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The NFL has gone through a sort of renaissance of talent at the signal caller position. With household names such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rogers being on the outs within the next few years, the next generation must be able to bear the weight of their absence. Though that sounds easier said than done, there are a couple of spectacular young quarterbacks that have made their mark in a short time.
That group includes names such as Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen, and Kyler Murray. Not to mention the dynamic rookies Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Tua Tagovailoa.
Its no coincidence that these guys are all successful: they can flat out throw the ball. What sets them apart from the QBs of old are their wheels. We saw what Lamar Jackson of the Ravens accomplished last season, rushing for over 1,000 yards and taking home the MVP trophy, but guys like Patrick Mahomes use their legs in some super creative ways.
For example, where Jackson jukes a defender into oblivion to create spectacular plays, Mahomes uses his legs to create time for plays through the air for the Chiefs. We marveled at the likes of Big Ben Roethlisberger when he would scramble and rumble to extend plays, but now Mahomes has taken that to the next level.
Its equally satisfying to see a guy shake a pass rusher to give his receiver enough time to clear the safeties for endzone targeted bombs.
Deshaun Watson of the Texans is similar in that regard, in that he can threaten the line of scrimmage just enough to get linebackers or pursuing rushers to create space for his receivers to get open and deliver accurate throws. But not all of these younger guys are gifted with that natural ability, some have to allow their arm talent to develop.
Jackson, as well as Josh Allen of the Bills, have made major strides as passers in their young careers. Even though they have drastically different throwing styles – Allen being more power and Jackson being more of a touch passer – they have improved in the areas that plagued them early on.
In his MVP season, Jackson put more zip on the ball and was able to throw into tighter windows, which made him even more dangerous. He also improved on his deep ball, which accentuated his already elite touch. Allen, on the other hand, improved his accuracy and has further improved his decision making, which has had him mentioned in MVP talks this season.
There is another young up-and-comer who has burst onto the scene as well in Kyler Murray. He has the arm talent as well as the legs to do it all, but he has a quirk to his game that makes him more dangerous than the guys mentioned before.
Murray is a masterful redzone QB. His quick release is one thing, but his utilization of the pump fake along with his legs opens so much inside the 20 yard line. He uses his stature to his advantage too, being able to squirt through holes using his speed that bigger QBs would have issues with.
That has resulted in Murray contributing five of the Arizona Cardinals’ eight redzone rushing touchdowns this season.
Murray also boasts an incredibly strong arm that can be attributed to his baseball days. Need evidence of how powerful his arm is? Look no further than his “Hail Murray” pass to beat the Buffalo Bills this year. The play was made possible not only due to his arm, but his legs and his underrated strength as a runner.
Speaking of players busting onto the scene, the rookies from this year are lighting it up.
Prior to his season ending injury, Joe Burrow of the Bengals was on pace to break all kinds of rookie records. He showed his poise under center as well as elite improvisation skills. Even though the ACL injury is devastating, Burrow will be back next year to show why he was number one overall pick in 2020.
Tua Tagovailoa, whom has had an up and down season with the Miami Dolphins, is also a rookie QB with tremendous upside. His unorthodox left hand delivery coupled with his mobility has helped him adjust to the professional level seamlessly. His 6-0 TD/INT ratio and 100.1 QBR shows that he can play the position at the highest level.
However, Justin Herbert of the Chargers may be the most impressive of the rookie group.
The rookie signal caller has passed for over 3000 yards and 23 touchdowns while posting a 100.9 QBR. His mobility has been on full display and the way he utilizes it is a mix of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. He can escape pressure and create time for deep passes but he can also side step and control the pocket.
He has elite ball placement and touch on his passes and gives his receivers a catchable ball no matter the platform he throws from.
When you put into perspective that the players mentioned are either rookies or second to third year players, it makes it hard to believe what they’re doing on Sundays. These young guys are pushing the stereotypes of rookie quarterbacks out the door. In years past, guys this young didn’t have the level of success the players today have.
In comparison to quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and others, this wave of success with young QBs is unprecedented. Not to mention the enhanced confidence this gives front offices in the future stock of the rookies coming in. The expectation is higher as well.
Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lyle, and the other young QBs coming in will be expected to succeed like the ones before them.
These young quarterbacks are putting the elder statesmen of the league on notice. These guys are under 30 and have many years ahead of them to expand their legacies. As fans and lovers of the game we can only watch as they take over the league and take us into the next era of the NFL.