Today we look again at our rookie and second year quarterbacks to see which ones are the most likely padawan quarterback….
Free agent that deserves another shot – Jack Heneghan.
Heneghan signed as an undrafted free agent with the 49ers. Finally getting a chance to play in the last preseason game, Heneghan completed eight of nine pass attempts for 58 yards. He engineered a 16-play, 90-yard touchdown drive late in the game to give the 49ers a lead. Heneghan had a passer rating of 93.5. He even salvaged a botched snap, picking the ball up and rushing it up the middle for a 10-yard gain. Heneghan was under center for two of the 49ers’ three touchdown drives on the night.
Heneghan is in the top five of seven Dartmouth career passing records and seventh in pass attempts. He earned All-Ivy League Honorable Mention at quarterback in 2017. Heneghan has been praised by high school, college and NFL coaches for his work ethic.
Practice Squad player to be promoted or snatched – Phillip Walker (Colts)
Walker was one of the top quarterback padawans in the preseason. He completed 61% of his 49 passing attempts. Walker had an average of 9.1 yards per pass attempt and 14.9 yards per completion. He had eight passes of 20+ yards which was tie for second most among padawans. Walker had a preseason passer rating of 101 and 39% of his pass attempts made first down. He had four touchdowns to two interceptions.
A 2017 undrafted free agent, Walker is the Temple Owls all-time leader in wins by a starting quarterback (28), passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions, attempts, total yards and total touchdowns. Walker led the Owls to their first conference title in 49 years (2016) and their first ever back-to-back bowl appearances in school history (2015 and 2016).
Walker was awarded a single digit jersey his senior year which are awarded to the team’s toughest players as voted on by the players. He was a four-year starter and started 47 consecutive games since earning the starting job midway through his freshman year.
In the final game of his Temple career sometime in the 1st quarter Walker injured the right ring finger of his throwing hand. The finger had gone all the way up into his hand. It appeared to be broken. He pulled it back into place and continued playing. Walker kept competing and fighting as his team, once behind by 24 points, got to within five with under four minutes left. They wound up losing 26-34.
At Temple Walker went 28-19 as a starter with each year improving with two Bowl games and the final year winning the conference championship. Some may be put off by his height being only 5’11” but he is tough and a competitor. Temple coach Matt Rhule – “We put the ball in his hands to win the game.”
This scouting report from twoqbs.com:
“Walker’s best fit in the NFL will be on a team that embraces his athletic ability and his arm talent as a deep passer. Walker, albeit undersized, is an above-average athlete with a strong arm. He has the rushing ability and arm talent to be a threat on third-and-long, and that alone sets him above many others in his tier of quarterback. As a passer, Walker does his best work as an intermediate and deep passer, largely due to his impressive velocity. Walker’s mechanics too often get in the way of his accuracy, but his process from snap to throw is that of a high quality backup or serviceable starter.”
Non-Starter to Start – Chad Kelly
Chad Kelly moved up from the third string quarterback into the backup spot this preseason bypassing first round draft pick Paxton Lynch. Lynch was subsequently released. Kelly had the best passer rating (92.8) and completion percentage (66.7%) among Bronco quarterbacks in the preseason. He averaged 7.8 yards per attempt and 11.7 yards per completion. Kelly had five passes of 20+ yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Chad had a bad end to his college career at Clemson with an argument with coaches, off field fights, and injury. Kelly transferred to Ole Miss where he had two good years before a torn ACL sidelined him for the final 3 games of 2016. Kelly has a quick release, makes quick decisions, has a strong arm and has been referred to a a gunslinger or “baller”. At Ole Miss Kelly has career records of second in completion percentage (64) and third in passer efficiency rating (152.3). He is third all time in passing yards and passing TDs.
Kelly has matured since his rambunctious early college days. Here is Kelly in a 9News interview this preseason. “It’s the NFL and you’re the head man of a Fortune 500 company. You’ve got to act like, and approach every day, like you’re the boss and you want to be the man. You’ve got to come in with a level head. Keep on working hard and get those guys around me to follow suit.’’
I feel Kelly gives the highest probability of the quarterback/backup combinations. The quarterbacks looking over there shoulder seeing a young padawan are
- Chad Kelly/Case Keenum
- Nathan Peterman/ Josh Allen
- Joe Flacco/Lamar Jackson
- Tyrod Taylor/Baker Mayfield
- Sam Bradford/Josh Rosen
Starting quarterback to excel – Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes had the best preseason of starting padawan quarterback. He had a 72% completion rate on 43 attempts. His average yards per attempt was 8.5 and his average yards per completion was 11.8. He had three passes of 20+ yards with one going 40+ yards. His passer rating was 103.5. Thirty-seven percent of his pass attempts made first down and he had two touchdowns to one interception.
Offensively Mahomes has a strong supporting roster. The chiefs have Kareem Hunt at running back and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill. They also have tight end Travis Kelce. Pro Football Focus ranked their offensive line as 18th going into 2018. “The Chiefs are the definition of a solid, if unspectacular, unit.” – Pro Football Focus.
In week 17 of the 2017 season with a playoff spot secured the Chiefs started Mahomes for his debut. He helped lead the Chiefs to a victory over Denver 27-24. Mahomes is recognized for a very strong arm and can make throws with velocity and accuracy. Patrick also has a strong work ethic. In Texas Tech career records Mahomes is third in passing yards (11,252), first in adjusted yards/attempt (8.8), third in passing touchdowns (93) and fourth in passing efficiency rating (over 100 attempts) with 152. He is four times on the Texas Tech passing yards top ten records list with games of 734 (1st), 598 (5th), 586 (6th) and 540 yards (10th). His 734 yard passing game tied the FBS record. Mahomes also threw 5 touchdowns in the game loss (66-59) to Oklahoma. “Someone told me (about tying the passing record) in the locker room,” Mahomes said. “But, like I said, we didn’t win the game, so it really didn’t matter.” At the combine Mahomes scored in high all time percentile for 20 yard shuttle (93%), 3-cone drill (84%) and broad jump (73%).
The other padawan staring quarterbacks are Sam Darnold, Nathan Peterman, Deshaun Watson, and Mitch Trubisky.