Marcus Mariota is the Titan’s quarterback of the future. Unless the former Heisman Trophy winner were to retire tomorrow, nothing is going to change that. However, the selection of quarterback Luke Falk in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft was an interesting move by the Titans, and probably a needed one.
Falk is the first quarterback drafted by the Titans since the selection of Mariota in 2015. The Washington State passer also comes from a high-scoring, Pac-12 offense, just like Mariota’s Oregon Ducks. The good news for Falk, Tennessee won’t need him to worry about matching the play of his Hawaiian counterpart. Instead, he can be a developmental backup quarterback ready should Mariota go down.
Maybe that’s what a Mike Leach-coached quarterback needs, time. Leach helped Falk break the Pac-12’s records for career pass attempts (1,931), completions (1,327), passing yards (13,806), passing touchdowns (119), total offensive yards (13,453), total plays (2,171) and completion percentage (68.7) at Washington State. And while all those numbers are great, the NFL is a completely different game.
Leach’s first quarterback to get drafted, Tim Couch, well, I think we all know how that one turned out. And if you don’t, Couch started just 59 NFL games and finished with a career passer rating of 75.1. The other, Josh Heupel, got injured and failed to make the team. Neither got the chance to learn from one of the game’s elite quarterbacks.
Falk will likely need that time. There’s a reason teams waited to take the record-breaking passer until the late rounds. His arm strength and accuracy need improvement, and air-raid offense quarterbacks haven’t had much success in the NFL. However, Titans general manager Jon Robinson would not have wasted a pick on Falk had he not seen the potential for the tall, lanky quarterback to become a solid backup.
After all, Jared Goff and Case Keenum are finally starting to change the perception of air-raid offense prospects. Sure, Keenum and Goff entered the league with wildly different expectations, but both have found their way into starting roles after some time to learn the NFL ropes.
Falk falls somewhere in between those two, not an undrafted free agent like Keenum, but certainly not the No. 1 overall draft pick like Goff. So, the pressure is off for the rookie. Study, develop, and play second or third fiddle to Mariota in the meantime.