Lynch: Purdy Favorite to be 49ers’ Starting Quarterback

The San Francisco 49ers have one of the most complicated quarterback situations in the NFL. However, general manager John Lynch provided some clarity during his news conference at the NFL owners’ meetings on Monday.

“I think Brock Purdy has earned the right with the way he played that he’s probably the leader in the clubhouse at that … if we were to line up, he’d probably take that first snap,” Lynch told reporters.

Purdy became one of the NFL’s most notable stories last season, as he went from being the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship game. However, he suffered a torn UCL during the championship game, which required surgery this offseason. Purdy was set to have surgery on Feb. 22, but inflammation in his elbow forced the team to push back the procedure to March 10.

Previous reporting indicates Purdy likely opted for a “repair” and not a full “reconstruction.” The repair typically comes with a six-month recovery, which could have Purdy ready to return to action by September.

With Purdy becoming the 49ers’ starter next season, that leaves Trey Lance as the backup. Lance began the 2022 season as the team’s starter, but he suffered a broken ankle in September, causing him to miss most of the season. The 49ers have a significant amount of capital and money invested in Lance since the team traded up to No. 3 overall to select him in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Mike Martz, an analyst for The 33rd Team, believes Lance still has a long way to go in his development compared to Purdy.

“The speed of the game, handling information and retaining it, and then being able to apply it on the field instantly — as Purdy does — it’s just not there for Lance,” Martz said. “It’s the hardest thing to do for a quarterback in the NFL. And then how calm is he under the gun? Some guys just aren’t able to do it. They buckle under pressure, even with good players around them. That’s what I see in Lance.”

The 49ers also signed Sam Darnold to a one-year, $4.5 million contract. Darnold has struggled throughout his five NFL seasons, but he led the Carolina Panthers to a 4-2 record in six starts last season.


Under-the-Radar NFL Players Who Could Get Traded This Offseason

The first wave of free agency has come and gone. Some teams spent big, while others sat and waited for things to clear up before jumping into the fray.

Of course, the other avenue to add players is via trade, and we’ve seen players like Jalen Ramsey, Stephon Gilmore, Brandin Cooks, Chuck Clark and Elijah Moore dealt already.

The annual league meetings are this week in Phoenix, and all owners, general managers and head coaches are expected to attend.

While we wait for some long-awaited trades to be finalized (Aaron Rodgers and DeAndre Hopkins), there are other players who could be in trade discussions as teams continue to construct their rosters. When decision-makers meet in person like they will this week, the conversations could go many different places.

Players Who Could Be Traded

Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy

The Denver Broncos have been active in the wide receiver free-agent market, pursuing Allen Lazard and Adam Thielen, which makes you wonder what they think about their current players at the position. Denver has Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler on the roster, but keep in mind the Broncos paid Sutton (four years, $60.8 million) and Patrick (three years, $34.5 million) last year, and they got those deals done before the receiver market went haywire with massive contracts.

The Broncos have to decide on Jeudy’s fifth-year option by May 1, and it’s worth $12,987,000 fully guaranteed. The price to acquire Jeudy is high right now, but teams are keeping a close eye on him if the price is reduced. Keep in mind the Broncos don’t have a first- or second-round pick in this year’s draft, so they could use some capital there.

Titans QB Ryan Tannehill

Titans QB Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill is entering the final year of his contract and has no guaranteed money left on his deal. New Tennessee Titans general manager Ran Carthon has made a bunch of transactions since taking over, moving on from veterans like Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones, Bud Dupree, Zach Cunningham and Robert Woods. The Titans could move forward with one more year of Tannehill, but they have given no indication he’s their guy for next season. Tennessee has quietly been doing its work on this year’s rookie quarterback class, so we’ll see if the team dabbles in any trade to get one.

WR Cedrick Wilson

The Miami Dolphins signed Cedrick Wilson to a three-year, $22 million deal a year ago, but they did that contract before knowing Tyreek Hill was available for trade. Once Hill entered the picture, Wilson had no fit on the roster. He had just 12 receptions for 136 yards on the season, and the Dolphins would be open to making a move if they could find a trade partner. Miami also added Braxton Berrios in free agency. Wilson had 602 yards and six touchdowns in 2021 with Dallas, and he’s just 27 years old.

Vikings Edge Za’Darius Smith

Za’Darius Smith tweeted a goodbye to the Minnesota Vikings a few days before free agency began, which made people think he was released. We found out later he wasn’t and had asked the Vikings to cut him, but they rebuffed that request.

Smith made the Pro Bowl in his first season with Minnesota and had 44 tackles, 10 sacks, 24 quarterback hits and a forced fumble in 16 games. The Vikings did add Marcus Davenport in free agency, so that could make Smith expendable, but the situation as of now remains unresolved.

Bengals OT Jonah Williams

The Cincinnati Bengals surprisingly added Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency once they realized they could get him at a good value. Brown has made it clear he only wants to play left tackle, which leaves Jonah Williams in an awkward spot. The former first-round pick is in the final year of his contract, and the team would like for him to flip to the right side. But Williams knows the importance of proving himself on the left side and the financial difference it makes to be there.

The Bengals have a front office that won’t just move a player because he wants out (as we’ve seen recently with Jessie Bates III and famously with Carson Palmer). But Williams would prefer to stay on the left side, and his agent has requested a trade. We’ll see if the Bengals oblige.

>> READ: Williams Trade Conversations Heating Up

Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl after the emergence of seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco. The former first-round pick out of LSU has one year remaining on his contract, and he could be a low-risk, high-reward trade candidate. It’s worth noting there are some big-name running backs with big price tags who have also been floated in trades, including the Chargers’ Austin Ekeler, the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook, the Bengals’ Joe Mixon and the Giants’ Saquon Barkley. But the chances of a team giving up significant draft capital plus paying a big contract to a running back seems unlikely.

Titans S Kevin Byard

As ESPN reported last week, the Titans recently approached Kevin Byard about taking a pay cut, and he told the team he wouldn’t. A third-round pick in 2016, Byard has made two All-Pro teams and has not missed a game in his career. He’s currently set to make $13.6 million in 2023 and is also signed for $13.6 million next season, which is the final year of his contract. It seems to be a stand-off between the two sides, and it’s worth monitoring if a team makes a tempting offer.

49ers QB Trey Lance

The San Francisco 49ers love what they saw out of Brock Purdy last season, and there are plenty of people around the league who think he is 100 percent their starting quarterback once fully healthy. But Purdy’s elbow injury was a serious one. His surgery was delayed until early March because of swelling, and it’s unclear exactly when he will be healthy enough to return to action. The 49ers believe it’s going to be a six-month recovery, which would be right around the season opener.

San Francisco signed Sam Darnold in free agency to a one-year, $4.5 million deal that could be worth as much as $11 million with incentives. Some have wondered what that means for Trey Lance, who is nearing a full recovery from a broken ankle suffered in Week 2 last season. For now, it’s all speculation, but there are people who don’t think Darnold signed there to eventually be QB3 on the roster.

Other Names to Watch

2022 NFL Draft Do-Over: Sauce Gardner Goes No. 1, Jets Land New Franchise QB

2022 NFL Draft Do-Over: Sauce Gardner Goes No. 1, Jets Land New Franchise QB
The 2022 NFL Draft provided some teams with quality players, who helped them reach new levels this past season. However, some teams probably wish they could go back in time and make different picks. Well, it’s those team’s lucky day. Led by T.J. McCreight, The 33rd Team Scouting Department has taken a break from evaluating 2023 […]

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NFL Offseason Fixer-Uppers: How 49ers Can Improve in 2023

In an ongoing offseason series, experts from The 33rd Team offer three things each team can do to improve in 2023. 


I don’t want to get too crazy with this because the San Francisco 49ers are a team that lost in the conference championship game two years in a row. This is a really great football team.

If you look at the skill players they have at running back, wide receiver and tight end, they have some dogs out there who are well-rounded and versatile. And when you look at the defensive side of the ball, Nick Bosa’s that dude, reigning Defensive Player of the Year right now. Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, they’re those guys at linebacker.

Still, there are three things the 49ers can clean up in order to get over the hump.

3 Ways to Improve 49ers

1. No More Quarterback Drama

The first thing I believe they need to do is eliminate all the drama at the quarterback position. One, that’s figuring out who their quarterback is going to be. Obviously they had Jimmy Garoppolo in place for awhile. He wasn’t able to get it done in the big games, he had some moments where he may have a turnover or a fumble, so the 49ers decided to move on. So what happened? You insert Trey Lance as quarterback. He gets injured. Jimmy G comes back. He gets injured. You have Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson that get hurt during this year’s conference championship game.

The one thing that the 49ers need is consistency at quarterback, but more importantly than anything else, they just need somebody to stay healthy. They have everything in place on offense; they are near the bottom of the league in sacks given up, they run the ball as well as most of the teams in the league. We already talked about the dogs at most of the skill positions. Just have a quarterback who can stay healthy, run the offense efficiently and not have any game-changing turnovers, and they’ll be good on the offensive side of the ball.

>> READ: Early 2023 Starting Quarterback Rankings

2. Stop the Splash Plays

Flipping it over to the defense, one thing that kind of popped up for me on a consistent basis throughout the year is giving up the slash plays in the pass game. Dante Pettis caught a big pass against the 49ers in Week 1, and that led to the Chicago Bears winning that game. Then you can look to the Miami Dolphins in the middle of the season where Trent Sherfield caught a seam route in the slot and took it the distance against the 49ers’ defense. Then you can look at Davante Adams going wild with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback with the Las Vegas Raiders. Then you can see DK Metcalf having himself a game in the Wild Card round.

There’s this consistent theme of them giving up splash plays in the pass game, so I think they need to shore it up at the back end. I really like what they’re getting from the safety position, even though I think Jimmie Ward may be gone this year because his contract is up. I really like what they’re getting out of Talanoa Hufanga. The cornerbacks are playing well, they got good play out of Charvarius Ward, and Deommodore Lenoir, he stepped up even though he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2021 draft, he made some big plays for them as well. They just need to limit those big plays over the top, and I think the one thing that would help them do that is my third key …

3. Get Bosa Some Help

Bosa had 18.5 sacks this season, but it seemed like no one stepped up and gave him this other threat on the opposite side of the line. You look at the Philadelphia Eagles for example – and that’s a really unfair example – but they have four guys that had double-digit sacks. If you look at Chris Jones, he was the leading sack-getter for the Kansas City Chiefs, but they had other guys who had six, eight, close to double-digit sacks. The 49ers, if they had another threat opposite Bosa, that would help the back end of the defense as well.

Arik Armstead playing only nine games this season may have had a little bit to do with it, but I think if you get some help for Bosa, create a little more pressure from that position, that would help the back end, which improves the defense that’s already one of the better ones in the league. You combine that with some consistent, healthy offensive play, and the 49ers may finally be able to get over that hump and secure that Super Bowl ring they’ve been chasing for the past few years.

Tank Williams played five seasons in the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @TankWilliams13

WATCH: Purdy Deserves 49ers’ Starting Job


Way-Too-Early NFL Quarterback Rankings for 2023

Former NFL quarterback Matt Cassel provides his way-too-early 2023 QB rankings. All stats are from the 2022 regular season. 

  1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

QB Record: 14-3 | QBR: 77.6 | Passing TDs: 41 | Passing Yards: 5,250

Comment: MVP, check. Super Bowl MVP, check. One of the gutsiest Super Bowl performances ever, check. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes remains on top of the mountain until someone can knock him off next season.

>> READ: Mahomes Is Already an All-Time Great

  2. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

QB Record: 14-1 | QBR: 66.4 | Passing TDs: 22 | Passing Yards: 3,701

Comment: Jalen Hurts made a big jump up my rankings with his consistent, dynamic playoff performances culminating with a historic Super Bowl showing for the Philadelphia Eagles. Hurts heads into next season with one of the best chances to become No. 1 on this list.

>> READ: How Hurts Improved from 2021 to 2022

  3. Joe Burrow, Bengals

QB Record: 12-4 | QBR: 58.7 | Passing TDs: 35 | Passing Yards: 4,475

Comment: During the past two seasons, Joe Burrow has been as cool and consistent as any quarterback in the league, including the two guys above him on this list. Burrow led the Cincinnati Bengals to the AFC Championship Game one season after making the Super Bowl. There’s an argument right now these three guys are 1A, 1B, and 1C rather than one through three.

  4. Josh Allen, Bills

QB Record: 13-3 | QBR: 71.4 | Passing TDs: 35 | Passing Yards: 4,283

Comment: Josh Allen peaked at No. 1 on our list mid-season, but the turnovers late in the year dropped him down a bit. That said, don’t count this guy and the Buffalo Bills out. He is huge, athletic, and has a cannon. Now, more than ever, he might have the biggest chip on his shoulder of any quarterback on this list.

  5. Justin Herbert, Chargers

QB Record: 10-7 | QBR: 58.3 | Passing TDs: 25 | Passing Yards: 4,739

Comment: You might have forgotten by now how Justin Herbert‘s Los Angeles Chargers blew a 27-point lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the playoffs, but I’m certain Herbert hasn’t. I’m looking forward to seeing if a new offensive coordinator — Kellen Moore — can help Herbert crack into the elite tier of NFL quarterbacks.

  6. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

QB Record: 8-4 | QBR: 59.1 | Passing TDs: 17 | Passing Yards: 2,242

Comment: If you forgot about the Chargers’ loss in the playoffs, then you also could have forgotten how dynamic a healthy Lamar Jackson can be in the Baltimore Ravens’ lineup. I expect Jackson to be healthy next season after not playing much in the back half of 2022. I’m looking forward to seeing what type of weapons he’ll have at his disposal — and where he’ll be using them.

>> READ: Jackson Among Top Franchise Tag Candidates

  7. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars

QB Record: 9-8 | QBR: 54.5 | Passing TDs: 25 | Passing Yards: 4,113

Comment: Only three quarterbacks last year threw for at least 25 touchdowns and ran for at least five more: Allen, Burrow … and this guy. Trevor Lawrence‘s amazing comeback win against the Chargers showed me he’s on pace to be yet another young, talented, superstar quarterback.  The future of the position is bright when this guy is only ranked seventh on my list.

  8. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

QB Record: 8-9 | QBR: 39.3 | Passing TDs: 26 | Passing Yards: 3,695

Comment: It’s like Groundhog Day right now. When will Aaron Rodgers reveal himself from his cave, and what will the news be when he comes out? But seriously folks, without knowing if he’ll end up with the Green Bay Packers or another team, it’s tough to quantify his ranking. We do know the New York Jets have reached out already. If he winds up in the right spot, expect to see one of the greatest ever challenge the guys above him on this list for the top spot.

>> READ: Packers Reportedly “Disgusted” with Rodgers

  9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

QB Record: 8-4 | QBR: 57.9 | Passing TDs: 23 | Passing Yards: 2,860

Comment: What a roller-coaster season for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. Prescott played well when he returned from his Week 1 injury, but obviously, they fell short of the NFC Championship again. I’m intrigued to see what happens when Mike McCarthy replaces Moore as the primary play-caller.  It could mean big things for Prescott and the entire offense in Dallas.

  10. Geno Smith, Seahawks

QB Record: 9-8 | QBR: 60.8 | Passing TDs: 30 | Passing Yards: 4,282

Comment: Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks had a strong first half of the season followed by a bit of a dip in the second half of the season. But overall, Smith proved he absolutely can be a starting NFL quarterback. Perhaps having that pressure off heading into this year’s camp will allow even more growth for one of the feel-good quarterback stories of the year.

  11. Kirk Cousins, Vikings

QB Record: 13-4 | QBR: 49.9 | Passing TDs: 29 | Passing Yards: 4,547

Comment: It’s that time of year again when Minnesota Vikings fans ask if Kirk Cousins is their quarterback or if it’s time to move on. I argue the Vikings would not have had nearly as much success as they did last season without the veteran slinging it all over the field. Clearly, he knows how to get his wide receivers the ball, including one of the best in the game — Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson.

  12. Jared Goff, Lions

QB Record: 9-8 | QBR: 61.1 | Passing TDs: 29 | Passing Yards: 4,438

Comment: Give me a rival team hoping to see the Detroit Lions sneak into the playoffs last year, and I’ll give you a firm handshake. All Jared Goff did in the second half of the season was lead one of the most dynamic teams in the league just short of the playoffs. They clearly found their groove and with the sixth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Goff and the Lions may be one of the scariest opponents on any team’s schedule in 2023.

  13. Justin Fields, Bears

QB Record: 3-12 | QBR: 54 | Passing TDs: 17 | Passing Yards: 2,242

Comment: Will Justin Fields be the Chicago Bears‘ franchise quarterback? Or will he be looking for that title in another uniform? Either way, no quarterback was more dynamic with his feet in 2022. Fields finished with 1,143 yards rushing and eight rushing touchdowns in 2023.

>> READ: Should Bears Replace Fields? 

  14. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins

QB Record: 8-5 | QBR: 68.8 | Passing TDs: 25 | Passing Yards: 3,548

Comment: We saw flashes of the greatness Tua Tagovailoa has inside him early in the season. His injuries, especially the concussions, are concerning. I’m hoping to see a healthy Tagovailoa show us his full potential next year for the Miami Dolphins.

15. Derek Carr, Free Agent

QB Record: 6-9 | QBR: 55.6 | Passing TDs: 24 | Passing Yards: 3,522

Comment: If Rodgers is the most prized potential addition for teams in need of a new quarterback, then Derek Carr is probably the second. Arguably one of the most durable signal-callers on our list, Carr is a veteran who can still sling it. He may end up being the most important signing all offseason.

>> READ: Carr Visits New York Jets

  16. Daniel Jones, Giants

QB Record: 9-6-1 | QBR: 60.8 | Passing TDs: 15 | Passing Yards: 3,205

Comment: Daniel Jones proved he can play. Now the New York Giants may have to prove they can pay.  Jones is one of the more underrated arms in the league. He is accurate, and he has arm strength that doesn’t get talked about enough. He’s also become a hybrid pocket-running passer like we’re seeing more and more in the league right now. The future is bright for Jones.

>> READ: Jones Wants $45 Million Contract

  17. Brock Purdy, 49ers

QB Record: 5-0 | QBR: 65.6 | Passing TDs: 13 | Passing Yards: 1,374

Comment: I absolutely hated seeing him get hurt in the playoffs. But as much of a disappointment as the end of the season was for Brock Purdy, he went from third string to third in the Rookie of the Year voting, helping the San Francisco 49ers remain a legit Super Bowl contender. There are no more questions he needs to answer. He can play in the NFL. Now, we’ll see if he can get healthy and add more chapters to that Cinderella story.

  18. Kyler Murray, Cardinals

QB Record: 3-8 | QBR: 51.7 | Passing TDs: 14 | Passing Yards: 2,368

Comment: The 2022 season was a nightmare for the dynamic talent, who threw just 14 touchdown passes vs. seven interceptions. Kyler Murray also suffered a torn ACL in Week 14, forcing his season to end early. But the Arizona Cardinals wouldn’t have given him that long-contract extension last offseason if they felt like he couldn’t return from adversity. We’ll see soon enough if that decision pays off.

  19. Matthew Stafford, Rams

QB Record: 3-6 | QBR: 50.3 | Passing TDs: 10 | Passing Yards: 2,087

Comment: This was a down year for both Matthew Stafford and his squad. However, coach Sean McVay decided to come back and right the ship in 2023. There’s no doubt Stafford has the skillset and the pedigree to captain it. Stafford has been doubted in the past and has always shut down the haters. He’s a Super Bowl champion, and you can’t bet against that.

  20. Ryan Tannehill, Titans

QB Record: 6-6 | QBR: 49.1 | Passing TDs: 13 | Passing Yards: 2,536

Comment: Losing A.J. Brown hurt. I can only imagine having to watch my former best receiver help his new team to a Super Bowl as Brown did for the Eagles. That said, Ryan Tannehill has gotten himself off the ground throughout his college and NFL careers, and I wouldn’t doubt he has something to prove heading into next season.

21. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers

QB Record: 7-3 | QBR: 54.3 | Passing TDs: 16 | Passing Yards: 2,437

Comment: Jimmy Garoppolo is still technically on the 49ers, but they’ve already said he won’t be back next season. Last season was certainly an interesting one for Garoppolo. He was the backup, then the starter before eventually landing on IR. Then, he watched his backup become a star. Garoppolo may miss that dynamic 49ers offense, but he could use a fresh start somewhere else.

>> READ: 49ers Say They’re Moving on From Jimmy G

  22. Andy Dalton, Saints

QB Record: 6-8 | QBR: 50.7 | Passing TDs: 18 | Passing Yards: 2,871

Comment: To a degree, Andy Dalton righted the ship in New Orleans during a funky year for the Saints. He’s a veteran who has been on both sides of the mountain and is battle-tested. His story isn’t fully written yet, especially if he ends up on a different team this offseason.

  23. Russell Wilson, Broncos

QB Record: 4-11 | QBR: 37.0 | Passing TDs: 16 | Passing Yards: 3,524

Comment: No need to sugarcoat it. It was an awful, nightmare, horrible season for Russell Wilson. I’m sure he’d be the first one to admit that. But now, with Sean Peyton at the helm, there are reasons for optimism in Denver for the first time since about Week 4 of last year. Wilson is low on this list because he has a lot to prove next season.

>> READ: Payton’s Offense Can Revitalize Wilson’s Career

  24. Deshaun Watson, Browns

QB Record: 3-3 | QBR: 38.3 | Passing TDs: 7 | Passing Yards: 1,102

Comment: Speaking strictly about on-field play, Deshaun Watson still has a lot to prove to the city of Cleveland on whether or not that guaranteed contract was worth the money and the years. He played in six games and threw seven touchdowns and five interceptions. That means Watson will need to boom next season to avoid a historic bust tag.

  25. Mac Jones, Patriots

QB Record: 6-8 | QBR: 36.2 | Passing TDs: 14 | Passing Yards: 2,997

Comment: There were a lot of ups and downs for Mac Jones this past season. I’m still unsure of what type of quarterback he can be. But we will certainly find out with new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien returning to the New England Patriots this season.

26. Jacoby Brissett, Browns

QB Record: 4-7 | QBR: 60 | Passing TDs: 12 | Passing Yards: 2,608

Comment: Jacoby Brissett was thrust into a tough situation in Cleveland and showed a little fear early with some big turnovers. But in his final five starts, he threw just one pick. Brissett proved he can play quarterback elsewhere in the NFL next season.

  27. Kenny Pickett, Steelers

QB Record: 7-5 | QBR: 51.5 | Passing TDs: 7 | Passing Yards: 2,404

Comment: Kenny Pickett needs to limit mistakes, stay on the field and show some consistency. Throwing game-winning touchdowns with less than a minute left in consecutive games might be a glimpse into Pickett’s moxie. He’s going to need it to carry the weight of one of the league’s most historic franchises on his back.

28. Baker Mayfield, Rams

QB Record: 2-8 | QBR: 24.5 | Passing TDs: 10 | Passing Yards: 2,163

Comment: Do you know how hard it is to join a team, learn a new playbook a few hours later, and then lead a team to a comeback win against the Raiders on Thursday Night Football? I’ll tell you … it’s hard. Baker Mayfield did that. He also proved what he needed to prove in 2022 – that he can be an NFL QB. Given the Rams’ cap situation, it’ll just likely happen with a different team in 2023.

  29. Davis Mills, Texans

QB Record: 3-10-1 | QBR: 33.1 | Passing TDs: 17 | Passing Yards: 3,118

Comment: It’s hard to quantify what Davis Mills can accomplish as a quarterback. Can he be a starter? I need to see more reps before I make that claim. Mills might not get that chance with the Houston Texans this season because they’re likely to use the second-overall pick on a new quarterback.

>> READ: The 33rd Team’s Latest Mock Draft

  30. Sam Darnold, Panthers

QB Record: 4-2 | QBR: 48.3 | Passing TDs: 7 | Passing Yards: 1,143

Comment: The jury is still out on this one-time top prospect. However, 2023 may be the year we reach a verdict on whether Sam Darnold is a starter. Will it be in Carolina? That remains to be seen. The Panthers seem poised to select a quarterback in the first round, but Darnold could stick around as a bridge option.

>> READ: 2023 Draft QBs with Best Arm Strength

  31. Mike White, Jets

QB Record: 1-3 | QBR: 37 | Passing TDs: 3 | Passing Yards: 1,192

Comment: At one point in the season, Jets fans were rocking “White Knight” T-shirts. Players seem to love playing with Mike White, but he needs to show some more consistent results to move up these rankings.

  32. Desmond Ridder, Falcons

QB Record: 2-2 | QBR: 49.8 | Passing TDs: 2 | Passing Yards: 708

Comment: The jury is still out, but Desmond Ridder gets the nod as my 32nd-best quarterback over guys like Trey Lance and Jordan Love because, of the three, he at least started the final three games of the season. All three walk into 2023 with huge question marks surrounding their games and futures.

Matt Cassel is a former NFL quarterback who played with seven teams in his NFL career, most notably the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, and Dallas Cowboys. Follow him on Twitter at @M_Cassel16.

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