The five hottest NFL QB battles ahead of training camp

    Pro Football Focus ranking: Wilson 22nd, Fields unranked.  

    What they are saying “Despite being a more dynamic athlete [Fields] is far less developed as a passer than Wilson,” Yahoo senior writer Charles Robinson.

    Prediction: Wilson wins the job, but two or three bad games and the Steelers won’t hesitate to go with Fields. Either QB, however, should be a vast improvement over last year’s main starter, 2022 first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett, who threw for only 13 TDs in his only two seasons with the team. 

    2. Las Vegas Raiders | Gardner Minshew vs. Aidan O’Connell

    For the third straight year, Las Vegas will start a new quarterback on Week. 1.

    Minshew, who started for Indianapolis in 2023 after rookie Anthony Richardson’s injury, is coming off the best season of his career (3,305 passing yards 13 starts, 15 TD passes). He’s an elite bridge QB, but will his scrappy playing style impress enough to become a full-time starter?

    O’Connell, more of a true pocket passer, has a small leg up as the returning starter. In 10 starts last season, he threw for 2,218 yards and 12 TDs.

    Pro Football Focus ranking: O’Connell/Minshew 30th.  

    What they are sayingIn the three OTA practices open to the media, O’Connell has looked more comfortable and more precise in his passing, while Minshew, as advertised, has been more mobile,” ESPN Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez noted.

    Prediction: Minshew narrowly wins in camp, but O’Connell could be one bad game by his rival away from starting.

    3. Minnesota Vikings | J.J. McCarthy vs. Sam Darnold

    McCarthy, the 10th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, is one of the more pro-ready QBs to come into the league in a while. In a pro-style system under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, he thrived on money downs, converting 47 percent on third and fourth downs.

    Darnold, the insurance plan if McCarthy isn’t ready Week 1, is a journeyman, playing for his fourth team in five seasons. He hasn’t had a completion percentage over 61.9% in any of his six seasons in the NFL. 

    Mid-level throws and a quick passing game are Darnold’s bread and butter, and Minnesota head coach Kevin O’Connell is a master at calling those plays. Perhaps throwing to wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison and TE T.J. Hockenson will bring out the best in him.

    Pro Football Focus ranking: McCarthy/Darnold 31st  

    What they are saying “It’s going to be a competitive training camp, but we do have a plan for J.J., a long-term plan. We see him as our quarterback of the future,” O’Connell told NFL insider Rich Eisen.

    Prediction: McCarthy earns the job outright if he isn’t overwhelmed in camp.

    4. New England Patriots | Jacoby Brissett vs. Drake Maye

    Maye is an exciting prospect, but few think he’ll be ready to start Week 1. His size (6-foot-4 and 225 pounds) and arm strength can be intoxicating, but his lack of poise and poor decision-making can hurt him.

    In late April, former Patriots coach Bill Belichick called Maye a “freak athlete” but said the former North Carolina star has a tendency to rush things.

    “He’s going to need some work in reading defenses, reading coverages,” he said.

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