The Quarterback Class of 2014 is already projected to be one of the richest in NFL history, with a crop that has been making scouts drool at the possibilities for several years. It seems a lock that four or five will go in the first round, and depending on how things break it could end up with six or seven.
And there figures to be at least that many teams looking for quarterbacks in what could be a big transition year.
Which teams will be in the market, looking to draft a quarterback – or to move up for one? Here are 10 that should already be thinking about their next franchise quarterback, since it’s certainly not clear whether they currently have one now, listed in order of how great that need really is.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (current QB: Chad Henne) – Henne is a perfect caretaker quarterback, but the one he’s taking care of is Blaine Gabbert, who remains one of the strangest picks (10th overall) of the 2011 draft. He’s never come close to showing signs of being a franchise quarterback, despite what some scouts believe is enormous potential. And now he’s on a team that could end up with the top pick in the draft.
2. Cleveland Browns (current QB: Jason Campbell) – Campbell is a stop gap, Brandon Weeden looks like a bust and Brian Hoyer isn’t the answer. Plus, none of them are younger than 28, so even if they liked one of the three the smart play would be to draft a quarterback of the future. They likely will. Again. And they’ll hope he’s not one in the Weeden/Brady Quinn mold.
3. Tennessee Titans (current QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick) – The Buffalo Bills castoff replaced Jake Locker, who needed foot surgery and has battled injuries throughout his NFL career. He’s also failed to live up to expectations and, according to some reports, fallen out of favor in Tennessee. Even if they still like him, he’s reached the point in his career where they have to consider their options and see if anyone with more promise is available wherever they draft.
4. Houston Texans (current QB: Case Keenum) – The Matt Schaub Era seems like it’s crashing to an end in Houston now that he’s lost his job to Keenum, an undrafted player who spent last year on the practice squad. Schaub’s struggles coupled with the Texans’ history of falling short of expectations probably would’ve forced their hand anyway. But now it looks like they’ll end up with a high draft pick, too.
5. Minnesota Vikings (current QB: Christian Ponder) – A team with Adrian Peterson on it is 2-8 and coach Leslie Frazier keeps waffling between Ponder, their once QB of the future, and Josh Freeman, a castoff from the lowly Bucs. It’s a terrible choice really and even though Ponder helped them to a 10-6 record and playoff berth last season, just imagine what a team with Peterson on it could do if it actually had a good quarterback, too.
6. New York Jets (current QB: Geno Smith) – Smith is only a rookie, so maybe he needs more time but his 16 interceptions so far and some terrible decision making have raised red flags for an organization that wasn’t sold on him to begin with. He was only a second-round pick and force-fed to Rex Ryan and many scouts were not convinced he’d be a future star. If the Jets end up with a high enough pick, they could have many better options.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (current QB: Mike Glennon) – The Bucs actually look like they might have a keeper in their third-round pick, but keep this important fact in mind: He was a pick of a regime that very likely will be ousted at the end of the season. As solid as Glennon has been, the next GM/coach – assuming there is one – likely won’t want to be stuck with the previous regime’s third-rounder. Regardless, a high pick will also give them an opportunity to upgrade, which could make Glennon available to someone in a trade.
8. Oakland Raiders (current QB: Matt McGloin) – Terrelle Pryor is the incumbent there and his running ability has many thinking he might be a poor man’s RGIII. But that’s only if you ignore his 58.9 completion percentage and his 5 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. There are reports that some in Oakland like McGloin, which only really tells you how down they might be on Pryor and that they may have to consider moving on to someone else.
9. Arizona Cardinals (current QB: Carson Palmer) – The Cards, at 6-4, are one of the surprises of the NFL and Palmer is a big part of that. But he’s having a good year, hardly a great one. He has 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. And most important of all, he’s 33. He’s no longer anywhere close to being an elite quarterback, so even if the Cards want to stick with him for a year or two more, it’s time they get a young franchise quarterback on board.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (current QB: Nick Foles) – He’s only 24 and he’s thrown 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions, so why even think of looking somewhere else? Because he wasn’t Chip Kelly’s first choice to run his high-octane Eagles offense. He seemed to prefer someone with Mike Vick’s style. But Vick looks done, so Kelly needs to decide if Foles can fit or if this run is a mirage. Even Foles wasn’t always sure he was Kelly’s type of quarterback. The rest of this season will likely determine whether he really is.
—By Ralph Vacchiano, @RVacchianoNYDN