Every now and then, a player comes along who stands right out against the rest. In the NFL, it’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. For the last two decades, Brady has been the sport’s main man, and he’s been a starting quarterback for 20 full-time seasons.
During his time in the sport, he’s chalked up a long, long list of records, including the most Super Bowl appearances (10), most Super Bowl wins (7), and most Super Bowl MVPs (5). He’s also the only player to beat all 32 NFL teams, so he’s a hard act to follow. But when Brady retires, the NFL is going to need a new star, a new icon. Below is a look at some of the up-and-coming players who could step into those very difficult shoes to fill.
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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett got off to a fine start as a freshman with the Panthers when he led them to victory against Miami in his first and only start of the season. The next season he started all 14 games. He was a full-time starter as a junior as well.
Pickett is a good overall athlete and has a decent overall size for the quarterback position, and he boasts above-average arm strength, showing touches of ability to drive the ball when he’s in rhythm and is able to anticipate throws. He’s competitive, will scramble hard for a few extra yards and he’s not scared of taking a hit, which is a source of motivation for his teammates, who also feel less concerned about being on the receiving end of hits. On top of all this, he displays a good understanding of NFL concepts.
Now a quarterback with the New England Patriots, Mac Jones played his college football for the University of Alabama for Nick Saban. Initially, though, he’d committed to Kentucky after a successful high school season at The Bolles School in Jacksonville. As a starting quarterback in 2020, he led the Crimson Tide to a perfect 13-0 campaign. This culminated in a 52-24 win over Ohio State in the national championship, which followed a Rose Bowl win over Notre Dame.
Jones operates the offense with immense precision. He throws on time and accurately, and can process players quickly and change angles depending on the position. In the 2021 regular season, he started all 17 games and was clearly the rookie quarterback of the year. He’s tough and athletic and is a strong contender to replace Tom Brady as the poster boy for the NFL. There’s been talk of him entering NFL’s “elite” and becoming one of the top 10 quarterbacks in 2022. In fact, if you’re into betting on check out NFL futures and their odds, you might even fancy Mac Jones to make a few records this season.
The future looks bright for Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, who the team selected in the first round of the 2021 draft. Fields led Ohio State to the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship. Previously he’d been the backup quarterback at Georgia, where he’d first enrolled before transferring to Ohio State.
Fields is dynamic, and is able to throw powerfully and accurately at all three levels. He keeps his eyes downfield constantly while employing his athleticism to make rushers miss in the pocket and create yards with his legs. All quarterback run-game concepts are there with him, and when play breaks down, he’s able to extend it. Although in the past he’s been on the end of stinging criticism for holding on to the ball too long, he’s worked on this, and the ball goes out on time from him. Also Read – Philanthropic Athletes: 3 of the Most Charitable NFL Players
Trevor Lawrence, the quarterback with the Jacksonville Jaguars, came to college football as the modern game’s hottest prospect. He didn’t disappoint. As a freshman, he led the Clemson Tigers to a College Football National Playoff Championship, their second in three years. Everyone knew just how much potential he offered, and today he’s a big, big contender to become NFL’s new icon.
Lawrence has athletic ability, great size, and elite-level pocket passing abilities that make him dangerous and unpredictable on downs. He has explosive play outside of the pocket and is highly improvisational… much more so than many quarterbacks who have come through quarterback camp circuits from an early age. He still has room for improvement, as 2020 proved when he had to make decisions and be accurate, which all took a hit when he had to work under pressure. Even so, Lawrence could be huge in 2022.
Tom Brady has been a massive part of the NFL for two decades, and when he retires, the sport will need a new icon. Those are big shoes to fill, but don’t surprise if the up-and-coming quarterbacks become the NFL’s next biggest star. They have the talent to be so.