QB hunting – draft day dreaming….
In 2011, we had the race for Luck. This year, experts tell us that there is a great depth of quality QBs about to emerge from the college ranks who are looking to make their mark on the NFL. So where will these guys end up? Who is in need of a new QB? Which teams are after an upgrade? Only time will tell and we will only know for sure at the draft in May. Some of the teams may try to address their need in Free Agency, but the lack of proven quality out there makes this unlikely and suggests that the draft could be even more intriguing this year.
Looking at this year’s NFL, it seems that there are several teams who will be looking closely at the QBs in the combine, ready to spot something that will enable them to select a potential ‘franchise’ QB. What makes this really difficult to predict is the performances of the current incumbents – a decent game may make GMs think twice before using a high pick on a replacement. People will always remind you of how Tom Brady and Joe Montana slid in the draft!
With that in mind, here goes! I would be astounded in the Jags didn’t use their pick on a new signal caller. Blaine Gabbert is done and Chad Henne has flattered to deceive in his outings. Surely they can’t pass up the chance to use a high pick on a franchise QB?
How about Tampa Bay? QB has been a poisoned chalice this year after the Josh Freeman saga – Mike Glennon has done OK without winning games, but is he really the answer long term? He has the second half of the season to audition and stake his claim; but I would not be surprised if the Bucs select a new QB come May.
How about Minnesota? The Josh Freeman experiment seemingly lasted a mere 1 game – he has not featured since the horror show in New York. Ponder has looked effective at times if little more and is definitely not a fan favourite. Who knows what Rick Spielman will decide to do with what is likely to be a very high pick – but it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of Vikings fans are expecting a new guy under centre next year.
Is Jake Locker the answer in Tennessee? Probably not; the Titans have not impressed this year and will be looking to make improvements ready for a better challenge next year. A new QB must be high on their agenda – but will they draft or look to Free Agency? It may well depend on where their first pick is and who is left on the board when they come to select, although of course the Titans management will want a more concrete plan in place before then!!
A couple of weeks ago, you could definitely have added Philadelphia and Houston to that list. But has the form of Case Keenum and Nick Foles been enough to win them the starting job for their teams? Critics argued that Foles was not the type of QB for Chip Kelly’s system – 7 TDs against Oakland suggests otherwise!! Chip may still want to take a QB as Michael Vick is seemingly not their man and Matt Barkley has failed to impress; but Foles is definitely in with a shot. Undrafted Keenum has taken his chance with a great showing against Andrew Luck’s Colts. His performance over the coming weeks will help make up the minds of the decision makers in Houston, but in my opinion it will be him or a new guy starting next year. I feel Matt Schaub has had his day and will be on the lookout for a new team in the off season.
The Cardinals may well look for a younger option to challenge or replace the ageing and interception prone Carson Palmer, but their season is not in the same perilous state as some of the teams mentioned earlier and this may mean that they have fewer options in the draft and may need to make a move earlier in Free Agency.
Injuries could play a factor in this too! Do the Browns bank on Brian Hoyer returning to somewhere near the form he suggested before his injury? Is Sam Bradford still the answer in St Louis? Will EJ Manuel get back to form after his curtailed rookie season? Only time will tell on these issues – but their respective recoveries will impact greatly on the 2014 draft class.
Others may look longer term. Will Pittsburgh look for a successor to Big Ben? How much longer can Tom Brady keep going in New England?
Most other teams are seemingly set at QB – either with an established veteran they trust or a young guy they have faith in. Geno Smith has shown enough to get another year at the Jets. Ryan Tannehill is under pressure but expect him to still be the man in Miami.
Two potential ‘flies in the ointment’ could throw everything up in the air again. Firstly if Denver win the Superbowl, will that be the time for Peyton to call it quits and go out on a high? If so that leaves big shoes to fill in Denver. Secondly, how long will the Redskins be able (or willing) to hold on to Kirk Cousins as a back up? I expect the Skins to have a fair few teams sounding them out on the prospect of a trade; and thanks to the RG3 trade they are short on picks and may be willing to deal!
What is certain is that, as always, the quarterback market will be a fascinating sub plot to the weeks and months ahead. I can’t wait to see how it pans out; forgive me as a Vikings fan for thinking a little in advance and dreaming of 2014 already!!