Teams in need of quarterbacks now turn to NFL draft for solutions
When it comes to the evaluation of draftable quarterbacks, there's only one thing for sure -- whatever the prevailing opinion is at any time, stick around for a few days and watch it change.
There are few better examples of this than the pre-draft process of one Cameron Jerrell Newton in 2011. The former Auburn star stunk it up at the scouting combine, completing 11 of 21 total passes and looking very much like the sub-quarterback some insisted he would be, no matter what the game tape actually said. Newton did a bit better at his pro day eight days later, but it wasn't until he did some serious summer work with performance coach Chris Weinke that he was able to transform himself into the first overall pick who broke a number of rookie records.
Similarly, all the hemming and hawing over Teddy Bridgewater's less-than-impressive pro day on Monday could be just so much noise, or there could be teams willing to shy away from the young man who looked very much like the most well-developed passer in this draft class last season. And if the latter is the case... well, it's just as likely that someone's going to get fired for that misstep down the road, and it won't be Bridgewater.
Who are the teams that still need a quarterback, and what are they likely to do about it now that their best option appears to be the draft? Let's take a look.
General manager Rick Smith has always believed in building through the draft, and it's entirely possible he and new head coach Bill O'Brien have agreed on the Texans' next franchise quarterback. One thing we know is it won't be Matt Schaub, the veteran whose recent predilection for pick-sixes has him on the outs. Houston is looking to move Schaub and his inflated contract (for which Smith is primarily responsible), and few teams seem legitimately interested.
The Texans met privately with Bridgewater after his pro day, but that's standard operating procedure for the team with the first pick in the draft and a need at the position. They'll most likely meet with all the top guys.
The fact that the Texans weren't in the mix for Josh McCown (who went to Tampa Bay) or Michael Vick (who remains on the open market) seems to be instructive -- whoever takes snaps for the Texans in 2014 will most likely be the man who hears his name called first overall in May. If that's the case, O'Brien's history with bigger pocket passers would seem to indicate a move away from Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel.
Then again, with needs on the defensive line to fill in new coordinator Romeo Crennel's schemes, Houston could opt for Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick and take a quarterback later. Smith is skating on thin ice after last season, and whoever the first overall pick is, the Texans need to hit this one out of the park.
The Jags re-signed Chad Henne as a veteran backup and traded Blaine Gabbert to the San Francisco 49ers, leaving one very obvious hole in the roster for a team that's been fairly aggressive on the defensive side of the ball in free agency.
With the third overall pick in this draft, Jacksonville could very well go after Bridgewater if he drops past Houston and St. Louis. If not, there's always Blake Bortles or Manziel, and the latter could provide a big media splash -- always a perk for a team looking to fill its stadium.
The Jags have 10 picks in the upcoming draft, and general manager Dave Caldwell could look to move down to acquire more selections. In that case, they may end up with a less-heralded player like Fresno State's Derek Carr or Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo. But the smart money has this team realizing it can't move any further past futility without a truly game-changing quarterback, and there will be enticing options that high in the selection process.
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With a totally redefined front office and coaching staff (yet again), the Browns are looking to head past Dysfunction Junction and set things right for the first time in years. Manziel has been attached to this franchise as a probable get with the fourth overall pick in the draft. Injured quarterback Brian Hoyer lost his best supporter when general manager Mike Lombardi was fired in the organization's most recent purge, and new GM Ray Farmer has talked a lot about building through the long term with chemistry.
"I can definitely say this is not an overnight process," he recently said. "We're not going to wake up tomorrow and say, 'Guess what? We found these 15 guys and made these changes, and this all works and it fits.'"
So, whatever the new Browns regime does, don't expect a quick fix at the position -- they've already waved goodbye to former first-round pick Brandon Weeden, who recently signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys.
It's been rumored the Raiders have been in "serious talks" with the Texans about Matt Schaub's services in a trade, which would offload Schaub's $10.5 million cap number for 2014 onto general manager Reggie McKenzie.
The Raiders have taken a lot of hits for their relatively conservative (and sometimes downright bumbling) free-agency moves, and at least the Schaub deal would fall in line with McKenzie's other moves, which have added several veterans who've seen better days.
Last year, Oakland alternated between Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin under center in a dismal offensive season. Given McKenzie's disappointing moves so far and Oakland's available cap space, it's hard to project what this team will do. Michael Vick could also be a possibility.
The Vikings re-signed Matt Cassel to a two-year, $10 million contract in early March, and the Christian Ponder era is all but over. As new offensive coordinator Norv Turner told reporters in early February, no matter what happens with the veterans, Minnesota will be looking to add a younger quarterback to the roster -- and most likely pretty quickly in the draft.
"Quarterbacks come from a lot of different spots," Turner said.. "A third-rounder wins the Super Bowl, and there's some pretty good players who weren't drafted high. I think everybody is in agreement: We're trying to add a young quarterback to the organization. So, you just gotta make sure it's a good one wherever you get him."BURKE: Teams with work left to do in free agency