NFC Quarterback Padawans ¹

There were a total of 27 quarterbacks drafted or signed from the 2018 draft class. Thirteen were drafted and 14 signed as undrafted free agents (UDFA). According to the five year draft average for quarterbacks is twelve. Five quarterbacks were drafted in the first round. You have to go back to the 1999 draft for the prior draft for 5 or more first round quarterbacks. Twenty-four of the thirty-two teams took a quarterback either drafted or UDFA. The Cardinals, Browns and Cowboys took two. Here we look at these NFC quarterback padawans or trainees.

Here is a breakdown of the quarterback situations of each team. This is part one that looks only at the NFC. I will be adding part 2 for the AFC in the near future. This breakdown focuses on the 2018 rookies and second year quarterbacks. I wanted to see who are these new quarterbacks, what is their story, and what competition do they face to make it in the NFL. After I add part 2 on the AFC, I plan to follow these quarterbacks thru the offseason and preseason and finally up to the cutoff dates to see who makes the teams and who may get to start. I hope you you enjoy the article and check back for updates.

NFC South
Tampa Bay Bucanneers
Starter: Jameis Winston (Age 24)
Veterans: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin
Rookies/Second Year:

Austin Allen (Arkansas) – 2018 UDFA. Austin is the brother of Rams backup quarterback Brandon Allen. Austin went to the same college as Brandon and was his backup for two years. Austin had an outstanding junior year in 2016. He was number 1 in the SEC in passing yards (3,430) and passing yards per attempt (8.6) . Also he was number 2 in the SEC in Passing Touchdowns (25). Austin regressed in 2017 but also had lost his best receivers, played behind a poor line and missed 4 games due to injury. Austin is a tough quarterback that handles adversity well. In 2016, forty percent of his dropbacks were under pressure, which was second highest in the country.

New Orleans Saints
Starter: Drew Brees (Age 39)
Veterans: Tom Savage
Rookies/Second Year:

JT Barrett (Ohio State) – 2018 UDFA. Barrett has impressed his Saints teammates with his accuracy. At Ohio State Barrett is the only three-time team captain in school history. He led Ohio State to two Big Ten titles. Barrett started 44 games in his Ohio State career and set the school record with 38 victories. He is a dual threat quarterback. Barrett set a total of 34 Ohio State records and 5 Big Ten records. He is recognized for his athleticism, strong arm, competitive spirit and leadership.

Taysom Hill (BYU) – 2017 UDFA. “The guy is a freak athlete. I’ve never seen anyone like him at this position,” said Joe Lombardi (the Saint’s quarterback coach), who said Hill “might be the strongest guy on the team — at least pound for pound.” Hill is a dual threat quarterback. He ran a 4.44 forty at his pro day which would have been the best at the combine for quarterbacks. He has been used on kickoff coverage by the Saints. In his sophomore year at BYU Hill ranked 8th in the FBS for total offense which included 1,344 rushing yards and 19 rushing TDs.

Carolina Panthers
Starter: Cam Newton (Age 29)
Veterans: Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert
Rookies/Second Year:

Kyle Allen (Houston) – 2018 UDFA. Allen was tabbed in 2013 by as the nation’s best pro-style quarterback and the seventh best prospect regardless of position coming out of high school. His college career did not go as well. He transferred from Texas A&M to Houston after his sophomore year. After redshirting his junior year, he began the season as a starter. However after three games he was replaced. After the season with a year of eligibility left Allen declared for the draft. Kyle has tremendous arm strength. Kyle has a positive attitude and looks forward to competing to make the team.

Atlanta Falcons
Starter: Matt Ryan (Age 33)
Veterans: Matt Schaub, Garrett Grayson
Rookies/Second Year:

Kurt Benkert (Virginia) – 2018 UDFA. Benkert was projected to be a 6-7th round pick. The reviews on Benkert highlight a strong throwing arm with good velocity. The negative is a tendency to abandon the pocket and throw on the run. Benkert is University of Virginia’s single-season program leader in passing yards (3,207) and 200+-yard passing games (9, T1st). He also holds UVA records for single-game passing (455). Benkert is also tied for first in program history with three career passes of 80 yards or more. He also holds UVA career record for completions fewest career interceptions per pass (0.0218) and is No. 3 all-time in the UVA record book with 5,759 career passing yards and 46 career passing touchdowns achieved in only two years.

NFC North
Minnesota Vikings
Starter: Kirk Cousins (Age 29)
Veterans: Trevor Siemian
Rookies/Second Year:

Peter Pujals (Holy Cross) – 2018 UDFA. Pujals at Holy Cross was a four-year starter and the first four-time captain in the history of the program. His younger brother, who has Downs Syndrome, is a huge Bears and Packers fan. Pujals has mobility, fast processing speed and good pocket presence. He does a good job going thru his progressions. Peter was an All-Conference player three times in his career.

Kyle Sloter (Northern Colorado) – 2017 UDFA. Sloter has played in four preseason games for the Broncos. Those games were all wins and he has stats of 72% completion rate, 3 TDs, 0 Interceptions, 413 yards and a quarterback rating of 125 – the second highest of any rookie quarterback that year. In college Sloter played wide receiver and special teams in addition to quarterback. He only had nine starts as quarterback all in his senior year. After college he was all set to become a financial advisor and the company with his job offer encouraged him to chase his dream. Sloter has a good arm that allows him to hit both tight spaces and the deep ball.

Green Bay Packers
Starter: Aaron Rodgers (Age 34)
Veterans: Brett Hundley
Rookies/Second Year:

Tim Boyle (Eastern Kentucky) – 2018 UDFA. General manager Brian Gutekunst signed Boyle not because of his stats but because the rookie can drive the ball down the field and into tight spots with great accuracy. They like his mechanics and athletic ability. Aaron Rodgers tested pretty good at his combine. Boyle at his pro day tested slightly better than Rodgers. Boyle had a poor college career. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns. However his last year at EKU was a large improvement. He had a QBR of 119, over 2,000 yards passing and a 61% completion percentage.

Deshone Kizer (Notre Dame) – 2017 Round 2 draft pick (Browns). Kizer played 15 games but did not win a game last season for the Browns. He ranked last among all regular starters in completion percentage (53.6) last season and threw a league-high 22 interceptions, which was six more than any other quarterback. His TD to Int ratio was 0.5. Head coach Mike McCarthy of Green Bay likes what he sees in Kizer and has said “In my opinion, if he was in that (draft) class this year, he would’ve been part of that group, the first-round guys. I think he has exceptional arm talent.” Some positives on Kizer’s year with the Browns – Kizer throws the deep ball pretty well as evidenced by his 39.5 completion percentage on throws of 20 yards or more and he still maintained a 45.6 completion percentage when blitzed last year.

Chicago Bears
Starter: Mitch Trubisky (Age 23)
Veterans: Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray
Rookies/Second Year:

Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina) – 2017 Round 1 draft pick. Comparing Trubisky’s stats to 17 other active starting quarterback’s rookie seasons, Mitch’s stats are about middle of the road. Here is the article that did the comparison – Trubisky Rookie Season In Review. Some quarterbacks that did better were Luck, Rothlisberger, Newton, Watson, Winston and Wilson. Some that did worse included Alex Smith, Eli Manning, and Matthew Stafford. Trubisky’s stats were not much different from Wentz or Mahomes. It just shows not to put too much stock in a quarterback’s rookie season. However 2018 should be a big year for Trubisky. The Bears brought in some receiving help that was needed. At North Carolina Trubisky had started only 13 starts all in his final year which was his first season as the starting quarterback. UNC went 8-5 with Trubuisky that year. In Chicago Trubisky started the final 12 games. The Bears were 4-8 for those games for a season record of 5-11.

Detroit Lions
Starter: Matthew Stafford (Age 30)
Veterans: Jake Rudock, Matt Cassel
Rookies/Second Year: None

NFC West
San Francisco 49ers
Starter: Jimmy Garoppolo (Age 26)
Veterans: None
Rookies/Second Year:

Jack Heneghan (Dartmouth) – 2018 UDFA. His father is Lal Heneghan, the franchise’s former general counsel and executive vice president of football administration from 2006 to 2011. In his high school senior year Jack threw for 2,900 yards and 37 touchdowns. A two year starter in college Jack led the team to a 4-6 record his junior year and then to an 8-2 record as a senior. Jack is in the top five of all Dartmouth’s passing records with the only exception being 7th in career pass attempts.

CJ Beathard (Iowa) – 2017 Round 3 draft pick. Beathard started 5 games in 2017 and went 1-4 before being sidelined due to injury. He was replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo. Several members of the 49ers have publicly complimented the attitude and toughness of Beathard during the season, as he was sacked 19 times in his 7 appearances. 49ers general manager John Lynch has said concerning the Garopollo deal is that CJ has been the consummate professional throughout this. CJ reportedly is a film junkie and football is important to him. As a junior in college Beathard led Iowa to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the Rose Bowl, and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt on a 139.5 QB rating. CJ’s grandfather is being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2018.

Nick Mullens (Southern Miss) – 2017 UDFA. Nick Mullens is the Southern Miss Golden Eagle leader in career, single season and single game passing yards. Quarterback Brett Favre set Golden Eagle passing records in 1990 that stood for 30 years before being broken by Austin Davis and then Nick Mullens. Nick holds the Southern Miss record in passing touchdowns for both career and single season. He holds the Southern Miss record for best career quarterback rating for over 150 completions and the second best completion percentage.

LA Rams
Starter: Jared Goff (Age 23)
Veterans: Bandon Allen, Sean Mannion
Rookies/Second Year:

Luis Perez (Texas AM – Commerce) – 2018 UDFA. Perez is a top rated amateur bowler and has bowled 12 perfect games in his life. Luis Perez’s story of getting to the NFL is unbelievable and a testament to what the human spirit can accomplish. He never played quarterback until he walked into a community college and said he wanted to be their quarterback. Here is a link to the story –Pro Football Weekly article on Luis Perez – definitely a good read. He is an accurate passer and has tremendous drive.

Seattle Seahawks
Starter: Russell Wilson (Age 29)
Veterans: Austin Davis
Rookies/Second Year:

Alex McGough (FIU) – 2018 Round 7 draft pick. Four year starter at FIU and only missed 3 games due to injury. Alex holds eight FIU records including career passing TDs (48), single season passing yards (2722) and single season passing TDs (21). Alex shows good arm strength and the ability to scramble. He led FIU to its first bowl game in seven years. Early reports are that he has impressed at Seahawks rookie minicamp.

Arizona Cardinals
Starter: Sam Bradford (Age 30)
Veterans: Mike Glennon
Rookies/Second Year:

Josh Rosen (UCLA) – 2018 Round 1 draft pick. Most have heard of Rosen’s college career. He is said to be doing well in camp. Cardinals coach Steve Wilks has praised Rosen often, saying the 21-year-old out of UCLA is everything the Cardinals thought when they drafted him. When asked if it was “unrealistic to think that a rookie quarterback could make a run at the starting quarterback? “No, it’s not,” Wilks said. “I talked about it from Day 1, the best 11 (players) are going to play. Sam is the starter and when he’s healthy, he’s great. But everybody is competing to be out there on the field. Competition is a great thing. It makes us all better.”

Chad Kanoff (Princeton) – 2018 UDFA. Three year starter at Princeton. Kanoff broke many Princeton and Ivy League passing records. He earned Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year. Kanoff has a strong arm and athleticism. He throws with accuracy and velocity. In 2017 he completed 73.2% of his passes setting a Princeton and Ivy League record for single-season completion percentage. Chad tied the Ivy League record for most 400-yard passing games (three) and 300-yard passing games (eight) in a single season. He was also second on the Princeton rankings and fourth on the Ivy League rankings in career completion percentage (64.5%).

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
Starter: Dak Prescott (Age 24)
Veterans: None
Rookies/Second Year:

Dalton Sturm (San Antonio) – 2018 UDFA. Sturm was a college walk-on that went on to be a starter, earned a scholarship and now is on an NFL roster. Dalton only had DII offers out of high school. He felt he could play DI and passed the offers to be a walk-on and 4th team quarterback at UTSA. A three year starter at UTSA. Dalton led the UTSA team to their first bowl appearance in 2016. Sturm is a dual threat quarterback, can make plays out of nothing, and has been good not turning over the football. Sturm is the school’s all-time leader in passing efficiency (134.7), he tied the single-season record for passing touchdowns (20 in 2016) and set single-game records for passing yards (367), passing touchdowns (4), passing efficiency (257.9) and total offense (395).

Mike White (Western Kentucky) – 2018 Round 5 draft pick. White joined Mason Rudolph as the only two FBS quarterbacks that threw for 4000+ yards each of the last two seasons. White is recognized for a strong arm, good accuracy and as a pocket passer. Listing top WKU quarterbacks with over 50 career attempts will give you Brandon Doughty followed by Mike White for completion %, yards, TDs and quarterback rating. White was more likely to go into baseball from high school and was recruited b y many top baseball schools around the country. However his senior year in high school he earned his first start at quarterback and did great.

Cooper Rush (Central Michigan) – 2017 UDFA. In 2017 Cooper had the best preseason among rookie quarterbacks. He had a quarterback rating of 135.9, a completion percentage of 74.5%, 398 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. In college Cooper’s story is similar to Mike White. Listing the top Central Michigan quarterbacks by records Cooper would be second behind Dan Lefevour in completion %, yards, Touchdowns, and Quarterback rating. Rush led CMU to three bowl games. In the 2014 Bahama Bowl Cooper led his team back in the fourth quarter trailing by 35 points to almost win the game but losing it at 49-48 on a failed 2 point conversion. His 75-yard multilateral Hail Mary in the game was nominated at the 2015 ESPY awards for Best Play but Odell Beckham won for his TD catch against Dallas.

New York Giants
Starter: Eli Manning (Age 37)
Veterans: Alex Tanney
Rookies/Second Year:

Davis Webb (California) – 2017 Round 3 draft pick. As a freshman at Texas Tech, Davis was only one of four true freshmen at quarterback to ever start for Texas Tech. Of those four quarterbacks, Webb had the most yards and touchdowns. He started 6 games and went 3-3. In his freshman season he started in the 2013 Holiday Bowl, led Texas Tech to an upset win and was named Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP. The following year in 2014 Webb was 6th in the Big-12 in passing yards and 3rd in passing touchdowns despite only playing 8 games due to injury. In his junior year he was backup to Patrick Mahomes and transferred to California for his senior year. Despite playing only one year at California, Webb made the Cal record lists as 2nd in single season passing yards (4,295), 3rd in single game passing yards (522) and 7th (478), 10th in career passing touchdowns (37) which also was 2nd in single season passing TDs. Webb was also 5th in completion % for over 100 attempts (61.6%) and 4th in quarterback rating for over 100 attempts (135.6). Webb was invited to the Senior Bowl where he was named Senior Bowl MVP by leading the South to scores on each of the three drives he played. At the combine his athleticism showed by showing among quarterbacks 3rd in vertical jump, 3rd in 3 cone drill, and 5th in both the forty and broad jump. Webb is recognized for a strong arm and a exceptional work ethic.

Kyle Lauletta (Richmond) – 2018 Round 4 draft pick. Two year team captain. Senior Bowl MVP. Among quarterbacks at the combine Lauletta came in 1st in the 20 yd shuttle; 4th in the 3 cone, broad jump, and vertical jump; and 6th in the forty. Lauletta started in 35 games going 24-11. Lauletta made Phil Steele’s FCS All American Second Team in 2017.A three year starter, Lauletta made the CAA All Conference team each year – twice on 2nd team and in 2017 on 1st. In 2017 he was selected as the CAA league Offensive Player of the Year. He is on the Richmond record lists for Touchdowns thrown in a game six times in the top ten, three times on the season touchdowns top ten, and number one in career touchdowns (73). Kyle is five times on the top 10 passing yards in a game, three times in the top four for season passing yards, and number one in career passing yards (10,465). Lauletta is twice in the top 10 for longest pass play. He is twice in the top 7 for season completion percentage and is number two in career completion percentage (63.5%). Lauletta’s strengths are anticipatory throws, fast processing and quick release, red zone savant, leadership, toughness and throwing on the move. He is extremely accurate on short and intermediate throws.

Philadelphia Eagles
Starter: Carson Wentz (Age 25)
Veterans: Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld, Joe Callahan, Christian Hackenberg
Rookies/Second Year: None

Washington Redskins
Starter: Alex Smith (Age 34)
Veterans: Colt McCoy, Kevin Hogan
Rookies/Second Year: None

¹(Note: I apologize to all not into Star Wars. A Padawan is a young Jedi in training usually with a Jedi Knight or Master. Mitch Trubisky is like Luke SkyWalker – a trainee thrust into battle)