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Draft Primer: Ranking the Quarterback Destinations

Could the Steelers look for a Quarterback in the upcoming NFL draft? Ben Roethlisberger is the unquestioned starter and now Charlie Batch is back for another 1 yr campaign. Beyond that there are question marks that could possibly be answered in the later rounds of the NFL draft.

We’re just days away from the NFL Draft and, as always, quarterbacks are directly in the spotlight. With two elite prospects in Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III likely going first and second, much of the drama is already over. However, with Ryan Tannehill making a charge to be drafted in the top five and other second tier players like Brandon Weeden, Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins waiting in wings, the possible quarterback destinations are a hot bed of controversy.

Before we start taking a look at the quality of each landing spot, there are few things to consider.

First, the current quarterbacks of each team were taken into consideration. It’s rare for any rookie to just come in and pull a Cam Newton, so it’s quite possible many of the quarterbacks spend their first year looking like Charlie Whitehurst, sans beard.

Second, both immediate and future production was considered. While some teams offer a quick opportunity to play, some others already have established star quarterbacks. Those who may not offer immediate playing time could offer a great long term outlook, though. Consider the case of Ryan Mallett last year. He’ll never have a chance to unseat Tom Brady in New England, but if the Patriots lose Brian Hoyer next year and Brady retires in a couple of seasons, he could be a real hidden gem.

Finally, the wide receiver and running back depth charts of all these teams were factored in, along with their current offenses. Some of these teams have elite, established weapons, where others teams seem to have offenses that could be shut down by the University of Alabama. While this was a factor, the clear path to start was factored in much more heavily.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at all 32 teams and see where they rank as far as landing spots for quarterbacks. Each of the teams is put into a tier based on good (four stars) to terrible (one star).

FOUR STARS

Miami Dolphins

It’s quite obvious the Dolphins aren’t sold on Matt Moore as the long term answer, especially after courting both Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn in the offseason. David Garrard is still on the depth chart, but there’s no doubt the future quarterback for the Dolphins isn’t on the roster at the moment.

Any quarterback for Miami would be thrown to the wolves a bit since they don’t have much talent to surround them with, but playing time would come soon for any young quarterback who could develop quickly. If it’s someone like Ryan Tannehill, you just have to hope the Dolphins spend some more of their draft picks to upgrade the receiving corps.

Cleveland Browns

Much like Miami, the Browns aren’t exactly flush with elite players at the skill positions. Hopefully, they’ll address that with their fourth pick and go for someone like Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon. If Tannehill is taken fourth overall, this is going to be a tall order for him to be successful, however, it would also be a clear indication the Browns have totally lost faith in Colt McCoy.

Personally, I’d like to see someone like Brandon Weeden go to the Browns later in the draft, paired with an offensive player taken at #4. Regardless, any Cleveland quarterback is going to get his chance sooner rather than later, and even without the luxury of a ton of talent around them, that clear path is enough to make Cleveland desirable.

Indianapolis Colts

We all know that Andrew Luck is going to Indianapolis and there’s little doubt he’s starting in week one. While the Colts also don’t have a ton in the cupboard, they’ll build around Luck and be extremely patient in his development.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins are doing what they can to prepare things for Robert Griffin III. I’m very skeptical they’ve done enough, but when you have a Head Coach basically staking his entire career on you, you’re going to get every chance in the world to succeed.

THREE STARS

Jacksonville Jaguars

Yes, they drafted Blaine Gabbert and signed Chad Henne, making it extremely doubtful they take any quarterback high. However, if Gabbert doesn’t improve very quickly and Henne can’t stop checking down on every passing play, this team is going to have an opportunity sooner, rather than later. Now, can they just get somebody to catch?

Denver Broncos

It’s not going to shock me a bit to see the Broncos take a quarterback relatively high in the draft. While this player would have no chance to unseat Peyton Manning, they would have a chance to develop into Denver’s long term answer. As great as Manning is, there’s really no telling how long he’s going to be able to play. I have a hard time believing Adam Weber or Caleb Hanie are starting in 2015. Anyone with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker to grow with would have a good shot at being successful.

New York Jets

I find myself very skeptical about Mark Sanchez. I find myself more skeptical about Tim Tebow. While Sanchez hasn’t been bad by any stretch, it’s hard to see “not bad” being “good enough” in New York.

Buffalo Bills

Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a nice contract last year, but the Bills can get out of it soon if they want. It’s tough to see Fitzpatrick being there for long if he doesn’t show a higher element of consistency. The Bills have been searching for a quarterback since the days of Jim Kelly and a solid young quarterback could really push Fitzpatrick eventually. In fact, Tyler Thigpen could even be a sleeper again if they don’t draft a rookie signal caller.

Kansas City Chiefs

We’ve been historically hard on Matt Cassel and that’s not going to stop now. The Chiefs were awful last season with Tyler Palko and have lost Kyle Orton, so they’ve now turned to Brady Quinn as the backup to Cassel. Hmm.

Arizona Cardinals

After missing out on Manning, the Cardinals are back to Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. While Kolb should start the season at the top of the depth chart, he’s been unable to sustain any type of consistently good play. You get the feeling his leash won’t be too awful long this season and Skelton, though not terrible, just doesn’t seem the guy who is going to get Larry Fitzgerald into the Hall of Fame.

There’s an opportunity here for a quarterback who is patient.

Oakland Raiders

Carson Palmer wasn’t quite as bad as his stats may indicate, but there are still a lot of questions about his arm strength and decision making ability. He’s also getting to the tail end of his career. While the Raiders have Terrelle Pryor waiting in the wings, there are questions about his ability to play the position at the NFL level.

The Raiders seem to have enough talent on offense to make a young quarterback successful, but we’ll just have to see when the time comes.

Philadelphia Eagles

Some may think I’m crazy here for putting the Eagles so high, but I think it’s about right. Michael Vick is always good for a handful of missed games and Vince Young is gone. Mike Kafka has shown some promise, but he has some limitations as well. Andy Reid has done a great job of developing quarterbacks and a young one here would merit some serious dynasty consideration, especially when they get to throw to the likes of Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If we see the 2010 version of Josh Freeman, this is bad landing spot. If we see the 2011 version of Josh Freeman, all bets are out the window, especially since the Bucs lost Josh Johnson to San Francisco.

TWO STARS

St. Louis Rams

The Rams are totally committed to Sam Bradford, as indicated by their willingness to trade out from the opportunity to get Andrew Luck or RGIII. However, we’ve yet to see the talented Bradford really take the next step. With no real backup on the roster, a rookie could develop for a few years and be ready if Bradford falters or gets hurt again. Now, can the Rams please find a receiver!?!

Minnesota Vikings

Christian Ponder and Joe Webb are both young players who have some promise. Both showed flashes of greatness, while both also showed some classic poor play indicative of young quarterbacks. The Vikings have to hope one of these two develops, but it’s tough to just take that to the bank.

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco should be re-signed here shortly and the Ravens also like backup Tyrod Taylor. They only kept two quarterbacks on the roster last year, so there could be some room for someone to develop. It’s just tough to see them climbing the depth chart any time soon. Curtis Painter certainly isn’t the answer.

Houston Texans

The Texans seem to be sold on Matt Schaub, but he’s not locked up long term quite yet. TJ Yates does have some talent and could develop down the road, though. This would likely be another destination that would force a quarterback to sit for a long, long time.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks finally addressed their quarterback need by signing Matt Flynn and will give him every opportunity to beat out Tarvaris Jackson in the preseason. The fact that Flynn is still unproven as a starter keeps the Seahawks out of the last group, but there are many more favorable spots for a quarterback.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are set with Matt Hasselbeck turning things over to Jake Locker. There are still lingering questions about Locker’s ability to stay healthy and consistently throw an accurate ball, so that keeps them out of the bottom group. Still, any quarterback landing here would be a deep roster stash.

Detroit Lions

There’s no doubt that Matt Stafford is a star in the making, but he also has a tendency to get hurt. I just can’t, in good conscience, put the Lions in the bottom group because a young quarterback thrust into action would still have Calvin Johnson – he could make JaMarcus Russell look good.

New England Patriots

Whoever takes over for Tom Brady is destined for some good seasons (see Matt Cassel). Problem is the Patriots already have Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer developing behind him. While they’ll likely lose Hoyer next year, Mallett was a highly regarded player at this time last season.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have a veteran in Tony Romo and a veteran in Kyle Orton at the top of the depth chart. They also have Stephen McGee and Rudy Carpenter at the moment. This wouldn’t be a totally awful spot for someone to land, but also wouldn’t likely be very good.

Chicago Bears

The Bears are totally committed to Jay Cutler and they added a great backup in Jason Campbell in the offseason. The only thing keeping the Bears out of the bottom group is the fact that Campbell is on a one year deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers don’t really have a backup to Ben Roethlisberger (Troy Smith and Jerrod Johnson), and he’s already 30 years old. With weapons like Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders to throw to, any quarterback would have a stacked deck.

While Roethlisberger is still a few years out from declining, he has been prone to some injuries in the past. The Steelers could start looking to groom someone sooner, rather than later.

ONE STAR

Carolina Panthers

Good luck unseating Cam Newton any time soon. While Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen seem expendable, Newton is the present and future quarterback for the Panthers.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints will eventually need a replacement for Drew Brees, but at this point, it looks like that may just be Chase Daniel.

Cincinnati Bengals

The development of Andy Dalton last year was really pretty amazing. Much like Newton in Carolina, it looks like Dalton is in for the long haul for the Bengals.

San Francisco 49ers

Alex Smith needs to be at least as good as he was last year to maintain his grip on the starting job. However, Josh Johnson and Colin Kaepernick would block the way of any young quarterback.

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan isn’t going anywhere and Chris Redman is actually a pretty solid backup. Again, this would be a deep stash with a quarterback here.

San Diego Chargers

Beating out Charlie Whitehurst? No problem. Beating out Philip Rivers? Not so much.

New York Giants

Unlike Mark Sanchez for the Jets, Eli Manning has an even longer leash now that he’s won his second Super Bowl. David Carr is the backup and has been unimpressive since being taken first overall by Houston in 2002, but Manning hasn’t missed a game in eight years. It’s probably just not the time for the Giants to really start grooming an eventual replacement.

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers will hopefully be the Packers quarterback for the next decade. While Matt Flynn was able to develop under him and go elsewhere, it’s probably Graham Harrell’s turn to do that, not a new rookie.

We’ll soon find out!


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