The first round of the 2014 NFL draft has come and gone, and between the star cornerbacks and linebackers, 3 teams saw promise in a crop of talented, dynamic, and exciting quarterbacks. The Jaguars, the Browns, and the Vikings all used a valuable first round pick to snag one, hoping that their leadership and on-field acumen will be the last piece of the puzzle to help a struggling team turn the corner. We here at KSK broke out our Krystal Ball (along with a bunch of Krystal hamburgers) to see how these picks turn out for the teams.
2014: After a completely manufactured quarterback controversy during the preseason, Blake Bortles starts at QB for the season opener. He throws for 427 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Dennard Robinson, who had won the starting spot during the offseason, rushes for 102 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown dive. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch immediately revamps the playbook, opting for a new strategy tethered around a running attack led by Robinson. Bortles finishes the season with 834 passing yards, and Dennard Robinson tears his ACL. The Jaguars finish last in the league.
2015: Chad Henne is given back the starting spot due to low production from Bortles, despite the fact that the Jaguars have not called a downfield pass play in the past 14 regular season games. After Henne is knocked out of a game with a concussion, Bortles is sent in off the bench. To Fisch’s chagrin, Bortles immediately rebels against the entire screen-pass and iso-run playbook, opting instead to throw deep post and wheel route passes on every play. During this game, Bortles shatters single-game passing yardage and touchdown records. Bortles is immediately suspended indefinitely from the team for insubordination.
2016: Blake Bortles hits free agency. ESPN runs multiple programs where talking heads discuss the risks of bringing on Bortles because of character issues. Bortles is picked up by the Raiders as a 3rd string QB. Bortles retires at the end of the 2016 season.
2014: Teddy Bridgewater, after a promising preseason, is concussed in the 2nd quarter of his first regular season game. After Ponder comes in to finish out the game, Adrian Peterson turns on the afterburners and rushes for 5 touchdowns. Teddy Bridgewater starts the next game, and ends up building a strong relationship with Peterson, as he connects with Peterson for 2 receiving touchdowns on crossing and dig routes. The Vikings start the season off 5-0, and though the momentum does not continue through the rest of the season, the Vikings make the playoffs, though they are eliminated in the first round.
2015: The Vikings trade Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder to the 49ers for a first round pick, Blaine Gabbert, and Colin Kaepernick. The Vikings attempt to establish a 2-quarterback system in a college-style spread offense. Teddy Bridgewater struggles in the new system without his main weapon, and is phased out as Kaepernick takes more and more of the snaps. The dual-QB system does not work, and the Vikes are only able to win 3 games this season.
2016: Teddy Bridgewater is relegated to the bench, and does not see a start all season, despite promising snaps when Kaepernick is injured.
2017: Teddy Bridgewater is picked up by the Raiders as a 3rd string QB. Bridgewater retires at the end of the 2017 season.
2014: Johnny Manziel galvanizes the Cleveland Browns fanbase. He is a perfectly serviceable quarterback, ending the season with 25 passing touchdowns and 4,003 yards, but his charisma and personality causes the stadium to fill week after week with both Browns fans and former Texas A&M fans who travel to see him play. Although the Browns do not make the postseason, it is a promising season. Sports Illustrated runs an issue with Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel standing back-to-back on the cover with the headline “Beware the Browns”.
2015: After an incredibly productive season, Josh Gordon asks for a 7 million dollar contract extension. Jimmy Haslam and the Browns front office refuse, and trade Gordon to the 49ers, who go on to win the Super Bowl that year. Manziel is able to maintain production, but the fan excitement has died down without a playoff berth. ESPN talking heads wonder whether Manziel is good enough to lead the Browns to a playoff berth. As the season ends and the Browns miss the playoffs again, the fans turn on him, and his devil-may-care attitude that previously endeared him to Cleveland fans now raises questions about leadership, grit, and integrity.
2016: The fan backlash comes to a head, and when Manziel asks for a raise and a contract extension, Haslam and the Browns front office refuse, despite Manziel’s above-average production and continued dynamism on the field of play. Manziel is released and hits free agency, where he is picked up by the Raiders as a 2nd string QB. Manziel retires at the end of the 2016 season.