Last season was all sorts of exciting for NFL fans. From the Philadelphia Eagles mounting one of their best runs in recent times, to the Kansas City Chiefs once again reaching the cusp of the league, winning their second Super Bowl title in four years, and many other feats, there was no shortage of thrills.
Above all though, while Geno Smith’s redemption season with the Seattle Seahawks could easily take the cake as the best feel-good story of 2022, there is another that most, if not all fans can agree beats Smith’s journey. QB Brock Purdy’s ascent from being last year’s draft “Mr. Irrelevant” to becoming a bonafide star for the San Francisco 49ers caused shockwaves.
Imagine going from being the last overall pick to a pivotal piece for San Francisco’s push to the NFC title game. If Purdy had won the Super Bowl, we would already be talking about a movie being made and the Golden Gate Bridge changing its name to the Purdy Bridge.
For some reason though, in this year’s NFL draft the idea of finding the “Next Purdy” became an actual thing. In the hopes of landing QB gold within the latter rounds of the draft, a myriad of teams, including some that don’t really need any sort of help in their passing room like the Eagles, Chargers, and Browns decided to take the plunge and draft a QB.
Day 3 of the draft saw a run that could only be attributed to Purdy’s success. With nine QBs selected on said day alone, the message across the league was made crystal clear. Everyone is looking for that new passing diamond in the rough.
Why I don’t know if it’s just me thinking out loud, but the chances of seeing a new version of the “Purdy effect” this season are as high as the chances of seeing me suit up for the Jets in Week 1. It could happen because in life you never know, but spoiler alert, IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
With this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant” title going to Desjuan Johnson, a DE from Toledo, picked by the LA Rams, let’s break down how in this year’s QB class, expecting another “Purdy Effect” is not a good plan.
Last Year’s QB Class Wasn’t Good. This Year’s Is Better but Not Substantially
Fourteen quarterbacks, including three within the first four picks were picked this year. That’s five more than last year, where the QB class could easily be remembered as lackluster if we’re being fair.
Besides Kenny Pickett, who has settled into his position as starting passer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Purdy, who is en route to becoming San Francisco’s starting QB this season, no other QB from last year’s draft looks like they’ll be gaining any momentum, or strong playing time in 2023. Look at Tennessee’s Malik Willis, for example.
After being drafted to be the Titans’ solution to an eventual Ryan Tannehill departure, Willis now looks ready to become the team’s third passer, especially after Tennessee decided to take Kentucky’s Will Levis in the second round last week.
Why teams think the answer to there not being enough quality passers in the league involves stuffing QB rooms with more prospects is baffling. Yes, it offers the team a buffer to develop players in the hopes of finding that next “Purdyesque” player, but what if it all ends up going South for all parties? Where does that leave the up-and-coming rookies and the teams looking for an unexpected savior?
There’s Not Another Purdy in that Bunch
As a friend told me Tuesday “Sean Clifford has a better chance of playing LB in the NFL than QB.” And we’re talking about a passer that was picked before the likes of Max Duggan, the QB who led TCU to last year’s CFP final. If that doesn’t give you a clue of how “blah” the heftier part of this year’s QB draft class looks, let me paint another picture.
Stetson Bennett and Hendon Hooker. What do they both have in common? They’re both entering the league after playing in two of the best college football programs in the land, Georgia and Tennessee, respectively. What else do they have in common? They’re each entering the league at 25 years of age. To put it in perspective, Purdy is 23, Jalen Hurts is 24, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow are 26, and Mahomes? The two-time Super Bowl winner is 27.
Age should never be a factor to measure career success, but it does influence greatly when you enter a league as competitive as the NFL at a more mature stage of your playing days. To put it in perspective, while Bennett and Hooker were still in college, Mahomes and Jackson had already won MVP trophies, Hurts and Burrow had already played in a Super Bowl, and Allen and Purdy had led their teams to conference title games.
Talk about entering a crowded room full of overachievers, huh?
And not to throw any shade here, but come on. I think we can all agree on the fact that this year’s QB class isn’t that good. Yes, it’s a step up from last year, but that step stops at Anthony Richardson, and for some, that might be a stretch. From Levis all the way down to Duggan, the last QB selected in this year’s draft, I find it difficult to see anybody who can mirror Purdy’s success this season.
From the looks of it, time will end up proving me right, as we wait for 2024 and the arrival of Caleb Williams and Drake Maye to the league.