Quarterbacks in the NFL Draft
by Trevor Whenham - 04/23/2008
Picking a quarterback in the first round or two of the NFL Draft is a risky, expensive proposition that backfires at least as often as it succeeds. The power of a true franchise quarterback and the lure of picking a guy like Peyton Manning, though, is way too much for a team to resist. This year, there is more serious need for a quarterback than there are blue chip prospects, so it could get especially interesting on Saturday afternoon. Here's a look at the teams that are likely to be itching for a quarterback (or at least those that have figured prominently in quarterback talk in the last couple of weeks), and the order that the top four guys are now likely to come off the board (though the bottom three could change a few times before Saturday because they have already changed a hundred times).
The teams (in alphabetical order)
Atlanta - The obvious one, and the team likely to be the first to take a pivot off the board. I don't know if you heard, but they had a little problem with their franchise QB before last year and are in the market for a new guy. It was a surprise to no one with a pulse that Joey Harrington wasn't the answer, so a fresh, squeaky-clean quarterback with no baggage would give the team a much-needed boost both on and off the field.
Baltimore - With the retirement of Steve McNair they are left with Kyle Boller and Troy Smith. Neither one is the kind of guy to bet a franchise on.
Carolina - They showed they were in the market when they picked up David Carr last year to back up Jake Delhomme. That redefined the word disaster. Delhomme was fragile yet again, and Carr was terrible. There is increasing buzz that they will be active reasonably early.
Chicago - Nothing new here - this franchise has needed a quarterback for at least a decade, and they have an impressive record of picking bad ones. They could be in the market again, though I pity whoever ends up in the black hole of Soldier Field. That's where quarterbacks go to die.
Detroit - The team has lots of needs so quarterback probably isn't at the forefront. Still, Jon Kitna isn't the long-term answer, so there has been talk that they will look for the player who is. Unlike some other teams, the Lions would able to be patient and ease a guy into the rotation.
Green Bay - For the first time in a long time the Packers don't have a viable backup in place. On top of that, they don't have a proven starter, either. Again, QB isn't their highest priority, but sooner or later they will be looking towards the future. Like a lot of teams, they could be bargain hunters.
Kansas City - The Chiefs need a lot of help, but even if they fix their offensive line it seems doubtful that Brodie Croyle is a long-term solution. They could be more of a player now that they have Minnesota's first round pick in exchange for Jared Allen. The Chiefs have a lot of holes, so they could be looking to trade their second pick in the first round for more high- to mid-round picks. In that case the spot could certainly factor into the race for the second quarterback.
Miami - Does Bill Parcells seem like the kind of guy who is going to be convinced that John Beck is the answer? Didn't think so.
Minnesota - Tarvaris Jackson showed promise, but he is still a big question mark, and Minnesota might look for another player if the opportunity presented itself.
New York Jets - Chad Pennington is nearing his expiration date, and Kellen Clemens wasn't the superstar they hoped in his first exposure last year. Though it might be a bit surprising, the Jets are rumored to be very interested in Matt Ryan.
The way this draft sets up on the talent side is fascinating. There is lots of need, but not matching prospects. One guy could go as high as third and will almost certainly not last past the eighth spot. The next three grade as second rounders, and no one else seems likely to go before the fourth. Because of that, it seems possible and even likely that we will see one and maybe even two guys slip into the bottom half of the first round. Teams that don't want to miss out in the second round could stretch a bit to make sure they get their guy.
Matt Ryan, Boston College - The clear leader. Now that Miami's pick is made, and St. Louis doesn't need a QB this badly, the fate of Ryan is getting clearer. He stands a good chance of going third to Atlanta to be the new face of that franchise. If that doesn't happen (Atlanta might pick Glenn Dorsey instead, or trade down for more much-needed picks), then it really gets interesting. Oakland won't pick him at four, but Kansas City, New York and Baltimore have three of the next four picks, and he won't make it through that group unpicked. It's also a possibility that St. Louis or Oakland could entertain a trade so someone could move up to take him. In the end, though, I see him in Atlanta.
Chad Henne, Michigan - The second spot has been very fluid. Joe Flacco was there early, then people remembered that Brian Brohm was actually good, so he moved up to second. Now it seems like Henne has the late buzz. It makes sense. He is a four-year starter who makes pro-style passes in his sleep, and has made stars of guys like Braylon Edwards and Mario Manningham. If Baltimore doesn't get Ryan they could be very interested in Henne - the staff is full of ties to Michigan. They could look to trade back from the eighth pick to later in the first, or to trade up from the second round to get him. If the interest is there for more than one team (and word is that it is), then I could see Henne go somewhere in the 15-25 range.
Brian Brohm, Louisville - Brohm could also slip into the first round if teams start to panic. Brohm would likely have been a top five pick last year if he had come out, so he is excellent value wherever he gets picked. He had a very good year for a pretty bad team this year, and he has all sorts of pro potential. With so many teams in the market for a guy, someone could blink first and snap him up earlier than expected. Carolina or Miami seem like good possibilities.
Joe Flacco, Delaware - For a while, Flacco was burning very bright. He comes from outside of Division I, but he is big and has a rocket arm and scouts fell in love with him. The other guys passed him in the end it seems, and that is likely because they have accomplished more against better competition. Still, Flacco's physical tools are impressive, and a team will certainly take a shot at him. A lot of teams on this list would love him, and it would be surprising to see him last past the top 10 of the second round.