Should Your Team Pick a QB?

2:22 | The MMQB
Where does Paxton Lynch land?
Thursday April 28th, 2016

At various junctures during Bill Polian’s final decade in Indianapolis, when it was clear the Colts had landed perhaps the greatest passer of a generation with the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft, members of Polian’s staff approached the future Hall of Fame general manager with a desire to draft a quarterback.

Polian typically would argue that Peyton Manning was so important, his impact so great, that it didn’t matter who his backup was—if he got hurt, the team was going 2-14 or worse.

Of course, Polian’s staff would argue, but maybe we all won’t get fired in the process.

Polian and his staff did get canned following the 2011 season, the one Peyton Manning missed because of the neck injury that led to his release in March of 2012 and departure for Denver.

“I’ve changed my philosophy,” Polian told reporters at the 2016 combine, “largely because of my last year in Indianapolis.”

Since then the number of teams drafting passers hasn’t changed much, but the urgency among teams to identify the next passer has.

• THE SAM BRADFORD FIASCO: Peter King tries to get a handle on the quarterback drama playing out in Philadelphia

“Every year you’re looking for that guy, and when he’s going to come around you never know,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said this month in a pre-draft press conference. “I think this draft has potential for a quarterback of the future more than drafts in the past. There are some intriguing guys in the draft.”

Problem is, it’s next to impossible to properly evaluate and develop a No. 3 quarterback when you get him in the building. The new collective bargaining agreement’s practice limits are such that the overwhelming priority is on getting starters up to speed rather than evaluating talent. Everybody has an argument for why their team should draft a quarterback in 2016, but the reality is there typically are about 10 quarterbacks worthy of investment in each draft, then a whole bunch of camp arms and long-term projects who rarely ever see the field. P

icking quarterbacks in the later rounds is about finding the right fit and being willing to pass on drafting a QB if you don’t truly see room for him to grow.

With that in mind, let's go through all 32 teams and try to answer the question: Should your team draft a quarterback?

Disclaimer: This is not a reverse ranking of the best QB situations in the NFL. This list is meant to assess whether a team should spend a draft pick on a quarterback, whether that potential player be a first-round pick or Mr. Irrelevant.

Top row, left to right: Tony Romo, Christian Hackenberg, Paxton Lynch, Tyrod Taylor. Bottom row: Cardale Jones, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Connor Cook.
Getty Images (8)

No, But Never Say Never

PACKERS 
Current QBs:
Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley, Ryan Williams
Priority level: Undrafted free agent (UDFA)

Green Bay took Hundley in the fifth round in 2015 after a two-year drought. They signed Williams, a former University of Miami quarterback, to a developmental contract in January, so the room is full.

VIKINGS
Current QBs:
Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill, Taylor Heinicke
Priority level: UDFA

Young, improving starter. Veteran backup. Promising prospect. Minnesota showed its hand when it kept Heinicke, a UDFA in 2015 out of Old Dominion, on the active roster rather than the practice squad, where he could’ve been poached at any time. They like the guy.

BUCS
Current QBs: 
Jameis Winston, Mike Glennon, Ryan Griffin, Dan LeFevour
Priority level: UDFA​

It’s a contract year for Glennon, who hasn’t thrown a pass since 2014 but was impressive in stretches as a starter. There will be a market for the 2013 third-rounder when his deal is up. Still, the 2016 draft is not the time to address this issue—better to bank on finding the right free agent in 2017.

TITANS
​Current QBs:
Marcus Mariota, Zach Mettenberger, Matt Cassel, Alex Tanney
Priority level: UDFA​​

Tennessee signed Cassel in March to remedy its backup problem; Mettenberger started four games in place of an injured Mariota and threw four touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Titans have bigger priorities that should span seven rounds.

FALCONS
Current QBs:
Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Sean Renfree, Matt Simms
​​Priority level: UDFA​​​

Atlanta hasn’t drafted a quarterback since it took Renfree out of Duke in the seventh round in 2013, and he hasn’t done anything in preseason action to make himself essential. However, Ryan hasn’t missed a start in six years and doesn’t look close to slowing down at 30, and Schaub is a Kyle Shanahan favorite.


COLTS
Current QBs: ​
Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien, Stephen Morris
Priority level: UDFA​​​

Tolzein hasn’t been tested since 2013, when he threw five interceptions in two games for Green Bay. Morris was a late pickup in December off the Eagles practice squad. It would make sense to take a quarterback, but the Colts only have six draft picks this week.

TEXANS
Current QBs:
Brock Osweiler, Brandon Weeden, Tom Savage
Priority level: UDFA​​​

There’s no great need to bring in a new face, what with a big offseason signing in Osweiler, a vet in Weeden and a developmental project in Savage who looked strong last preseason. Curiously, though, the Texans worked out or met with nine quarterbacks this offseason, including four guys likely to be UDFAs.

PANTHERS
Current QBs:
Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Joe Webb
Priority level: UDFA​​

Carolina hasn’t drafted a quarterback since they took Cam Newton first overall in 2010, apparently satisfied with the ex-Pro Bowler backup, Anderson. It might be wise to take a swing with the second-to-last pick in the seventh round if there’s nobody left with a draftable grade, but there’s no urgency here, and the Panthers only have six picks.

• WHY PAXTON LYNCH IS RISING: Jenny Vrentas shares 10 thoughts on the NFL draft

GIANTS
Current QBs:
Eli Manning, Ryan Nassib, GJ Kinne
​​Priority level: UDFA​​​

Nassib, whom the team traded up to grab in the fourth round in 2013, is wholly untested, so his prospects on the open market aren’t great. The Giants, who have just six picks in this draft, worked out exactly zero quarterbacks this offseason, per reports, and while workouts may not be a great indicator of who teams will pick at the top, they can provide a glimpse at which late-rounders and UDFAs are being considered.

CHIEFS
Current QBs:
Alex Smith, Aaron Murray, Tyler Bray
Priority level: UDFA​​

John Dorsey and Andy Reid are two guys who will pull the trigger on a QB they like almost regardless of what they have on the roster. Dorsey was director of college scouting when the Packers famously and successfully took Aaron Rodgers in the first round despite having a 35-year-old Brett Favre on the roster, and Reid took Kevin Kolb in the second round in Philly when Donovan McNabb was 30. I don’t think this is the year, but do not be shocked if they buck convention and spend pick No. 59 on one of the top five QBs.

BENGALS
Current QBs:
Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron, Keith Wenning
​​Priority level: UDFA​​​

McCarron has demonstrated he could become a viable starter one day, and getting a head start on developing a young QB makes it easier to place McCarron on the trade block after 2016.

LIONS
​Current QBs:
Matt Stafford, Dan Orlovsky
​​Priority level: UDFA​​​

The Lions haven’t drafted a quarterback since they took Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009, preferring the UDFA route. It might be prudent to get started on a developmental guy, though not at all urgent.

* * *

With Tarvaris Jackson (left) unsigned, the Seahawks might be in the market for a backup to Russell Wilson.
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Sure, But No Biggie If Not

RAVENS
​Current QBs:
Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett, Jerrod Johnson
Priority level: 7-UDFA​​​

Mallett was serviceable in the two games he started while Flacco was injured, but Baltimore doesn’t have a QB younger than 27 on the roster. The Ravens did, however, find out last year what a nightmare it can be when a starter goes down and the depth chart is a potpourri of throwaway QBs.

RAIDERS
Current QBs:
Derek Carr, Matt McGloin, Garrett Gilbert
Priority level: 7-UDFA​​​

McGloin hits free agency a year from now, and while he won’t garner much consideration as a potential starter, there’s a chance he could make more money elsewhere. I could see the Raiders carrying a third quarterback this season as a project.

JAGUARS
Current QBs:
Blake Bortles, Chad Henne
Priority level: 7-UDFA​​​​

Henne just signed a two-year, $8 million deal to remain Bortles’ backup for the third season. It’s on the high end for backup QBs, and the Jags don’t have anybody on the roster as a developmental player. It’s about time general manager Dave Caldwell free up some of that money. Then again, the Jaguars reportedly were one of three teams not to have met with a single QB prospect pre-draft (along with the Giants and Packers).

• THE DRAFT GURU WHO HAS SEEN IT ALL: A Q&A with Gil Brandt, involved in NFL drafts since 1955 

CHARGERS
Current QBs:
Philip Rivers, Kellen Clemens, Bryn Renner
Priority level: 6-7​​​​

Rivers, 34, is coming off probably the best season of a storied career, but it’s time to start thinking about the future. Clemens is a career backup and Renner was on and off the Ravens’ practice squad last year and is not invulnerable to a little friendly competition.

SEAHAWKS
Current QBs:
Russell Wilson, Phillip Sims
Priority level: 6-7

Seattle walked away from 33-year-old Tarvaris Jackson after his third season with the club and signed HBCU product Phillip Sims (Winston-Salem State). It’s time to find a third guy who can compete with Sims for the backup job, though Pete Carroll said as recently as March he’d like to have Jackson back. This could be a matter of GM John Schneider and Carroll keeping their options open should the right rookie fall into their laps.

PATRIOTS
​Current QBs:
Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo
Priority level: 6-7

Garoppolo’s contract is up in 2018, when Brady turns 40, and Bill Belichick makes a habit of keeping a valued young passer in the wings. He’s got the option to take a quarterback late in this draft or high the next one, but in a deep class, there will be value at other positions late on Saturday that may prove hard to ignore. As for Brady’s looming four-game suspension, Belichick won’t let that be a factor in his decision to draft a quarterback or not.

DOLPHINS
Current QBs:
Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Logan Thomas, Zac Dysert
Priority level: 6-7​

On one hand, the Dolphins have a ton of needs and quarterback isn’t an immediate one. On the other hand, their backups have been around the block and more or less demonstrated their respective ceilings, and Tannehill’s cap number is $20.3 million in 2017, per the extension he signed last summer. You can bet the Dolphins would rather not shell out that kind of cash if Tannehill regresses tremendously in 2016.

* * *

Ben Roethlisberger will be entering his 13th season in 2016 and the Steelers struggled when he missed games due to injury last year.
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

You Bet Your A--

BEARS
​Current QBs:
Jay Cutler, David Fales, Matt Blanchard
Priority level: 5-6

The Bears have nine picks and two in the fourth round, and Ryan Pace has said he’s interested in doing the Patriots thing and spending some draft capital on a backup they can develop into a legit starter for somebody, if not the Bears. Cutler’s safe, but the Bears are thinking big picture. Plus, just imagine the memes if 2014 sixth-round pick David Fales gets in and struggles. Nobody wants to see that.

STEELERS
Current QBs:
Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Dustin Vaughan
Priority level: 4-5

Jones was very shaky in place of the 34-year-old Roethlisberger last season, with three interceptions in his last nine passing attempts. Roethlisberger’s ailments are beginning to stack up, Jones’ deal expires after this season, and Vaughan may amount to nothing more than a camp arm. Time to get serious about finding a successor.

WASHINGTON
Current QBs:
Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy
Priority level: 4-5

Scot McCloughan wants to flip his eight picks into a dozen, which would give Washington some wiggle room to find a QB who can develop behind the 29-year-old McCoy. The long-term is far from settled with Cousins playing under the franchise tag. If he’s not the guy, it’d be nice to have some options in 2017.

• INSIDE THE FILM ROOM: Andy Benoit watches tape with Carson Wentz

BILLS
​Current QBs: 
Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel
Priority level: 4-5

Doug Whaley has made no bones about his desire to add a QB to the roster, and he made the odd choice to call Stanford’s Kevin Hogan the most pro-ready QB in the draft. Taylor is Buffalo’s starter, but there’s no telling if he’s the long-term solution. Plus, Manuel’s contract is up after this season. The Bills need insurance.

CARDINALS
Current QBs:
Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Matt Barkley
Priority level: 3-4

Palmer is 36, and while there is some urgency to find a successor, the Cardinals may rightfully feel as though they are one piece away from a Super Bowl. I doubt they go quarterback at 29. While Steve Keim doesn’t have a second-round pick, he does have a late third rounder sitting right in the sweet-spot for the traditional run on QBs in the early fourth.

SAINTS
Current QBs:
Drew Brees, Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson, Griffin Neal
Priority level: 3-4

What the Saints do in the draft will have a ton of bearing on contract talks with Brees, who is reportedly asking for “plenty north of $20 million” a year at 37 years old, according to CBS Sports. If the Saints pull the trigger on Day 1 or 2, that would give the team a viable long-term answer and necessarily damage Brees’ bargaining power. Grayson, a 2015 third-round pick, looking pedestrian last preseason did management no favors. The Saints could take Paxton Lynch at 12, but I’m not putting any money on it.

* * *

With the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick at a standoff, don’t be surprised if the team picks a quarterback in the first two days of the draft.
Jerome Davis/Getty Images

Hot Takes Galore if They Don’t

COWBOYS
Current QBs:
Tony Romo, Kellen Moore, Jameill Showers
Priority level: 2-3

We’re entering no-brainer territory. Romo is 36 and nearing his expiration date. The only reason I don’t think they should go quarterback in the first (at least not with the fourth pick) is the potential value they’d be passing up by drafting somebody not named Goff or Wentz, considering the defensive players who will be on the board after the Chargers choose at No. 3.

49ERS
Current QBs:
Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, Thaddeus Lewis, Dylan Thompson
Priority level: 2-3

The 49ers exist in a strange sort of QB purgatory with Kaepernick having requested a trade while kinda-maybe digging new coach Chip Kelly a little bit.  There are too many studs available in the Top 10 for the Niners to go Paxton Lynch at No. 7 overall, but crazier things have happened.

BROWNS
Current QBs:
Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Austin Davis, Connor Shaw, Pat Devlin
Priority level: 2-3​

Cleveland’s luck with QBs is well-documented, which is why Hue Jackson brought in Griffin to be a stopgap for whatever rookie quarterback he eventually settles on. Barring another trade back in the first, I don’t think this regime will be seduced by a quarterback at 8. Bet on the beginning of the second round.

BRONCOS
Current QBs:
Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian
Priority level: 1-2

What a wonderful rarity it is to see the defending Super Bowl champions scrambling to find a starting quarterback in April. You have to be envious of whatever quarterback steps into that huddle with the benefit of Denver’s world-class defense. Anyway, I think the Broncos go QB in the first two rounds regardless of whether a deal gets done for Colin Kaepernick or Sam Bradford. Denver’s position in the first round factors into the urgency here; as many as four QBs could be off the board by the time the No. 31 pick rolls around.

JETS
Current QBs: 
Geno Smith, Bryce Petty
Priority level: 1-2

The fact that Mike Maccagnan flirted with the notion of trading up to No. 1 to remedy his QB situation says enough about how the Jets feel about former fourth-round pick Bryce Petty. The reputations of Geno Smith and the still-unsigned Ryan Fitzpatrick precede them. This regime has to make a move at the QB position, ASAP.

EAGLES
Current QBs:
Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
Priority level: 1

The Eagles demonstrated just how desperate they were to land one of the top two passers when they traded up for the Browns’ No. 2 overall pick, which resulted in Bradford requesting a trade. The big question: Can presumed pick Carson Wentz (North Dakota State) acclimate as quickly as the Eagles will ask him?

RAMS
Current QBs:
Case Keenum, Nick Foles, Sean Mannion
​Priority level: 1

It all starts with Goff, whose ascent from battered freshman in over his head to catalyst for a Cal turnaround ends with him at the top of the draft and headed to the NFL’s newest city, according to nearly every mock draft in existence. Tennessee dealing the No. 1 pick to Los Angeles set in motion a scenario in which close to a dozen QBs could be drafted one year after just seven passers heard their names called.

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.  

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.