Peyton Manning has retired. Tom Brady is 40, Drew Brees is in close pursuit and Aaron Rodgers is into his 30s. But the next wave of great quarterbacks appears to be on its way, thanks to some bountiful draft classes the last three years. There are six of them that have already proven their value to teams. So which one would you choose to build a franchise around? That’s the subject of this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll – which young quarterback would you take right now to start a team? Here are your options:
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams. The first overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft. Goff didn’t hit the field until midway through his rookie season and it was a struggle for him on a team that played poorly enough to get its coach (Jeff Fisher) fired in December. Goff looked lost most of the time, completing only 54.6 percent of his passes for 1,089 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions in his seven starts. But a new coach (Sean McVay) and some new weapons have Goff playing at a Pro Bowl level this fall. He has passed for 2,385 yards for the 7-2 Rams with 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee. The second overall pick of the 2015 draft. A starter from day 1, Mariota was perfect in his NFL debut, completing 13 of 15 passes for 209 yards four touchdowns for a 158.3 passer efficiency rating in a victory over Tampa Bay. He passed for 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his rookie season, then followed that up with 26 TDs and only nine interceptions in 2016. Mariota has passed for seven touchdowns with six interceptions this season but has the Titans sitting atop the AFC South with a 6-3 record.
Dak Prescott, Dallas. A fourth-round selection in 2016 and the NFL Rookie of the Year that season. Thrust into the starting role from Day 1 after a preseason injury to Tony Romo, Prescott set an NFL record for consecutive passes without an interception to start a career at 176. He went on to set an NFL rookie completion record at 67.7 percent in leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, an NFC East title and the top seed in the NFC playoff bracket. He also was voted to the Pro Bowl. Prescott has passed for 16 touchdowns and rushed for five more this season for the 5-4 Cowboys.
DeShaun Watson, Houston. The 12th overall pick of the 2017 draft. Coming off a national championship at Clemson in 2016, the Texans traded up to get Watson in the draft last April. He began the season on the bench, but took over for Tom Savage in the second half of the opener. Watson had a dazzling start to his career before suffering a knee injury at practice seven games into his rookie year, ending his season. In his six starts Watson had a five-touchdown pass game against Kansas City, four-touchdown games against both Tennessee and Seattle and a three-TD game against Cleveland. He also passed for a career-best 402 yards against the Seahawks.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia. The second overall pick of the 2016 draft. A starter from Day 1, Wentz discovered the NFL is a huge jump from North Dakota State. He passed for 3,782 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and managed to win only seven of his first 16 games. But Wentz proved to be a quick learner and has been a different quarterback this season, passing for an NFL-high 23 touchdowns with only five interceptions for the 8-1 Eagles. He has had four-touchdown passing games against Arizona, Denver and Washington. Five of his TD passes have covered 50 yards or more.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay. The first overall pick of the 2015 draft and a Pro Bowl selection that season. A starter from Day 1, Winston became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to pass for 3,000 yards, then 4,000 yards and also the youngest to pass for 40 touchdowns. Winston has passed for 4,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons. He strung together three consecutive 300-yard passing games this season against Minnesota, the Giants and New England and added a fourth last month against Arizona. But Winston is on the shelf for a few weeks with a shoulder injury.