If you go back just one year ago, Carson Wentz and DeShaun Watson were lighting the NFL on fire. They were expected to be future faces of the league at quarterback and if you watched both of these guys make plays on the field in 2017, you’d see why.
Unfortunately for both, their big seasons came to an end with season ending ACL injuries.
A year later, Watson is back at full strength and has Houston at a 10-4 record with a first round bye week in sight.
Wentz’s year hasn’t gone as well but coming off a torn ACL and LCL, on top of a stress fracture in his back, he still has managed to post a career best in completion percentage, quarterback rating, and yards per attempt.
So with the explosion of impressive quarterback play in 2018, a lot of it coming from young signal callers, where do Wentz and Watson currently stand on the list of passers 25 years old or younger?
Top 10 quarterbacks 25 and under
- Carson Wentz
It would be hard to knock Wentz for the season he is having. After the best season an Eagles quarterback has ever had, Wentz hasn’t been able to dominate the league to the same level but most of that can be explained because of the leg and back injuries.
The injuries have limited Wentz’s ability to extend plays with his legs and make plays down the field consistently.
Not to mention the coaching and offensive line play throughout the majority of the season hasn’t helped and could be a reason he has the stress fracture in his back.
While Wentz hasn’t been the same as he was in 2017, he still has posted numbers a lot of teams would die for in their starting quarterback.
Just look at the historic pace he is on.
Carson Wentz is the second QB in NFL history with four straight games with 30 pass attempts and a passer rating over 115.
The other was Peyton Manning in 2012.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) October 28, 2018
Carson Wentz went over 10,000 passing yards yesterday in his 40th game. Here are the fastest QBs to 10,000 yards:
36 – Kurt Warner
37 – Matt Stafford
38 – Marc Bulger
38 – Andrew Luck
38 – Dan Marino
39 – Peyton Manning
40 – Kirk Cousins
40 – Jameis Winston
40 – Carson Wentz
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) December 10, 2018
He got better with his accuracy, grew in the fourth quarter, and still made some incredible plays before the back injury.
When he is healthy, there isn’t a QB his age, or many older that are better. There is a reason his peers made him the #3 overall player in the NFL Top 100 last year.
2. Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes and Wentz are 1A and 1B really.
To have 45 touchdowns in a rookie season is just unbelievable. Like Wentz, Mahomes is known for pulling off some magic on the field with his legs and cannon of an arm. He is a human highlight reel.
Andy Reid finally has his franchise QB and weapons at the same time.
With the Eagles, Reid had McNabb for over a decade but couldn’t surround him with talent at wide receiver and tight end. Then when Reid finally brought in DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek, McNabb only got to play with them in 2009 before getting traded to Washington.
3. Baker Mayfield
Mayfield has proven a lot of people wrong.
Outside of size, he has everything a team would want in a franchise quarterback. His accuracy, quick release, escapability and football IQ suddenly gives Cleveland promise at a position they have never had stability at.
The Browns are 6-6 since Mayfield took over for former starter Tyrod Taylor. Getting the Browns to .500 in his rookie season is an impressive accomplishment. Especially considering the Browns had one combined win in the two previous seasons.
4. DeShaun Watson
Outside of Lamar Jackson, there might not be a quicker quarterback running the football than Watson.
On top of the mobility, the former Clemson product has grown as a passer too. Watson has posted a 65% completion percentage or higher in seven straight games while averaging over 8 yards per attempt in five of those games.
Watson is getting better every week and took a step up from an electric rookie debut in 2017.
5. Lamar Jackson
Most analysts won’t have Jackson this high but he has the ability to be what Watson and Mahomes are for their teams in the right situation.
Since taking over for Joe Flacco, Jackson has helped keep the Ravens in the playoff picture winning 4 of 5 starts. The one loss was an OT loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead where Jackson took the lead in the fourth quarter with a passing touchdown.
A coaching staff that needed to stay in the hunt to keep their jobs has used Jackson primarily in an run/option heavy offense in hopes of winning the time of possession battle, and letting their defense win games for them.
The former Heisman winner has over 400 rushing yards in those five starts.
For long term development, the Ravens will need to give him more opportunities to grow as a passer. Contrary to popular belief during the draft process, Jackson is a much better passer than people give him credit for.
They will also need to keep him out of harms way. He has taken far too many hits.
If Baltimore harnesses all this ability, Jackson is going to be a star.
6. Marcus Mariota
Just two years ago if someone asked you what young QB a team should start their franchise over with? A large number of people would have said Marcus Mariota.
Although Mariota has struggled with injuries in his career and had to play in an ancient Mike Mularkey-led offense, he has still led the Titans to two straight winning seasons and a playoff win. He is the only QB on this list that has a playoff win.
He may be on the verge of making the playoffs for the second straight season if Tennessee defeats the Colts in the Week 17 play-in game.
The numbers over the last two years haven’t looked great but you can still see the big moments where Mariota flashes his high ceiling. The Eagles saw it first hand this year.
With an offseason that gives Mariota the ability to heal his season-long elbow injury, and get more comfortable in Bill Lafleur’s offense, expect a bounce back season in 2019 for the former second overall pick.
7. Jared Goff
Too low? Maybe. But these other guys elevate the performance of their teammates. They have the ability to carry teams when structure breaks down. They can make teams look better than they are.
Goff has tremendous touch and accuracy. He can be a lethal piece of Sean McVay’s offense but when pressure gets to him, or McVay’s offense isn’t giving a defense fits, Goff struggles.
The Eagles saw it first hand on Sunday night.
Goff isn’t a bust by any stretch. He is going to be a solid quarterback for a long time. He just doesn’t have everything at his disposal that these top four do.
8. Josh Allen
The way we evaluate quarterback prospects in the draft is at stake with Josh Allen’s career. He has already shown he can make the same “WOW” plays with his feet and ginormous arm in the NFL but the accuracy concerns are still a big one.
He has gotten better as a passer throughout the season and his receivers haven’t done a lot to help him out with some brutal drops.
Despite the shortcomings of the talent around him, Allen has three game winning drives in just nine starts this season.
Allen has 6 rushing touchdowns and is easily one of the hardest quarterbacks to get down. Cam Newton 2.0?
9. Sam Darnold
Turnover problems have followed Darnold from USC to New York but the youngest starter in football has shown flashes.
When the Jets get Darnold some weapons on offense, he could be really special.
10. Mitch Trubisky
Matt Nagy has gotten the most out of Trubisky in a breakout season.
The former Tarheel has made some big plays through the air and the ground.
Teams like the Bills, Jets, Cardinals, and Ravens that have young quarterbacks but have not surrounded them with strong offensive lines, and/or weapons should really take note of what Chicago did for Trubisky this year.
He is a different player with guys like Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Tarik Cohen at his disposal.
Impact of paying a QB
On today’s Locked on Eagles podcast:
Does paying a QB big money hold a team back from contention?
What does history tell us?
Is the concern about paying any player this amount of money or is it about Wentz himself?
Ranking the roster
On today’s Locked on Eagles:
Are the Eagles and Carson Wentz about to get a deal done?
Is Joe Douglas the next Jets GM?
Ranking the Eagles positions from strongest to weakest
On today’s Locked on Eagles podcast:
Where do the starting quarterbacks in the NFL belong based on tiers?
Where is Carson Wentz among the other 31 starters?
How many “elite” QBs are there?