It’s Week 17, and teams out of playoff contention with rookie quarterbacks waiting in the wings might as well get them game experience.
At least you’d think they would.
The Jets have been out of playoff contention since before the clocks changed. Christian Hackenberg says he’s ready, but Ryan Fitzpatrick will start this weekend’s season finale. Paxton Lynch has started three games as an injury replacement for the Broncos and figures to play in the season finale with the Broncos not going to the postseason, but he’s not slated to start.
Before teams officially can point to the future and until we have a whole new group of draftable quarterbacks to study and argue, an update on all the rookies seems appropriate. From 2016 top pick Jared Goff, to Dak Prescott of the NFC’s top-seeded Cowboys all the way to seventh-rounder Brandon Doughty of the Dolphins, here’s a glimpse at what the quarterback class of 2016 has (or hasn’t) been doing this season…
Goff (Round 1, Pick No. 1), Rams – Nothing has gone right for the Rams going all the way back to the way they seemed uncertain on how to handle Goff in September. Goff has started the last six games, all losses, and has completed 53.5 percent of his passes. He has five touchdown passes and seven interceptions and will be playing for a new head coach next season.
Carson Wentz (Round 1, Pick No. 2), Eagles – Wentz missed most of the preseason due to injury, but the Eagles traded Sam Bradford a week before the season opener and named Wentz the starter. He has a 14-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio and understandably his numbers have dropped after a hot start. Wentz threw seven touchdowns vs. one interception in his first four games, three of them wins, and has found things tougher to come by in recent weeks. The Eagles upset the Giants last week to snap a five-game losing streak.
Lynch (1-26), Broncos – Lynch has completed 59 percent of his passes but isn’t quite at 500 total yards passing over those three starts. The Broncos knew he was going to be a project, and he’d have to come a long way before the team could trust him as its 2017 opening-day starter.
Hackenberg (2-51), Jets – See above. The Jets say he’s not ready, and playing Fitzpatrick over him is as puzzling as drafting him in the second round was.
Jacoby Brissett (3-91), Patriots – Brissett got two starts early in the season, then landed on the injured-reserve list desginated for return. He was recently activated, and if the Patriots feel good about his progress they might be more apt to trade Jimmy Garoppolo in the offseason before he enters the final season of his rookie contract.
Cody Kessler (3-93), Browns – Kessler became the third Browns quarterback to start a game this year, and he showed marked progress after a disastrous preseason. Both of his stints as the starter have ended with Kessler suffering a concussion, though he’s been cleared and is currently No. 2 on the depth chart. He hasn’t shown much in the way of arm strength, which is why he was a surprise third-round pick.
Connor Cook (4-100), Raiders – Cook has been the No. 3 quarterback all season, and after Derek Carr’s broken leg last week he becomes the No. 2.
Prescott (4-135), Cowboys – That pick has worked out nicely. Prescott is completing 68 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions after being pressed into duty when Tony Romo was injured in the preseason.
Cardale Jones (4-139), Bills – Jones has been inactive for games as the team’s No. 3 quarterback, but with Tyrod Taylor not playing this week he’s as close as he’s been to his first game action. The Bills drafted Jones intending to basically redshirt him this season, and the only thing certain with the Bills’ quarterback position for 2017 is that Jones will be in the quarterback room.
Kevin Hogan (5-162), Chiefs – The Chiefs cut Hogan at the end of the preseason and he landed with the Browns, first on the practice squad and later on the active roster. Even as the Browns got two of their original three quarterbacks back from injury they kept Hogan on the roster, a sign that he’ll at least get a shot to stick around next season.
Nate Sudfeld (6-187), Washington – Sudfeld has served as the No. 3 quarterback all season.
Jake Rudock (6-191), Lions – The Lions cut Rudock at the end of the preseason and signed him to their practice squad, then promoted him to the active roster in late November to keep the Bears from signing him.
Brandon Allen (6-201), Jaguars – Allen has served as the Jaguars’ No. 3 quarterback all season.
Jeff Driskel (6-207), 49ers – Driskel was cut at the end of the preseason and claimed by the Bengals. In the unlikely event that the Bengals trade A.J. McCarron in the offseason, Driskel would get to compete for the backup job in 2017.
Doughty (7-207), Dolphins – Doughty was waived in September and signed to the practice squad.