By Lucas Kochevar
I did a profile on each of the top five quarterbacks in this years draft and now that they're finally in their spots, it's time to rank them. The situation is the most important factor for a rookie quarterback. We've seen countless spots where rookies come in and fail. The Jets with Sam Darnold stands out to me and Josh Rosen with the Cardinals that same year. These quarterbacks failed themselves, but part of the blame has to go to the team. Rosen's offensive line in 2018 was one of the worst lines in history. The Jets were an absolute trainwreck leading up to drafting Darnold. Then there's the inverse with Patrick Mahomes going to the Chiefs. He sat behind one of the better veterans to learn from with Alex Smith, an all-time offensive mind in Andy Reid and cheat code receivers in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. He was set up perfectly. Let's rank this years top five quarterbacks taken.
1. Bryce Young to Carolina
Young goes to a spot that I think can win now. The Panthers were competing for the division until the final week, albeit was a terrible division. With a prospect like Bryce Young, they can contend in the division once again. He won't be pressured to start immediately with Andy Dalton there and he has Frank Reich as his coach, who is known as a quarterback maestro. Although he ended up getting fired from Indianapolis, Reich was still successful in his time in Indy with a 40-33-1 record. He did that with a different quarterback every season. It'll be intriguing to see him work and mold a rookie quarterback, especially one like Young. Reich has really only dealt with bigger quarterbacks so the transition to Young will be intriguing.
Young also will have a helpful supporting cast around him. Miles Sanders, Adam Thielen and DJ Chark are all solid players that can help the young gun. The run game, in particular, can be the X-factor for Young. The Panthers were around top ten in the league in most rushing statistics and the Sanders-Chuba Hubbard duo can provide a great one-two punch out of the backfield running and catching the ball. I also like what the Panthers did by adding Jonathan Mingo. He's a rookie receiver that can mature with Young and provides a big target and catch radius for Young to throw to. This situation is great and he could really shine as a rookie in the league, if he can stay healthy.
2. Hendon Hooker to Detroit
Hooker takes his talents to Detroit and doesn't have an ounce of pressure to perform early on. For the first time in a long time, the Lions seem to be in win-now mode. With those expectations, Jared Goff is the quarterback to lead the Lions to the promise land. He had one of his best seasons last year, yet the Lions still drafted Hooker. Drafting Hooker seems more like insurance than anything, but in a couple seasons I could see him supplanting Goff. Since he tore his ACL late last season, Hooker won't be ready anyways. Hooker is in the perfect position to just sit back and learn this season.
The Lions are a great situation for Hooker because of the main reason I listed above, he won't have to start immediately. The other reason it's a great spot for him is the weapons around him. When the time comes, he has the potential to work with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams. St. Brown is a technician as a receiver and Williams is a home run hitter so the duo could be very threatening for opponents. The Lions also have good compliments in the backfield with Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery. On top of that, their offensive line is terrific and should be strong for the coming years.
3. Anthony Richardson to Indianapolis
This is another great situation for a young quarterback that needs time to grow. The Colts were a trainwreck towards the end of last year, but we have to remember that JEFF SATRUDAY was the coach. The Colts have transitioned to Shane Steichen and, as I have said several times on this website, the connection between him and Richardson fits like a glove. There's a chance that Richardson starts out of the gate, but I could realistically see veteran Gardner Minshew starting to begin the season. It'll be an interesting situation to watch in training camp.
The weapons that Richardson has to work with are miles ahead of anyone he had at Florida and I think that'll help him tremendously. Michael Pittman Jr. is a big-body receiver and has a great catch radius. Alec Pierce had an underrated rookie season and the rookie Josh Downs should provide a deep threat. Outside of the receivers, Jonathan Taylor is as good as they come as an every down back. The offensive line has a couple guys that are great but they need more consistency from their tackles. I think the part that could sink Richardson is rushing his development and there's the unknown element of Steichen in his first role as a head coach.
4. C.J. Stroud to Houston
I briefly touched on C.J. Stroud's situation in the last volume of LK League Notes and my main takeaway from looking at this offense again is that it could be worse. The Texans are bad. That's no secret, but now they feel like a team that's bad because they're young. The previous iterations of the Texans felt like a team ready to pick first. Now, they seem like a young group of guys that can grow together and form the foundation for a good team. They're still a ways from that, but it's not crazy to imagine in the future, especially with Stroud at the helm.
Similar to Richardson, Stroud is getting a first-time head coach so that'll be something to watch, but if Demeco Ryans emulates a Shannahan-offense, Stroud should be able to make something shake. He has a veteran pass catchers to rely on with Robert Woods and Dalton Schultz. He also has three young receivers with Nico Collins, John Metchie III and Nathaniel 'Tank' Dell. His connection with these three guys will be huge in his development over the years. The Texans also have a solid running back and offensive line. I'm hopeful for Stroud, but this whole situation is very dependent on his development.
5. Will Levis to Tennessee
Last, but not least, Will Levis to Tennessee. I'm not low on Levis like many people. I understand why he fell to the second round, even though he had very similar stats to Richardson last season. Sadly, Levis falls to this spot because of the Titans. My thoughts on the Titans are known. I think they're a bad team that's heading towards a rebuild. They don't seem to know that quite yet. The Titans have consistently been competitive the past couple of seasons with superb coaching and a division that hasn't been serious, however, they're frauds.
When I look at this Titans team they don't have that optimistic look of young talent on the team, like the Texans. Despite having the alien named Derrick Henry, the offense is bad. Treylon Burks is the best receiver on the team and I don't mean that as a compliment to Burks, who was the player selected after trading away star receiver A.J. Brown. Burks came onto the scene late last season, but the jury is still out. The other guys in the receiver room are Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kyle Philips. At their best, these two guys are barely WR2 material. Outside of that, the offensive line is full of players that are either young or just bad. The road is long for Levis and the situation could get better. The sad reality is that he's the third quarterback on the depth chart behind Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis. Even if he does break through as the starter, the roster is just not good for him to win immediately.
Source: Image via AP