In any draft class, there are usually two or three quarterbacks who are highly touted and spoken about as “The future of the position.” However, with the class of 2017, there are FOUR options that the dynasty community can’t seem to get enough of. Mitchell Trubisky (CHI), Deshaun Watson (HOU), Patrick Mahomes (KC), and Deshone Kizer (CLE). Despite being relatively similarly sized (all between 6’2”-6’4”, 220-235lbs), their play style and NFL-readiness vary greatly. All four have their strengths that could make them successful at the professional level, but which of this group will come out on top regarding long-term value? Let’s take a look under the hood and rank these rookie sensations.
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
University of North Carolina, 6’2”, 222 lbs.
Trubisky has the measurables and talent to come out of this class as the number one overall option. The Bears saw the potential in the Tar Heel and traded up in the NFL draft to select him 2nd overall. What stands out about Trubisky is his versatility at the position. He has outstanding pocket mobility which allows him to take a little extra time to let the play develop and his receivers to separate. If the play breaks down, his underrated talent at scrambling will allow him to create positive yardage in the face of defensive adversity. I don’t put a lot of stock in the preseason, but watching Trubisky throw a ball on the run was impressive. It takes a lot of practice and time to perfect the accuracy of this throw, but it seems Trubisky already has the physical tools to make it happen.
Unfortunately, at UNC, he worked almost exclusively from the shotgun which gave him a little extra room from pass rushers. I believe that the reason the Bears are starting veteran Mike Glennon over the rookie is to allow Trubisky to adjust his game to the pro-style (especially under center) and speed. There’s no need to throw him to the wolves right away because the Bears see what a gem they have in Mitchell Trubisky and want to make sure they give him every opportunity to become a star in the NFL.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Clemson University, 6’2”, 221 lbs.
Let’s get the intangibles out the way. Deshaun Watson is a tremendous leader and winner. All the proof you need is in that National Championship game against Alabama; the kid is absolute nails. I think the gap between him and Trubisky is very small and only exists because of Watson’s inconsistent accuracy. Some throws he’s right on the money, and on other throws, the ball goes sailing over the receiver’s head. I think that, early in his career, Watson is gonna deal with turnover problems.
Watson is the best ball-carrier in the 2017 QB class. When needed to run, whether on a designed QB keeper or on an improvised play, his decision making and athletic ability allow him to pick up big chunks of yards. In the red zone, he offers the biggest upside because when he drops back to pass, defenses are going to have to watch his receivers and his feet. In his senior year at Clemson, he racked up a whopping 629 yards on the ground and 9 rushing TDs. The talent he has as an athlete and a leader will make him tremendously successful in the NFL, and he will be a must watch when he takes over as QB1 for the Texans.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Texas Tech University, 6’2”, 225lbs
Mahomes has the most difficult road to the starting job in his current situation. Barring an injury to Alex Smith, the QB out of Texas Tech will take a backseat for the foreseeable future. As a raw prospect, Mahomes looks great; He has a cannon for an arm, natural accuracy, and good mobility. However, I think he is a bit more of a project than the other guys on this list. He has the right physical tools to excel, but questionable decision making. Learning from a professional game-manager like Alex Smith could benefit Mahomes greatly because it could help him cut down on turnovers stemming from unnecessary risk-taking.
Where Watson will struggle with turnovers from poor accuracy, Mahomes’ interceptions will stem from chasing tight windows and big plays. However, if he takes his physical gifts and supplements them with the game-management experience he will learn under Andy Reid and Alex Smith, he could prove to be the best QB out of the class. It remains to be seen if he can put aside his impatient and impulsive nature to become a more physically talented version of Alex Smith.
DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns
University of Notre Dame, 6’4”, 235 lbs.
It appears we will get the best look at Deshone Kizer before any of the other prospects. The Notre Dame product is getting thrust into the fire as the starter after the Browns decided to eat millions of dollars in guaranteed money and cut Brock Osweiler. The biggest of the four top prospects, Kizer has the size to shake off would be tacklers and remain in the pocket with sufficient pocket mobility. Speaking of mobility, his skill as a runner is nothing to scoff at as he recorded 18 rushing touchdowns in his last two seasons for the Fighting Irish. However, when comparing Kizer to the rest of this list, he is the rawest regarding the mental side of the game.
Kizer locks onto his primary receivers, has trouble looking off safeties, and hesitates in moments when the play breaks down. Despite Cleveland bringing in new offensive lineman to bolster their protection, Kizer may have to use his size more than the Browns would like. He has a bad habit of pump-faking late and waiting too long to get rid of the rock, usually resulting in sacks, poorly thrown balls, and bad decision making. Let’s hope that in the offseason, the Browns worked on his field vision and pocket awareness because he’ll need to be on his game week 1 against the Steelers.