There is a Quarterback Revolution going on in the NFL, with one generation taking the baton from the last. The days of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning are either over already, or will be soon.
And the new kids are already on the block.
In fact, right now 13 of the NFL's 32 teams are either starting (or have started) quarterbacks drafted in the last two seasons. And those first- or second-year starters have provided a glimpse of the future that is encouraging, to say the least. That includes, obviously, a bright future in New York where Sam Darnold and Daniel Jones have given long-suffering Jets and Giants fans a reason to believe.
Where do Jones and Darnold stack up against the rest of their peers? Here's a look at all the quarterbacks to come out of college in 2018 or 2019 who have already started an NFL game (or will this weekend):
ON THE VERGE OF STARDOM
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (32nd overall, 2018): For the moment he looks like the best of the bunch, and the only one from the Class of '18 who has not taken an obvious step backwards. He's even in the early MVP conversation with the Ravens rolling at 6-2. "You have to look beyond the numbers," one AFC scout said. "He's not putting up (Patrick) Mahomes numbers, but he's a (pain) to gameplan against. He's so elusive and when he needs to he makes some unbelievable throws." His critics point out that in the last four games he's averaged only 175 passing yards and has thrown just two touchdown passes (with three interceptions). "But that's not the whole story," the scout said. Jackson has also averaged 100 rushing yards in those games and he's run for four touchdowns too. Also, the Ravens won all four games. That matters the most.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (first overall, 2019): Other than Jackson, no quarterback in the last two classes draws more raves from scouts than Murray - even from those who weren't sure about him before the draft. "He is way more polished than I thought he'd be," said an NFC scout. "He's in the right system for him, but he plays above that. He makes some throws that half the quarterbacks in the league can't make." And he doesn't make a lot of mistakes, either. He's gone five straight games without an interception and has only four on the season. "They've only scratched the surface there, too," the scout said. "They haven't taken advantage of his mobility. When they do: Look out."
UP AND DOWN
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (first overall, 2018): For all the hype about the supposedly loaded Cleveland Browns, few seem to be surprised that they're imploding and that Mayfield, last year's No. 1 overall pick, has taken a step back. He's in a mess of a situation with a bad offensive line, too many stars who want the ball, and a coach who seems overmatched. "And he's not handling it well," one scout said. "So many people thought this was all too much for him, and he's not exactly proving them wrong." A year after throwing 27 touchdowns with just 14 interceptions in 14 games, he's got seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions in eight games. His completion percentage has dropped from 63.8 to 58.7, too. "He's got a great arm and you have to love his on-field attitude," the scout said. "He'll be good, but right now the Browns are a mess."
Sam Darnold, Jets (third overall, 2018): What's happened to the Jets' franchise QB this season is, in the words of one AFC scout, "alarming." But no one seems to be drawing any sweeping conclusions, despite his apparent regression (nine interceptions and only six TD passes in five games). "Who knows how much mono took out of him?" said one AFC scout. "Plus he's playing behind one of the worst lines in the league. He's got no chance." That said, no one denies his obvious talent. But he's now thrown 24 interceptions in 18 career games, and that problem isn't getting better. Also, several NFL talent evaluators did at least wonder if the Darnold-Adam Gase pairing could work. "They obviously need more time," one of them said. "But are they going to get it?"
Daniel Jones, Giants (sixth overall, 2019): He had an absolutely remarkable debut back on Sept. 22 and has struggled a bit since, particularly with regards to ball security (eight interceptions, eight lost fumbles in eight games). He does take too many chances, but otherwise doesn't often look like a rookie. "The kid can make every throw, either from the pocket or on the run," said an NFC scout. "He's got so much poise, so much toughness, and his mobility is a weapon." Even the turnovers don't seem to concern everyone. "He's going to get killed behind that offensive line," another scout said. "Put a better team around him and he's going to be great."
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (seventh overall, 2018): Some considered him the biggest project of the five first-round QBs from the Class of '18, and he might still need some work. But the Bills have figured out how to win with him. "He's a game manager right now," said an AFC scout. "But he's still got the best arm of the bunch." He's also tough to bring down especially when he's on the move, though the 6-5, 237-pounder hasn't had the kind of big rushing games he had last season. "There's still a ton of upside, which is scary," the scout said, "because right now he's playing better than a lot of the others (in his class)."
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars (178th overall, 2019): Minshew-mania may be over for now (the Jaguars gave Nick Foles his job back now that he's healthy) but it was real for a while in Jacksonville. And that's amazing because, as one scout said, "Nobody saw this coming. He was interesting coming out of the draft, but he looked like a product of a (Washington State) system. He was a developmental guy, not anyone you thought would be a starter." And yet, nine games and eight starts later, he's got a passer rating of 92.8 with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions - two of which came last week. One big problem, though: The Jaguars are financially tied to Foles at least through next season thanks to a four-year, $88 million contract with more than $50 million guaranteed.
Kyle Allen, Carolina Panthers (undrafted, 2018): When Cam Newton hurt his foot, Allen got off to a flying start, winning four straight games without throwing an interception. Then came a three-interception meltdown in a 51-13 loss in San Francisco. He did rebound nicely and his stats are still good (60.7 completion percentage, 1,291 yards, nine TDs, four interceptions in six starts). But … "Let's not get crazy: He's not Cam Newton," an NFC scout said. "He's managing the game nicely. He's efficient. He's got an upside, so maybe he's got a future. But did people really think he was going to push Newton out?" Some did, yes. And he might. That remains to be seen.
Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh Steelers (76th overall, 2018): He was thrust into action way before his time due to the injury to Ben Roethlisberger and he's been … fine. "He's efficient," one AFC scout said. "He doesn't have a great arm, but he doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Right now they're not asking him to do much." He still has some developing to do before he's ready to take over as the starter full time, but there are some encouraging early signs.
TO BE DETERMINED …
Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins (15th overall, 2019): He's gotten to play a little, including on Sunday when he started but was hardly asked to do much by his leery coaches. There are all sorts of questions around a player that Washington's owners wanted, but their coaches didn't (they wanted to draft Daniel Jones, as SNY reported after the draft). There are questions about his ability to read defenses, his ability to pick up the playbook, and questions over whether any of that is true. It's hard to know what to make of him. Is he a mess, or is it just the mess of the organization that drafted him?
Drew Lock, Denver Broncos (42ndoverall, 2019): Joe Flacco is pretty much done in Denver and now they've turning to Brandon Allen, who had thrown zero passes in four NFL seasons before Sunday. So where is Lock? He's been on IR all season with a thumb injury. He says he's ready to practice, but GM John Elway says he's not. Sounds like the Broncos are going to keep him on IR and waste his rookie season. Only Elway knows why.
Ryan Finley, Cincinnati Bengals (104thoverall, 2019): One scout compared him to Jared Goff. Why is that significant? Because Bengals coach Zac Taylor was Goff's quarterbacks coach in L.A. last year when Goff led the Rams to the Super Bowl. Finley might be the perfect fit for Taylor's offense, and he'll make his first start as Andy Dalton's replacement on Sunday.
ON THE ROAD TO NOWHERE
Josh Rosen, Miami Dolphins (10th overall, 2018): He got one year with a bad Cardinals team, then they changed coaches, drafted Murray, and dumped him on the Dolphins, who are "Tanking for Tua" (or were before they beat the Jets). He got three starts and was terrible for a terrible team, and now they've moved on to Ryan Fitzpatrick. "I don't really know what this kid is," said one AFC scout, "but I know he hasn't gotten a fair chance at all. Some people just land in terrible situations. He's been in two."
Luke Falk, New York Jets (199th, 2018): He was never supposed to play, but fate intervened thanks to Sam Darnold's mono and Trevor Siemian's injured ankle. And clearly he wasn't ready. In the end, what hurt the Jets' season is their failure to bring in a veteran or anyone who could capably run the offense better than the raw, unprepared Falk. "He didn't belong on an NFL field," one scout said. "He was lost. He did everything wrong." He'll have to compete for a roster spot in someone's camp next year.