Top Five QB Training Camp Battles To Keep An Eye On For 2021 Season
With free agency and the NFL draft behind us, front offices will next be tasked with deciding which players will take the field come Week 1. With some players already set in stone to start, others will have to battle it out throughout minicamp and training camp to earn their spot on a roster. While some positions are deemed more important than others, each team knows that no position is more important than quarterback. Here we look at the top five QB battles to keep an eye on leading up to the start of the regular season.
New England Patriots (Cam Newton, Mac Jones, Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer)
Unless Stidham miraculously improved throughout the course of this offseason, this training camp battle should be between the two former first round picks. A seasoned veteran vs. an Alabama rookie. When Mac Jones exploded onto the scene at ‘Bama, the kid made a name for himself in the football world ending the season with a 77 percent completion rate to go with 41 touchdowns. An accurate and lengthy pocket passer, Jones has the same physical and mental traits that a certain quarterback in New England not too long ago also possesses. I’m not saying that Jones is going to be the next Tom Brady, but Bill Belichick did have other positional needs in the draft that had solid options available when he selected Jones 15th Overall. Newton, a former MVP, already knows the system in place but his numbers last year were frightening. Having only thrown for eight touchdowns to his 10 interceptions, we’ll see if Newton can somewhat get back to his MVP ways.
Prediction: Newton gets the start but will be replaced by Jones before Week 5
New Orleans Saints (Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Ian Book, Trevor Siemian)
I see this training camp battle generating the most buzz around the league and rightfully so. Maybe one day Ian Book will develop into a stud QB and the next great 4th round steal of the draft but I don’t see that happening ANYTIME soon. For now, this battle is between Winston and Hill. Hill has in no way solidified himself as a true quarterback in this league but Sean Payton didn’t grant him the contract extension that he did for no reason. Winston was the NFL passing yards leader just two years ago but the Tom Brady signing in Tampa and his inability to take care of the ball found him in a backup position in 2020. If Winston’s decision making improves, I think New Orleans could have their heir to Brees and Winston could be in for a breakout season.
Prediction: Winston gets the start, Hill does what he does (everything)
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Denver Broncos (Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Rypien)
Remember this time last year when Denver finally thought they found their franchise quarterback in Drew Lock? Me too. After a 4-1 start to end his rookie campaign, no one questioned that Drew Lock would be taking over under center for the Denver Broncos in 2020. That is a completely different story this year. After a 5-11 season that saw Lock tied for the most interceptions in the league, Vic Fangio will bring in competition this offseason in veteran Teddy Bridgewater. A career year for Bridgewater in Carolina last year, yet he also struggled with turnovers throwing for 11 interceptions. At the end of the day, Fangio will choose the player who makes the better decisions with the football. With Lock getting his first full training camp knowing he has a chance to start in this league, its possible he takes that third year leap that we have seen quite a few QB’s take in recent years.
Prediction: Drew Lock gets the start Week 1
San Francisco 49ers (Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, Josh Rosen, Nate Sudfield)
In the three full seasons that he has had with the San Francisco 49ers, Jimmy G has only been on the field for all 16 games once. In that season, he was able to lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl. That’s beside the point though. The 49ers traded away a spew of draft picks to Miami in order to move up from the 12th overall pick to the 3rd overall pick and select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. A hard nosed runner who also possesses incredible ball placement when throwing, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch gave up a handful to select Lance. With three first rounders gone in the deal to Miami, there must be a lot of confidence in the 49ers front office that Lance can take over the reigns in San Francisco right away, potentially even leading to a Garoppolo trade.
Prediction: Trey Lance starts Week 1
Chicago Bears (Justin Fields, Andy Dalton, Nick Foles)
In the Chicago Bears QB room we have a former All-American, a 3x Pro Bowler, and a Super Bowl MVP. Chicago traded up for Justin Fields in this year’s draft after their previous first round quarterback didn’t pan out in Mitch Trubisky. Now, the city of Chicago believes they have their quarterback of the future. Time will tell when Fields makes his first start though, and until Matt Nagy feels he is ready, Foles and Dalton should be battling it out for who starts Week 1. The Chicago Bears have had the talent to be serious contenders for years but subpar QB play and lackluster play calling has held them back. If one of these QB’s can put together a solid season, the Chicago Bears could be a scary team in the NFC North.
Prediction: Andy Dalton starts Week 1, Fields takes over after their sixth loss
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