In 2017, Chicago shocked the NFL by trading up to draft QB Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick, just weeks after the team signed QB Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million deal with a guaranteed $18.5 million over three years in free agency. Last year there weren’t any unexpected quarterback moves made in the first round, but this year could be different.
After the musical chairs of free agency ended, there are still many teams in need of quarterbacks—but not immediately. The Giants need to draft Eli Manning’s heir sooner rather than later. Tennessee and Tampa Bay both have quarterbacks on expiring deals. Miami, Washington (because Alex Smith’s future is uncertain) and Denver all have bridge quarterbacks, but are searching for a franchise quarterback.
One scout I spoke to said there will be one or two first-round-caliber quarterbacks still available in the second half of the first round, which opens up the quarterback possibilities to teams picking outside of the top ten in this draft. I polled several scouts and agents around the NFL to find out which teams they think may surprise draft a quarterback. Here’s the list of teams (in alphabetical order) that came up most often:
The Bengals drafting a quarterback wouldn’t be much of a surprise after team owner Mike Brown said at the NFL owners meeting that he would not consider extending quarterback Andy Dalton’s contract (which runs through 2020) before this season. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Brown said, “I think it's a good year for [Dalton] to show like he can, like we think he will. After he re-establishes himself we would want to get together with him and see if we can extend it. I think Andy is a good player and that he will rebound off last year. He was hurt. We lost so many other pieces. It fell apart, but if he's healthy and we stay healthy enough, I have confidence in him.”
The Bengals have the No. 11 pick, which is in the range to get a top QB. Cincinnati’s first-year head coach Zac Taylor came up in the league as a quarterbacks coach, so he may have his eye on a rookie who he can mold in his own image. Taylor has expressed support for Dalton, but the Bengals came up most often in this poll, so they are a team to keep an eye on.
One scout posed the question—can the team really win it all with Matthew Stafford? The Lions haven’t won a playoff game since 1991, and while the roster is weak in many areas, it’s natural to question how much falls on Stafford. But also consider that the team wasn’t willing to trade Stafford to the Dolphins before last season for a first-round pick and more. Detroit’s roster has a lot of holes, and the Lions could pull in a decent haul of picks for their No. 8 pick if they put out some feelers to trade back—watch for them to trade down with a team desperate to get into the top ten.
New England Patriots
The Patriots’ roster has many holes—left tackle, tight end and defensive end are more pressing needs—but it’s not out of the question for New England to possibly draft a quarterback if the right player is still there at the No. 32. More likely, the Patriots will use a late-round pick on a quarterback, someone like North Dakota State’s Easton Stick, who led North Dakota State to three FCS titles, or Boise State’s Brett Rypien, who I’ve heard has a few teams interested in him.
One scout originally mentioned Oakland, and then took it back, saying coach Jon Gruden won’t take a quarterback because he hates young quarterbacks. This is a good point about Gruden, but I still think there’s a real chance Gruden’s desire to remake a team in his own image will outweigh his dislike of inexperienced quarterbacks. As Albert Breer reported, the Raiders are doing their work on the top quarterbacks in this draft, hosting Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray for workouts. And the Oakland staff has already spent a significant amount of time with Missouri quarterback Drew Lock while coaching him at the Senior Bowl.
Even with Russell Wilson on the roster, Seattle keeps tabs on the draft’s quarterbacks. This year the team interviewed Kyler Murray at the scouting combine. Last year general manager John Schneider attended Josh Allen’s pro day at Wyoming, and two years ago, the Seahawks were very interested in Patrick Mahomes.
Seattle is currently in negotiations with Wilson’s camp to extend his contract—the QB gave the Seahawks a self-imposed deadline of April 15, not wanting to extend negotiations into the beginning of the offseason program. But Breer reported that Wilson will still be at the workouts whether or not he has a deal. However if there’s a quarterback whom Seattle likes still available in the second half of the first round, the Seahawks may go in that direction.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New head coach Bruce Arians has spoken out with his support of Jameis Winston, but the 25-year old quarterback is entering the final year of his five-year contract. Winston has struggled on the field with inconsistency and turnovers, and his record off the field is equally spotty, which makes it easy to see Tampa Bay picking a quarterback if there’s a guy they like in this draft. Will Winston take a real step forward in 2019? It may be easier for the Bucs to just move on without him. The Bucs pick fifth overall, which puts them in a good position to get a quarterback.
The pro day circuit has officially concluded, and now we enter the phase of the pre-draft process where most teams will hold local pro days at their facilities. Prospects who played at colleges near the NFL team are invited to work out. These are helpful because the team does not have to use one of their 30 allotted visits on these local prospects and can use that visit on a prospect who is not in the area.
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