In case you have not heard this yet, the NFL is a quarterback’s league. No other player has the same amount of influence as the one that touches the ball every play that he is on the field, and there has never been as much of an importance on one position as there is in today’s game.
It only took Joe Burrow two seasons to transform the Cincinnati Bengals from a 2-14 disaster of a franchise to the AFC’s representative in this year’s Super Bowl, which came in the first year that he was healthy from start to finish.
While certain organizations such as the Jacksonville Jaguars have already identified who they would like to lead them into the future, even if those players are not currently producing at a high level, others desperately need to pivot and invest in themselves and their future— and that starts by drafting a quarterback in this year’s draft.
This summer’s free agency period is expected to be fairly weak, which is not helped by the draft’s lack of a clear-cut top quarterback prospect. Kenny Pickett, Sam Howell, Malik Willis, and a few others could all be the first quarterbacl off the board, depending on each team’s preference.
Quarterbacks typically have a three-year window to prove that they can carry a franchise or at least play at a proficient level with a decent supporting cast, meaning that a majority of this year’s rookie quarterbacks are in the clear.
With that being said, here is where a few noteworthy teams in the league stand with their quarterback situation.
Need to Draft a Quarterback
Washington Football Team
The Washington Football team came into the season with many claiming that they had a Super Bowl defense. Although it did not pan out that way, they have undeniable young talent, some of which they will be forced to part with when their contract negotiations come up.
Teams in this situation usually go all-in on finding a quarterback to make them competitive. However, Washington wound up with Ryan Fitzpatrick and mostly Taylor Heinicke under center this year.
Head Coach Ron Rivera is known as a defensive guy and is somewhat on the hot seat entering the new campaign, so getting his quarterback situation addressed should be at the top of the list.
The Denver Broncos do not trust Drew Lock to be their full-time starter and cannot be invested in Teddy Bridgewater beyond a brief layover period, based on his performances.
Even with the possibility of a deal for Aaron Rodgers in the cards, Denver should be looking to use their first-round pick on a player that, if pushed, could start next season or be comfortable sitting for a year or two behind the reigning MVP, should he come to town.
Matt Ryan has been under an extreme burden since he became a reputable starter, and now that he is entering his latter years (and regressing noticeably), Atlanta needs a young gunslinger that can blend into their fun, athletic offense of Cordarelle Patterson, Kyle Pitts, Calvin Ridley, and others.
The division is also open for the taking, following the retirements of Sean Payton in New Orleans and Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, so this is a great time for Atlanta to develop a quarterback that also has a chance to play for a division title immediately.
Depends on Who’s Available
The Miami Dolphins showed their faith in Tua Tagovailoa by sending former coach Brian Flores, who was rumored not to be a fan of his starting quarterback, packing. Tagovailoa is known as an accurate passer with sub-par arm strength and very little explosiveness that injuries have also riddled since he entered college.
It does not look like Miami is focused on drafting a competitor for the position, but if one is available on the board with their second selection, they should at least be pondering the value.
Cleveland is in the unenviable “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” spot with their quarterback, Baker Mayfield, who has been up and down in every way since he was taken first overall a few years ago.
Having made the playoffs yet been shockingly poor at times, injured multiple times, and not always presented himself well online, the Browns have still not been able to decide if Mayfield is worth extending beyond his rookie contract.
With the former Heisman winner soon being eligible for a massive contract, Cleveland should check and recheck the draft board to see if there is a player that they would be able to develop for a year before handing him the reins.
New York Giants
Newly-hired Head Coach Brian Daboll made it clear that he will be starting Daniel Jones when the next season starts, claiming that he will “help him be the best version of himself.” The three-year veteran has not finished a full season without being injured and is known as being clumsy and unaware, though he did reduce his turnover total tremendously last year.
If Daboll is being genuine in his proclamation, New York will likely pass on bringing in any additional stress or pressure. However, there is still a chance that they could begin searching for Jones’ replacement, should he end up needing one sooner than later.
Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, P.J. Walker, any one of them could wind up as the Panthers’ starting quarterback next season. However, it looks pretty clear that none of them is the top option, and with talented young assets and an aggressive owner, it would not be a surprise to see Carolina make the plunge on a prospect this summer.
The biggest blockade on the NFC South’s worst team this year using their selection on a quarterback is the fact that they also have holes in other places, which would best be addressed now as opposed to when they do not have capable players in their quarterback room.
Will Not Be Taking a Quarterback
Everybody loves to mock Kirk Cousins for looking nerdy and weak, but he is coming off of the best season of his career and is not making an absurd amount of money. With the possibility of Aaron Rodgers leaving the division, Minnesota would be wise to hold onto a player that led them to an NFC Championship a few years ago and was in the top half of the league in Quarterback Rating.
Davis Mills was certainly not the best rookie quarterback in league history, but the team around him was fairly awful. Mills flashed his ability a few times, specifically in three 300-yard, zero-interception outings, and deserves the opportunity to play in better circumstances.
This does not even account for Mills being brought in as Tyrod Taylor’s backup, which surely hindered his early production.
The Colts already have a “maybe” quarterback in 23-year-old Sam Ehlinger on their roster, so plunging on a mid-round quarterback this year does not make much sense for them. Carson Wentz was also having a decent year before flaming out memorably.
With a top-five running back and offensive line, as well as a capable defense, Indy is either going to stick with their current starter or attempt to negotiate a trade for an established quarterback.