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The norm is that everyone spends May gushing about their first-round rookie quarterback. If you’re hearing nothing but negative reviews, then worry.
Take all of the minicamp and OTA updates with proper skepticism. Everyone looks better in helmets and shorts, without a pass rush bearing down on them. Every pick is a home run at this point.
Still, there’s nothing that draws more attention for a franchise than the first few weeks with a new (hopefully) franchise quarterback. Now that all the QBs have been on the field with their new teams, let’s check in with each of the five who were taken in the first round.
Baker Mayfield still not in line to start right away
Baker Mayfield is working with the second- and third-team offense, as Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson sticks to his plan that Tyrod Taylor will not be challenged for the starting spot. It’s peculiar but hey, who are we to argue against Jackson’s track record as Browns head coach?
“Tyrod’s our starting quarterback. Baker’s our No. 1 pick,” Jackson said, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He’s our quarterback of the future. I’ve said that since this happened. I don’t think that will change.”
The main focus for Mayfield this month has been getting comfortable working under center, which he didn’t do in college at Texas Tech or Oklahoma. That’s an adjustment but one he should be able to make. Cabot wrote that in the first OTA practice open to the media last week Mayfield threw three interceptions and had two others that were almost picked, though two of the interceptions went off receivers’ hands. That will happen when you’re working on the second and third team.
There’s nothing to be alarmed about for Mayfield. However, Jackson seems dug in deep on his proclamation that Mayfield won’t start right away, and there’s a real chance we won’t see the top overall pick play in Week 1.
Sam Darnold gets some first-team reps
The New York Jets gave some first-team reps to Sam Darnold in OTA practices this week, according to the New York Post. Although coach Todd Bowles said it’s not worth reading into that, we all know it’s not entirely meaningless.
“He’s been progressing,” Bowles said, according to the Post. “Obviously, installing the offense and putting everything in on defense, he’s seeing things for the first time on both sides of the ball. As the days go by, he’s getting more comfortable. He’s just got to keep working at it and getting better.”
Darnold reportedly struggled a bit in practices that were open to the media last week, but it’s early and he’s being asked to learn everything at a rapid pace. Darnold is probably the safest bet among the first-round quarterbacks to start Week 1.
Josh Allen is “wowing on all levels”
To repeat: Any bit of praise about a rookie in May probably means little. But sometimes, those moments of wild optimism end up being a sign of things to come.
Keeping that all in mind, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, who works with Bleacher Report, had a heck of a report on how Josh Allen is doing with the Buffalo Bills.
“I had a member of the media up there first tell me and then I talked to, you know, somebody involved in their organization. Josh Allen is blowing people away,” Simms said on “The Simms and Lefoke Podcast,” via Bills Wire. “I mean blowing people away. It sounds like almost a Carson Wentz thing. Not only, I think everybody is blown away by the mental approach, but practice is eye-opening like we said it would be.
“They’re just blown away. It’s the coaches, the players, everybody. It’s one of those types of things again where I thought about Carson Wentz when I first heard it because those are the things I heard in Philadelphia. I can remember Fletcher Cox actually telling my dad, like, ‘No, no when Carson is out there, the defense kind of gets up and watches him cause we’re always like damn, that was unbelievable.’ And I’m hearing those same type of things from Josh Allen. It’s wowing on all levels right now.”
You would assume Allen won’t start right away, because he was the quarterback who was viewed as needing the most work among the top prospects. But he only has AJ McCarron in his way and if the Bills are seeing the same things Simms was talking about, maybe Allen starts sooner than we think.
Josh Rosen reportedly impressing the Cardinals coaches
Josh Rosen was the quarterback who should have the easiest pro transition. He was viewed as the most pro-ready passer of the group.
That seems to be playing out. Albert Breer of The MMQB wrote Rosen has “impressed his coaches early — coming as advertised with his ability to digest and apply the information he’s being given on the practice field.” Breer also wrote that Rosen has been “comfortable and poised.”
While the Arizona Cardinals paid Sam Bradford out of desperation before the draft, Bradford has never been what many NFL analysts want him to be. He’s an average and injury-prone quarterback. Other than money, the Cardinals have no reason to favor Bradford over the quarterback they traded up to draft. In other words, the Cardinals presumably want Rosen to win the job by Week 1. It will be an interesting quarterback competition.
Eric Weddle on Lamar Jackson: “As talented of a player that I’ve seen”
Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle has been around a long time and played with and against some great players. So when Weddle gushed about Lamar Jackson on “Good Morning Football,” it is worth remembering.
“He’s been great. Obviously you know why we took him,” Weddle said. “He’s as talented of a player that I’ve seen coming into my 12th year. He’s got a live arm, he can sling it. Obviously, his ability to run and shake guys — you see it in team drills where things break down, he gets out on the perimeter and guys aren’t even close to him. “
Wow. Weddle went on to say “he’s got a long way to go” and that Joe Flacco is having a good camp too, but what he had to say before being a little more judicious is fascinating. The veteran is obviously impressed. Maybe the Ravens got a steal with the 32nd pick.
Jackson has the toughest path to start this season, because Flacco is the clear starter. But if Jackson can carry over his early work to training camp and the preseason, the Ravens should be excited.
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