2nd Down: Welcome to the NFL rookie QBs
As is the case almost every year, the NFL draft is filled with talented young quarterbacks that are promised to change the future of their franchise for the better. Then, we get to the NFL preseason, and we see how much work and growth is needed for these star college QBs to find their place in the league.
Bryce Young, the #1 pick by the Carolina Panthers, went 4/6 for 21 yards in his debut against the New York Jets. As someone that is concerned about his ability to see the middle of the field and be able to take hits, I was impressed by the small sample size. Young was hit hard twice but got right back up both times. The offense was clearly focused on short routes to the outside, something Young is tremendous at, but the lack of throws across the middle is something to monitor.
CJ Stroud, the #2 pick for DeMeco Ryans and the future of the Houston Texans didn’t have a great night in his debut. Stroud went 2/4 for 13 yards, throwing an INT and getting sacked. Again, small sample size, but probably not the debit he was hoping for. There will be an adjustment period for Stroud, as he will no longer have the luxury of Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Marvin Harrison Jr to throw to.
Anthony Richardson, the #4 pick by the Colts, gave us a good look at what this year will probably look like in Indy. Richardson went 7/12 for 67 yards and a pick while scrambling for 7 more yards on two carries. The INT was a bad throw, but Richardson showed his incredible ability on a couple of throws, including a beautiful deep pass that was dropped. It will be a learning process for Richardson. I expect him to become a fantasy football darling soon enough but will need to see continued growth in being a consistent passer.
I want to give a shout-out to Cleveland’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who has been unquestionably the best player so far through 2 NFL preseason games. DTR, who’ll likely serve as Watson’s backup/offensive weapon, went 9/10 for 102 yards and a score in Cleveland’s second preseason game against Washington. This strong performance came after DTR went 8/11 for 82 yards and a TD in the HOF Game. He’s been dynamic and exciting to watch so far and could become a tremendous luxury for a Browns team that is looking to get back to the playoffs.