pressure has been on Goff to follow last season’s Super Bowl berth to compile wins and points, and although the Rams are 3-2, Goff has looked mediocre at times. Playing under McVay and beside the multitude of offensive weapons in Los Angeles, Goff must find consistency and comfort in his role as the engineer of one of the NFL’s most electric offenses. Time will tell, but Goff’s arm talent will show whether he is a product of his system, or truly does hold the talent of a number one overall pick.
Cleveland Browns, 24 Years Old
Mayfield was selected 1st overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft, a move that surprised many but quickly proved doubters wrong with All-Pro glimpses in his rookie campaign. Mayfield took over for an injured Tyrod Taylor in Week 3 his rookie season and immediately gave a franchise starving for hope a ton of intrigue and praise for General Manager, John Dorsey, for making the bold selection. In 17 games started, Mayfield has 31 touchdowns and 20 touchdowns. Consistency has been an issue, and 2019 has shown more questions with a completion percentage of 59% and a negative touchdown-interception rate of 4 to 6. Mayfield still remains one of the most promising pass throwers due to his arm strength, proven accuracy and ability to make plays outside the pocket with his feet. The Browns came into to 2019 as one of the most hyped up teams due to the growing stock of weapons between OBJ, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, David Njoku and Kareem Hunt looming behind the scenes. Mayfield has work to do, and although he is just 24 years old, the pressure is on for the former Heisman Trophy winning Oklahoma Sooner to capture wins and produce numbers for the Browns organization.
Arizona Cardinals, 22 Years Old
Similar to the Jared Goff situation, Kyler Murray was selected 1st overall in the 2019 NFL Draft following the hire of offensive guru, Kliff Kingsbury. The Arizona Cardinals hit the reset switch after selecting Josh Rosen in the first round of the 2018 Draft, eventually trading him to the Miami Dolphins, and firing short-lasting former Head Coach, Steve Wilks. Both Murray as a draft pick and Kingsbury as a Head Coach hire were largely criticized, but were envisioned as a high potential, long term organizational move. Murray, another former Heisman-winning Oklahoma Sooner, was selected 9th overall by the Oakland Athletics in the MLB Draft, being the first to be a first round, let alone top ten, selection in both the NFL and MLB Drafts. Murray was thrown into the flames as a day one starter for the Cardinals, and while the lack of experience is obvious, the ample amount of talent is equally evident. The stout 5 foot 10, 210 pound playmaker has game breaking speed and the overwhelming arm strength and pin point accuracy of an MLB outfielder. As one of FOG’s most highly touted young athletes, Murray is a dream situation with Kingsbury as he has been handed the keys to an Run-Pass-Option based offensive scheme with freedom to display his abundant skillset. Thus far, Murray has stacked up 265 yards passing, 41 yards rushing and 1.2 touchdowns per game. High level wide-outs and an absolute reconstruction of the porous offensive line should be next on tab for GM Steve Keim and HC Kliff Kingsbury. The development of the rebuild will take multiple years, but Kyler Murray as all the makings of a future star quarterback and carries as a high of a ceiling as any player in the NFL.
Buffalo Bills, 23 Years Old
Allen, 6 foot 5 and 237 pounds, was selected 7th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft as a rather unknown, big armed gunslinger with a questionable resume out of Wyoming. The Bills traded up 5 spots to select Allen as the future of their franchise. Allen has been largely inconsistent but has brought a burst to Buffalo. Allen took over as a starter towards the end of the Bills first game of 2018. Allen had a shaky 2018 with a negative touchdown-interception ratio and a mediocre 53% completion percentage, eventually missing four games with an elbow injury, finishing the season with a 5-6 record. In 2019, the Bills have found their identity under HC Sean McDermott as they are 4-1 through Week 5. Allen has thrown for 224 yards per game with an improved QB rating of 75.2. Allen has 15 throwing touchdowns and 11 rushing touchdowns through 16 games started. The former Wyoming Cowboy has debatably the biggest arm in the NFL with underrated scrambling talent. The Bills offensive line remains mostly weak and the surrounding talent is underwhelming. Lacking playmakers, Allen remains a high potential prospect due to growing maturity, arm talent, intangibles and organizational confidence. Allen has not reached his peak of play, and the ample experience gained by starting since Week 2 of his rookie campaign will only benefit his long-term outlook.