Can Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones be Week 1 starters?
This year's NFL draft was dominated by speculation about where the top quarterbacks might land. With the draft behind us, the real controversies begin.
The Bears, 49ers, and Patriots all spent their first-round picks on a quarterback, with the first two teams trading up to grab their franchise guy. Will any of those rookie signal-callers get the nod in Week 1, or will they have to wait longer to earn the job?
Here are the odds for the Week 1 starting quarterback for those three teams, along with our favorite early value in each spot.
When the Bears signed Andy Dalton to a one-year deal worth $10 million this offseason, it was with the understanding that he'd be the starting quarterback come Week 1 - even if the team drafted a signal-caller a month later. Yet now that the team has done exactly that, the rumors persist.
Once again, the word from the organization is that Dalton is the guy. General manager Ryan Pace reiterated that hours after drafting Justin Fields on Thursday, while head coach Matt Nagy called Dalton to deliver the same message, per Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The last time the Bears spent a first-round pick on a QB was 2017, when Mitchell Trubisky went No. 2 overall before spending the first four games behind Mike Glennon. Will Fields steal the job at some point as Trubisky did? Probably. But don't expect that to happen in Week 1.
Pick: Andy Dalton -167
San Francisco 49ers
Trey Lance might have the highest ceiling of any quarterback in the 2021 class, but he's also the least seasoned. The 49ers knew that when they drafted him third overall, and they reiterated as much Monday when coach Kyle Shanahan said Jimmy Garoppolo was the team's starting quarterback.
The Niners weren't nearly as emphatic as the Bears, though. Shanahan was careful to say that Garoppolo is the starter "right now" because Lance wouldn't be "in a position to compete," according to Yahoo's Jack Baer, though the coach conceded that he isn't against starting a rookie and he'd "let them compete" when Lance is ready. Does that sound like an endorsement to you?
Add that to the speculation that Garoppolo could be traded this offseason and it's hard to feel comfortable laying such short odds on the oft-injured quarterback. If Lance proves comfortable with NFL schemes and terminology sooner than expected, it'll be his job to lose.
Pick: Trey Lance +300
New England Patriots
Mac Jones is the quintessential fit for the Patriots at quarterback, and not just because of those Tom Brady-like shirtless photos. What made Jones so successful at Alabama was his pinpoint accuracy and ability to process his first, second, and third reads in a flash - which is precisely what made Brady so lethal in New England's offense.
Bill Belichick reworked the team's offensive scheme to accommodate Cam Newton in 2020, and the results were less than stellar. The Patriots finished 24th in points per drive (2.00), and Newton finished 24th in PFF's passing grade among 35 quarterbacks with at least 250 dropbacks.
Jones is arguably the second-most pro-ready quarterback in this class behind Trevor Lawrence, and the Patriots never shy away from open competitions at any spot on the roster. If Jones can run the offense better than Newton this summer - and I expect he will - he should reward those willing to back him at this price.
Pick: Mac Jones +500
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.
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