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.
Who could the Eagles target from 49ers?
It appears the Eagles could be cooking up another trade. This time with the San Francisco 49ers.
49ers have talked to the Eagles about a trade. All I got on that.
— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) March 16, 2019
What could Howie Roseman be looking for from San Francisco? The Eagles have already taken care of their DT, WR, and LB needs in free agency by trading for DeSean Jackson, signing Malik Jackson, and L.J. Fort.
They locked up their offensive line core keeping Jason Peters and extending both Jason Kelce and Issac Seumalo.
They even added to the log jam that is the CB position by bringing back Ronald Darby on a one-year deal.
Here are some players the 49ers could be willing to deal to the Eagles that makes sense for Philadelphia.
RB Matt Breida
With the signing of RB Tevin Coleman, the 49ers could be looking to shop one of their running backs.
Breida makes the most sense of anyone on the 49ers for the Eagles to have interest in. At just 24, Breida is young, and on an inexpensive contract which are two things Roseman loves to deal for.
After Jerick McKinnon went down last season, Breida carried the 49ers backfield finishing with 814 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
He averaged 5.3 YPC and early on in the season, he was averaging over 7.0 YPC.
That fast start included a Week 2 showing against Detroit that resulted in 138 rushing yards on just 12 carries.
Breida is explosive in short areas, and has the receiving skills Doug Pederson’s offense loves to have in the backfield.
His receiving DVOA (@fboutsiders ) was 2nd in the league behind Kareem Hunt. 44.8% is outrageous.
— Gino Cammilleri (@Gino_LOE) March 16, 2019
The third year running back surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage and would be an all-around weapon the Eagles desperately need at RB.
RB Jerick McKinnon
If the 49ers decide to keep Breida as Coleman’s counter-part in the backfield, that could spell the end of Jerick McKinnon in San Francisco before it even got started.
The former Viking signed with the 49ers last offseason and was expected to be Kyle Shanahan’s new version of Coleman but he tore his ACL before the season started.
McKinnon still has three years left on his contract with a $5.7 million cap hit in 2019.
He is only 26 and like Breida, McKinnon can make defenses pay on the ground and through the air.
In 2017 after Dalvin Cook suffered a season-ending injury, McKinnon became an important piece to Minnesota’s offense finishing with 570 rushing yards and 421 receiving yards.
Between 2016 and 2017, McKinnon had 94 receptions. Much like in Shanahan’s offense, Pederson’s offense is better with that kind of RB.
DE Solomon Thomas
The former third overall pick in the 2017 draft hasn’t met that potential in his first two years with the 49ers.
Thomas has just four sacks in two seasons but he could be another young (24 years old), buy-low trade target Howie Roseman takes a chance on.
The 49ers would likely be more willing to deal Thomas after trading and extending DE Dee Ford. San Francisco also holds the second overall pick in a draft class that even Roseman labeled “historic” when it comes to pass rushers.
With Chris Long’s future up in the air, Thomas could be someone the Eagles bring in to compete with Josh Sweat and a rookie if Long doesn’t think more playing time is coming his way for the 2019 season.
If the Eagles do make a trade with the 49ers, San Francisco’s loaded backfield is likely where Philadelphia would like to grab a play-maker from. Expect a deal to involve a draft pick but don’t be surprised if someone like Jalen Mills is also involved.
The CB group is now six-deep after re-signing Darby. With four other young, promising corners to develop and Mills hitting free agency in 2020, it seems likely Philadelphia could look to get some value for him now.
The 49ers already have Richard Sherman and signed former Chargers CB Jason Verrett this offseason but Mills has the versatility to play outside, in the slot, or even at safety.
Mills or a late pick for McKinnon/Breida could make sense for both sides.
T.J. Yeldon fits in Philadelphia
It doesn’t appear the Eagles were in on big names at running back in free agency. Le’Veon Bell signed with the Jets. Tevin Coleman signed with the 49ers. Mark Ingram signed with the Ravens.
Seeing Ingram and Coleman’s deal both in the $5 million a year range has many scratching their heads about why the Eagles potentially didn’t pursue those two on inexpensive contracts.
While Philadelphia could have been in the hunt for both, a lack of interest would certainly concern fans that want to see the organization invest legitimate resources into the position. It is certainly something to keep a closer eye on.
Howie Roseman can be lackadaisical when it comes to RB including last year, failing to replace Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. However, there is no need to panic just yet. The NFL Draft has talent across all seven rounds.
There are also some intriguing options still out there through trades and free agency that fit what the Eagles want to spend, and how they want to use their backs. Former Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon is perhaps the most interesting option. And he would be a great fit in Doug Pederson’s offense.
An even cheaper option than Coleman and Ingram
It was a bit surprising seeing Coleman and Ingram get less than expected. If the Eagles weren’t players for either, it could be as a result of their serious interest in the draft class, or their plans to spend even less at the position.
Yeldon could be a cheaper option.
If Coleman and Ingram both got $5 million, it seems evident that Yeldon, a less proven player than the other two, would get less.
The Eagles have not spent significant dollars for a running back since Chip Kelly signed DeMarco Murray in 2015. They have targeted younger, cheaper players.
At 25 years old, Yeldon fits that mold.
The perfect complementary RB
If Yeldon and Corey Clement were the compliments to a rookie the front office invests in, it would be hard to do much better.
The former Alabama prospect has the receiving skills this Eagles offense has valued since the days of Brian Westbrook.
Yeldon has 135 catches in the last three seasons, with a career-high 55 receptions for 487 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 2018.
He can make some impressive plays with his hands.
The production is there but he isn’t built like other receiving-backs. At 6’2 218 pounds, Yeldon is a few inches taller, and only two pounds lighter than Jay Ajayi. The majority would agree that Ajayi’s label is that of a power runner.
That allows him to be an option in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Chunk plays are abundant
Yeldon has the ability to turn a four-yard hole, or a three-yard check down into a 15-30 yard play. He is extremely explosive for his size and he isn’t easy to bring down when he is caught. At Alabama, Yeldon forced 54 tackles in his final collegiate season.
Having that kind of weapon with the five dangerous pass-catchers the Eagles already have could be deadly. Wendell Smallwood isn’t that weapon.
In 2018, Yeldon finished with eight receptions of 15+ yards. Four of which were above 20 yards. Tevin Coleman only had five receptions of 15+ yards.
Compared to Alvin Kamara, an elite pass-catching running back, Yeldon only had seven fewer receptions that went past 15 yards.
Moves the chains on third down
In short and long situations on third down, Yeldon was a focal point for the Jaguars.
Whether it was a passing play or a running play, he was effective in moving the chains.
Being capable of converting through the air and ground with just one running back helps make an offense less predictable.
The Eagles still have quality options if they want to add an RB before the draft. The Browns and Bears are actively shopping Duke Johnson and Jordan Howard. If the front office wants to keep their draft capital however, T.J. Yeldon could be their guy.
On today’s Locked on Eagles:
Analyzing the Eagles signing LB L.J. Fort
DeSean Jackson’s press conference was encouraging
The Giants continue their blueprint of not having a blueprint signing Golden Tate