NFL Draft Talk Volume XLII
As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level. Which not so obvious teams could be looking for their next franchise quarterback and who might they chose? This year’s draft is a bit of an odd year for quarterback prospects since all the teams that are picking in the top 10 and throughout the draft already have young or entrenched veteran players at the position already on the roster. Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton has been the team’s starter since they drafted him in the second round of the 2011 draft. He has led the Bengals to 68-50-2 record out of 120 games that he played and started, led the team to five straight playoff appearances from 2011-2015 and won a pair of AFC North division titles. However, he has also not shown up in big moments, has especially struggled in primetime games under a national spotlight and failed to end the Bengals’ nearly three-decade-long playoff win drought. Even though he is signed through the 2020 season, he has no more guarantees left in his current contract so that means that the franchise and new Head Coach Zac Taylor could be prompted to select his eventual replacement in this year's draft and groom him for a year or two behind the “Red Rifle” before taking the reins of the offense. If they do decide to select their next franchise quarterback in this year’s draft, they could wait until the second round like they did with Dalton and pick West Virginia’s Will Grier. His style mirrors Dalton’s in the way that they both can quickly scan and read a defense, buy time for their receivers to get downfield and uncover and even though they don’t possess the strongest of arms, they deliver dimes to their targets. New England Patriots: The reigning Superbowl champions have been drafting early to mid-round quarterbacks to be the heir apparent to future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, but the six-time champion continues to defy father time, making his highly drafted back-ups expendable commodities that have led to fair compensation for the front office in terms of draft capital and player for player trades. However, Brady will be 42 years old before the 2019 season kicks off and he’s currently only under contract through this upcoming season. Contrary to popular belief in the Boston and New England area, he will not be able to play into his 50’s no matter how well he takes care of his body or the amount of avocado ice cream he consumes. This might prompt them to select his eventual replacement in this year’s draft and not trade him away after two or three years into their rookie deals. If they do decide to draft their next franchise quarterback, they could decide to take him with their first-round pick at 32nd overall so that they can have that fifth-year option on his contract just in case Brady stick around for another three or four years. If the Duke’s Daniel Jones lasts until the end of the opening round, then he could be the future of the franchise. Grier could also be an option there considering that the team brought both quarterbacks in for an official visit on the same day as maybe a way to see them both showcase their abilities on the field at the same time and test their knowledge in interviews as well. Los Angeles Chargers: They still have Phillip Rivers entrenched as the face of the franchise and the eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback has been one of the best in the game since the team swapped first round picks with the New York Giants in the 2004 draft. While his play has not shown any signs of tailing off and like fine wine (and Tom Brady), he appears to get better with age, age or attrition might not be the reason he may choose to call it a career in the very near future. He is a huge family man with a huge family and the older of his NINE children are starting to get up in years and will soon be playing high school and even college football soon. This might persuade Rivers to call it a career sooner rather than later which could prompt the team to look for his eventual replacement while the team’s budding championship window is still open. If they do decide to take a quarterback in the first round Missouri’s Drew Lock might still be available when they are on the clock at 28th overall. He could sit behind Rivers for a year or two while the veteran contemplates family over football and take over as the next franchise quarterback for the Bolts. Denver Broncos: Hall of Fame quarterback and current general manager John Elway has struggled in drafting and developing young quarterbacks in the past but that could change this time around. That is because, for the first time since Peyton Manning retired, they have a former Superbowl MVP at the quarterback position in Joe Flacco, who they got for a bargain when they traded for him in February from the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a fourth-round pick. This will allow them to take their time in developing whatever young quarterback they might decide to draft this year. If they want to invest a first-round pick on a future franchise quarterback, there is a chance that the New York Giants might very well pass up on Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins which could lead to the Heisman finalist falling right into the lap of the Broncos who hold the 10th overall pick. If they decide to take a passer later in the draft, they could target Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham or N.C. States Ryan Finely. While neither of them has the strong rocket arm that Elway typically looks for in his rookie and free agent quarterbacks, they both know how to operate a pro-style offense and can make NFL level throws.