Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL, and teams are always looking for the next franchise player at that position.
The 2015 quarterback draft class is by no means deep but it includes two players that are considered franchise type players — Jameis Winston out of Florida State and Marcus Mariota out of Oregon. There are four other quarterbacks that are projected to be taken in the first five rounds of the draft.
Despite the lack of overall depth and quality at the quarterback position, several teams will still take flyers on players who they believe they can develop into starters or top-notch backups. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to take a quarterback with the number one pick overall and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times believes the Bucs will ultimately go with Winston.
“Winston is plug-and-play. He operated in a pro-style offense. He played under center, he checks protections, reads coverage and throws with accuracy and anticipation. On the field, there were always more questions about transitioning to the NFL for Mariota, who played almost exclusively in the shotgun, never called a play in the huddle and benefited from the Ducks’ spread option system.”
Tampa Bay earned the No. 1 pick agonizing through a 2-14 record. The Bucs currently have just two quarterbacks on their roster Mike Glennon and Seth Lobato according to the Tampa Tribune. Glennon completed 57.6 percent of his passes last year for 1,417 yards and 10 touchdowns to go along with six interceptions. Lobato signed a future’s contract with the Bucs on December 31.
Overall, 11 teams need an upgrade at quarterback in some capacity — starter or backup. The rest of the article will look at the teams that will likely select a quarterback in the upcoming draft.
2. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee owns the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft and according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, the Titans may use their pick on Mariota. There are rumors that Tennessee may trade out of the pick, possibly with San Diego in exchange for Philip Rivers.
Tennessee needs to definitely upgrade its quarterback situation even if they decide to go with Zach Mettenberger as the starter. Charlie Whitehurst and Alex Tanney are the only other quarterbacks on the roster.
3. New York Jets
Last year’s starter, Geno Smith, is still in New York but is said to on his way out as the Jets are really interested in selecting a quarterback with the No. 6 pick overall. Ryan Fitzgerald was brought in this offseason and Matt Simms is also in the loop.
Frank Cooney of NFL Draft Scout reported that the Jets brought in six quarterbacks from the class of 2015 — Winston, Mariota, Brett Hundley (UCLA), Garrett Grayson (Colorado State), Petty, and Gary Nova (Rutgers). Winston was the only one to officially get a workout.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly reportedly really wants Mariota but Philadelphia currently holds the No. 20 pick in the first round. The Eagles would have to trade up in order to have an opportunity to select Mariota and the Tennessee Titans are looking to move out of the No. 2 slot so it is a possibility according to the Sports Network. However, it is unlikely the Eagles will be able to move past other suitors.
Even if the Eagles are not able to move up to get Mariota, expect them to use a pick on a quarterback. Philadelphia currently has four veteran quarterbacks on its roster — Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez, and Matt Barkley.
5. Cleveland Browns
Cleveland is in need of a franchise quarterback despite drafting Johnny Manziel in the first round. While the Browns would probably snag Mariota up if they had a chance, general manager Ray Farmer told the Associated Press‘ Tom Withers that he won’t mortgage the future to select a quarterback.
”I just think you got to get your hammer and your nails and you got to go out and build a house and that’s what it’s going to take. You got to take your time and put it together the right way.”
Brian Hoyer, last year’s starter. is gone but the Browns have signed veterans Josh McCown and Thad Lewis in the offseason. Second year pro Connor Shaw is also reportedly in the mix.
Expect the Browns to take a flyer on a quarterback sometime in the draft even if they can’t move up. Cleveland has two first round picks — No. 12 and No. 19 — and 10 selections overall.
6. San Diego Chargers
Quarterback is not a top priority in this year’s draft for the Chargers according to Cooney but they will likely select one as questions around how much longer Rivers tenure with the franchise will last. Rivers has one more year on his contract and won’t sign an extension with the club before the deal runs out. Kellen Clemens and Brad Sorensen are currently the only other quarterbacks on the roster.
Cooney has the Chargers selecting Hundley with their second round pick No. 48 overall.
7. Buffalo Bills
Quarterback is not a huge need for the Bills as they traded for Matt Cassel earlier this offseason. Buffalo also has third-year pro E.J. Manuel but will still likely try to upgrade the position through the draft or trade (for Mike Glennon).
Cooney reported on April 21 that the Bills brought in Grayson and Bryce Petty (Baylor) for visits.
Quarterback is not a high priority for the Bears in this year’s draft according to Dan Wierder of the Chicago Tribune. Jay Cutler is still the starter as his contract is too massive to move. Jimmy Clausen is the backup.
Petty, Sean Mannion (Oregon State), and Brandon Bridge are considered potential options late in the draft.
9. Washington Redskins
Washington has its first, first round pick (No. 5 overall) since selecting quarterback Robert Griffin with the top overall pick in 2012. While Griffin has struggled immensely, the Redskins are reportedly going to pickup his fifth-year option after the draft. Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy are also on the Redskins roster so if they select a quarterback it will likely be late in the draft.
10. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle has Russell Wilson as its starting quarterback and is quite happy with him. But with backup Tavaris Jackson a free agent, the Seahawks may look at quarterback later in the draft. B.J. Daniels and R.J. Archer are currently the only other quarterbacks on Seattle’s roster.
Seattle has 11 draft picks and could use one on a quarterback if Jackson’s situation is not rectified.
11. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals currently have three quarterbacks on their roster — Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas. However, Palmer is 35-years-old and wearing down. Stanton has been injury prone and Thomas has accuracy issues. If the Cardinals ultimately decide to draft a quarterback it will be likely late in the draft.
Vijay Singaraju of Raising Zona believes the Cards may consider Grayson, Hundley, and Mannion.
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)