Three different rookies are expected to start Week 1 of QB battles following the 2023 NFL Draft.

An early preview of the summertime combat under center

In the first 150 picks of the 2023 NFL Draft, eleven different quarterbacks were selected, setting a record for the common era of the selection process. It furthers the league-wide search for quality output at the quarterback position, and already a number of the incoming rookies are anticipated to make an impact for their respective teams on Opening Day.

Given that the draft is now officially over, we made the decision to reevaluate the state of the position and predict all of the likely QB competitions scheduled for this summer. It’s possible that one or more seasoned players are still on the move; recall that Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t agree to a surprise deal restructure to remain with the 49ers until late August of last year. However, QB depth charts are largely prepared for the 2023 season.

Here are some early predictions for Week 1’s victors and a look at which teams are likely to host real contests:

Buccaneers (Baker Mayfield vs. Kyle Trask)

This is how it is without Tom Brady. The Buccaneers are betting on Baker Mayfield’s moxie returning around a better, healthier supporting cast than he had with the Panthers and Rams in 2022 after declining to take a shot at Kentucky’s Will Levis near the top of the draft. Bruce Arians, Trask’s former coach, has praised his more conventional pocket throwing, but the former second-round pick has only completed nine passes in the past two years. Even if Mayfield turns out to be careless in the future, he has the advantage to lead a veteran group.

Projected Week 1 starter: Baker Mayfield

Colts (Anthony Richardson vs. Gardner Minshew)

In his first post-draft press conference, general manager Chris Ballard purposefully downplayed expectations for No. 4 overall pick Richardson. New coach Shane Steichen might prefer to gradually integrate the electrifying but unpredictable Florida product into his offense. As a result of coming from the Eagles system that Steichen controlled, Minshew makes sense as a stand-in in that situation. Nevertheless, owner Jim Irsay has since proposed that Richardson will start at some point in 2023, thus starting the clock. Richardson’s outstanding athleticism might be on full display once the quarterbacks actually take the field, making it difficult for Indianapolis to keep him out of the starting lineup.

Projected Week 1 starter: Anthony Richardson

Commanders (Sam Howell vs. Jacoby Brissett)

Howell just made one start to finish his rookie year in 2022, but that was enough to garner coach Ron Rivera’s praise at the beginning of this summer. Howell displayed a powerful arm on an uneven club. Additionally, somewhat surprisingly, it was sufficient to stop Washington from adding any additional rivals to Brissett. After years of emergency work for the Colts, Dolphins, and Browns, the latter is a safer, albeit unspectacular, wager. However, we have a tendency to buy into the Rivera hype, which suggests that the Commanders will select the younger candidate in their desperate search for the youthful attitude they sought with both Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke.

Projected Week 1 starter: Sam Howell

49ers (Brock Purdy vs. Trey Lance vs. Sam Darnold)

The 49ers depended on more quarterbacks than other teams last season, and that trend appears to be continuing this year. After his surprisingly successful stint as Jimmy Garoppolo’s replacement, Purdy is the talk of the clubhouse, but he might not be fit to begin the season. Lance is the most gifted player of the group, but even if he’s healthy after two consecutive seasons marred by injuries, some members of the team brass seem to have given up on his potential just two years after selecting him third overall. After unsuccessful stints with the Panthers and Jets, who are both rebuilding, Darnold ought to be more at comfortable in San Francisco’s scheme, making him the undisputed favorite to fill in as the interim QB1. However, we’re not excluding the possibility that Purdy will show up just in time to reclaim the position that this team appears to want him to keep.

Projected Week 1 starter: Brock Purdy

Patriots (Mac Jones vs. Bailey Zappe)

Jones received Bill Belichick’s strongest recent endorsement during the 2023 NFL Draft, and the fact that he didn’t use a later pick on a quarterback means that the 2021 first-round pick will likely stay at quarterback, with new (old) coordinator Bill O’Brien tasked with restoring the signal-caller’s trust. However, Belichick has previously — and repeatedly — left the door open for Zappe, the fourth-round pick in 2022, to compete for the top job, so we must list this competition. Even if Belichick would prefer Zappe’s sprightliness, Jones possesses the steadier arm when well-protected in the end.

Projected Week 1 starter: Mac Jones

Other QB situations to monitor

Cardinals: Their new leadership has gone above and beyond to support Kyler Murray, whose performances under Kliff Kingsbury never quite matched his talent. However, the former No. 1 pick might not be ready to begin the year after tearing his ACL. Colt McCoy, Jeff Driskel, and David Blough, three seasoned reserves, may therefore compete for QB1 snaps.

Falcons: Desmond Ridder, a third-round pick in 2022, has already been named the undisputed starter for 2023, which is a little rare. However, Taylor Heinicke, who earned more than a few starts in Washington and might make things closer than anticipated over the summer, is receiving top-tier backup pay from them.

Panthers: They’re paying Andy Dalton a respectable backup salary because he showed with the Saints that he still has a couple good starts left in him. But nothing else should prevent the top pick, Bryce Young, from assuming the starting position right away.

Texans: Like Carolina, they might not openly give their top selection the starting job, but if C.J. Stroud doesn’t take over at quarterback in 2023 in lieu of Davis Mills and the new backup Case Keenum, something is extremely wrong.

Titans: Their third-round pick in 2022, Malik Willis, doesn’t seem to have much of a future in Tennessee after laboring as a rookie replacement behind a subpar line. However, they are obviously considering their options for if/when Ryan Tannehill retires, trading up to select Will Levis at pick number 33. Although Tannehill remains the overwhelming favorite to begin as the starter, this is not a given.