Which signal-callers will keep Gregg Williams up at night? The Cam Newton news on Sunday makes it a bit more interesting.
14. Jarrett Stidham, New England Patriots
Until we get to see Stidham in extended action, it is tough to gauge anything on him. He did play well in the 2019 preseason, completing 61-of-90 passes for 731 yards (8.1 per attempt), four touchdowns and one interception (102.6 passer rating).
13. Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers
Taylor seems like a good bet to start the season in front of sixth overall pick Justin Herbert, especially with the rookie getting minimal practice time to make a play for the job.
Soon to be 31 years old, Taylor is not much more than an athletic game manager. He refuses to take any risks, which helped him achieve a minuscule interception rate of 1.3% in Buffalo (second-lowest among qualifiers from 2015-17), but that mentality results in yards being left on the field. Taylor averaged just 201.3 passing yards per game with the Bills, last among qualifiers from 2015-17.
12. Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
Lock showcased exciting potential with his finish to the 2019 season, leading Denver to a 4-1 finish after a 3-8 start.
Despite a solid touchdown-to-interception ratio of 7-to-3, Lock averaged only 204.0 yards per game and 6.5 yards per attempt. He threw for under 200 yards in three games and averaged under 6.0 yards per game in three games, as well.
The young franchise quarterback still has a very long way to go in spite of the eye-popping win-loss record attached to his name, but his start was promising given the circumstances.
11. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
You never know what you are going to get when you put Fitzpatrick under center. He led the NFL with an insane 9.6 yards per attempt for the Buccaneers in 2018, just two years after a horrendous 2016 season with the Jets.
Fitzpatrick did an admirable job in 2019, taking control of a lifeless Miami team and making it competitive with a roster that was tailor-made for tanking (and succeeding at it). He ranked 19th out of 33 qualifiers with an average of 6.13 net yards per attempt, which includes sack yardage. That is remarkable given how terrible Miami’s offensive line was (league-worst 33.1% pressure rate accredited to the offensive line).
10. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Allen took some step forwards in 2019, but he also showcased some limitations with his lack of explosiveness despite solid offensive line play and a good one-two punch at wide receiver. With the Bills dominating on defense, Allen morphed into a game manager role, keeping the ball safe and running with it at will but leaving plays on the field – very reminiscent of his predecessor in Buffalo.
Allen’s average of 5.72 net yards per attempt ranked 27th out of 33 qualifiers, while his passing first down rate (passing first downs divided by pass attempts plus sacks) of 29.3% ranked 30th ahead of only Daniel Jones, Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph.
Among the 20 quarterbacks whose offensive lines allowed a pressure rate below the league average, Allen averaged more net yards per attempt than only Joe Flacco, Marcus Mariota, Devlin Hodges, Rudolph and Trubisky. He averaged fewer passing yards per start than all but Mariota, Hodges, and Rudolph out of the “well-protected” group.
Allen’s 510 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns are absolutely worth mentioning, but he lost five fumbles and was lucky not to lose a few more as he fumbled 14 times in total.
Rushing production at quarterback tends to be overrated – a look at Allen’s film reveals many instances in which he decided on scrambling when a longer passing play was available. Relying on rushing yardage is usually a net negative, save for the few quarterbacks who maximize that facet of the game by correctly picking-and-choosing when to use their legs. I don’t think Allen is one of those quarterbacks at the moment.
The Bills have proven that they can win games with Allen, but I’m not sure he is going to elevate much further beyond what he is right now. His accuracy is wildly volatile and lacking touch, while his feel for the game and overall IQ does not seem proficient enough to allow him to maximize his special physical tools.
9. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Murray laid a solid foundation to build off of, leading the Cardinals offense to 14th in points per drive (2.02) in his rookie season. His total of 349 completions stands as the most ever by a rookie quarterback under 23 years old, beating the record of 326 set by Peyton Manning in 1998.
With a strong offensive line (third-lowest pressure rate allowed in 2019 at 20.4%), a seamless fit in Kliff Kingsbury‘s innovative offense, and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins, Murray is set up for a massive Year 2 leap.