Welcome to another edition of Who Will Be the Most Memorable! Today we are dissecting one of younger starting QB divisions: the NFC West. Are these fresh-faced gunslingers going to lead their respective teams to multiple championships? Or will they crumble under the pressure that comes with being an NFL quarterback? Who’s going to make a name for themselves and etch it into the history books for all to remember? Let’s find out!
In our 3rd divisional stop around the NFL, we head out west to historic San Francisco, the bright lights of L.A. (they will always be St Louis to me), the 12th man, and the desert. Our featured QBs this time around? The high-salary former understudy of a future hall of famer, 2 former #1 overall draft picks, and the divisional veteran with a Super Bowl ring.
As a dual-threat style QB in high school without standout numbers, Garoppolo flew under the radar for big-name college programs. Enter the Eastern Illinois Panthers. EIU saw potential in the Garoppolo and even handed him the starting QB job early into his Freshman year at the school. An underwhelming stat line was the result as Garoppolo would pass for just over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns, his rushing game was practically non-existent. In his second year of the EIU system, Garoppolo improved his numbers as he was the starting QB day 1 this time around. He would go on to pass for over 2,600 yards and 20 touchdowns but once again, he was no longer a dual-threat. Garoppolo’s junior season saw him finish 10th on the Walter Peyton Award ballet because of his performance for the Panthers. He would pass for over 3,800 yards and 31 touchdowns while adding another 200 yards with his legs, still not much in terms of rushing. At this point, it is safe to say Garoppolo would not be rushing for over 500 yards a season and 7 TDs like he was back in high school. During his senior year, Garoppolo would take college football by storm by becoming one of the very few QBs to ever pass for over 5,000 yards and at least 50 touchdowns in a single season. His performance as a senior put him on the map for NFL draft scouts and come time for the 2014 NFL draft, Garoppolo knew his name would be called. And indeed it was, as Garoppolo was selected in the second round (62nd overall) by the New England Patriots. Whereas fellow draft classmates Blake Bortles (3rd overall), Johnny Manziel (22nd overall), Teddy Bridgewater (31st overall), and Derek Carr (36th overall) were all given the starting job for their respective teams, Garoppolo would be the backup for this guy named Tom Brady. Garropolo would play sparingly in his time in New England, with his playing time coming thanks to “Deflategate” and a Tom Brady suspension. Halfway through the 2015 season, the San Francisco 49ers apparently saw all that needed to because they offered the Patriots a trade for Garoppolo. Garoppolo would then re-sign with the 49ers for a then record-breaking deal that would give Garoppolo around $27.5 million a season to be the face of the franchise. A deal that completely stunned the NFL and its fans, why would a QB that has barely played get a contract like that? Well, Garoppolo proved the doubters wrong by leading the 49ers to a 5-0 undefeated start before an injury knocked him out for the remainder of the season. Looking to pick up where he left off, Garoppolo returned for the start of the 2018 season and underwhelmed in 3 games before another injury ended his season prematurely. Once again Garoppolo looks to return from injury to the lead the 49ers prior to the 2019 season. Will his luck change? Or is Garoppolo just some guy that swindled the 49ers? He has less than 3,000 passing yards and only 17 touchdown passes in his injury-riddled 5-year career.
And with the 1st overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals select Kyler Murray, Center Field, Oakland A’s. Wait, what? That’s right, Murray was actually drafted 9th overall in the MLB draft prior to his Heisman winning season at Oklahoma that led to him being drafted #1 overall by the Cardinals. Murray nearly was a baseball player and his football career was actually looking quite bleak thanks in part to his rough start as a freshman at Texas A&M. He would then sit out the 2016 season because of the transfer protocol and then proceed to sit and watch Oklahoma starting QB Baker Mayfield go on to win the Heisman. Mayfield would go on to be drafted #1 overall in 2018, setting the bar for Murray. A bar that Murray would go on to match by repeating the award-winning season and being selected #1 overall. While in college, Murray passed for over 5,400 yards and had 50 touchdown passes to go with his over 1,400 career rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Murray will look to be the face of the Cardinals for many years to come… unless he leaves to go play baseball.
Another dual-sport and dual-threat QB mans this division as Russell Wilson enters his 8th season as the Seahawks starting quarterback. While in college at NC State, Wilson played baseball as a second baseman while also starting at QB for the football team. Wilson was never an amazing baseball talent, but he was able to get 2 professional seasons under his belt in which he batted .229 with 5 home runs. Back to football now! In his 3 years as the NC State starting QB, Wilson was as good as it gets. He threw for over 8,500 yards, had 76 touchdown passes, over 1,000 rushing yards, 17 rushing touchdowns, and only 26 interceptions. Due to Wilson trying his hand at pro baseball, he still had 1 year of college football eligibility left, granted that he must transfer to a new school in order to play. Prior to the 2011 season, a highly recruited Wilson decided to transfer to Wisconsin and become their starting quarterback. While at Wisconsin for his senior year, Wilson threw for over 3,000 yards, had 33 touchdown pass, rushed for over 300 yards with 6 touchdowns, and all while rarely turning the ball over. Wilson did it all in college and was essentially the #1 rated QB in the ACC during his tenure at NC State and the #1 QB in the BIG10 while at Wisconsin. With stats like his, you would think Wilson would be drafted highly in the NFL draft, but he wasn’t. In the 2012 NFL draft, Wilson fell to the 3rd round and was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks (75th overall). Wilson reportedly fell in the draft because of his slender build and the fact that he wasn’t “NFL QB height” standing at 5’11. Wilson would go on to start game 1 of his rookie season for the Seahawks and he has not missed a game since. Currently, on a 112 game starting streak, Wilson is the next closet QB to Brett Favre’s record. The 5x pro bowler has been a constant ontop the leaderboards and has already won a Super Bowl in his career. If that was not enough, Wilson is yet to have a losing season. With over 25,600 passing yards (70th all-time) and 196 passing touchdowns (tied 45th all-time), Wilson has a chance to surpass a combined 10+ hall-of-fame QBs on the leaderboards with a solid 2019 campaign. Not to mention Wilson currently sits 7th all-time in rushing yards by a QB with 3,651 yards. Is the continued success of Russell Wilson a given at this point?
A former top high school prospect, Jared Goff elected to remain local and go to his hometown school, the University of California, for his college career. From day 1, Goff was the starter for the PAC12 powerhouse and he shined on the field. At the time, people were questioning the NCAA rule that forced football players to be 2 years removed from high school before entering the NFL draft. Goff was that talented of a prospect. Ultimately, Goff decided to play at Cal for 3 seasons before foregoing his senior season for the NFL. In his collegiate career, Goff tallied over 12,000 passing yards and 96 passing touchdowns. Both amounts place him in 5th place for the PAC12 all-time and he did it in only 3 seasons. He could have continued on but the NFL was calling his name. And what do you know, an L.A team has the 1st overall pick. The hometown kid gets drafted #1 overall by the now Los Angelas Rams (St. Louis Rams last season) and Goff will get to play high school, college, and pro football in California. If you read my NFC East article, you know that Goff did not start for the Rams until halfway through the season. Goff was told to sit and learn behind journeyman and bridge QB, Case Keenum. Ultimately the Rams went to their top pick halfway through the year and Goff went 0-7 as a starter for the team. Goff struggled mightily, as he threw more INTs than touchdowns (5-7) and barely reached the 1,000 passing yards mark. Thankfully for both Goff and the Rams, he put his rookie season behind him and was the star he was destined to be in his next to seasons. Over the next to years, Goff would lead the Rams to the playoffs twice, get selected for the pro bowl twice, pass for over 8,400 yards and throw 60 touchdowns. Goff currently sits in 194th place on the all-time passing yards list and is tied for 178th place on the all-time touchdown passes list. Ahead of the 2019 season, Goff is just getting started, his Rams team looks poised to be the top threat in the division and conference, and he looks to be a star for many years to come.
Who will we remember and forget?
Another division completed! What do we think happens to these quarterbacks? Will Wilson break Favre’s consecutive starts record AND Michael Vicks rushing record? Will Garoppolo live up to his contract? Which former #1 overall pick will be better, Goff or Murray? But, most importantly, who will remember 20 years from now and who will be long forgotten? Let me know in the comments down below!
Statistics courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and sports-reference.com