My strategy for the LA Chargers may not be to draft a quarterback at the top of the first round, but that certainly wouldn’t be the strategy for everyone. And if I was actually running the Chargers and was spending every day scouting these players and ignoring my family, then I could see how I’d fall in love with a quarterback prospect and throw all these theories out of the window. Right next to the framed photos of my family.
It’s the NFL and it’s the draft, so you just know we’re going to end up talking about quarterbacks a lot. In the case of LA, a team that currently has the greatest need for a QB in the NFL* probably, talk about those prospects won’t stop until well after the draft does.
*You can have the NFL’s greatest need at QB and still not draft one and plenty of franchises have had success at the position without spending a top-six pick on it
But the fact that rookie contract QBs have become even more valuable in the post-2011 CBA world with the wage scale means that even more teams will be looking to add signal callers in the first round on April 23rd. I’m fairly sure of that — especially in the AFC, where there is a significant dearth of QB talent outside of Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson, the most latter of whom has the most left to prove.
Not unlike my daughter Becky, who is falling behind in English class and I think is dating some guy named Jason. Or maybe it’s Jake. Actually it was History class. And maybe her name is actually Beth. I can’t recall, been busy running a football team.
After Tom Brady left the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the balance of QB power shifted even further to the NFC. Consider that the NFC South alone has Drew Brees, Brady, and Matt Ryan. The NFC West has Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff, and Kyler Murray. The NFC North has Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Kirk Cousins. The NFC East has Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz. Others coming up include Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones. And there’s also Nick Foles, Mitchell Trubisky, Teddy Bridgewater, and Alex Smith is hanging out somewhere in the background.
Over in the AFC, the Patriots are sans a real starter, as are the Chargers. They’re waiting it out. Philip Rivers, who must have an even harder time keeping track of his family than I do, has traversed over to the home of the NFL Scouting Combine, where the Indianapolis Colts may surely be scouting his replacement. Playoff QBs from a year ago include Josh Allen and Ryan Tannehill, who remarkably managed to secure a $62 million guarantee in his future amid a pandemic and one year after he was wiped off the face of the Dolphins.
Other than Ben Roethlisberger returning from his year of
solifood solitude, the “vets” in the AFC who have remained on the same roster are basically Watson, Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr, and then Mahomes. This is as important to note for the Chargers as it is for every other team in the AFC:
If Tom Brady could win the conference NINE TIMES in 19 years, then it must absolutely be important to have elite quarterback when you are in conference that often even lacks good quarterbacks.
The NFC has a lot of good quarterbacks. The AFC will most likely belong to Mahomes or Watson or potentially Jackson. Or Joe Burrow. Or Tua Tagovailoa. Or Justin Herbert. Or ... Josh Rosen? I doubt at this point that more than one or two of Mayfield, Darnold, Allen, Gardner Minshew, Drew Lock, Rosen will be starters in the NFL in two years. Seems a leap?
These guys were regulars in 2017: Marcus Mariota. Jameis Winston. Andy Dalton. Tyrod Taylor. Mitchell Trubisky. DeShone Kizer. Case Keenum. Joe Flacco. Blake Bortles. Trevor Siemian.
(Also holy hell: Jay Cutler started 14 games for the Dolphins in 2017.)
There is close to nothing established in the AFC right now as far as quarterbacks and that makes it imperative to be the team that strikes gold within the next year or two in finding the next Mahomes at that position. Otherwise, we might just see Mahomes win nine of the next 19. It’s not impossible.
It just happened.
For that reason, I do think that QBs could be a hot commodity in the first round of the first virtual NFL Draft. Within that virtual world, maybe the fact that there’s already a higher risk factor will make it more likely that a team will double-down on risk and draft a QB even when it doesn’t seem like an immediate need. Drafting QBs is sometimes about need, but it can often be strategy. Trading up for Mahomes when you had Alex Smith (also a regular in 2017 and injuries/franchise quality is a concern I have for Watson) is strategy. Taking Aaron Rodgers when you had Brett Favre is also strategy.
All of that to say that I still don’t know that the Chargers should draft a QB early. Or that it would be bad if they did. But what are the odds that any of these teams will draft a QB in the first round? That’s important to LA among the teams in the top five, but potentially also teams outside of the top-10. It was reported that the Detroit Lions are wanting to trade down from pick three, and would that be for Tua or Herbert?
One team to watch during the NFL Draft is the #Lions: At No. 3, I’m told they’ve had discussions with teams about potentially moving back from their slot and that teams wanting to move up have been receptive. As it maps out possibilities, Detroit is always an intriguing team.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 9, 2020
It wouldn’t be surprising.
What are the odds that any team picks a QB in the first round this year? I’ll just score it out of 10.
10 being the team will absolutely draft a QB and one being the number of kids that I have.
Wait, Scotty. I always forget about little Scotty.
1. Cincinnati Bengals - 10/10
They’ve kept Andy Dalton for this long but I don’t expect them to do anything crazy. Even if they traded down, I think Zac Taylor wants his franchise QB.
2. Washington - 2/10
Moving off of Dwayne Haskins this soon seems like hype.
3. Detroit Lions - 2/10
Out of all the problems with the Lions, it ain’t Stafford’s fault.
4. New York Giants - 1/10
5. Miami Dolphins - 10/10
18. Miami Dolphins
26. Miami Dolphins
If their only pick was pick five, I wouldn’t be nearly as sure of this. But they have three first round picks.
6. LA Chargers - 5/10
I’m really stuck. I really don’t know. It makes sense and at the same time, I kind of feel that this early in the draft there’s only one QB who seems to clearly out-value a very, very talented top-12 of prospects. And it’s not Tua or Herbert or Love. Does that matter though? In 2011, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder went in the top-12 of a draft that included Tyron Smith between Locker and Gabbert and J.J. Watt between Gabbert and Ponder. Teams forced QBs into the equation once before right after a new CBA and I won’t be surprised if they do it after the most recent CBA.
As well as the global crisis that has drastically altered most draft plans.
7. Carolina Panthers - 1/10
Teddy Bridgequarterback essentially signed a two-year deal and I never wanna rhule out the possibility that a new coach will draft his own QB. But Will Grier and PJ Walker are also on the team.
8. Arizona Cardinals - 1/10
9. Jacksonville Jaguars - 6/10
20. Jacksonville Jaguars
I love Minshew but I think everyone in Jacksonville is concerned for their jobs, so if Herbert or Tua or a QB they like is available to them at nine or 20, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a move to insure the position even more.
10. Cleveland Browns - 1/10
11. New York Jets - 1/10
12. Las Vegas Raiders - 4/10
19. Las Vegas Raiders
I believe Mike Mayock would rather focus on the defense than the quarterback position. Derek Carr does not seem like the type to elevate a good team into a championship team but he could quarterback a great team to a championship. I mean, it would have to be a really great team, but still. Jon Gruden’s used to that formula more than he is the one where he wins because of his quarterback. If they thought a QB prospect was really good and was available, then maybe.
13. San Francisco 49ers - 8/10
I think they were looking to replace Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency if they could and trading DeForest Buckner for a first round pick does make me think that they’re wanting to parlay that into a cheap QB for Kyle Shanahan to groom.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 2/10
Yes, Tom Brady is only one year younger than the Buccaneers, but I think all that means is that the Bucs want to win right now. They’ll have a better shot to do that by spending the draft capital on players who can contribute now. I mean, Scotty is three or 12 or some shit and I am already wondering when he’ll move out.
15. Denver Broncos - 1/10
Hell if I know if Drew Lock can play but I think when John Elway makes his QB move, it’ll be for one of the veterans.
16. Mattlanta Falcons - 1/10
You don’t give Dan Quinn another year just to draft a QB to develop for 2022.
17. Dallas Cowboys - 1/10
21. Philadelphia Eagles - 1/10
22. Minnesota Vikings - 2/10
25. Minnesota Vikings
Despite the fact that Kirk Cousins ain’t quite it and they have two firsts thanks to the Stefon Diggs trade, I don’t see them concentrating on anything other than getting better immediately. Cousins’ extension guarantees him a job for two more seasons.
23. New England Patriots - 2.5/10
I don’t want to say the odds are as low as some other teams, but I don’t want to say the odds are good either. Is it because I eat a paint I a go crazy? Maybe. But my main area of focus is the fact that I don’t see New England picking in the first round at all. Bill Belichick has no second rounder because of the Mohamed Sanu trade and they’ve dealt several day three picks away too. You think Belichick believes his success hinders on picking a first round QB? When he’s never had to pick a QB in the first round ever? Not needing a QB for 20 years and then he needs one, Belichick doesn’t strike me as the type to be panicked about this situation. Mock drafts that have the Patriots picking a QB is clearly focused more on a need than logic.
24. New Orleans Saints - 7/10
This flies in the face of a lot of what I said, but Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis strike me more as the type of team to make the obvious pick or the big move. The Saints are already the most talented team and I don’t believe in Taysom Hill hype. Also would not shock me if New Orleans traded up if a player like Tua was available in the teens because of medical reasons. Sensible fit for both player and team.
27. Seattle Seahawks - 1/10
28. Baltimore Ravens - 1/10
29. Tennessee Titans - 1/10
30. Green Bay Packers - 3/10
It’s a fine idea, but I’m not sure everyone in Green Bay would agree.
32. Kansas City Chiefs - 1/10
Doesn’t have a first round pick ...
34. Indianapolis Colts - 3/10
Fortunate for the Colts that they could trade their first round pick for Buckner and still have Washington’s second rounder from a deal made last April. Indianapolis is in a good position here to trade up now and secure a QB in the first round, where his contract will include a fifth-year option. Score would be higher if they had a first rounder but I still think at this position they’d be likely to move up during VIRTUAL DRAFT.
40. Houston Texans - 0/10
43. Chicago Bears - 1/10
49. Pittsburgh Steelers - 2/10
It’s a long way to have to trade up
52. LA Rams - 0/10
54. Buffalo Bills - 0/10
I guess the “good” news here is that I don’t see much in the way of competition for QBs early in the draft. If that’s what you happen to want for the Chargers. The Bengals should be secure with Burrow. The Dolphins will take a QB, but don’t need to feel rushed. The next three teams I identified with even a decent need at QB (Jaguars, Raiders, Niners) also all have multiple first round picks. Does that make them more likely to trade up or more likely to wait it out? I think it makes them more likely to wait it out.
So long as Washington, Detroit, and New York aren’t taking a QB, then I must wonder who the “threat” is to the Chargers’ pursuit of a QB. The Lions could trade down, but to whom? The Chargers? Do they feel that desperate to get Tua before Miami does? If Miami doesn’t make a better offer than LA, then obviously Miami wasn’t desperate for Tua, so then why trade over them? Logically, that argument eventually falls apart.
Are the Jags trading up from nine to three? Doesn’t seem to make sense for a QB.
Are the Raiders doing that from 12 or the 49ers from 13? Also doesn’t make sense. All three of these teams are OK at QB right now. I see no threats to the Chargers if they want to pick a QB at six. The worst case there would be Justin Herbert or Jordan Love, I guess. Which would only mean that they already valued that player quite highly. If they want Tua, then they’d only have to jump over the Dolphins to get him, but if the Dolphins allow them to get jumped over, Tua was never someone they really wanted.
I could see four or five QBs going in the first round. But I don’t see there necessarily ever being a “run” on the position and I don’t know that I see the board falling in a way that will necessitate trades up for the position, as I did see in 2017.
I also don’t see my kids on the weekends. Or weekdays.
(For legal purposes I must tell you that I am a single man with no family.)