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Who Will Start? Best Quarterback Battles Around The NFL

Who Will Start? Best Quarterback Battles Around The NFL

With the remainder of rookie mini-camps beginning on Friday and OTAs beginning towards the end of May, teams will finally get to see each quarterback go to work on the field. None of the quarterbacks selected in this year’s draft are expected to be the starter for their teams on day one, but per the coaches cliche handbook, every position will be a competition and the best player will play.

Many teams legitimately do not know who their starting quarterback will be on opening day, and so the competition should be fun to watch through the summer months.

Here are the best quarterback battles to keep an eye out for.

Buffalo Bills

Current Expected Depth Chart:

  1. Tyrod Taylor
  2. Cardale Jones
  3. Nathan Peterman
  4. T.J. Yates
  5. Josh Woodrum
Buffalo Bills Quarterback Tyrod Taylor

Tyrod Taylor will be the expected starter going into training camp but don’t sleep on Cardale Jones. With Tyrod you kind of know what you’re going to get.

Over the last two seasons, he finished with almost identical passing yards (3,035, and 3,023) and virtually the same touchdown to interception ratio (20:6, 17:6). Taylor is a very talented quarterback and gifted athlete, but we may have seen the ceiling with him.

Cardale Jones is a bit more of mystery. He had very limited college experience but played huge on the biggest stage. In his only action of last season, he went 6 for 11 with 96 yards and no touchdowns. Jones is still raw but he should push Taylor for a starting role, or at least make the competition interesting.

The third quarterback spot should be fascinating. The Bills brought in veteran T.J. Yates and drafted Nathan Peterman out of Pitt in the 2017 draft. Buffalo will obviously want to hang on to Peterman after taking him somewhat early in the draft, but I find it unlikely that they keep five, or even four quarterbacks on the roster. That certainly puts Yates in a peculiar situation. He will most likely have to beat out Cardale Jones in order to hang onto a roster spot.

Week one depth chart projections: Tyrod Taylor, Cardale Jones, Nathan Peterman.

Chicago Bears

Current Expected Depth Chart:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Mitchell Trubisky
  3. Mark Sanchez
  4. Connor Shaw
Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky

After signing Mike Glennon to a 3-year deal worth around $45 million, the Chicago Bears shocked the world by trading up one spot in the draft and taking quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The consensus is that after only 13 collegiate starts, Trubisky will need quite a bit of time to adapt to the NFL speed and, thus, the job will be Glennon’s to lose.

However, the Bears have a brutal start to their schedule as they face the Falcons at home, the Bucs in Tampa, the Steelers at home, and the Pack at Lambeau. If they start 0-4, which I’m fairly confident that they will, the chatter will begin for Trubisky to be thrown into the fire.

Maybe the more interesting battle will be between Mark Sanchez and Connor Shaw. Sanchez has struggled over the latter half of his career but seems to keep finding himself in NFL locker rooms. While he will never be the guy in Chicago, it is always wise to keep a veteran presence in the QB room. I expect him to make the squad over Shaw, and will even supplant Trubisky as the backup, making Mitch the man with the clipboard.

Week one depth chart projection: Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez, Mitch Trubisky.

Cleveland Browns

Current Expected Depth Chart:

  1. Cody Kessler
  2. Kevin Hogan
  3. Brock Osweiler
  4. DeShone Kizer
Cleveland Browns Quarterback Cody Kessler

The Browns had a phenomenal draft, and may finally be on their way to climbing out of the basement of the NFL. Maybe.

The quarterback position is still a mess and will be under heavy scrutiny again this season. Currently on the depth chart, Cody Kessler started the most games in a Browns uniform and will be slated as the starter going into camp. He, however, has struggled to push the ball downfield and is almost certainly not the long term solution.

They acquired Hogan last season who played in one game due to all the injuries at the position but will be fighting just to make the roster this season.

Brock Osweiler was sent to Cleveland along with a second round pick. If he can get any of the production that he got in Denver before last year’s debacle, he may be able to save his career and may even be the starter in Cleveland going forward.

The Browns must have been tickled when DeShone Kizer was still sitting there when they picked him in the second round. He is an extremely talented kid that is still raw and will need quite a bit of time before he will see the field on Sundays. I expect him to be the third man on the depth chart at the start of the season.

Week one depth chart projection: Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer.

Denver Broncos

Current Expected Depth Chart:

  1. Trevor Siemian
  2. Paxton Lynch
  3. Chad Kelly
Denver Broncos Quarterback Paxton Lynch

I love the Chad Kelly pick with the last selection in the draft. If he can get his head on straight and get around some good veteran leadership, he could become a very viable QB in the NFL. However, barring, God forbid, injuries to both Siemian and Lynch, Kelly does not have a shot at starting this season, so we will keep him in the third slot where he can be a sponge of the NFL.

The Siemian-Lynch competition may grow into the best quarterback battle of the offseason, primarily due to a couple of factors.

  1. Head Coach Vance Joseph has repeatedly stated that this is a completely open quarterback competition, and no one will have any advantage going into camp. I believe him.
  2. Trevor Siemian was a seventh-round pick two years ago and Paxton Lynch was a first-round pick last season.
  3. The offense has a lot of new faces, one being the offensive coordinator. McCoy will be asked to mold each QB into what he wants. McCoy may not have won in San Diego, but Philip Rivers had some of his best years statistically.
  4. With the Super Bowl victory more than a year removed, each QB can focus on the future, instead of being compared to the past.

After last season, I would give the edge to Siemian who played in 14 games, while Lynch only played in three. However, the talent of Paxton Lynch is unquestioned and if he can pick up the speed of the NFL game and make quicker reads, he is the quarterback of the future for Denver.

Week one depth chart projection: Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, Chad Kelly.

Houston Texans

Current Expected Depth Chart:

  1. Tom Savage
  2. Brandon Weeden
  3. Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans Quarterback Tom Savage

When free agency began, the Houston Texans shipped Brock Osweiler and his bloated contract to Cleveland and set their eyes on Tony Romo. Romo threw a bit of a wrench in this plan when he decided to retire and join CBS as an analyst.

Tom Savage was anointed the offseason starter and the Texans set their eyes on the NFL Draft. They traded up on draft night and took Deshaun Watson, who they said was their guy all along.

I think we can all agree that Weeden is in Houston strictly as a body to fill the QB room, and be a veteran presence.

If Watson can translate any of the success that he had in college then he will be the starter for Texans for many years to come, but I don’t think that day will be in September.

In the few starts that Savage has had, he has proven that he can run an NFL offense and it will be his job if he performs well in training camp. The question is: How long will it be his job? Coach Bill O’Brien has never been gun shy in changing his starter under center. If the Texans struggle on offense to open the season, I expect Watson to make his NFL debut rather early.

Week one depth chart projection: Tom Savage, Deshaun Watson, Brandon Weeden.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Current Expected Depth Chart:

  1. Blake Bortles
  2. Chad Henne
  3. Brandon Allen
Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Blake Bortles (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

This may not be as much a quarterback competition as it is a battle for Bortles to remain a quarterback in Jacksonville.

After a breakout season in 2015, Bortles regressed mightily last year. His 3,905 yards and 23 touchdowns were bloated because the Jags were constantly down multiple touchdowns late in games, so Bortles got a lot of garbage time statistic boosters (saving his face with many fantasy owners). His 58.9 completion percentage was one of the lowest in the league and will have to be improved upon if he wants to remain a starter in the NFL.

If the offensive line can improve, he has all the weapons around him to be a very successful quarterback in this league. But for the love of God, he has to change that throwing motion. He missed so many open windows because his release takes so damn long. IF this can be fixed, his accuracy will improve and he will throw fewer interceptions. Needs to be a big year for Bortles in 2017.

Week one depth chart projection: Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Brandon Allen.

New York Jets

Current Expected Depth Chart:

  1. Josh McCown
  2. Bryce Petty
  3. Christian Hackenberg
  4. Jason Vander Laan
New York Jets Quarterback Christian Hackenberg

The Jets produced an extremely disappointing campaign in 2016, and that was largely due to their quarterback play. Josh McCown was signed to be the band-aid to get the Jets through the 2017 season. He will probably need plenty of band-aids as he never seems to make it through an entire season. If healthy, he is a decent quarterback that will at least keep New York competitive while they continue to groom their young guys.

The real question is: Do they truly believe that Christan Hackenberg is the quarterback of the future? Their 2017 draft makes me believe that they do.

Bryce Petty is probably a backup “lifer” so he is a nice piece to have on the roster to spell Hackenberg if needed. It will be up to McCown to take Christian under his wing and become a second coach, something that he has publically stated he is looking forward to doing.

I was actually very high on Hackenberg going into the 2016 NFL Draft, so if he is given enough time, and implemented in the right system, I think that he will be able to flourish. A lot of that will depend on if McCown can stay healthy for an entire season, something that is very unlikely to happen.

Week one depth chart projection: Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty.

San Francisco 49ers

Current Expected Depth Chart:

  1. Brian Hoyer
  2. Matt Barkley
  3. C.J. Beathard
  4. Nick Mullens
San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Brian Hoyer(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Beathard was a very surprising pick in this year’s draft, but apparently, that was the only quarterback that new head coach Kyle Shanahan wanted. For a guy who has had so much success with QBs, who am I to question his wherewithal on a draft pick. That being said, I don’t think it is in the best interest of Beathard or the 49ers that he starts this season.

For now, it is Brian Hoyer’s job to lose, but don’t count out Matt Barkley. Hoyer is much more proven and has had a decent amount of success throughout his career, but Barkley did show glimpses of impressive play during his time in Chicago last season with one caveat, he threw a ton of interceptions.

Both players will love playing for Shanahan as they should play at their max potential and maximize all skill positions on the field.

Week one depth chart projection: Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, C.J. Beathard.

Written by 

Founder and CEO of SportsAlDente.com. Grew up in Denver with a passion for all sports and an emphasis on the NFL. Moved to Los Angeles where I graduated from Long Beach State with a degree in Leisure Services (Yes the Van Wilder degree). My opinions are my own, but they should be yours too.

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