PHILADELPHIA – Three quarterbacks were taken with the first 12 picks of the 2017 NFL Draft, with all three teams trading up in order to select who they hope will be their franchise quarterback of the future. Mitch Trubisky (Bears, No. 2), Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs, No. 10), and Deshaun Watson (Texans, No. 12) all come into the league facing immense pressure in very different situations.
Trubisky will sit a year on a bad Bears team behind Mike Glennon — signed this offseason to a 1-year deal — before being the presumptive starter in 2018, if not given a chance late in 2017. Mahomes comes into a playoff team from a year ago and will sit behind Alex Smith, who has two more seasons left on his contract, but there is an out clause prior to 2018. Watson also joins a playoff team, but he will battle for the starting job immediately with Brandon Weeden and Tom Savage.
These three quarterbacks — along with other early round picks like DeShone Kizer of the Browns — now face one of the toughest challenges in pro sports, the transition to being an NFL quarterback. A new system with new verbiage awaits them at rookie camp, along with a faster game and tighter throwing windows. There’s only so much a quarterback can do on his own to get ready for this new challenge, and the fit between the quarterback and their new coaching staff and team culture has so much to do with how successful they can be.
Speaking with former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, the No. 5 overall pick in 1999, prior to Thursday night’s first round, we discussed what goes in to making a good fit for these quarterbacks and how teams and coaches must adapt to their new quarterback as much as the quarterback adapts to the team in order to be successful.