Teams’ futures changed with the draft. So did the fantasy outlooks for quarterbacks. We take a look at which ones are on the rise and which ones lost value heading into OTAs and training camps.
Zach Wilson: New York Jets
When your team goes out and adds a weapon to help you in your second year, you are definitely a winner. When they go out and add two top players at skill positions in Breece Hall at running back and Garrett Wilson at wide receiver, you are certainly a big winner. The Jets seem to be going all in to help Zach Wilson be successful this year. They even added a tight end in Jeremy Ruckert and an offensive lineman in Max Mitchell. Combined with all the free agency moves and its full sail ahead for him to take the next step in his development. It’s a make or break season for Wilson and the Jets, who will look to dethrone the Bills at the top of the AFC East.
Drew Lock: Seattle Seahawks
No one believed that when the Seahawks traded away Russell Wilson and acquired Drew Lock as part of the return package that Lock would be the starter in Week 1 of the 2022 season. Few believed heading into the draft that the Seahawks would leave the weekend in Vegas without acquiring a quarterback. It looks like people need to start believing. Lock came out of the weekend without any competition and in fact, got a great running back and two offensive linemen in the first 3 rounds. All signs point to Lock being behind center in Week 1. While what he can do leading that team remains to be seen, any starting quarterback will be someone to watch heading into the season.
Jalen Hurts: Philadelphia Eagles
All offseason there have been talks and rumors that the Eagles are not sold on Jalen Hurts being the franchise quarterback. There was no real thought that the Eagles would make a play for a QB in the first round of the draft, but it wouldn’t have surprised anyone to see one later in the draft. What did surprise everyone was that the Eagles went out and made a blockbuster trade for A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans. The addition of Brown as well as offensive lineman Cameron Jurgens, who was drafted in the 2nd round, shows that the Eagles are going to give Hurts the weapons to prove that he should be the starter in 2023. If Hurts can show that he is the franchise’s future, the Eagles have picks next year to bolster the offense even more.
Matt Ryan: Indianapolis Colts
Matt Ryan will look very different this year wearing the blue and white of the Colts vs the black and red of the Falcons. Ryan was a winner just for getting off an offense that had few little weapons to a team with a very good line and a star running back. The Colts then went out and spent their first 3 picks on the offensive side of the ball. They drafted Alec Pierce (WR, Cincinnati), Jenali Woods (TE, Virginia), and Bernhard Rainmann (OT Central Michigan). They are trying to give Ryan the weapons to succeed and protect him long enough to get the ball into the hands of his wide receivers and tight ends. There was some speculation that the Colts could draft a QB to sit behind Ryan for a year or two but they choose not to.
Davis Mills: Houston Texans
The Texans were a team that most experts said needed pretty much everything heading into the draft. They had plenty of draft picks to fill whatever need they saw. What they didn’t need was a quarterback. Davis Mills played well last season and looks to be poised to take the next step. The Texans drafted wideout John Metchie III (Alabama) in the 2nd round and running back Dameon Pierce (Florida) in the 4th to give Mills some extra weapons. They drafted OT Kenyon Green (Texas A&M) in the first to help keep Mills upright and off the IR. There was a slight possibility that Houston could take a quarterback but instead, they equipped Mills to be the guy.
Mitch Trubisky: Pittsburgh Steelers
What a crazy off-season it has been for former Bears’ first-rounder Mitch Trubisky. It looked like he would get his second shot as a starter after spending last season backing up Josh Allen in Buffalo when he signed a 2 year deal with Pittsburgh, only to see them not just draft a quarterback but be the only team to take one in the first two rounds in Kenny Pickett (Pitt). Pickett playing his college football at Pittsburgh makes him almost an instant fan favorite and with his draft slot of the 20th pick means there will be pressure to start him sooner rather than later. It seems that it’s going to be an open competition heading into camp with Pickett having the buzz. Trubisky can still salvage his starting job but if he does will have very little room for error.
Lamar Jackson: Baltimore Ravens
There had been no rumors that star wideout Marquise Brown wanted out of Baltimore. The shocking trade to the Arizona Cardinals in the first round sent shock waves around the NFL. Unlike Tennessee who traded away A.J. Brown and then used the pick they got for him to draft his replacement the Ravens used the pick they got for Brown to draft an offensive lineman in Trevor Linderbaum (Iowa). Declining to replace Brown’s abilities and production on the field leaves Lamar Jackson with limited passing options. He will benefit from Linderbaum as he continues to run the ball but when he does have to throw it, there was a huge downgrade in options on the field for the Ravens.
Justin Fields: Chicago Bears
The Bears had one big need heading into the draft. Wide receiver. Justin Fields lost Allen Robinson in free agency and all the Bears did to replace him was sign Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown. The thought was the Bears would draft a wide receiver with this being one of the deepest drafts for that position in a very long time. Even with not having a pick until the 2nd round the Bears were still in a good spot to select a wide receiver yet decided not to until the 3rd round, where they drafted Velus Jones (Tennessee) as the 14th wide receiver off the board. They passed on plenty of wide receivers who could be day one starters and contributors. With a new regime in control in the windy city, it seems like maybe Fields might be left wanting since he was picked by the men formerly running the franchise.
I didn’t lump Jimmy Garopollo with Baker Mayfield this time around because there were no real rumors of Jimmy G getting traded. There was buzz that Baker could have gotten traded either Wednesday or Thursday morning before the draft started. Once the picks started to come in the likelihood of a trade faded from fans’ minds. As soon as the Seahawks made a selection at 9th overall it seemed like Baker was going to be teamless come Monday morning. With no teams looking to take him and his massive contract, Baker might have to swallow his pride and be a backup or possible suspension filler for the Browns.
Malik Wills: Tennessee Titans
What a whirlwind ride for Malik Willis. He was projected by almost everyone as a first-rounder and some had him in the top 10. He went through Thursday night without hearing his name called and ended up leaving Las Vegas without having a team. He then had to wait all the way to the 3rd round before he got the call from an NFL franchise. He got the call from the Titans who selected him with the 22nd pick in the 3rd round. It may be a long term win for Willis who can take over the franchise once they move on from Ryan Tannehill, but from expectations of being a top 10 pick and possibly a day 1 starter to being a 3rd round pick and having to wait at least one year if not 2 is definitely a loss. With the work needed on some of his finer skills, he doesn’t have the draft capitol that will afford him a ton of time to get up to the NFL standard.
Featured image by Matt Fletcher