I watched film on the big four quarterbacks, and then another guy, the football bourgeoisie anointed as the best of this year’s draft class. Mitchell Trubisky (scouting report here), DeShone Kizer (scouting report here), Patrick Mahomes (scouting report here), Deshaun Watson (scouting report here), and even your choice, Brad Kaaya (scouting report here). I came away from it all with more questions than answers, though I did manage to find a couple of answers. One is that none of these quarterbacks are transcendent talents. Currently they aren’t players that can be great in any style, on any team, playing in any scheme. The big four each have roller coaster noses, boils on their necks, and crooked teeth. There are things they are great at, or things they do well, but there are some enormous flaws with each and every one of them.
The only thing I feel really strongly about is that the quarterbacks who end up flying once they are shoved out of the nest will be the ones who end up in the best situation. Of Trubisky, Kizer, Mahomes, and Watson, these are the best fits and situations for them to spend their next four to five years of their NFL life.
Mitchell Trubisky—Cleveland Browns
The Browns are the Factory of Sadness. They haven’t had a winning season since 2007 when they went 10-6 with Romeo Crennel and Derek Anderson, yet still missed the playoffs. They haven’t reached the postseason since 2002, when they lost 33-30 to Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round. It’s all just very sad.
Through a revolving regurgitation of one-year coaches, flailing general managers, different owners, and multiple quarterbacks, there hasn’t been in Cleveland. It’s been constant chaos and frustration.
Now things are different. The “lol the browns are a joke they have no idea what they are doing” jokes can still be funny, but they are no longer true. They are playing young players. They’re hoarding picks. They’re shots at different quarterbacks (PSSSSSSTTT...they should sign Colin Kaepernick). They’re saving their cap space. They used the offseason to upgrade their offensive line.
They’ve shown a commitment to Hue Jackson and this leadership group by sticking with them after going 1-15. In the past, Cleveland would toss it all away and begin again with a new name. This time, they stuck with who’s there and the plan they have in place.
Trubisky has the best arm in this class and straight line speed, but the mechanics are an issue. He overextends and misses passes. He wasn’t consistent enough in the pocket. Yet he made enormous strides from Week One to the end of the season, and watching him went from a deathbed regret to an enjoyable endeavor.
He still needs time to incubate. Putting him into a Sci-Fi Now reality synthetic womb up in Cleveland would be perfect. An offensive line consisting of Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, J.C. Tretter, Kevin Zeitler, and Cameron Erving, is one of the best lines in the league. Trubisky could run the read option, hand the ball off often, and get plenty of time to throw passes while mentally configuring the difference in speed from college to the NFL. He would also get to learn from Hue Jackson, who turned Andy Dalton into a fringe top ten quarterback. Jackson is someone who’s great at utilizing a quarterback’s athleticism and can run an offense around his strengths.
Additionally, Trubisky would get the chance to fail if he did play early. There’s no pressure to win now. Trubisky could go out there and try his best without the scoreboard being the sun in the sky. He would just need to show signs of development and flashes of talent as he continued to learn the prof game.
For Trubisky, football’s version of “The Process” would be perfect for him. He needs to be nurtured as he better understands the game. He could work in Cleveland because of the offensive line, the coaching staff in place, and the franchise’s tomorrow attitude.
DeShone Kizer— Arizona Cardinals
Of all the skills I saw—Trubisky’s arm strength, Mahomes’ scrambling ability, Watson’s anticipation, Kaaya’s quick release, etc.—Kizer’s touch was the best of the bunch. Hold on a second, I need to do what they do in the movies; I need to get a dollar out and shoot this throw through my nasal cavity, directly into my brain.
DeShone Kizer’s deep throw ability and his accuracy on lofted high rising throws was unbelievable. It was something you have a hard time finding on Sundays. The problem was the accuracy. Kizer failed to complete 60% of his passes this season. Quarterbacks rarely improve in this regard. Kizer is going to have to be an outlier and either be unbelievable at throwing deep behind a “play defense and run the ball” team, or he’ll have to improve his accuracy so he can consistently move the chains via short and intermediate throws.
Close your eyes. Think of the deep passes you see in the NFL. Visualize the colors of the helmet and the athletically gifted men leaping over everything to bring them in. Open them. What do you see? I see Bruce Arians’s stupid Flogging Molly hat. Arians has turned the Cardinals into a deep throwing hellraiser, taking shots, being aggressive, and doing things no one in the league really does. To make it more impressive, he did that with Carson Palmer, an old man who reinvented himself at the end of this career just by throwing the ball deep against single high safety sets.
When I see John Brown healthy again running deep fades, or Larry Fitzgerald turning 25 yard post routes into 75 yard gallops, I don’t see Palmer throwing the ball to them. He’s old. He fell off last year after having a MVP caliber 2015 season. This probably won’t change. Time is going to keep digging into him until there is nothing remaining. Arizona needs to think about their quarterback plans now. With their current offense scheme and personnel, DeShone Kizer would be perfect there. Kizer making throws like these in sweltering heat would be a match made in a crappy movie.
Patrick Mahomes—Kansas City Chiefs or New Orleans Saints
Mahomes is nonsense. Running around, doing whatever he wants, and somehow making it work. Utilizing pure arm talent while ignoring every other aspect of the position except for anticipation. Because of his inability to stand in the pocket and not run away from every fly that buzzes, he’s my least favorite quarterback of the four.
For Mahomes to have success in the NFL, he will need to go to a team that can put structure around his talent and build him into something. He has a brain that needs to be filled with knowledge. He needs to learn how to play in the pocket, read defenses, what he can get away with in the NFL, and how to run a real offense. However, if he went to Kansas City, he would be running an offense similar to what he ran at Tech. If Mahomes went there, he could run that same offense but with more upside. The Chiefs are stuck after failing to score a touchdown and missing out on the AFC Championship Game. Alex Smith hasn’t provided any reason why he’s good enough to get them anywhere else. Andy Reid is a great coach and the type of guy that can develop Mahomes. Reid already runs an offense with which Mahomes would be familiar. Mahomes could provide greater athleticism, arm strength, and a desire to throw the ball downfield and past the sticks on third down.
Drew Brees has done it, does it, and still keeps doing it. Yet the man is 38 years old. Now is the time to think about someone else running that franchise. Turn it from being a vehicle for Brees to try to crack 5,000 yards while winning eight games. Mahomes could play in a spread offense in New Orleans. He’d be surrounded by similar incredible skill players, like he was at Texas Tech, who evaporate past tackles. He could morph between quick and long throws on a spacious field. He’d fit well in Sean Payton’s offense.
Deshaun Watson—Kansas City Chiefs or Houston Texans
As I wrote before, Watson is the best quarterback of the four right now. He understands and plays the position the best. That’s right now. Not next season, or five seasons from that. As great as Watson is at anticipating open routes, reading the defense at the line of scrimmage, running the football, throwing with accuracy and ball placement, he still has problems. He has arm strength issues, can’t throw to the sidelines, may have already reached his ceiling, and was surrounded by really good Clemson teams while he was in college.
I think he could already do what Alex Smith does, but with better athleticism, rushing ability, and some success throwing downfield. Quick screens, easy reads, anticipation, and occasional throws deep would be perfect for Watson. What Kansas City does matches his skill set perfectly.
I like him in Houston as well. Every time I watched Watson throw a back shoulder fade, I saw DeAndre Hopkins spinning and sticking the ball into his hands.
Watson is a great middle of the field thrower; he consistently displays accuracy and anticipation. He could be the one that finally unlocks this mystical “Bill O’Brien loves his tight ends” cliche that really is just bad quarterbacks throwing it to average or below average players. He also is great in the pocket, fast and elusive. He could survive behind a mediocre offensive line, giving O’Brien an extra dimension to work with because of his legs.
The one other opinion of Watson I have about fit is that I really don’t want to see him in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. Any cold weather stadium would devour Watson. He already has problems throwing to the sideline. Trying that in rushing winds with snot-freezing cold would be hopeless for him.
That’s where I like these quarterbacks to go when I see the world from their perspective as I try to predict success in the NFL. It’s just me trying to decide where they can best fulfill their potential. When it comes to Houston, I just want the Texans to take a quarterback in the first round. This is the perfect year to do it. The quarterbacks are going to fall. They are going to be available for Houston at 25. Unless Houston goes 5-11 next season, which is a possibility, this is the season where their draft capital matches the potential starting quarterbacks.
As far as who the quarterback is, I really don’t care. I would be happy with Trubisky, Watson, Kizer, or even Mahomes if he was the least man standing, as long as the Texans didn’t trade up to get him. Part of it is the flaws each QB has, but the main reason why is no one knows what Houston’s offense is supposed to look like. The Texans have been atrocious on offense every year during the Bill O’Brien era. There are some routes they use more than others, but there isn’t a specific scheme here to unlock. It’s just been quarterbacks who were either short, smart, and bad or tall, dumb, and bad. None of these four quarterbacks look to be like their potential predecessors in Houston.
Really, I want to see two things when I see the draft results on Sunday—the big four quarterbacks going to situations that match what they do well, and the Texans drafting a quarterback.