Eleven different quarterbacks NFL Draft, a record for the common era of the selection process. It reinforced the league-wide hunt for quality production under center, and already several of the incoming rookies are expected to be Week 1 difference-makers for their respective teams.in the first 150 picks of the 2023
With that in mind, we decided to reassess the state of the position and, with training camp on the horizon, forecast all of the likely QB competitions set for this summer. It's possible a veteran or two could still be on the move; it wasn't until late August of last year, remember, that Jimmy Garoppolo agreed to a surprise contract restructure to stay with the 49ers. But for the most part, QB depth charts are primed for the 2023 season.
Here's a look at which teams figure to host competitions in the lead-up to Week 1, as well as predicted winners:
This is life after Tom Brady. After declining to take a swing at Kentucky's Will Levis near the top of the draft, the Bucs are banking on Mayfield's moxie resurfacing around a better, healthier supporting cast than he had with the Panthers and Rams in 2022. Former coach Bruce Arians has talked up Trask's more traditional pocket passing, but the former second-rounder has thrown all of nine passes in two years. Even if Mayfield proves reckless down the road, he's got the edge to manage a veteran lineup.
Projected Week 1 starter: Baker Mayfield
General manager Chris Ballard deliberately tempered expectations for Richardson, the No. 4 overall pick, in his initial post-draft press conference, and new coach Shane Steichen may prefer to ease the electric but erratic Florida product into his offense. In that case, Minshew makes sense as a placeholder, coming over from the Eagles system that Steichen oversaw. And yet owner Jim Irsay has suggested Richardson will start at some point in 2023, starting the clock on his debut. Richardson's elite athleticism was already on display at OTAs in first-team reps, so Indy will be hard-pressed to keep his star power out of the lineup.
Projected Week 1 starter: Anthony Richardson
Howell got a single start to close his 2022 rookie season, flashing a big arm on an uneven team, but that was enough to earn coach Ron Rivera's praise early this offseason. It was also -- somewhat inexplicably -- enough to prevent Washington from adding anything more than Brissett as competition. The latter is a safer, albeit unspectacular, bet after years of emergency work for the Colts, Dolphins and Browns. But we tend to believe the Rivera hype -- that the Commanders, desperate for the lively mentality they sought with both Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke, will opt for the younger alternative.
Projected Week 1 starter: Sam Howell
49ers (Brock Purdy vs. Trey Lance vs. Sam Darnold)
Few teams relied on more QBs last year than the 49ers, and it's shaping up to be that way again. Purdy is the clubhouse darling after his improbably poised run as Jimmy Garoppolo's replacement, but he may not be healthy enough to start the year. Lance is the most gifted of the bunch, but he's coming off two straight injury-riddled seasons, eager to reassure team brass of his upside just two years after being drafted No. 3 overall. Darnold should be more at ease in San Francisco's system after failed stops with the rebuilding Jets and Panthers, making him the quiet favorite to serve as a temporary QB1. But we're not ruling out Purdy returning just in time to reclaim the job this team seemingly wants him to keep.
Projected Week 1 starter: Brock Purdy
Patriots (Mac Jones vs. Bailey Zappe)
Bill Belichick gave his strongest recent endorsement of Jones during the 2023 NFL Draft, and the fact he didn't spend another pick on a QB suggests the 2021 first-rounder is in line to remain under center, with new (old) coordinator Bill O'Brien charged with reviving the signal-caller's confidence. But we have to list this competition, because Belichick previously -- and repeatedly -- left the door open for Zappe, the 2022 fourth-rounder, to contend for the top job. In the end, as much as Belichick might prefer Zappe's spunk, Jones has the steadier arm when well-protected.
Projected Week 1 starter: Mac Jones
Other QB situations to monitor
- Cardinals: Their new regime has gone above and beyond to endorse Kyler Murray, whose results never consistently matched his talent under Kliff Kingsbury, but the former No. 1 pick may not be ready to start the year coming off an ACL tear. That means veteran reserves Colt McCoy, Jeff Driskel and David Blough could be vying for QB1 reps.
- Falcons: They've already, somewhat unusually, declared 2022 third-rounder Desmond Ridder the unquestioned starter for 2023. But they're paying top-end backup money to Taylor Heinicke, who earned more than a couple starts in Washington and could make things closer than expected over the summer.
- Panthers: They're paying decent backup money for Andy Dalton, who proved with the Saints he's still got a few solid starts in him. But nothing is standing in the way of No. 1 pick Bryce Young holding the starting job from the get-go.
- Texans: Like Carolina, they may not gift-wrap a starting job to their top pick publicly, but if C.J. Stroud doesn't open 2023 under center in place of Davis Mills and new reserve Case Keenum, there's something very wrong.
- Titans: Malik Willis, their 2022 third-rounder, doesn't appear to have much of a future in Tennessee after struggling behind a shoddy line as a rookie fill-in. But they're clearly interested in exploring options for if/when Ryan Tannehill is done, trading up to draft Will Levis at No. 33. Tannehill is still a clear favorite to open as the starter, but his title is not etched in stone.