This offseason saw another spin of the quarterback carousel like every offseason before it. This time two trades sent players who might have been the odd man out come training camp a chance to be the man for a different franchise. The unfortunately thing about the Carson Palmer trade and Matt Flynn trade is this reduces the number of teams who may try and trade back into the first round in order to secure one of the quarterbacks of this draft class. If you include the trade by the Chiefs for Alex Smith earlier in the offseason that takes out three strong contenders for this particular deal. The good news is that despite these trades there are still plenty of teams interested in drafting a quarterback, and the low grades given to this particular class may cause the yearly run on QB’s to slip into the latter half of the first round. This would still give the Packers some extra leverage should they want to trade down.
The Desperate Franchises
The classic example of a team moving back into the first round is a team sitting in the first ten picks of the draft but then wants to move back up if they get nervous the quarterback they want will be gone if they wait for the second round. In all of these situations there is a veteran in place who should have a chance to start, but also some legitimate concerns that he is not really the face of the franchise. All of these franchises are also undergoing a significant change in vision, with new coaches, general managers, or owners. If history teaches us anything it’s that a new regime in the NFL always wants "their guy," which means decent players are often sent packing on a new hopeful prospect.
Michael Vick has signed a one year prove it deal to show he can run Chip Kelly’s high tempo offense. However, due to his injury history it would be a surprise to see him last more than one season with the Eagles. Kelly may also have a particular prospect in mind that can run his unique offense.
In Jacksonville there is a new ownership group bringing in leadership that does not seem to believe as much in Blaine Gabbert. The main question here is whether they will bite on Geno Smith at number two or sit back and wait. My money is on them waiting due to the general lack of talent all over the team and the richness of this draft in other areas.
The Buffalo Bills
Kevin Kolb is getting his third chance to prove he can be a starter and he will be competing with Tavaris Jackson, but to think that this team is going to bet their future on these two is insane. They will draft a quarterback, the only question is when and how much do other areas of the team need upgrading before quarterback.
The Cleveland Browns
New general manager was not a big fan of Brandon Weeden last year but now is running a franchise stuck with him for the time being. Weeden looked good last year, but his future is still questionable due to his age (he’s older than Aaron Rodgers). He’s now at an age where he should be entering the prime of his career, not just picking up the speed of the NFL. Yet again though this is a team that could use a general upgrade of talent and so waiting till later in the draft may be a better bet given this particular class of quarterbacks.
The Wild Cards
Along with the teams that you absolutely know will draft a QB, there are also a few teams that make a surprise pick every year. Often these teams are looking for depth, in a tricky contract situation, or want a new high profile quarterback to bring a level of competition to camp. No matter what the reason these teams may make a bold move on draft day to bring in a young quarterback.
I’m personally a fan of Josh Freeman, but he has had an up and down run in Tampa Bay and now entering the last year of his contract. The Bucs may want to invest a relatively high pick in a quarterback just in case, but the 13th pick is probably too high. They could be prime candidates to move down or up depending on what they like on their draft board.
The New York Jets
It’s pretty clear that the handwriting is on the wall for Mark Sanchez, but the problem is that his megadeal last year makes him too expensive to cut right away. This franchise now entering into a rebuilding and so getting a new face of the franchise would be good and then let Sanchez go out and take a beating for a couple years while the new guy learns. It’s either that or cut him and eat the dead money.
Andy Reid has made a career out of building quarterbacks like MacGyver builds bombs. Throw in some tin foil and gum and suddenly Koy Detmer, Jeff Garcia, or even Kevin Kolb look pretty good right? With that in mind it’s not outlandish to expect him to do the same now with Smith, but he may also want a guy to push Smith in a year or two. A small move up to get Matt Barclay or Ryan Nassib may not be totally out of the question then.
The Chicago Bears
Now there is no way that I expect the Bears to swap picks with the Packers, but that doesn’t mean that they will not draft a quarterback, or draft one higher than you think. Jay Cutler is in the last year of his current contract and has been given every reason to succeed with a new left tackle, tight end, and vastly improved receiving group. But what if he fails? Will the Bears keep him then? I’m not so sure. Regardless this team is clearly becoming an offense first group and getting a young developmental quarterback will probably be higher on their list of needs than many are expecting.