To QB or not to QB

By | March 23, 2020

With the spate of trades last week as the NFL football year got underway, we started to update our latest three-round projection. But we don’t get far because there are just too many fluid variables at this time. In particular, there are a number of teams looking for QBs as well as a number of other teams that appear to be willing to trade down to one of those QB-needy teams if the price were right. However, all QB-needy aren’t created alike making it very difficult to even begin to predict what exactly is going to happen in the first ten picks or so on April 23rd. The following is a quick run down of what we are hearing about where those QB needy teams are currently in their pre-draft thinking.

Washington: Tough to know exactly what’s going on with the Redskins and the second pick overall as there has been a considerable amount of conflicting information coming out of the nation’s capital. What does appear to be clear is that there is an element in the Washington organization that is less than enamored with Dwayne Haskins, the nominal Redskins starter who was selected in the middle of the opening round of last year’s draft, and that there have been discussions about possibly taking Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa at that spot. However, after trading for Kyle Allen earlier today, that seems less likely for the Redskins unless they have somewhere to move Haskins, as it would seem unlikely that the team would have brought Allen to compete with both Haskins and a new rookie candidate. As a result, the bigger question in Washington would appear to be whether the Redskins would be willing to pass on selecting DE Chase Young, the consensus top non-QB prospect, if not the top prospect period, for the upcoming draft, and trade down. Of course, everybody has their price, but it is just hard to see another team willing to put together the huge package of picks it would likely take to get the Redskins to move off Young.

Miami: Just about every mock draft out there these days has the Dolphins trading up to either the second or third pick to select Alabama’s Tagovailoa. However, a lot of what we are hearing from the Dolphins is not so fast! Certainly, the Dolphins, with 14 picks overall including 3 first rounders and two more in the second, have the ammunition, but there are whispers that Miami just isn’t 100% sold on trading up for a guy coming off potential career-ending hip surgery, especially given current travel restrictions, they may not be able to either work him out or bring him in for follow-up medical testing before the draft. As they say in the trades: stay tuned!

LA Chargers: There is a similar story for the Chargers in that just about every mock out there has the Chargers either taking a QB with the 6th pick or even trading up a couple of spots. It certainly could end up that way, although the buzz out there is that the Chargers, who are scheduled to move into their new LA stadium this fall, would really rather find a veteran to replace Philip Rivers and the bigger name the better. And right now there are a number of veteran QBs with extensive starting experience out there including Jamies Winston, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton. Winston is in fact a free agent, while Newton and Dalton are still under contract, but aren’t likely to cost all that much in a trade. In fact, the Panthers’ Newton would appear to be an almost perfect fit in LA. Again stay tuned.

Jacksonville: Word out of Jacksonville seems to be that the Jags are willing to live with Gardner Minshew for the 2020 campaign following on his solid rookie season this past fall. However, the Jaguars have no misgivings about the fact that while Minshew is a skilled technician in the pocket with the kind of off-beat personality that fans love, he lacks a big arm and isn’t a great athlete and their real target for the position is more likely the 2021 draft when guys like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are expected to be available. As such, the Jaguars aren’t likely to be inclined to trade up for any of this year’s second-tier QBs. The one exception, though, might be if it was clear that Miami wasn’t going to make a move on Alabama’s Tagovailoa. In that scenario, the Jaguars could be tempted to make the move themselves from the 9th pick, say to #3. Jax is in SEC country and Tagovailoa would give them some instant credibility they haven’t had in awhile. Its not clear that the Jags would be willing to include their second first round pick to make the move, but they do have extra picks in the 4th, 5th and 6th rounds to sweeten the pot with. Again an interesting situation to watch in conjunction with what Miami does or doesn’t do.

Las Vegas: The Raiders made an interesting move late last week when they signed Marcus Mariota after Tennessee resigned Ryan Tannehill to a new deal. Ostensibly, Mariota was added for depth, as well as provide some competition for incumbent starter Derek Carr. In fact, all Mariota is going to provide in Las Vegas is a QB controversy every time Carr stumbles or Jon Gruden grumbles. Indeed, to our eyes Mariota fits more the mold of a bridge QB to carry a team for a year or so while a younger guy gets his feet wet. And that has us wondering if the Raiders are in fact looking at possibly moving up from the 12th pick, particularly given that its a well-known secret that Gruden has never been happy with Carr as his QB. And one guy that would make sense for the Raiders is Utah State’s Jordan Love. Both Gruden and draft-guru turned G.M. Mike Mayock are big upside guys and a pretty good case that no QB in the 2020 draft class has more upside than Love, whose rough around the edges, but who has been compared to KC’s Patrick Mahomes when it comes to pure arm talent. It probably isn’t lost on Gruden and Mayock that they are looking at having to play in the same division with Mahomes for the forseeable future and they are going to need a comparable talent to have any chance of competing. And while it could cost the Raiders both their #1s this year to move up, they have something of a ace in the hole in that regard in that if they did make that kind of move they are going to be able recoup some of that draft capital by trading Carr.