Every NFL season, superstars rise, whether expected or not. In 2016, Jay Ajayi and Terrelle Pryor came out of nowhere with huge breakout performances. 2017 will be no different. There will be breakouts no one expected, but there will also be those who just needed a year or two to get their footing in the league. Here are my favorite quarterbacks who are on the brink of superstardom.
Note: Let’s keep the rookie’s out of it, and focus on NFL players looking to make a big jump this season.
At this point, there is really no excuse for Marcus Mariota not to solidify himself as a top 10 quarterback in the NFL this season. With an elite offensive line, a two-headed monstrous backfield, and a plethora of weapons at his disposal, Marcus Mariota may even be in MVP talks by season’s end. Just look at his supporting cast:
Demarco Murray–The Lightning
Derrick Henry– The Thunder
Rishard Matthews– The Deep Threat
Corey Davis– The Talent
Eric Decker– Touchdown Extraordinair
Taywon Taylor– The Silent Slot
Delanie Walker– The Trusty Vet
If he can get past his broken leg in 2016 and take full advantage of the talent around him, Mariota will begin his push toward that elite conversation in the years to come. I must say, being a Texans fan could not be scarier.
I may be a season too soon, but Jameis Winston may be ready to blow in 2017. This year, Winston will go from having a single legitimate offensive weapon in Mike Evans, to having possibly five: Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard, and Cameron Brate. When compared to Mariota, the remaining talent around Winston is far inferior, but Winston is always more than ready to force the offense forward. Most already expect the Buccaneers to bust the NFC South wide open, but I think it will be explicitly because Jameis “Crab-Legs” Winston ripped that offense loose. Bold prediction: Jameis Winston begins his reign as the NFC South’s best quarterback by season’s end.
(Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
Here is your sneaky MVP candidate folks. Yes. I have to say it: YOU LIKE THAT!? Hear me out. Cousins quietly nudged himself into the elite quarterback conversation in 2016; he ranked 7th in Passer Rating, 6th in QBR, 8th in Completion Percentage, 3rd in Passing Yards, and 5th in 4th Quarter comebacks with 4. Now add a healthy Jordan Reed, a healthy Josh Doctson, and newcomer Terrelle Pryor. Cousins has all the firepower needed to really explode in the nation’s capital. And come on, there is always a surprise team in the NFC East year after year. Kirk Cousins’s franchise tag holdout may be worth every gamble and unwanted news-story. In fact, he may end up being the highest paid quarterback in the NFL in 2018, especially if he makes a push for the MVP. Hint: He has another breakout candidate on his offense.
Honorable Mention: Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor