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10 Quarterbacks with the Most To Prove In 2022

One season is enough time to change a variety of realities and perceptions around the NFL. And that's particularly relevant to the quarterback position, considering the scrutiny around the most important position in football. One year ago, for instance, Baker Mayfield was the face of the Cleveland Browns, the Carolina Panthers believed they could build around Sam Darnold, there were significant doubts over Matthew Stafford, and Carson Wentz tried to rebuild his value with the Indianapolis Colts. All these scenarios don't exist anymore, and other ones will be different a year from now.

Therefore, let's talk which NFL quarterbacks have the most to prove in the upcoming 2022 season...

1) Tua Tagovailoa

Tua was drafted over Justin Herbert in the 2020 NFL Draft, a decision that doesn't seem very smart in retrospect. But the Miami Dolphins quarterback will have, in 2022, the best chance of his professional career so far. In his rookie year, Tua was in and out of the lineup, and the coaching staff was more inclined to use veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Last season, Tua started 12 games, but he played under the worst offensive line in the NFL. Now, there are high expectations over new head coach Mike McDaniel and the new additions on the offensive side of the ball — especially wide receiver Tyreek Hill, left tackle Terron Armstead, and guard Connor Williams. While it's Tua's best chance to succeed, it's also the highest level of pressure he has endured. If he isn't able to play at a premier level with so many weapons, the Dolphins might move on quickly — in 2023, maybe, but perhaps even sooner, since the team signed experienced quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to be the backup.

2) Baker Mayfield

The perception around Mayfield changed almost completely in the last two years. In 2020, he had the best season of his career and led the Cleveland Browns to their first playoff win since 1994 — the first one ever by the new Browns franchise, which started playing in 1999. His performance was good enough to justify the Browns taking his fifth-year option, but not to guarantee a long-term extension. And, in 2021, he imploded. A torn labrum injury suffered in week 2 started to lower his performance, and it got significantly worse since week 6, when Mayfield reaggravated the shoulder problem. The quarterback finished the season with 17 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions in 14 games, and the Browns decided to move on when they had the chance to acquire Deshaun Watson. Now with the Carolina Panthers, Mayfield will have the task to secure the starting job over Sam Darnold and rookie Matt Corral, but also an opportunity to restore his value and go back to the market next offseason.

3) Jalen Hurts

Hurts enters his second season as the Philadelphia Eagles starter. Last year was perceived as a prove-it time for him. The quarterback played well enough to get another chance, but not so good to establish himself as a long-term solution. The Eagles acquired New Orleans Saints next year’s first-round pick, so it's evident that general manager Howie Roseman is armed to find a replacement if needed. Jalen Hurts can't complain about weapons. After drafting Devonta Smith last year, the Eagles traded for rising star AJ Brown, forming one of the most promising young wide receiver duos in the NFL. Now, it's time for Hurts to take advantage of it — or he'll be looking for a new team in 2023.

4) Derek Carr

Carr might be the current perfect example of a middle-of-the-pack quarterback. A team probably can win with him, but not necessarily because of him. But he has played at a good level, and nothing is better to improve your chances in this case than adding the best wide receiver in the league. Reunited with his friend Davante Adams (they played together at Fresno State), Carr has an opportunity to enter the top-10 conversation and help the Las Vegas Raiders compete in an absurdly competitive AFC West.

5) Jameis Winston

At some point, we have to understand that Winston is what he is: a talented, prolific passer, but also a turnover-prone player. If the team is able to limit Winston's volume, he might be more efficient, and the New Orleans Saints did exactly that in 2021, but in a limited sample size. Now, Winston comes back from an ACL injury and doesn't have head coach Sean Payton to call his plays anymore. Under offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Winston will need to produce and limit turnovers to prove he can be the long-time answer - and the Saints don't have many alternatives, because New Orleans traded their next year's first-round pick to have two ones this year and didn't draft a quarterback.

6) Ryan Tannehill

Throughout his NFL career, Tannehill has been particularly dependent on what's around him. Therefore, it's not a surprise that he had two and a half very good years with the Tennessee Titans, and his production fell off a cliff in 2021 when AJ Brown, Julio Jones, and Derrick Henry missed games because of injuries. In 2022, the Titans' receiving core will be a lesser version, with Robert Woods and rookie Treylon Burks as the primary options. Tannehill will have to elevate them in order for the team to be really competitive, and for him to prove his individual value.

7) Mitchell Trubisky

Trubisky entered the NFL as a highly-touted quarterback. Former Chicago Bears' general manager Ryan Pace (fairly) takes a lot of heat for taking him over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, but most draft analysts also had Trubisky as QB1 in that draft class at the time. After one year as a backup in Buffalo, he has the first chance of his career to start out of Chicago - where John Fox and Matt Nagy were his head coaches. First, though, he'll have to compete for the starting job with first-round rookie Kenny Pickett, who was drafted so early exactly because of a perception that he's ready to start right away. For Trubisky, it might be his last chance to prove he can be a starter in the NFL.

8) Trevor Lawrence

Lawrence was the highest-regarded QB prospect since Andrew Luck, but his first year was as bad as it could be. Much of it was on Jacksonville Jaguars' inability to be decent, including a historically bad Urban Meyer tenure on and off the field. Lawrence has shown some flashes, though, and now he'll play under Super Bowl champion head coach Doug Pederson, a stabilizing force and a good offensive mind. If Lawrence has another bad season, it'll be fair to start having some concerns about what he can truly be in the league.

9) Trey Lance

The San Francisco 49ers used three first-round picks to replace a quarterback who had taken them to the Super Bowl two years earlier. And that same quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, was able to achieve the NFCCG again last season. But the truth is that Garoppolo was more a cart than a horse, and Lance will have the opportunity to be a full-time starter. In his rookie year, Lance started two games and played in six total, showing both his promising arm talent and a concerning lack of accuracy. If he is what the 49ers thought he would be, Lance can take the team to another level with his high ceiling and running ability. Otherwise, the 49ers may take a huge step back, for the lack of both a good quarterback and draft resources.

10) Zach Wilson

If you look at most of the quarterback stats from last season, it's probable that you will read Zach Wilson's name frequently. In 2022, he is going to be in his second year in the NFL and under Mike LaFleur's offensive system. Moreover, to help Wilson, the New York Jets have added first-round wide receiver Garrett Wilson, second-round running back Breece Hall, and free agent tight ends CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. He'll lead a significantly better unit, but also will have to show individual improvement to justify his draft stock — and solidify his place as a future franchise quarterback.

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Mike Hurley
Mike Hurley
2022년 7월 25일

Love the Jimmy G. analysis. I think Carr is better than you give him credit for.

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