With 4 weeks of the NFL season in the books (almost), and a potentially very strong quarterback class in the upcoming draft, I wanted to take quick look around the league at the potential needs of each team, and at what point in the draft they may look to target a passer. I found 4 teams in the league that absolutely should be looking for a franchise quarterback in the first round this year, and identified 8 others that could also be looking for someone in the first few rounds. Conversely, I feel there are 14 teams who don’t even need to consider the quarterback class in the coming NFL draft should they chose not to.
Scale: Find me a franchise quarterback! (1st round, early 2nd)
We need depth/competition. (1st-3rd)
A mid to late rounder would probably help. (3rd-6th)
Good to go. (7th, undrafted FA or nothing)
Arizona – Carson Palmer should be the starter short-term but Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley don’t stand out as backups. The Cards would be wise to invest early and find a long term starter. They could wait till the 2nd round this year and still get their guy, but someone like Zach Mettenberger would make a lot of sense in the first round.
Atlanta – Matt Ryan is still just 28 and the face of the team. They are pretty high on backup Dominique Davis as well, he is the only other QB on the roster right now.
Baltimore – Joe Flacco is making a lot of money after the Raven’s Super Bowl victory but Tyrod Taylor is their only backup. I can’t imagine fans or coaches feeling good about the idea of Tyrod starting any games.
Buffalo – EJ Manuel was the first round pick of new coach and offensive guru Doug Marrone, and will be given a few years to develop. When Kevin Kolb went down with a severe concussion, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel, who was overlooked by many while playing for a bad Washington State team, really gained momentum. The Bills will be comfortable to develop these two guys for a few years.
Carolina – Cam Newton is the man in Carolina and Derek Anderson is a solid backup who seems content in the role. They would be much better off finding Cam some help elsewhere on offense (wide receivers).
Chicago – Like him or not, Jay Cutler can be a good quarterback. Josh McCown is still in the league (who knew?) as the backup, so they could probably use some competition there, but it isn’t pressing as Cutler generally stays healthy and coach Marc Trestman is limiting the chances for him to get hit.
Cincinnati – Andy Dalton has a track record of winning, but his arm strength often leaves fans wanting more. Backup Josh Johnson, practice squad member Greg McElory, Zach Robinson, who is on the PUP list, all look more like #3 QBs and not like capable starters, so another arm is probably a good idea.
Cleveland – Despite being 2-0 as the starter, I don’t believe Brian Hoyer can’t keep the magic up all season or long team. Brandon Weeden might get another chance this season, but he can’t be in the teams long term plans anymore, and Jason Campbell isn’t more than an OK backup at this point in his career. The Browns are beginning to rebuild again and that starts with a quarterback. Then again, as an offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski has seen the Miami Hurricanes win a National Title with Ken Dorsey behind center and sent Derek Anderson to the Pro Bowl so hey, maybe Brian Hoyer is their future, it is the Browns after all.
Dallas – Tony Romo recently got a contract extension and Kyle Orton is as good a backup as any. Fans might hate Romo’s mental lapses and the team’s lack of playoff wins, but from a big picture standpoint, Romo isn’t really that bad compared to many other starters around the league. They might shop for a developmental guy in the mold of Romo years ago, but I don’t expect any major moves just yet. Another late season meltdown could change that though.
Denver – Peyton Manning. Ok so despite his best season as a pro, Manning can’t play forever. Luckily the Broncos are set-up nicely, having drafted Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert in recent years, and at least one of them figures to learn enough from Peyton to be able to take over eventually.
Detroit – Matt Stafford is only 25 and nearly had back to back 5000 yards seasons. Shaun Hill is a solid backup and the team seems high on Kellen Moore. Not much to see here.
Green Bay – Aaron Rodgers is one of the best in the league and still only 29, but this team desperately needs a backup. They took Rodgers in the first round despite having Brett Favre as their starter, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the team invested a fairly high pick on a long term backup quarterback this offseason. That could change if another team gives up on a guy that Green Bay likes (IE Josh Freeman, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden or even Matt Schaub).
Houston – Matt Schaub might not make it through the season as the starter after being booed at home again this week. Both TJ Yates and Case Keenum have flashed at points and this season will tell a lot about the teams long term plans. I’m not ready to call for a 1st round draft pick yet because of the presence of both Yates and Keenum, but they could be looking soon.
Indianapolis – Possibly the luckiest team ever to get the first overall pick in the years of Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. You almost have to expect that they next time they need a quarterback, there will be an elite prospect just waiting for them. They also brought in veteran Matt Hasselbeck to hold the clipboard, so they don’t have any pressing needs until Hasselbeck retires. I figure Matt stays around with the hopes of getting a ring soon.
Jacksonville – What a mess this team is right now. I fully expect the Jaguars to have the #1 overall pick this year and for Teddy Bridgewater to be their week 1 starter next season. It really isn’t a bad situation for a rookie quarterback to come into either as the offensive line is solid and Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon (presumably not suspended) and Ace Sanders are already in place as receivers.
Kansas City – What a job Andy Reid has done through 4 games this year. I questioned some of the team’s decisions this offseason, but the early results are impressive. Alex Smith seems to be a solid starter, Chase Daniel is the short term backup and Tyler Bray very well could be the long term solution. I don’t think they need anyone, but Andy does like drafting quarterbacks.
Miami – Ryan Tannehill looks like the future of this team and his development has been outstanding. Matt Moore chose to stay as the backup rather than try to start elsewhere and Pat Devlin is the developmental guy. I don’t expect any moves.
Minnesota – I have my doubts that Christian Ponder is the solution at quarterback and Matt Cassel, despite playing well in England this weekend, is not a starter. McLeod John Baltazar Bethel-Thompson is currently the third string quarterback (I’m not lying, check for yourself). If I’m the Vikings front office, I’m going back to the well for a quarterback this year while we still have Adrian Peterson.
New England – Tom Brady isn’t going anywhere and Ryan Mallett is still the backup. They signed Tim Tebow for a while in the preseason but that was probably just Bill Belichik doing a favor for his pal Urban Meyer. They won’t do more than look for a late round project.
New Orleans – Drew Brees is the man in New Orleans and Luke McCown (he is still in the league too? Damn McCown’s) is the only backup with hometown Ryan Griffin on the practice squad. The roster has talent all around and this team figures to go late into the postseason though, so this might be the time to grab the quarterback of the future at the end of the first round.
New York Giants – Despite the team’s struggles, Eli Manning is still a top quarterback. Veteran Curtis Painter is the backup for now and Ryan Nassib was drafted last year to take that role long term. There is no way this team is moving on from Eli yet, no matter how bad they play this year.
New York Jets – Geno Smith was the big name quarterback in last years draft and fell to the Jets in the 2nd round. Mark Sanchez is on IR and presumably done playing for this team. Uninspiring Matt Sims and Brady Quinn round out the depth chart, and Sims might even get a chance to start if Geno continues to struggle. The team has other holes, however, and I expect Geno gets at least one more season to prove his worth.
Oakland – This is a tough one because its possible the team loves Terrell Pryor. Matt Flynn is a solid backup if Pryor remains the starter, and Matt McGloin did enough to earn his spot in the pre-season. I would expect the Raiders to use this year as an audition for Pryor, but they really should bring in stronger competition for next year.
Philadelphia – Another tough situation to project. It seems like this will be Michael Vick’s last year in Philadelphia but no one knows if Nick Foles or Matt Barkley can be the starters moving forward. If the Eagles end up with a top 10 pick again, it will likely mean both Vick and Foles had shots at starting, so my gut instinct is that a quarterback like Brett Hundley or Marcus Mariota are brought in to compete with Foles/Barkley. This one is entirely up in the air though because I do believe that Barkley could be the quarterback of the future as well.
Pittsburgh – Much like Eli Manning in New
Jersey York, Ben Roethlisberger is the man in Pittsburgh despite the teams early struggles. The backups Bruce Gradkowski and rookie Landry Jones are solid enough. I don’t expect anything outside of a potential veteran backup shuffle here.
San Diego – This has been Phillip Rivers comeback season so far and if he keeps it up, he will remain in the team’s long term plans. Veteran Charlie Whitehurst came back to San Diego as the backup and rookie Brad Sorenson is the 3rd QB and developmental guy. Unless Rivers falls apart in a big way, they won’t need to make any moves.
San Francisco – Colin Kaepernick was inserted as the starter over Alex Smith mid-season last year, and the team almost won the Super Bowl. Kaep has struggled early this year but he is still their guy. Colt McCoy is a one year backup plan until BJ Daniels is ready to assume the role full-time.
Seattle – Russell Wilson is another young quarterback who is already the guy for his team. Tarvaris Jackson is a very strong backup for the team as well so I can’t imagine they will be looking.
St. Louis – The Rams seem committed to Sam Bradford as their long term answer at quarterback, but he has many detractors. If they do choose to move on from Bradford, there are no in-house options as Kellen Clemens is the only backup. If they like someone in the 2nd or 3rd round, they should absolutely pull the trigger, and with 2 first round draft picks this year thanks to the Redskins and the RG3 trade, the first round is absolutely an option as well.
Tampa Bay – Josh Freeman has been removed as the starter and rookie Mike Glennon has taken over. Dan Orlovsky is the backup right now. If anyone on that list excites you as a long term quarterback option, good luck. I expect a new head coach to be in town next season and Glennon will presumably have the rest of the season to audition for a starting role, but if I’m the new coach I am drafting someone to at least compete with him.
Tennessee – Jake Locker looked like a new man and a legit quarterback until his injury this week. Luckily the team has a viable backup in Ryan Fitzpatrick, and veteran Titan Rusty Smith is still around on the practice squad. The team doesn’t need anyone as long as Locker comes back healthy and continues his improvement.
Washington – RG3 was rushed back to start this season, despite the fact that Kirk Cousins has shown himself to be a strong backup. Rex Grossman is the best #3 quarterback in the league. I can’t imagine the team needing to draft anyone this offseason unless RG3 suffers another major injury.