Apart from football being back, the best part about the start of NFL training camps are the summer battles. All 32 NFL teams will have to make important decisions regarding starters and order on the depth chart, but no position or starter is as important as the quarterback.
Last year, we had plenty of intriguing quarterback battles: Marcus Mariota vs. Desmond Ridder, Geno Smith vs. Drew Lock and Mitch Trubisky vs. Kenny Pickett. We don't have maybe as entertaining of QB battles entering 2023, but there are still notable competitions we need to keep an eye on.
Below, we will examine some of the quarterback battles going on around the league, and predict the victors.
Down in Tampa, we have a former No. 1 overall pick taking on a former second-round pick that has spent both of his two NFL seasons with the Buccaneers. That may give Trask a bit of an advantage when it comes to the playbook/offense, but he's taking on a quarterback who showed up to L.A. and led the Rams on a 98-yard game-winning drive in prime time just days after being acquired in 2022. Mayfield is a competitor.
It's true that Mayfield has struggled since parting ways with the Cleveland Browns, but he's likely the better -- and definitely more experienced -- quarterback in Tampa. Trask has played in one NFL game, Mayfield has played 72. Trask has attempted nine career passes, Mayfield has attempted 2,259. I say Baker starts Week 1, barring injury or something unforeseen. Lavonte David has already come out and said that Mayfield has been .
Whether this should be a quarterback battle or not is an interesting discussion, but in reality, I don't think the Colts believe their starting quarterback job is up for grabs. It's going to be Richardson.
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft put on a historic performance at the NFL Combine, but isn't exactly the most polished passer. Last season for the Florida Gators, Richardson completed 53.8 percent of his passes and averaged 212.4 passing yards per game. Richardson's 24 career passing touchdowns are the fewest by a first-round pick since Michael Vick in 2001, but with Shane Steichen as his coach, there's reason to be optimistic about his development -- even if there are some growing pains to work through at first.
This may be the most fascinating quarterback battle of the offseason. In one corner, we've got the former "Mr. Irrelevant," who stepped into the starting lineup as QB3 and led the 49ers to the doorstep of the Super Bowl before an injury knocked him out. In the other corners, we've got the former No. 3 overall pick, who the 49ers gave up two future first-round picks for, and another former No. 3 overall pick who the front office appears to be high on. And when I say high, I mean high. Kyle Shanahan asked aloud last week why Darnold can't be like Steve Young, and says he, "has ."
Purdy should be viewed as the favorite to win this job after his NFC Championship run last year, but he of course is coming back from an elbow injury suffered in said title game. There was a very overblown quote from an interview with Yahoo Sports this offseason in which Purdy said he wasn't sure if he was going to play at all in 2023. Well, three months after that interview, Purdy has , and is .
As for Lance, there was an interesting moment in April where NFL Media reported that the 49ers had NFL seasons, and has completed 54.9 percent of his passes for 797 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in eight total games played. Injuries have been a major part of the 23-year-old's career. Lance revealed last offseason that a finger injury affected his rookie campaign, causing him to throw the football differently, and he then suffered a broken ankle this past season.from several teams. Was San Francisco purposefully putting that information out there? He is 2-2 as a starter in his two
Darnold is a wild card in this situation, but it's hard not to lean toward Purdy in this quarterback battle unless he has some kind of medical setback. Check out:
"We were ready to go with Trey. And Trey was going to go through a lot (last) year, and I believe he would have gotten to a level where he did similar stuff (to Purdy). He missed that (chance). Brock came in and did it. Now, I truly believe Trey can go do that. But Brock's already done it. And that's a very good thing for us to have."
The 22-year-old Howell, who was selected in the fifth round out of UNC last year, entered the offseason as QB1, and is getting the first chance to prove to the Commanders coaching staff that he can be the quarterback of the future. The NFL world is naturally down on this relative unknown, but I think Howell honestly does deserve a shot after watching him in the preseason, and then of course in the impressive 26-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 18. Howell recorded his first NFL start in that game, and completed 11 of 19 passes for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and also rushed for another touchdown as well.
As for who he's up against, we shouldn't be quick to look past Brissett. He went 4-7 as the starter for the Browns in 2022, and completed a career-high 64 percent of his passes for 2,608 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Cleveland was top 12 in the league in points per game and yards per game with Brissett, and then Deshaun Watson came in and struggled. Another interesting stat regarding Brissett is that he had the second-most QB-sneak attempts (20) and conversions (17) behind Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles. At the very worst, Brissett is a great backup.
Brissett could look like a stud in the preseason if he's working with the second unit, but to me, Howell is the starter entering Week 1. I think the better question is who finishes the year as the Commanders quarterback? Not who starts it.