Part 5 of our 6 part segment will feature the league’s most hyped-up, up and coming, signal callers. The Quarterback position is one you can count on every year for a surprise performance, whether it’s a bounce back year for a veteran, or a breakout year for someone the casual fan may not have even heard of prior to week 1. 2018 featured the MVP Patrick Mahomes, 2017 was Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz, and 2016 was Dak Prescott. In 2019, I’ve narrowed my list down to 5 young Quarterbacks that will break out onto the scene this year and establish themselves as some of the best leaders in the league.
Baker Mayfield – Browns
Passing TD’s: 40; Rushing TD’s: 2; INT’s: 8; Passing Yards: 4,000; QBR: 108.09; Completion %: 68.4%
Let’s get this one out of the way right now. If you haven’t noticed my clear love and excitement for Baker Mayfield by now, then remember from this moment forward. After watching the opening drive in the Browns first preseason game last week, it became clear to me that this year will be special. I usually don’t take what I see in the preseason very seriously, but it’s hard not to get excited for Cleveland after what we saw against the Redskins. The offense looked smooth with whatever unit touched the field, the defense was ball hawking every opportunity they got, and even the special teams was making big plays. This may not be the fairy-tale season I’ve been trying to convince everyone, but one thing I’m very confident in saying is that Baker will establish himself as a legitimate top Quarterback in this league.
Kyler Murray – Cardinals
Passing TD’s: 24; Rushing TD’s: 8 ; INT’s: 10; Passing Yards: 3,105; QBR: 90.5; Completion %: 66%
If you didn’t catch Murray’s first NFL game then I’m sorry. He made a handful of solid plays, but nothing got me more excited than watching him bounce out of the pocket and extend plays. I caught myself staring at the speed he was able to move his feet, chopping at the ground like a young Mike Vick. It’s like watching Russell Wilson but in white and red, and the accuracy and arm strength I witnessed from him in college looks to have translated smoothly to the pro level. Unfortunately he is on the Cardinals, and there’s a lot they’ll have to do before they can compete with the Rams, Seahawks, and Niners, but taking Murray and moving on from Rosen appears to be the right move. Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk aren’t bad targets to have either, and Murray should have a successful rookie season. I’m not sure if that will translate into wins, but it should result in a solid fantasy football campaign. As far as real-life football, there’s going to be a lot of spurts and moments where we see why this kid could be a future hall of famer. As far as the division rivals go, they no longer have the Cardinals on their schedule as a lay-up game. Kyler Murray is here, and it’ll be fun to watch.
Sam Darnold – Jets
Passing TD’s: 34; Rushing TD’s: 1; INT’s: 13; ; Passing Yards: 3,525; QBR: 97.9; Completion %: 67.7%
After returning from injury Darnold finished the season with six passing touchdowns and only one interception, and an average completion percentage of 64% over the final four games. Not eye-popping numbers, especially when you take into consideration the 1-3 record to finish the season, but where there is potential there is hope. Darnold provides that as he enters the most anticipated year of every young Quarterbacks career, the sophomore season. Now he has Le’Veon Bell in his backfield, and he is an established RB1/WR2, and his role looks to be no different with Darnold tossing him the rock. The defense has made vast improvements in the offseason and will provide Darnold with a lot less pressure than last year, and I believe he’ll have a big breakout season. Whether or not this will result in a playoff berth or not, is still to be seen.
Lamar Jackson – Ravens
Passing TD’s: 23; Rushing TD’s: 7; INT’s: 9; Passing Yards: 3,065; QBR: 97.9; Completion %: 66%
The Ravens are going to be a run heavy offense, there’s no denying that. Despite a very strong first drive from the second year Quarterback, you’d be foolish to think that just because he didn’t scramble in the first preseason game that means his whole game has changed. There isn’t a coach in the league asking his franchise QB to run the ball in preseason. Regardless, Jackson still looked that good. If last season was any indication, the Ravens will only improve offensively with the addition of Ingram and a full offseason for Jackson as the guy. I think he’ll still be utilized heavily in the run game, but we will see a lot more plays from the pocket. Expect another strong push for the playoffs as the AFC North looks stronger than ever heading into week 1.
Jimmy Garoppolo – 49ers
Passing TD’s: 36; Rushing TD’s: 2; INT’s: 12; Passing Yards: 3,995; QBR: 105.3; Completion %: 70%
This will not only be a strong case for comeback player of the year, but Jimmy G will make a case for league MVP. Unfortunately in this era of the NFL, the league will look past personal statistics and focus on team record heavily, so I won’t be placing my money on Garoppolo this year. However, if he can stay healthy he will make things very interesting out west with a new revamped roster in San Fran. With improvements on both sides of the ball, Garoppolo will have a solid defense giving is offense every opportunity to take the field and win games. Newly acquired Tevin Coleman is expected to be the workhorse back alongside Matt Breida and Jerick Mckinnon, giving the Niners one of the best backfield committees in the league. The offensive line looks as stable as ever, and the receiving core is headlined by rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel. I fully expect to see a new and improved Garoppolo making a push for a playoff berth this season.