NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at South Carolina

Spencer Rattler's football journey is one of peaks and valleys. 

He left high school in Arizona as the Class of 2019's top pro-style quarterback, according to 247 Sports, and committed to the University of Oklahoma with the hopes of being the Sooners' latest and greatest Heisman-caliber quarterback. Rattler spent his freshman year sitting behind 2019 Heisman Trophy runner-up and 2022 NFL MVP runner-up Jalen Hurts before taking the reins in 2020. 

Oklahoma got off to slow start in 2020, dropping two of their first three games in Rattler's first season as the starter. However, after throwing six touchdowns to four interceptions in losses to Kansas State and Iowa State, he settled in and threw 18 touchdowns to only three interceptions the rest of the way to finish the year with 28 touchdowns to seven picks. The result was ending the year on an eight-game winning streak that included winning the Big 12 Championship and the Cotton Bowl. 

Rattler's Sooners career was then derailed in 2021 thanks to another five-star quarterback emerging behind him: Caleb Williams, the presumed first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Oklahoma fell behind 28-7 against their archrivals, the Texas Longhorns, so Williams was subbed into the game in place of Rattler. His understudy ran for a 66-yard touchdown right away. When it was all over, Williams had amassed 212 passing yards and two touchdowns on 16 of 25 passing while adding 88 rushing yards in total en route to a stunning 55-48 Sooners comeback victory. 

That game essentially closed the book on his time at Oklahoma, so he transferred to South Carolina. He had an uneven first season in Columbia, throwing 18 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, but his final two regular-season games of the year spoiled two College Football Playoff hopefuls national title dreams with a 63-38 blowout of No. 5 Tennessee and a 31-30 nail-biting victory at No. 7 Clemson. Rattler threw a career-high six touchdowns and 438 passing yards on 30 of 37 passing in the flattening of the Volunteers. 

He improved in Year 2 in the SEC, tossing 19 touchdowns to just eight interceptions, but the Gamecocks went 5-7 as Rattler was unable to recapture his production and winning ways from his sophomore year at Oklahoma. 

Rattler finished his last showcase for the NFL on a high note, winning MVP honors at the 2024 Senior Bowl by completing all four of his passes for 65 yards and a touchdown while playing only two possessions. His American Team defeated the National Team 16-7. Rattler's touchdown toss looked like a throw one would see in the NFL, a back-shoulder dime off of a play-action pass to Georgia receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. 

No position holds greater value in football than quarterback, and below are the five franchises in a need of a passer of Rattler's caliber that could give him the best opportunity to shine down the road. 

5. New York Giants (70th overall pick)

The New York Giants have a Daniel Jones problem. The team signed its quarterback selected sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft to a four-year, $160 million extension last offseason. 

Jones struggled in 2023, throwing two touchdowns to six interceptions in six starts before a torn ACL ended his season. His 2022 run in which he had the lowest interception rate (1.1%) in the NFL appears to be an aberration and not the new normal. However, the Giants would incur a $69 million dead cap charge if they cut Jones this offseason. That number decreases to a much more palatable $22 million charge in the 2025 offseason.

New York clearly needs a successor for Jones, and by the time he will likely be shown the door in 2025, the Giants could have an improved cast of playmakers available for Rattler. 

4. Denver Broncos (76th overall pick)

The Denver Broncos need to resolve their quarterback situation, and it will likely be without Russell Wilson. Head coach Sean Payton benched him for the final two games of the season after he and the Broncos front office threatened to sit him down earlier in the year because of tensions regarding his $37 million injury guarantee in 2024. 

Even if Wilson returns in 2024, it's clear Denver would prefer to move on from Wilson sooner rather than later. Rattler could be nice developmental pick in the third round to groom to become their quarterback in 2025. Prior to a tough 2023 in Denver, Payton coaxed successful quarterback play out of Jameis Winston and Teddy Bridgewater in place of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees when in New Orleans. Perhaps he can be the coach to get the most out of a passer who was once deemed to have blue-chip potential. 

3. Las Vegas Raiders (77th overall pick)

Whomever becomes the next full-time quarterback for the Raiders has the gift of being able to throw to three-time First-Team All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. Las Vegas unsuccessfully toggled between Jimmy Garoppolo (who they will release), Brian Hoyer and 2023 fourth-round pick Aidan O'Connell.

Rattler possesses more arm talent than O'Connell, and he could very well beat him out to be the team's Week 1 starter if chosen in the third round. New Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce was Arizona State's recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach when the Sun Devils offer Rattler a scholarship back in high school. Pierce likely also saw plenty of Rattler's prep school games in person because the quarterback attended Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, about 25 miles from Arizona State's campus. 

That familiarity could bode well for Rattler in Vegas. 

2. Seattle Seahawks (78th overall pick)

Seattle currently has stability at quarterback. Geno Smith earned consecutive Pro Bowl appearances as their starter, and he played like a top-five quarterback in 2022. The three-year, $75 million deal he signed with the Seahawks in the 2023 offseason will expire after his age-35 season in 2025. 

That could be the perfect time for Rattler to replace him as the Seahawks' long-term starter. Pro Bowl wideout DK Metcalf and 2023 first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba are a talented one-two punch, and both could very well still be on the roster by then. New offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb had Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. looking like the best quarterback in college football at times throughout the 2023 season. 

Rattler could get plenty of seasoning in a quarterback-friendly environment before becoming a starter in his third NFL season. 

1. Atlanta Falcons (74th overall pick)

The Falcons have a lot of offensive talent. Their eighth overall pick in 2023, running back Bijan Robinson, totaled the most scrimmage yards (1,463) by a rookie in team history. That total also ranked as second-most in the league among rookies last season, trailing only Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua and his 1,575 yards from scrimmage. 

Atlanta also has uber-talented pass-catchers in wide receiver Drake London (the eighth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft) and tight end Kyle Pitts (the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft). Up front, two-time Pro Bowl right guard Chris Lindstrom graded out as Pro Football Focus' top guard with an 89.7 PFF offensive grade. 

All they need is a quarterback. Desmond Ridder, who produced the fourth-lowest expected points added per play among 32 qualified quarterbacks in 2023, isn't the answer. Perhaps Rattler can achieve his five-star recruit ceiling by playing in an offense thoroughly equipped with fellow high-level talent.