With the upcoming draft not too far away I am going to outline some teams that could surprise everyone and draft a quarterback early even though they already have a star in place.
Everyone knows that the quarterback is the centerpiece of the football team. Once you have a quarterback, you can begin to assemble your team and position them for a chance to win. Teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams have shown that after drafting the right quarterback your team can become a contender almost immediately. Last season, the San Francisco 49ers were a glowing example of the difference between a team with a quarterback and a team without one. Before Jimmy Garoppolo began starting the 49ers were 1-10. Once Jimmy G came on, they convincingly won all five of their last games on the way to a 6-10 finish.
Clearly a quarterback is of utmost importance in this league, therefore, in a year where five quarterbacks may go in the first round of the draft, it seems like a great opportunity for a team that is used to winning with an aging star to be able to draft a guy that they can develop as a succession plan. Without further ado, let’s get on to the list!
What teams should draft a quarterback?
1. The New York Giants
Sure, this one seems obvious. An aged Eli Manning is coming off a rough season and the Giants are going into rebuild mode. This means they are in perfect position to draft the second-best quarterback in the draft, or, maybe the best with the browns track record of drafting QBs.
At 37, and with a weakening arm, Eli Manning is in the twilight of his career. Manning could have a couple starter quality years left, which means he would make a perfect mentor for a young quarterback like Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield. With the second pick in the draft the Giants can take their pick of the quarterbacks left, or if they feel they can still get their guy later in the draft, they could trade down, collect some draft picks, and still get a rookie to develop.
2. New England Patriots
The brilliance of Terrific Tom won’t last forever. He will be 41 when the season starts which is uncharted territory for starting quarterbacks in the NFL. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to draft a rookie to develop behind him, much like they did with Jimmy Garoppolo.
Since they were the Super Bowl losers, they don’t pick until late in the first, 31st Overall. However, the Patriots aquired the Saints first rounder at 23 as well, with two second round picks and their firsts at 23 and 31, the Patriots have the ammo to trade up and snag a guy they want if he falls into the teens. The Patriots are masters at game-planning and preparation so I could see them drafting someone like Lamar Jackson that they can eventually tailor their offense to after Tom Brady retires.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger has contemplated retirement each of the last two offseasons. How much longer until the Steelers are left exposed at the quarterback position?
The Steelers could take a guy like Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph to develop until Big Ben actually retires. Mason Rudolph seems particularly intriguing for the Steelers as a guy they could take outside the first round while still using their first-round pick to shape their team to win now.
4. New Orleans Saints
An aging 39-year-old star on a two-year deal, Drew Brees’ small stature could prevent him from playing too much longer in the NFL. The Saints are another team in position to draft a late first round guy, like again, Lamar Jackson, who would work wonders with Sean Payton. Jackson has the potential to be a Micheal Vick like talent with the right development and scheme.
What this really means?
All of these teams could draft a quarterback in this draft, but replacing a star is more than just drafting the right guy, it’s also about developing that guy into a viable starter. Historically not all of the quarterbacks projected to go in the first round will even be successful in the NFL. In the first round, excluding the first pick overall, which none of these teams have, the hit rate for quarterbacks is very low, less than a third. However, with proper development, coaching and a scheme that fits their strengths that number should be higher.
These teams, maybe excluding the Giants, seem to have the elements in place to transition from one quarterback to a new one with less of a rebuild than is usually required. They would be wise to take that opportunity while they still can.
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Featured image from Brad Penner of USA Today