Only a handful of National Football League quarterbacks have managed to throw for 5,000 yards in a single season. All-time greats such as Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Dan Marino accomplished this incredible feat during their careers, and Brees, who has been fortunate enough to play home games inside of a dome throughout his tenure in the NFL, has done so several times. Even at a time when league officials have changed rules to accommodate passing games and protect signal-callers, QBs throwing for at least 5,000 yards in a season remains a rare occurrence for a variety of reasons. A bad offensive line or a lack of play-makers in the passing game can both handcuff even the most talented of pro gunslingers.
It’s entirely possible none of the 15 quarterbacks spotlighted in this piece will throw for 5,000 yards in a campaign. After all, doing so requires that QB getting plenty of help in any given year. With that said, a plethora of QBs recently drafted have shown enough promise that we can optimistically predict they will, at the very least, flirt with adding their names to the record books by accumulating 5,000 yards. Others, however, likely won’t have any chance of doing so, either because they don’t have the goods or because they were drafted by teams that are unable to utilize their physical gifts. In a way, it’s nearly astonishing not one Cleveland Browns QB is seen as having no chance of throwing for 5,000 yards in a season as of the fall of 2017.
15 Jimmy Garoppolo: Will
While some may say it is revisionist history because of where he ended up, the truth of the matter is that several teams and coaching staffs liked Jimmy Garoppolo before the New England Patriots took a flier on him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Sure Garoppolo’s footwork could probably still use some work before Tom Brady makes way for the 25-year-old, assuming that day actually comes at some point before the end of the decade, but you have to like Jimmy G’s upside and his powerful arm.
Besides, does anybody out there really want to assume the Patriots got something wrong? Odds are Garoppolo will be the next great franchise QB because life isn’t fair for non-Patriots fans and for those who actively root against New England.
14 Teddy Bridgewater: Won’t
It wasn’t all that long ago when predicting that Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would throw for 5,000 yards in a season wouldn’t have been all that hot a take. Then, Bridgewater suffered a serious and horrific knee injury that sidelined him for over a season and that threatened his career.
The harsh reality here is that nobody can say, with any certainty, what Bridgewater will be when he returns to active NFL duty in the future. He’s been cleared to play as of the end of October, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he should return to the starting lineup before 2018. We’re rooting for you, Teddy B, but, unfortunately, we have to put you in the category of QBs who won’t throw for 5,000 yards in any season.
13 Patrick Mahomes: Will
There is a lot to like about Kansas City Chiefs rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes as of the fall of 2017. For starters, Mahomes has a cannon of an arm, and he showed during preseason games that he can fire the ball down the field seemingly with the flick of a wrist.
The hope, among those who cheer for the Chiefs, is that he will learn a lot from sitting behind Alex Smith before he is called into the starting lineup. Yes, it is probably wishful thinking to assume Mahomes will do anything of note, let alone throw for 5,000 yards in any season, but we have liked what we have seen from him. Don’t be shocked if the Chiefs have a future superstar on their hands in the current backup.
12 Christian Hackenberg: Won’t
Back when he was at Penn State working underneath head coach Bill O’Brien, quarterback Christian Hackenberg looked like a can’t-miss prospect who could do anything an NFL offense would ask of him during any given game. My, how things can change quickly.
Hackenberg, who remains a member of the New York Jets because the club probably doesn’t know what else to do with him at this point, looks more like a lost cause than a franchise QB these days. His accuracy belongs on a milk carton because it has been missing for so long, and any confidence he may have had upon entering the league has probably evaporated somewhere over the Hudson River. We barely knew thee, Mr. Hackenberg, and we don’t think you’re going to throw for 5,000 yards in a season.
11 Jared Goff: Will
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff servers as a reminder that you shouldn’t always judge a quarterback by how he looks during his rookie season. Goff, slowly but surely, seems to be figuring life in the NFL out, and he has proven to critics and doubters he has the physical tools that make him capable of torching a secondary that lacks playmakers.
The hope is that those in charge of the Rams will continue to surround Goff with talented wide receivers and other stars who will help him reach his maximum potential as he prepares to enter his prime. It remains early days, but one has to feel good about what he has seen from Goff in the fall of 2017. Let’s see if the Rams can help him make history.
10 Tom Savage: Won’t
If you’re anything like us, you actually forgot young Tom Savage was still in the NFL and on the roster of the Houston Texans. Selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Savage was probably given the keys to the team’s offense well before he was ready for such responsibilities.
While he did manage to show some promise playing under center for the Texans, there are plenty of good reasons why the club used a high draft pick on a QB with a higher upside this past spring (more on that QB later). Savage may never again claim a starting role on any NFL team during his career, and that’s only one reason why we are confident in predicting he has no chance of ever throwing for 5,000 yards in a season.
9 DeShaun Watson: Will
Houston Texans rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson has looked like a franchise starter during the first two months of his NFL career. Watson possesses a great arm, his athleticism allows him to escape danger in the pocket, and it’s clear those inside of the Houston locker room have full trust in the first-year pro.
The Texans have asked a lot of Watson during his debut season, and he hasn’t yet disappointed. In making any predictions about his future, one has to assume he is only going to improve and find more comfort in Houston’s system and playing versus NFL defenses. Yes, coordinators will obtain more tape on him each time he plays, but we still feel Watson can continue to silence doubters and, one day, throw for 5,000 yards.
8 Davis Webb: Won’t
Okay, this prediction is probably slightly harsh for multiple reasons. We haven’t yet seen what New York Giants rookie quarterback Davis Webb can or cannot do in meaningful games, as he has sat behind two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Eli Manning during the first couple of months of his career.
History tells us that the Giants will never have a quarterback who throws for 5,000 yards in a season because of the nature of the franchise, and it also doesn’t help Webb’s cause that Big Blue probably overdrafted him in the spring of 2017. Perhaps Webb will, one day, shock the NFL world and prove to be an all-time great, but we’re not counting on seeing him throw for 5,000 yards during any campaign.
7 Marcus Mariota: Will
The biggest concern one could have about Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota doing anything, let alone throwing for 5,000 yards in a season, is that injuries are quickly accumulating on his resume. We aren’t yet ready to suggest Mariota is soft or cannot routinely survive the wear and tear that comes with being a starting QB at the highest level, but it is worrisome.
Say, for the sake of argument and for the purposes of this piece, Mariota is able to remain healthy and reach his maximum potential during his prime. Why would anybody bet against him throwing for 5,000 yards in a season in that case? Mariota possesses as much promise as any young signal-caller in the game, and he’s already shown us what he can do.
6 Blake Bortles: Won’t
We are making this prediction assuming that the Jacksonville Jaguars will not complete a permanent move to London at any point before the end of the decade. Blake Bortles, selected by the Jaguars in the 2014 NFL Draft, has had quite the roller-coaster career during his first four seasons in the league, but he has looked rather comfortable whenever he has been asked to play overseas.
Maybe Bortles is just a Tottenham Hotspurs supporter hoping he will be able to play home games in Spurs’ football/soccer stadium that is currently being built, or maybe he simply wants to get away from Jacksonville fans who have given him a hard time whenever he has performed poorly. Either way, we don’t trust Bortles enough to predict he will throw for 5,000 yards in a season.
5 Jameis Winston: Will
Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Jameis Winston has everything one would want from a starter who could throw for 5,000 yards in a future season. Winston is big. He has tremendous arm strength. He can avoid pass-rushers. He plays alongside a dynamic wide receiver in Mike Evans. He’s a proven leader who is respected and admired in the locker room.
Winston remains an unfinished product who is still developing as a pro and a QB, and his upside is a major reason why one could set such a lofty goal for him. Winston probably isn’t going to throw for 5,000 yards in a season in the next couple of years, but he could get the job done by the time he is 30 years old. He’s a special talent who could carry the Bucs to a title.
4 Paxton Lynch: Won’t
Sometimes, a prospect turns out to be something different than what a team thought it was getting. While nobody should bury the career of Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch yet, it's obvious to anybody paying attention to the situation that those running the Broncos do not have a lot of faith he will develop into anything other than a backup at this point.
Sure, Lynch is still only 23 years old, and his situation could change if the Broncos need him to step in or if some other coaching staff believes it can unlock his full potential. From what we have seen from Lynch, there is zero sign he will be capable of ever throwing for 5,000 yards in a season. We’re not sure he’ll ever be given a full-time starting role.
3 Carson Wentz: Will
Just as one shouldn’t write any young quarterback off before he is given multiple chances to show what he can do, we shouldn’t get overly excited about what a potential franchise quarterback accomplishes just because he looks great in a handful of outings. With that said, Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz more and more appears to be a championship-caliber player with every month that passes.
Perhaps most promising of all is that Wentz’s poise and confidence seems to grow with each start. He always had the arm to go far in the league. He may now be evolving into the special type of talent who could carry the Eagles to meaningful January games and, one day, throw for 5,000 yards in a season so long as the Eagles do well to build around him.
2 Dak Prescott: Won’t
It is still difficult to predict what Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will become over the next five years. Prescott admittedly played very well in his first season, and there’s no question he can be the leader of an offense attached to a winning roster. Prescott was fortunate to start behind one of the best offensive lines the NFL has seen over the past decade, and he has also received plenty of help from the Dallas rushing attack during the first year and a half of his career.
He hasn’t been asked to be the type of QB who can routinely stretch the field and, in the future, lead the NFL in passing yards, and we’re not sure he has that kind of firepower in him. That’s why we say he won’t throw for 5,000 yards in any season.
1 Derek Carr: Will
One could understandably be concerned about the growing injury history associated with Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. After all, it’s never a good sign when any QB, even one as young as Carr, suffers a serious back injury.
Hoping for the best and believing Carr will be able to rest up once the current season ends, we still have high hopes for his long-term future. All things considered, Carr may be the most promising QB to enter the NFL since 2014, and the Raiders need to continue giving him an arsenal of weapons en route to building one of the top passing attacks in the NFL. Yes, we see Carr passing for 5,000 yards in a season. We can also easily envision him winning a Super Bowl sooner rather than later.