Five first-round picks.
Five starters for the rest of the 2019 season (if health holds).
Beyond that, the jury’s out on the great quarterback class of 2019.
Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson are all currently ”The Man” for their respective teams, with Dolphins coach Brian Flores confirming Wednesday that the Dolphins’ quarterback situation “is settled,” meaning the job indefinitely belongs to Rosen.
But can you yet say with any confidence that any of those five will be a perennial Pro Bowler? Or even with their current team in three years?
The doubters — some might say haters — are out in full force for Mayfield (who has an 8-10 record and 87.4 passer rating in his career) after a ragged start to 2019. Darnold (4-10, 78.3) has missed the past month with mono, but is well enough to start this week for the Jets. The Bills’ Allen (9-7, 70.4) right now is on the best team but his accuracy issues remain. Jackson (9-3, 91.6) has been the best of the bunch, and yet threw five interceptions in the last two weeks.
Then there’s Rosen, who is on his second NFL team, has won three games in 15 starts and through Week 5, is the league’s lowest-rated quarterback.
Again, not what most expected when this much-hyped group entered the league 18 months ago.
“Football is really hard, especially the NFL,” Rosen said. “There aren’t really any other leagues, so the best of the best is playing in this one. And it’s really hard.
“We’re all working and we’re all trying to improve and I think in today’s day and age we’re very sort of short-term focused and everybody’s drastic and abrupt and quick opinions on things when really it’s sort of about like a body of work,” he continued. “And I think we’re in the process of building that body of work. In that body of work I think a lot is someone’s mental fortitude to be able to stay steady even though all of you guys are reacting very aggressively to short-term ups and downs.”
There have been more downs than ups in Rosen’s short career. He is the only one of the five not still with the team that drafted him. And he wasn’t even the best quarterback on his own team a month ago; he lost the Dolphins’ training camp battle to Ryan Fitzpatrick, and took over only after Fitzpatrick struggled in the first two games.
The offense has been only marginally better since Rosen assumed the job, but not all of that is his fault. He has had several potential touchdown passes dropped by a young group of skill position players.
So has football been fun for him?
“I’m going to be honest: It’s never not been fun, but I definitely did have to ask myself a couple of those questions this offseason,” Rosen said. “’Cause I mean it did suck. But it’s part of it. It’s business. But the last couple of games since I’ve been on the field, even the preseason, getting on the field, you realize this is still the game I love to play.”
Pressed more about those introspective days during the offseason, when all signs pointed toward the Cardinals dumping the 10th overall pick after just one season, Rosen continued:
“Maybe it was for the first time, the opinions. I felt like there was a differing of opinions in the locker room I was in. And as much as you try to tune out the outside, it finds a way to get in. Whether it be your parents calling you and asking what’s this article or whatever. I mean yeah a lot of ups and a lot of downs.”
Coming this Sunday: The best chance at an up all season. The Dolphins host the 0-5 Redskins, who fired their coach Monday. Perhaps this is the week all that potential translates into high-level production.
“There is nothing better than sort of getting into that flow,” Rosen said. “That flow state. Kind of like when Steph [Curry] starts chucking up three and it seems like every on goes in, there is no better feeling in football then when you feel like you’re really ripping it in the game. And you just sort of feel like you can’t throw an incompletion.”