Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Complete Rookie QB Future Rating Scale

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterMay 1, 2019

Arizona Cardinals NFL football quarterback Kyler Murray is introduced, Friday, April 26, 2019, at the Cardinals' practice facility in Tempe, Ariz. Murray was the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Football draft. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York/Associated Press

Which rookies will NFL fans be seeing a lot more of soon, why the draft has become the league's biggest swap meet and how Kliff Kingsbury is trying to rewrite league history. All of that and more in this week's 10-Point Stance.


1. Ranking the future

If there was one thing teams said privately about the draftbesides how badly the Giants screwed it up—it was how this was a weak year for quarterbacks.

Many around the league believe Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was the right pick for the Cardinals, but overall, as one AFC West front-office executive told me: "This draft will go down as one of the worst for quarterbacks maybe of the 2000s."

Still, a number of franchises enacted quarterback succession plans. Even if the draft was light on QB talent, potential outweighs a disappointing known quantity for teams in need of something better. Some of these rookie quarterbacks may be better than skeptics think, too.

So, let's take a look at the odds this year's rookie QBs will eventually become the long-term starters for the teams that drafted them. The percentages below are based in part on conversations with four NFL team officials—with a bit of my opinion, however wrong it may prove to be—added into the mix.

Kyler Murray, Cardinals: It may take a few years, but this pick will work. Murray just needs to survive next season. He could take the kind of physical beating Josh Rosen did last year.

Succession chance: 90 percent.

Daniel Jones, Giants: Some teams believe this is one of the easiest situations to predict. In their minds, Jones is a career backup. While he may unseat Eli Manning, he may not be the starter for long.

Succession chance: 5 percent.

Dwayne Haskins, Washington: A perfect fit for a player vastly underrated (and disrespected) by a number of teams. He can beat out Case Keenum and anyone else on that roster.

Succession chance: 75 percent.   

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Drew Lock, Broncos: Keenum was the Broncos' starting quarterback last season and is now in Washington. As one NFC East scout said: "[General manager John] Elway's track record is pretty bad." No, it's really bad. Does that mean that Lock is automatically doomed? No. Some teams really like Lock and think Elway got this one right.

Succession chance: 50 percent.

Will Grier, Panthers: The three players I've covered who took the most physical beatings during their careers: former Giants running back Rodney Hampton; former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski; and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. This will be Newton's ninth season. He is a future Hall of Famer and a historic talent, but it's hard to see him being able to continue withstanding the type of punishment he's regularly endured. I could see him retiring soon, like Gronkowski. Grier impressed a lot of people and looks to be one of the more underrated picks of the draft.

Succession chance: 80 percent.

Ryan Finley, Bengals: Few in the league believe the Bengals' claim that they didn't bring Finley in to replace Andy Dalton. A new coaching regime with a new quarterback often spells trouble for the incumbent. And many in the league think Finley has the talent to replace Dalton.

Succession chance: 70 percent.

Jarrett Stidham, Patriots: Let's be clear: No one will replace what Tom Brady does for the Patriots. It's impossible. But Stidham has a chance to succeed in a post-Brady world. He has talent and he'll be learning from Brady, who's long been known as a great teammate. It's like being an understudy for Denzel Washington.

Succession chance: 70 percent.

Easton Stick, Chargers: Philip Rivers is 37 and probably has a solid two years left. Like Brady, he has a reputation for being open and helpful to other quarterbacks. And in Stick, Rivers and the Chargers may have an excellent replacement candidate. He already took over at North Dakota State after Carson Wentz left for the NFL, and he should have little trouble taking over for Rivers soon.

Succession chance: 65 percent.

Clayton Thorson, Eagles: Not gonna happen.

Succession chance: 1 percent.

Gardner Minshew, Jaguars: Newly signed Nick Foles will eventually be replaced by another high-profile free agent.

Succession chance: 3 percent.

Trace McSorley, Ravens: If McSorley ever does replace Lamar Jackson, the Ravens are in deep trouble.

Succession chance: 0 percent.


2. Let's make a deal

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

There were a record 40 trades during this year's draft, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Patriots and Seahawks had the most with seven each.

Why so much movement? One NFC team official said the answer isn't complicated: Teams value draft picks, but many are now willing to take more chances with them. They like to experiment, and while the picks are important, they are no longer sacred.

It's no wonder two of the league's more innovative franchises were the most active on the trading block. The Patriots have long been active traders, and more teams are starting to follow their lead.

It's possible this year wasn't just an outlier, but the beginning of drafts to come.


3. Can't fight facts

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

When Rosen said this week that he didn't think he'd have a legitimate chance to win the starting job had he remained in Arizona, he was right.

Whenever teams expend massive draft capital or free-agent money, they're going to give the recipient every chance to succeed. The Cardinals were never going to draft Murray and then let Rosen take command of the team.

In Miami, Rosen will get a legitimate chance to emerge.


4. The NFL still doesn't get it

The NFL sometimes wants its athletes to be active off the field in one of only two things: religion (and only Christianity) and supporting the military. If players venture into other things, they endure the scorn of some teams.

Rosen is the latest example. In expressing some opinions about the world beyond the field, he has run afoul of the football community on more than a few occasions. In Arizona, according to one report, his support of the environmental movement rubbed the Cardinals the wrong way. 

Has the league learned nothing?

Rosen's support for cleaning up the environment shouldn't even be a controversial stance. Just like the questions surrounding his commitment in college, concerns about his worldview are ridiculous.

It's like getting mad at Rosen if he supported eating jelly donuts.


5. Baldwin's big decision

Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

After undergoing multiple surgeries this offseason, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin is considering retirement, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. And while a source close to Baldwin confirmed that report to B/R, the source said he has yet to make a final decision.

The eight-year veteran needs time to make sure this is what he wants to do, and he may not know for several more months. He is only 30, but no one beats Father Time in the NFL, especially if your body has plenty of scars from your time in the league.


6. A strange new day in Cleveland

Ron Schwane/Associated Press

Vegas oddsmakers are having a difficult time figuring out the odds on the Browns making the playoffs, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio. It's easy to understand why.

It's been many years since the Browns have had expectations like this. Or, rather, expectations at all.

The Browns haven't made the playoffs since 2002, and the idea of them as a Super Bowl team seems ludicrous. However, they are in the conversation. Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 27 touchdowns in 13 starts last year, and Cleveland added star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive end Olivier Vernon this offseason.

Yes, for the first time in a long time, Cleveland is expected to do something in the regular season other than lose. That should be a welcome change.

It'll also be a challenge for a team that still finished under .500 last season, but it's one the Browns should meet given all the talent on their roster.


7. The Kingsbury rules

Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

With Murray now in place, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury told NBC Sports' Peter King that he's going to do something similar to what he did as the coach of Texas Tech: run lots of five-receiver sets.

"His ability to escape the pocket, escape those D-lineman when they can't get off blocks—it's just unique. And to still be able to drop back and survey the field and still be able to get the ball out on time, get through his progressions. ... The way we spread people out, the tempo in which we play, he's the guy who can really thrive in system. We're going to play the game at times wider than probably most people do in the league. We're going to use the entire field and make them cover five wides and the quarterback, and that's tough on defenses."

That plan of attack may have worked in college, but there's a reason why you don't see mass five-receiver sets in the NFL. It puts a tremendous amount of stress on the offensive line.

That isn't to say it hasn't been tried. Just not often. Usually, the quarterback gets blasted waiting for guys to run their routes, so teams stop doing it.

Maybe Kingsbury can find a way to make this work. Either way, Murray should invest in good health insurance.


8. Muscle man

Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was spectacular last year. He rushed for 1,098 yards and added 107 catches for 867 receiving yards. He scored 13 total touchdowns and established himself as one of the best weapons in the league.

If you thought McCaffrey was going to take his foot off the gas, well, look at this picture of him. He looks ready to enter an arm wrestling competition now.


Christian McCaffrey's been lifting 😳 (via @Panthers) https://t.co/chL0OFeMt3

A stronger McCaffrey will make him even more formidable than he already is. It might be time to update those fantasy mock drafts.


9. The NFL is a hell of a drug

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 27:  General atmosphere at the St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and ½ Marathon and the 2019 NFL Draft Experience on April 27, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Danielle Del Valle/Getty Images)
Danielle Del Valle/Getty Images

After the infamous non-call on pass interference late in the NFC title game cost the Saints a trip to last year's Super Bowl, a number of New Orleans fans said they were done with the NFL.

Were they, though?

The New Orleans Advocate reported the NFL draft got an 8.3 television rating in New Orleans. That was the second-highest rating behind only Nashville, Tennessee, which hosted the draft.

The NFL is an addiction, like cookies or Star Trek. It's hard to kick no matter how angry people get at it.


10. An amazing story

Houston Texans @HoustonTexans

WR DeAndre Hopkins and his mother Sabrina in front of his new locker #Texans @Nukdabomb http://t.co/Be6rnJokbm

The mother of Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will be the subject of a movie about her life, according to Justin Kroll of Variety.

Sabrina Greenlee's life has been one of perseverance. And now, a lot of people will get to learn about it. 


Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.