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Which Second-Year Quarterback Will Have The Most Success: Watson, Trubisky, Or Mahomes?

AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith

Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky, and Patrick Mahomes were all taken in the first round of the 2017 draft. Who will have the most success in 2018?

The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft delivered three rising stars at the quarterback position in Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky, and Patrick Mahomes. Although none of them opened the season as the unquestioned starter, all were able to climb the depth chart and earn at least one starting opportunity.

When given the chance, Watson played at an MVP-level (before a torn ACL ended his season), Trubisky made optimistic strides with the Bears, and Mahomes gave Kansas City enough confidence in his one start for them to move on from Alex Smith, who was traded to the Redskins.

With free agency and the draft looming, followed by the fast-approaching 2018 season, let’s analyze and predict which of these three signal callers will have the most success in their second season.

Deshaun Watson

Probably the most popular pick in this scenario, Watson was putting up ridiculous numbers that placed him in the center of MVP discussions before his season came to an abrupt end, following a non-contact injury in practice. The injury was completely devastating for Texans’ fans, who were already reeling from season-ending injuries to city hero J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

In the six games he started, Watson threw for 1,597 yards, 19 touchdowns, and just eight interceptions, while completing 63% of his passes. He also added an additional 269 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries.

There was a lot of skepticism surrounding Watson about whether his decision-making would make a smooth transition from college to pro-level. However, the dual-threat quarterback showed no such limitations and was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. And even though the Texans (4-12 in 2017) were just 3-3 with Watson under center, their three losses were all narrow and came at the hands of the Patriots, Chiefs, and Seahawks, who all finished the season with a record above .500. 

Houston appears to have found their franchise quarterback and should contend for a playoff spot in 2018, barring any serious injuries, .

Mitchell Trubisky

Many questioned the Bears’ decision to move up just one spot in the draft and take Trubisky with the second overall pick, at the expense of two 2017 draft picks (a third- and a fourth-round) and a 2018 third-round pick. This also happened just six weeks after Chicago dumped $45 million over three years into an unproven, inconsistent quarterback in Mike Glennon.

Nevertheless, the Bears rolled the dice with Trubisky, and while he struggled with accuracy, consistency, and turnovers, Trubisky showed a slight improvement in those areas down the stretch.

The key for Trubisky as he enters his second season is going to be proving that he can lead Chicago’s offense without relying so much on the run game. In 12 starts, he averaged only 183 passing yards per game while throwing just seven touchdowns, as the Bears were often heavily dependent on their two-man backfield of Jordan Howard and rookie Tarik Cohen. Although his minimal improvement provides Chicago with optimism for the future, it’s tough to foresee such a drastic change that would place him at the top of this list of signal callers.

Patrick Mahomes

Mahomes’ one start, a 27-24 win over the Broncos in which he threw for 284 yards and an interception, was sufficient to convince Andy Reid and company that he is their quarterback for the future. The Chiefs took Mahomes with the tenth overall pick in the 2017 draft with the intention of allowing him to develop behind Smith. With Smith being dealt to Washington in exchange for a third-round pick in this year’s draft and promising cornerback Kendall Fuller, Mahomes is now thrust into the starting position.

Widely looked at as a low-floor prospect with a high ceiling, Mahomes has the tools (a strong arm, fearlessness, accuracy, and mobility) to be a successful quarterback in this league; however, he must improve his willingness to take what the defense gives him on certain plays. Despite the potential and excitement surrounding him as the season approaches, we just haven’t seen enough of Mahomes to expect better production than Watson.


All three of these second-year quarterbacks look to have bright futures, and are well on their way to long, prosperous NFL careers. All will presumably begin the 2018 season as starters, but the ultimate question is: who will have the most success? I like Deshaun Watson to not only have the most success of the first-round sophomore quarterbacks, but I also expect him to contend for the MVP award in his first full season under center.

Edited by Kat Johansen.

Where did Patrick Mahomes play college football?
Created 2/16/18
  1. Texas Tech
  2. Texas A&M
  3. Texas
  4. Houston

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