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NFL Draft: Assessing Teams In Need Of A QB

The NFL is constantly referred to as a quarterback’s league and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone willing to refute the importance of the position, especially when you look at the recent history. Not having a solid quarterback under center translates into top-ten draft picks. Heading into the 2011 NFL Draft, there are at least 10 teams that should be targeting a quarterback at some point in the draft and there could even be more. Here’s a look at the these teams with the biggest need at the quarterback position. t

Carolina Panthers

After taking Jimmy Clausen in the second-round of last years draft, the Carolina Panthers find themselves in a similar situation as they were in last season. The good news is that they’re drafting at No. 1 overall so they’ll have their pick of players but unfortunately there’s not a “homerun” quarterback prospect available.

Many draft experts see them taking Cam Newton at #1 and the most recent reports suggest that the team has settled on the idea. Newton has plenty of ability and upside which something that you want to see when you’re considering investing the kind of money that comes with taking a player No. 1 overall. Drafting Newton translates into media coverage and ticket sales which is another aspect to consider when you’re talking about team that was as bad as the Panthers were last season.

Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert is viewed as the drafts safest QB but isn’t going to generate the same type of interest that Newton will even though he could end up being the better player. Teams make their decisions based on more factors than just x’s and o’s which is why Newton has the best shot of playing for Carolina next season.

Buffalo Bills

Head coach Chan Gailey has mentioned time and time again that he’s comfortable with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the teams QB but that hasn’t stopped them from actively scouting this years group of QB’s. I can understand why Gailey would maintain his support for Fitzpatrick but this is a team that needs a standout player at the most important position on the field. In case Gailey forgot, the Bills play in the same division as the Patriots and Jets so unless he feels that the team can win 11 games year in and year out with Fitzpatrick, drafting a quarterback at least shows that they’re willing to make some of the necessary chances.

There’s a good chance that Blaine Gabbert is available once Buffalo is on the clock at No. 3 overall. The Bills could grab Gabbert and still head into the 2011 season with Fitzpatrick who is already aware of the teams offense and would buy Gabbert some valuable time, especially when you consider that there’s a good chance the lockout cuts into this years offseason programs. This move also helps to reassure the teams fan base that they have a longterm plan in place to get the Bills back into the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

If Buffalo chooses to take one of the top defensive players with their No. 3 pick, it would make some sense but it puts the team in tough position to land one of the top-five quarterback prospects in the draft even though they have the No. 34 overall pick. Recent reports have suggested that there will be a run on quarterbacks at the end of first-round from teams that are desperate for quarterback. They should have a shot at one of: Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder or Colin Kaepernick at No. 34 but there are no guarantees in this years draft.

Cincinnati Bengals

The fact that the Bengals are in the position that they’re in has more to do with the teams front office decisions than it does with Carson Palmers trade demands. Even if Palmer didn’t request a trade out of town, the Bengals would have to consider taking a backup quarterback either this year or next. Keeping Palmer isn’t going to get them into playoffs which is something that we’ve been outlining for the last months so kick-starting the rebuilding process seems like a pretty good idea for the franchise.

The Bengals will have the No. 4 and No. 35 overall picks to get a quarterback prospect that will hopefully get them their first playoff win in last 20 years (sorry but that’s a terrible stat). If either Gabbert or Newton are still on the board at No. 4, taking one of them seems like a no-brainer. There’s a chance that Cincinnati could get aggressive and move up to No. 2 swapping picks with Denver to ensure that they get one of them but this move will require an additional pick.

If they choose to take the best available player, possibly A.J. Green or Von Miller, they’re still in a decent position to get QB at No. 35. But as we’ve outlined already, the chances that there is a run on QB’s towards the end of the first-round is pretty good so sticking with the No. 35 pick puts them in a similar position to Buffalo but worse. There has been a lot of speculation that Ryan Mallet is a player that they would like get in second-round. Mallett has the best arm in the draft and if he is able to prove that the character concerns were unwarranted, he could be the steal of the draft but that’s a sizable “if.”

Whatever happens with Newton and Gabbert will no doubt have a large impact on the Bengals draft.

Arizona Cardinals

You really could make the case that the Cardinals are the team that has the biggest need at quarterback but unfortunately for them they are sitting on the outskirts of the top-two available players at No. 5 overall. Arizona took two QB’s in last years draft but that didn’t play out all that well for the team. Neither did signing Derek Anderson.

Their No. 38 doesn’t help their chances of getting one of the top-five QB’s in the draft so waiting could cost them. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that take the best available player at No. 5 and trade back into the first-round to get a solid quarterback prospect like a Christian Ponder or Andy Dalton.

Several trade rumors have linked that Cardinals to Philadelphia Eagles QB Kevin Kolb but that will remain a contingency plan for teams that end up missing out on QB’s in the draft. Kolb requires draft picks and a sizable contract which something that teams are mostly concerned about considering that Kolb has a very limited amount of NFL experience for the asking price. Drafting a QB seems like a better use of the teams resources but moves like this are more commonly made out of desperation rather than logical.

Fixing the teams QB problem is of the up most importance for them so it will be interesting to see what exactly it is that they choose to do.

San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco is in a pretty favorable position despite their need for a QB. The 49ers will have 12 picks at their disposal for the upcoming draft which would seem like a great situation but 6 if their picks are in the sixth and seveth-round and they only have 2 picks in one of the top five-rounds (fourth-round do be specific). They may not in the perfect position to trade up into some of the top rounds of the draft but overall the should come away with some solid talent in this year.

At No. 7 overall there’s really no chance they take a QB with this pick unless four teams pass on one of Newton or Gabbert. Trading up for either player is also a challenge because they will have to make up 900 points to move up to No. 2 overall which basically means that they would have to trade all of the middle round picks if they are using the NFL Draft Value Chart. The more likely scenario is that they take the best available player in round-one, like a Patrick Peterson, and see if they can move up a few spots in the second-round. Jim Harbaugh seems to have interest in some of the QB’s in this years draft like Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick but they’ll have to make a move to ensure that they land one of them.

It would make sense for the 49ers to get a player during free agency that can come in and help them compete right away especially when you consider that they play in the leagues worst division. Harbaugh seems to open to bringing back Alex Smith for another season which seems to make sense from a continuity stand point but that isn’t going to score him a lot of points with the teams fan base.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans have already undergone overhaul by letting go of Jeff Fisher and choosing to move on with Vince Young, even though Young is still under contract until the teams releases him or trades him away. Tennessee appears to have made up their mind in regards to Young so that leaves them with Rusty Smith as the only other QB on their roster and that’s a pretty bad predicament.

At No. 9 overall they are in a similar position as some of the other teams that we’ve already discussed. They basically have no shot at one of the top-two but they could look to trade down in first-round and take a quarterback at that spot rather draft a defensive player. This would give them another selection in the middle-rounds that they can use to grab a player that fits one of their other roster needs.

Some have suggested that the Titans could trade up to get Gabbert but that could be a costly proposition considering that it would leave them only a few picks to address some of their other roster holes.  Moving up from No. 9 overall to No. 2 would leave them with 1250 points (NFL Draft Value Chart) to make which would basically require them to trade some of next seasons draft picks in order to get the deal done. Others haven’t ruled out the possiblity that they bring back Kerry Collins for next season but they’re most likely going to add a young quarterback in the next few weeks.

Washington Redskins

Washington finds themselves in a tough spot at No. 10 overall. With 6 teams ahead of them that have a need at quarterback, there’s no chance they get Gabbert or Newton. Trading up is equally difficult for them and their second-round pick (No. 41) leaves them on the outskirts for some of the other QB’s.

Best case scenario is for them to pull the trigger earlier on in the draft and trade down into the later part of the first-round which would guarantee them a shot at one of the top-five prospects. The Redskins are already without their third and fourth-round picks so acquiring some extra selections is something that makes a lot of sense for them specifically.

The Redskins have been linked to everyone of the the top-five QB’s and even Ricky Stanzi from Iowa but it seems more likely that they would target either Ryan Mallet, Jake Locker or Christian Ponder if they trade down into the 20’s range of the first-round.

Washington has got get a quarterback in this years draft and I’m sure that Mike Shanahan is well aware of that. I would expect Redskins to riot if the enter the 2011 season with Rex Grossman as their starting quarterback.

Minnesota Vikings

Vikings new head coach Leslie Frazier has already made it clear that they are looking to get a quarterback in this years draft (no surprise). Sitting at No. 12 overall the Vikings could almost justify reaching for a QB because of their need at the position and because it will be tough to get one in the second-round considering that they’re behind a number of teams at No. 43. Trading down shouldn’t be ruled out. Minnesota has been rumored to be considering Jake Locker in the first-round which isn’t a terrible idea but he will require time to develop and at No. 12 overall that would be considered a reach.

The team already has Joe Webb who showed that he has some amount potential at the position but he’ll also require more time to develop. Minnesota will have to make up their minds real soon in regards to whether or not they think Joe Webb can be a starting QB in the league because having two developmental quarterbacks in the making isn’t going to help them win a lot of games in the interim.

Another thing to consider is that Adrian Peterson is already in the prime of his career so if it takes them two years to get a quarterback ready to be effective in the league, Peterson will be entering the dreaded downswing of his career. This is not to say he’ll ineffective at 28 but rather that his time is now. Another two years of wear and tear, which is something that he’s more accustom to than other running backs, isn’t going to help him to remain a dominant player at an unforgiving position.

Grabbing a player like Locker or Mallett and pairing him with a veteran QB makes sense but Frazier has already indicated that he’s ok with forward with a rookie under center for better or for worse. Few QB’s are able to do this and many believe that this years group of players will need some time.

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle is the great spot to take a quarterback without requiring another team to facilitate the move. At No. 25 anyone of Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton or Christian Ponder could be in play in here. Recent rumors have suggested Dalton as the player to watch at this pick.

The Seahawks attempted to retain Matt Hasselbeck a few months ago but it’s been reported that he was looking for money than the Seahawks were willing to give him at the time. Hasselback played great during the teams playoff run so he was most likely looking to leverage his recent success into a financial windfall. Can’t blame him but that doesn’t mean that he’s worth the kind of investment that he’s asking for.

Seattle gave up a third-round pick in return for Charlie Whitehurst but his up and down performance most likely isn’t enough to sway the team away from taking a QB in this years draft.

The Seahawks really need help at offensive line but passing on quarterback could cost them a shot at getting one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. If Locker is off the board I wouldn’t be surprised to see them grab Dalton at No. 26.

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