It was a mixed year for teams auditioning new quarterbacks. While there were the obvious success stories in C.J. Stroud, Baker Mayfield, Jordan Love, even Brock Purdy if you weren’t sold last year, there were even more failures. Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder, Bryce Young, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Derek Carr stand out, just to give an idea.
We even had two, didn’t happens in Anthony Richardson and Aaron Rodgers. Several other seemingly established QBs completely fall apart in Daniel Jones, Ryan Tannehill, and Mac Jones.
Needless to say, it’s clear that many teams are unhappy with their quarterback position and will be looking to upgrade.
The most obvious will be the top three in Chicago, Washington, and New England. They will potentially start Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels next year. Those situations will be difficult to predict.
As for other clearly needy teams in Atlanta, Denver, and Las Vegas, they’ll either be taking from the second crop of draft-eligible quarterbacks or hit free agency. For the players on these teams, let’s examine who might get a bump from a new quarterback play next year. After all, it’s never too early to try to pry away next year’s Nico Collins.
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Three Buy Low Players Who Will Have New Quarterbacks
Drake London, WR, ATL
Speaking of Nico Collins, we first have a stellar wide receiver who has been hamstrung by his quarterback situation. London has flashed the ability to high point the ball, make spectacular catches, and create enough separation to avoid being typecast as a contested catch-only type.
Despite this, London trails Collins both in production this past year, PFF grade, and in dynasty rankings on KeepTradeCut.
There are two ways to look at this. You could say that London, now entering his third year, could be on the cusp of a similar breakout as Collins who was less productive and had poorer grades in his first two years. That wouldn’t be the right tack however as Collins is really the exception these days, not the rule.
There’s a lot to respect about PFF grades. But no football analytics are perfect. As much as PFF tries to separate receiver ability and production from the opportunities they get, there’s only so much that can be isolated.
The other way to look at this is Collins is good, but really just the best option in Houston for C.J. Stroud. That gives him fantastic opportunities and lets him shine. London is a clearly talented receiver, both on pedigree, production in spite of Ridder, and on the traits he can control. If Atlanta finds a new quarterback, say, Kirk Cousins, you could see a monster year for London in which he could eclipse his career TD total of 6 in a single year.
Khalil Herbert, RB, CHI
In all likelihood, we will see Caleb Williams as the No. 1 overall pick for the Chicago Bears. But this is less about what Caleb Williams will do for this offense and more about what getting rid of Justin Fields creates.
Now, this isn’t a comment on the play of Fields, a polarizing player in terms of evaluation. He appeared to show growth as the season went on, but there’s not much evidence that late-season play is any more indicative of a player’s outlook than early-season play.
Regardless, the body of work tells us what his tendencies are likely to be. Low passing, high rushing. The immediate reaction is that Chicago receivers are a buy since Williams is likely going to be high passing, low rushing.
But we covered a couple of weeks ago why D.J. Moore is a sell, rather than a buy. Instead, dig a little deeper and understand that mobile quarterbacks steal both touchdowns and designed rushing opportunities from their primary running back.
While the room is still somewhat unsettled in Chicago, Herbert took the majority of carries down the stretch. His talent on the ground isn’t in question. It is his lack of receiving ability that has prevented him from taking a bell-cow role.
Given that Chicago has made unsuccessful investments in the position in Roschon Johnson and D’Onta Foreman this past year, they may be looking to fill other holes this offseason and roll with the running back room they have.
DeMario Douglas, WR, NE
While Puka Nacua was busy taking the NFL by storm as a 5th-round pick, Douglas also put up an extremely impressive season as a 6th-round pick in the draft last year.
Though the production was just more than a third of the 1,486 yards that Nacua put up, it’s important to understand the difference in opportunity for these players. There’s a difference between Matthew Stafford supplying you the ball and Mac Jones with the 29th-ranked passing attack by yardage just barely getting you by.
In spite of his paltry 561 yards, Douglas was still the most productive player on the New England offense. Further, he maintained a respectable 74.4 PFF grade, demonstrating that he belongs in this league.
It’s likely the Patriots dip in the draft or free agency to help their league-bottom receiving corps. Still, there are too many needs on the team to fully overhaul the room. Expect Douglas to have a big role no matter what happens this offseason.
The ceiling may not seem terribly high at the moment. But the Patriots could have a new quarterback that airs it out. In this case, Douglas could be a bigger contributor than anyone is expecting. With nowhere to go but up from zero touchdowns, expect his stock to go up.