NFL Insiders predict future – Best rookie quarterback, team, best defender for future

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Our panel of ESPN NFL Insiders is looking ahead this week, identifying teams and players poised to dominate over the next few years. They’ll answer a question every day.

Monday’s question: Thirteen quarterbacks were drafted this year, including five in the opening round. Which one is in the best spot?


Which rookie QB is best positioned for long-term success?

Matt Bowen, NFL writer: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns. The No. 1 overall pick most likely will sit at the start of the 2018 season, but this is about long-term success. That’s why I’m looking at how Mayfield’s game meshes with today’s progressive NFL offenses. He’s an accurate thrower with a quick release and the intangibles needed to lead a pro team.

KC Joyner, NFL writer: Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh Steelers. Unlike every other team that has one of the star rookie quarterbacks, the Steelers don’t ask their field general to be a savior. They know how to surround their passer with top-flight skill position talent and know how to build strong offensive blocking walls. Rudolph also should have the luxury of time before he ends up taking over for Ben Roethlisberger.

Aaron Schatz, editor-in-chief of Football Outsiders: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens. I trust Baltimore’s coaching staff more than I trust the other coaching staffs that were handed first-round quarterbacks this season. I also trust the Ravens to put a defense on the field that will keep Jackson from having to carry the team early in his career, and special teams that will constantly give him advantageous field position.

Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals. Coaching and roster talent are critical factors in long-term success, but nothing is more important than individual skill. Based on scouts’ assessments, Rosen is the best decision-maker and the most accurate passer in this year’s draft class. The Cardinals’ roster looks bare at the moment, but offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has a history of making the most of the talent available.

Field Yates, NFL Insider: Sam Darnold, New York Jets. There are so many factors that play into a young quarterback’s development and eventual success, many of which are unpredictable at this juncture. So let’s go with the player who — entering the draft — I felt was most capable long term. Darnold could provide the stability Jets fans have long coveted at quarterback.

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