ESPN spoke to 50 NFL executives and coaches to answer one simple question:
“Who is the best quarterback selected in the 2019 NFL Draft?”
The top pick was easy — Kyler Murray is an incredibly talented player who was a top-10 quarterback inside the pocket last season. If he can improve when he’s forced outside, he’ll be the clear-cut favorite.
But how did Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew rank?
Not as high as you think.
4. Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: No. 178 | 2019 QBR: 42.6 (26th)
Stat to know from ESPN Stats & Information: Minshew became the only player in NFL history drafted after the third round to post 3,000 passing yards and 300 rushing yards as a rookie, and one of just three non-first-rounders (along with Russell Wilson in 2012 and Geno Smith in 2013) to achieve that feat.
Minshew has an edge that nearly earned him a top-three spot.
“He’s instinctual,” one NFL offensive coordinator said. “He found a way to make plays late in games for Jacksonville.”
Added an NFC exec: “He’s smart as hell. Isn’t the sexy pick to win starting jobs, but keeps winning them.”
That’s exactly what happened in 2020, when Minshew heard all offseason that he would be replaced by Cam Newton or Andy Dalton.
But the Jaguars really do like Minshew, whose 3.5 touchdown-to-interception ratio topped all rookies.
Jacksonville traded away many of its good players but still has enough to compete. Running back Leonard Fournette and receiver DJ Chark can be top-tier players for stretches of a season. Evaluators weren’t completely sold on Minshew’s arm strength and athleticism, but they believe he can win games with his savvy.
He’ll need it to master Jay Gruden’s West Coast terminology in short order.
“If you asked me whether I preferred to play Cam, Andy Dalton or Gardner, I’d say Gardner,” an NFL assistant coach said. “He’s younger, he can make plays when things aren’t perfect and he’s accurate.”
While I agree that Kyler was the best rookie quarterback last season, it’s hard to see Gardner all the way at No. 4 overall.
Daniel Jones and Drew Lock rank ahead of him and... well... I don’t know about that, y’all.
Let’s look at all the rookie quarterbacks who played meaningful snaps last year:
Gardner Minshew (6-6): 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns, 6 interceptions
Kyler Murray (5-10-1): 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Daniel Jones (3-9): 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Drew Lock (4-1): 1,020 yards, 7 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
Dwayne Haskins (2-5): 1,365 yards, 7 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
Ryan Finley (0-3): 474 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Jones and Lock both had two game-winning drives, Minshew had three.
Jones and Lock both had at least 2.0% interception ratios, Minshew was nearly half of that at 1.3%.
The two biggest knocks on Minshew was his limited ability within the pocket and his penchant for fumbles — something Jones and Lock did better in. But more of the evidence points Minshew’s way than either of Jones or Lock.
What do you think? Should Minshew be rated higher as a second-year quarterback going into the 2020 season? Or did ESPN get the right answer? Let us know in the comments below!