Analyzing QB Needy Teams for 2024 NFL Draft
Draft day is an exciting day for every franchise and their fanbase. That excitement is doubled when an organization swings for the fences on a quarterback selection. Quarterbacks taken at any point during the three day draft period generate buzz in media circles as everyone tries to predict how the selection will impact their new franchise.
As the first third of the season finishes up, we’ll take a look at some of the potential teams who will be selecting from the incoming group of QBs, a group that is loaded with talent and potential.
The Cardinals have been much more competitive this season than many were led to believe. New head coach Jonathan Gannon certainly has the team playing for pride, but their lack of talent is incredibly evident. After selling off key players before the season, and wide receiver Marquise Brown as well as safety Budda Baker open to the highest bidder, the Cardinals are trending towards a top five pick.
The Cardinals not only own their own first round pick, but they also hold the Texans as well thanks to the draft day trade for Will Anderson last year. The Texans have been surprisingly effective this year at 3-3, yet the their pick will more than likely be in the top-20.
With starting quarterback Kyler Murray still sitting out this year due to an injury sustained late last season, recent trade acquisition Josh Dobbs has stepped in and played admirably well. He is certainly not the answer at quarterback for Arizona, but he definitely bought himself a few more years in the league. As for Murray, his injury status, as well as off the field concerns surrounding his demeanor and work ethic, he might be in a new city this time next year.
If Arizona ends up with the number one pick, it would be fair to assume that they would take USC’s Caleb Williams. Regarded as a can’t miss prospect, it would provide a perfect reset button for Gannon and new GM Monti Ossenfort. The Cardinals have done this before, swapping Josh Rosen for Murray in 2019, and they should be primed to do it again. If they don’t end up at 1, they then have to decide whether or not to take Drake Maye out of North Carolina, or run it back with Murray and build around him.
It is becoming painfully obvious that Desmond Ridder is not the answer for the Falcons. In his first real chance to start at the NFL level, he has guided the Falcons to a 3-3 record. What he hasn’t done is take advantage of the young weapons at his disposal, or show the talent necessary to be a franchise quarterback.
The Falcons currently have 2022 first round pick Drake London, 2021 first round pick Kyle Pitts, and 2023 first round pick Bijan Robinson in their offense, as well as 1,000 yard rusher Tyler Allgeier and the recently signed Jonnu Smith to work with. Their defense has performed admirably, despite lacking studs on that side of the football. In a weak conference (and division) this could certainly be a playoff team.
They have performed well enough this year and will likely perform well enough to land outside the range to select a top quarterback. They would be looking more at Washington’s Michael Penix, Oregon’s Bo Nix, and Michigan’s JJ McCarthy. Shedeur Sanders would be the most fascinating and exciting option, but all indications are that he will return to Colorado for another season under his father.
With the way the team is built currently, a trade at the deadline for veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins would seem like a logical move. If he is indeed staying in Minnesota for the rest of 2023, then Atlanta can wait until the offseason to sign him or another veteran option, and potentially draft an understudy at some point in the draft.
Year 3 of Justin Fields has not gone as some might have hoped it would. Despite a 2022 season that saw the Bears at the very bottom of the standings, Fields ran for over 1,000 yards and set expectations that he would take the jump into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.
To help Fields make that jump, they selected Darnell Wright after trading back with Carolina to protect him, and added Pro Bowl receiver DJ Moore in that trade to be the number one option. Despite positive performances by the two, the Bears sit at 1-5 and Fields is now looking at missing extended time with a thumb injury.
The Bears will now turn to undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent for the next few weeks. Bagent hails from Division II Shephard University, where he set all kinds of passing records. Unfortunately for Bagent, he is almost certainly not the future of the Bears. And, unfortunately for the Bears, Fields does not look like the answer either at this point in his career.
Armed with their own first round pick, the Bears are also in possession of the Panthers first round pick. With Carolina at 0-6, the Bears would hold the first AND second overall picks if the season were to end today. If that remains the case come April, one of those two picks would have to be Caleb Williams. If the Bears win some more games, Maye and Penix would get serious consideration.
Las Vegas Raiders
Even after signing Jimmy Garoppolo to a three year contract this off-season, nobody in the NFL world thought that he was a legitimate option as the long term starter. He is average when he’s healthy, and he often isn’t healthy as much as you’d like your starting quarterback to be. He has been underwhelming in 2023 thus far, and now is looking at missing time again.
Fourth round rookie Aidan O’Connell had a number of fans during the pre-draft process. In limited action this season, he has shown flashes. If Jimmy G isn’t playing for a number of games, the Raiders and head coach Josh McDaniels should be looking to play him instead of journeyman Brian Hoyer to see what exactly it is that they have.
The Raiders are currently sitting at 3-3, and are actually second in the AFC West standings. That is a true accomplishment considering the lack of talent on their roster, and the amount of talent currently occupying the division. I wouldn’t be expecting them to make this playoffs this year, but they are starting to play themselves out of contention for the Williams/Maye sweepstakes. It would have to be another quarterback with a lower grade, or O’Connell in 2024. There is also the chance that McDaniels doesn’t finish out the year. A new coach would want his own guy, leading many to believe that a new quarterback will be in the Sin City in 2024.
As stated before with Atlanta, Kirk Cousins is looking at being a free agent again, and it looks like this time Minnesota is hesitant to hand him a massive long-term extension. Cousins has played well this season, but the team currently sits at 2-4 and star receiver Justin Jefferson is looking at missing more games this season. The offense is filled with star power beyond Jefferson, including a very capable offensive line, and emerging wide-out Jordan Addison and tight end TJ Hockenson.
The Minnesota defense has been a very different story. Because of this, the Vikings brass may have put themselves into a position to start over with a dynamic new quarterback on a rookie country, allowing them to keep some of the young talent they have aquired.
Minnesota is likely out of the running for Williams and Maye, but Penix and McCarthy, along with Nix are options either early or in trade down situations.
New York Giants
I’m going to say what Giants fans and media pundits have been afraid to say for quite some time now: Daniel Jones isn’t good enough.
And that’s okay. Playing quarterback in the NFL is one of the hardest things to do in sports. At times, Jones has looked capable enough to be the guy. That’s why New York rewarded him with a large contract extension this off-season. The team is now playing poorly, and are looking at an early draft pick.
The Giants could use that early draft pick to surround Jones with more talent. God knows that team could use some wide receivers on offense. And with the contract that Jones was just payed, he should be in New York at least past next season.
If the Giants get pick one or two, however, all bets are off, and Danny Dimes run could be over in the Big Apple.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield has been one of the best stories in football this year. After being let go by both Cleveland and Carolina, Mayfield has the Bucs at first place in the NFC South. Although the division is pretty weak, Mayfield has been playing smart football, getting the ball out to talented receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and allowing a defense built with stars to win games for him.
It is still likely that Mayfield is not the long term solution. If Mayfield keeps winning games and the Bucs make the playoffs, he has more than likely earned himself the starting spot for next year.
The Bucs should still look to draft a quarterback at some point. Former 2nd round pick Kyle Trask was supposed to be the next man up once Tom Brady hung up his cleats. After losing the quarterback battle in the off-season, it doesn’t appear that Trask has an NFL future. The Bucs should look for at least an understudy worthy of taking the job at some point in 2024.
Higgins’ Top 10 QB Prospects 2024
- Caleb Williams | USC
- Drake Maye | North Carolina
- Michael Penix | Washington
- JJ McCarthy | Michigan
- Quinn Ewers | Texas
- Bo Nix | Oregon
- Jayden Daniels | LSU
- Spencer Rattler | South Carolina
- Cameron Ward | Washington State
- Jordan Travis | Florida State