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The 5 O'Clock Club: Which drafted rookie quarterback will produce in 2017?

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

I’ve decided I don’t want to talk about that disaster at FedEx field that took place Sunday afternoon, so I’m going with a different topic today.

Feel free to discuss whatever you like in the comments section, but I refuse to think about the experience.

I believe I may be suffering from PTSD.

Instead, let’s consider which drafted rookie QB will produce this season:

Mitch Trubisky - Chicago Bears

One snap fell to the ground, then another on the next play.

Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky finally handled a snap Saturday, turned and handed the ball off. He was greeted by a patronizing round of applause from the Bears fans who had flocked to Olivet Nazarene University for the team’s first padded practice of training camp.

Three plays later, Trubisky fumbled another snap.

‘‘I think I just lost focus there for a period of time,’’ said Trubisky, who was rarely under center last year in North Carolina’s shotgun-heavy offense. ‘‘And then I was starting to overthink it and then couldn’t get it.’’

Trubisky’s first full-bore NFL practice was another reminder that despite his impressive footwork and pretty spirals — a deep ball to Titus Davis was the best pass anyone threw all day — he’s not close to being the Bears’ starter.

For the moment, it looks like Mike Glennon will be the starter in Chicago-land.

Deshaun Watson - Houston Texans

The Texans went 9-7 through all of the quarterback upheaval each of the last three seasons, which means they probably left a 12-4 season or two on the table if only they had stability and competence at quarterback. O'Brien has deflected blame for the quarterback woes, but while all of the Texans experiments look silly now, they all made sense at the time. Mallett was the Jimmy Garoppolo of 2014, reuniting with the coach who "groomed" him. Hoyer also had a Patriots pedigree. Osweiler was the prize of last year's free-agent class. Even Savage earned some first-round notice before the 2014 draft.

O'Brien could justify starting Savage over Watson based on NFL experience, knowledge of the offense and all of the usual start-the-journeyman justifications. But he already did that with Fitzpatrick and Hoyer, both of whom were far superior journeymen to Savage, before suddenly lurching in a different decision when the season started. And if Savage proves to be nothing more than a mediocre caretaker after four years in O'Brien's system, that will not reflect well on O'Brien.

Everybody wins if O'Brien plays this quarterback "competition" just right. Watson gets to enjoy a Dak Prescott-esque season. The Texans get a deep playoff run. Savage? He'll be Mike Glennon in free agency next year, cashing in on his four-year tutorial and an old scouting report, even if he never plays a down...especially if he never plays a down.

Tom Savage couldn’t keep Watson off the field for an entire game. Will Bill O’Brien commit to Watson now, or continue his seemingly endless game of musical quarterbacks?

Patrick Mahomes - Kansas City Chiefs

There is no disputing that Alex Smith is the Chiefs' starting quarterback, and that it would take an injury or monumental collapse by the veteran for Mahomes to see much of the field this season.

But if nothing else, Mahomes is quickly making the kind of impression that should make new Kansas City general manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid feel good about the backup job this season -- and perhaps the notion of handing the youngster with the big arm the full-time job the following season.

"I thought he was the best quarterback in the draft," said Veach, who at the time was working in the front office for then-GM John Dorsey. "There was no doubt in my mind that was the right decision."

If Alex Smith continues to play the way he did against the Patriots on Thursday night, Mahones may never see the field in 2017.

DeShone Kizer - Cleveland Browns

Here’s 5 reasons why Kizer might have the inside track to be the Browns’ starter Week One:

– This offseason the Browns broke the bank to repair their decimated offensive line from a year ago that was ravaged by injuries by investing over $127 million – $65 million in guaranteed money – by extending left guard Joel Bitonio and adding center JC Tretter and right guard Kevin Zeitler in free agency. On paper, it stands to reason the protection up front should be vastly improved to help keep the rookie QB on his feet.

– Jackson plans to run the ball in 2017. He wanted to last season but circumstances – injuries and the scoreboard – dissuaded him from using Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson more, a mistake he pledges not to repeat again. Crowell averaged 4.8 per carry while Johnson averaged 4.9 per tote last year and with a bolstered line, Jackson should have the confidence to hand off often on Sundays. A strong running game is a quarterback’s best friend (along with protection from the line). It’s also a nice crutch to lean on with a young QB.

– Jackson and Kizer are practically glued at the hip during practice. Not many head coaches are as hands-on with players as Jackson is, but Kizer is Jackson’s project. When Kizer isn’t getting reps he’s often next to Jackson and when he is taking snaps, Jackson steps in often to coach Kizer up between plays.

– While the practice completion percentages won’t support it, Kizer already looks to be a better player than Cody Kessler in the early stage of training camp. Kessler has the advantage when it comes to the playbook and Jackson’s system but Kizer is bigger, stronger and the ball explodes out of his hand. Last year Kessler – a third-rounder who was the fifth player in a 14-member class taken – wasn’t supposed to see the field as a rookie. He ended up starting by week 3 following injuries to veterans Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. While Kessler’s arm looks stronger thanks to offseason workouts and training, it’s not better than Kizer’s.

Brock Osweiler, acquired in March from Houston along with that 2018 second-round pick for eating his $16 million salary, isn’t in the team’s long-term plans so why would they waste game reps on him this year? They won’t if they don’t have to. And if practice reps are any indication, he’ll be the backup or not even here. Osweiler continues to spend the bulk of his time with the second-team offense while Kizer and Kessler work with the starters.

With Brock Osweiler gone, and question about Kizer’s status were answered. The Browns have (again) found the franchise quarterback they’ve been looking for. At least until next year’s draft.

C.J. Beathard - San Fransisco 49ers

“Just watching C.J. you can tell without even talking to him, watching him on tape the way he processes things. He’ll play in that pocket with a lot of people around him and he can get through progression. He’s a very quick thinker. He’ll react and let it rip. He prepares very hard. He is very intelligent. There’s a knack that certain people have in the pocket where they don’t sit there and just freeze paralysis by analysis. That’s one thing we saw in C.J. in college and the more he gets comfortable with the offense and stuff, he’s shown it already, but the more reps and stuff he gets, that’s one of his huge strengths.

While many people see Brian Hoyer as a placeholder till 2018, I’ve always — personally — thought he was an underrated starter-quality NFL quarterback. I like Hoyer, and more importantly, I think Kyle Shanahan likes him.

Beathar’s got a (soon-to-be) Hall of Fame name, but it’s likely that the only way C.J. sees the field in 2017 is if Hoyer gets injured -- something that’s very possible, given Hoyer’s history.

The real surprise to me is that the team is going into the season with only 2 QBs on the roster. It just begs the question... Why doesn’t Colin Kapernick have a job in the NFL? (Feel free to discuss that one amongst yourselves... I was just checking to see if anyone actually reads these articles).

From ESPN, this week, we got a look at QB Confidence Index: Preseason ranking of all 32 depth charts:

14. Kansas City Chiefs

Alex Smith is another quarterback who offers a high floor but not much in the way of ceiling. He can run the offense the way coach Andy Reid wants it run, and he protects the ball as well as any quarterback this side of Foxborough. But we're at the point in Smith's career where it's fair to wonder if he'll ever have the ability to elevate a team beyond first- or second-round-of-the-playoffs type of success. The raw ability of rookie first-round pick Patrick Mahomes II offers some excitement for the future, but he has a lot of developing to do before he becomes "the man."

23. Houston Texans

Tom Savage has the confidence of the coaching staff and of top wideout DeAndre Hopkins. Savage has had some issues staying healthy, though, and with first-round pick and national college champion Deshaun Watson waiting in the wings, this situation is going to be tricky for Houston to navigate. Add in coach Bill O'Brien's propensity to switch quarterbacks on a hair-trigger whim and you have a situation that could have fallen into the "volatile" category if the players involved ranked with those in that tier in terms of ability.

26. San Francisco 49ers

Offensive coaches don't come a lot more confident than Kyle Shanahan. He built the Falcons' offense into a historic scoring machine and helped get it to the brink of a Super Bowl title. If he says Brian Hoyer can run his offense, then you have to believe Brian Hoyer can run his offense. The problems are that Hoyer has a history of getting hurt and that the Niners are personnel-deficient in too many other areas of their team to expect much in the terms of first-year magic from Shanahan. Rookie C.J. Beathard is an unknown, and many people think this is the team waiting out the free agency of Kirk Cousins, whose first NFL coordinator was Shanahan.

27. Chicago Bears

Should they be confident in Mike Glennon as the starter? Maybe not, but they liked him enough to sign him to an eight-figure salary. Can they know yet about No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky? Of course not. It's too soon. But Trubisky showed enough this summer to offer hope, and while the 2017 Bears aren't expected to do much, they have earned the right to feel more confident about their quarterback situation than they did six months ago.

30. Cleveland Browns

In early May, how many of you had second-round pick DeShone Kizer starting the Browns' opener? Liars. Put your hands down. A couple of talent evaluators told me this summer that Kizer was the young QB to watch, since he played in a pro-style offense at Notre Dame and was making NFL throws the others weren't being asked to make in college. We'll see. The Browns like their offensive line and their run game and will give Kizer a long leash. It's worth wondering who he's going to throw it to, but the coaching staff believes in him. Cody Kessler is the backup, and they used him a few times last season without it being a complete disaster.

Poll

Which drafted rookie quarterback will end the 2017 regular season with the most passing yards?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Mitchell Trubisky
    (13 votes)
  • 30%
    Deshaun Watson
    (34 votes)
  • 2%
    Patrick Mahomes
    (3 votes)
  • 53%
    DeShone Kizer
    (60 votes)
  • 1%
    C.J. Beathard
    (2 votes)
112 votes total Vote Now