With the NFL season now in full swing, we've already seen some controversy over starting jobs for various teams throughout the league. With the comparatively brief NFL schedule in relation of other professional sports, three games can tell you a lot about how good a particular player is. There's no question that there are a bevy of starting players under fire right now, and the conversation is now open as to whether they'll be able to finish out the season in the same role. Conversely, there have also been some surprise starters who have made a name for themselves, and figure to keep their position throughout the season.
There's no doubt we're going to see some personnel switches by mid-season, and that some current starters will have to ride the pine for a while, if not for the rest of their career. Projecting personnel changes for NFL teams is never a guarantee, but we can glean some insight from the results of the first quarter of the 2017 season. Let's take a look at which players may be benched, and which ones will end up being a revelation.
Ranked below are 10 NFL starters who will be benched this season, and 5 who will surprisingly succeed.
16 DeShone Kizer: Benched
Kizer has been off to an absolutely horrific start during his first three NFL games, and it's difficult to see how it's going to get any better from here on out. The Browns have historically had the worst quarterback situation since their 1999 return, and Kizer is doing little to change that narrative. Coach Hue Jackson is going to have his patience tested over the course of the season, and at some point may opt for another one of his young quarterbacks to see starting action.
The Browns have to be careful here. If he continues with his low-quality play, any chance of Kizer developing into a legitimate starter could be ruined. He's doing all he can just to stay upright on the field at this point. Cleveland may be forced to pull the plug later in the year, at least giving him another offseason of preparation for the starting role.
15 Mike Glennon: Benched
You can bet that the Bears are itching to get their 2nd-overall pick Mitch Trubisky into live action as soon as it makes sense. In all likelihood, Glennon the stopgap will falter to the point where the team has no choice but to give the rookie a shot. It hasn't been looking great in the early going for Glennon, who is trying to re-establish himself after several years as a backup in Tampa Bay.
Trubisky may be raw, but he had a great preseason, and at least has the tools that could develop into an upper-tier NFL quarterback. You'd have to think that head coach John Fox is going to want to see what he has in him sooner rather than later. Glennon has a moderate ceiling, and there's no sense in keeping him as the starter long than you have to buy time for Trubisky.
14 Ameer Abdullah: Success
After being hurt for the majority of his first two NFL seasons, Abdullah has been a rousing success in Detroit so far. He finally gives them the lead running back they've needed for a long time now, and can compliment Matt Stafford in the passing game on any down and distance. The Lions spent a 2nd-round pick on him in 2015, so Abdullah clearly will take precedent over any other running back on the roster right now.
He's young enough that even though he missed significant time due to injury, it shouldn't be a detriment in revitalizing his career. Abdullah has proven to be a good young runner, and is only going to get better with continuity in Detroit's system. He should only continue to get better as the season progresses.
13 Chris Carson: Benched
The Seahawks' running game is a bit of a disaster right now, and although Carson has been the lone shining light in the position group, he still hasn't shown the kind of consistency necessary in order to be a full-time lead running back in the NFL. His carries probably won't diminish entirely, but he isn't going to be the bell-cow runner for the Seahawks the entire season.
He was largely off the radar during the offseason as a 7th-round pick by Seattle, but due to a good game or two in the early going, he's been getting increased recognition. More than likely, Carson is just a garden-variety NFL running back, and won't see the bulk of the carries for Seattle over the long-term.
11 Eli Manning: Benched
The Giants have been a complete mess thus far, and while head coach Ben McAdoo has a lot to do with that, Manning's regression as a quarterback is significant as well. If the Giants really start to go South late in the year, don't be surprised if rookie quarterback Davis Webb finally gets a chance to show what he can do in live action.
It's never a guarantee a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback is benched, but the way Manning has played so far, combined with what may be a contentious relationship with McAdoo could suggest that there could be another quarterback for the Giants late in the season. It would be the first new quarterback the team has seen in a long, long time.
10 Joe Mixon: Success
Off the field issues aside, Mixon is clearly the future of the Bengals' backfield, and has shown flashes of brilliance thus far in the season. He's still in a timeshare with Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill, but that will soon fall by the wayside as Mixon gets more experience. He's clearly the most talented player of the three, and will ultimately prove to be the best option for Cincinnati moving forward.
If they can keep him out of trouble off the field, Mixon is a great backfield talent with a massive ceiling. Merely a rookie, he could improve by leaps and bounds by the end of the season, leaving the Bengals feeling good about him being a staple of their offense for years to come.
9 Lamar Miller: Benched
The Texans acquired Miller before the start of the 2016 to be their bell-cow running back, but he hasn't lived up to expectations, despite a ton of workload over the past year and a half. They may have overestimated his ability after a lone productive season in Miami. Thankfully, Houston has other options that could be making increased appearances by the middle of the season.
3rd-round pick D'onta Foreman has proven to be a quality runner at times, and Alfred Blue has a ton of experience in the system as well. Whether or not Miller is benched entirely, expect to see more involvement from the other backs on the roster, especially Foreman, who looks like a quality young talent, and has the chance to eventually usurp Miller full-time.
8 Ty Montgomery: Benched
Montgomery is a wide receiver by trade, and it shows. He's been completely ineffective in the early going of this season, leaving the Packers without a true go-to option out of the backfield. More than likely, rookie Jamaal Williams is going to start getting some legitimate chances for productivity later in the season if Montgomery continues on the same trajectory.
While Aaron Rodgers is by far the most important player on the Green Bay offense, no team can completely abandon the running game, no matter how good the passing game is. Montgomery is dead weight in the backfield right now, and even though there aren't a ton of options to replace him, the Packers will find a suitable one to try and get something going on the ground.
7 Tyrod Taylor: Success
When Sean McDermott took over head coaching duties in Buffalo, many assumed that he would be looking for a new quarterback, especially after numerous key players on the offense were nixed. Well, Taylor has actually kept up with his quality play, and is actually presenting a legitimate case to be the team's starting quarterback moving forward after the season.
The Bills like to run the ball, so Taylor isn't going to have to be required to play superhero every game. But he's effective at hitting routes that move the chains, and also doesn't turn the ball over. If McDermott and the coaching staff want a game-managing quarterback to run their offense, Taylor is probably their best option for the long-term. At any rate, he won't be benched this season, no matter what happens.
6 Jonathan Stewart: Benched
The Panthers have made it very clear that they are in the process of changing their offensive system. That change in philosophy was solidified by the drafting of Christian McCaffrey, which is giving Stewart some serious competition in the Carolina backfield. His carries have decreased each of the first three games this season, and could so further if the Panthers continue to struggle offensively.
There are enough young running backs on Carolina's roster that they aren't tied to Stewart if they want to make a change. Their offensive struggles have been pronounced in the early going, and Stewart isn't getting any younger. If he isn't benched entirely, he'll likely see a decrease in carries.
5 Josh McCown: Benched
The Jets won a game this season before many thought they would, but that doesn't change the fact that McCown is a stopgap for the short-term. If the season is lost before mid-season, you can expect to see either Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg get a shot under center in New York. They're at least young talents, and could be playing for a roster spot in the future, depending on what the team does in the draft next year.
If the Jets somehow stay in contention over the next several weeks, McCown's leash may be extended, but either way, it would be extremely surprising to not see another quarterback option get a shot for the team. McCown's career is almost over with, and he holds no long-term value.
4 Deshaun Watson: Success
Watson was called upon to be the Texans' starter for this season just one-half into the first game of the season. So far, while he's looked like a rookie most of the time, he's also shown some phenomenal ability to make plays, and why Houston was willing to draft him in the first round. It's no doubt tougher than last season at Clemson, but Watson seems to be taking it in stride, providing Houston with a future franchise quarterback.
And regardless if he's a rookie or not, any quarterback that can almost pull off a win in Foxborough is off to a good start for their career. Keep an eye on Watson this season, as he could end up turning one of the game's best young quarterback.
3 Rob Kelley: Benched
The Redskins have struggled to get a running game going during the Jay Gruden era, but 4th-round draft pick Samaje Perine figures to turn that around this year. That's bad news for Kelley, who was competing for a starting job in the offseason, and had a chance to secure consistent carries in the Washington backfield. It just doesn't seem to be the case anymore, at as far as him being the lead runner.
With Chris Thompson already established as the pass-catching running back, there's not much room for Kelley to contribute if Perine takes over the bulk of the carries. Expect Kelley to fizzle out entirely by mid-season, with Washington sporting more productive options.
2 Carson Palmer: Benched
This is likely going to be Palmer's last season either way, and if the Cardinals are out of the playoff race, there's little reason to continue to throw him out there instead of younger quarterbacks. Surely, Palmer's skills have eroded over the last year or so, and now he's barely playing at a satisfactory level early in the 2017 season. Bruce Arians may be reluctant to sift Palmer down to the 2nd-string, but it will ultimately be for the best if the Cardinals are out of playoff contention.
The team will likely need to draft a long-term quarterback option after the season, but they may as well to get as many looks at the other players on the depth chart as they can. Palmer has had a fine career overall, but ultimately this is the end of the line for him.
1 Kareem Hunt: Success
Not many people thought much of Hunt when he was selected in the 3rd round by the Chiefs in this year's draft, but he's made a name for himself in the short time he's been in the league. In short, there hasn't been a better start for a running back than most people can remember, and he's shown that he's a three-down player who can dominate on a regular basis. Kansas City has their skill player of the future, and Hunt will be a force for a long time to come.
Spencer Ware's injury may have opened up a spot on the depth chart during his injury, but he's not likely to regain it when he returns. This is Hunt's backfield now, and Kansas City will see that he gets consistent touches en route to what will likely be a Pro Bowl-appearance at least if he's able to stay on the same trajectory for the entire year. Hunt is one of the premier young players in the league right now.
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