With so many NFL teams looking to upgrade their quarterback, or at least improve the depth of their backups, there is little wonder that where the better free-agent quarterbacks land and who drafts the better prospects of the 2012 NFL draft class is of great interest to NFL fans.
The landscape is blurry due to the uncertainty of which two teams will be the eventual winners in the Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III sweepstakes. Once those two players are accounted for, the rest of the NFL teams that want to land a quarterback can begin to target which free agents they want to go after and which rookies to move up their draft board.
For today's presentation, we are going to look at all 32 NFL teams and attempt to predict who will become the eventual starting quarterback that will finish the 2012 season as the starter for every team. Since there is no fool-proof way to predict or know which quarterbacks will go down with serious injuries, we are going to operate under the assumption that every quarterback enters the final month of the 2012 season healthy to give everybody a fighting chance to be considered.
On to the presentation.
Based on Kevin Kolb's performance in 2011, I am not sold on him as a starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, and I would have to think that the Cardinals aren't exactly sold either. Throwing as many interceptions as you do touchdown passes and winning only one start in the year is a good way for a quarterback to have his team lose confidence in him.
We have heard about the various teams interested in Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and trading up for Robert Griffin III, but very few people are actively talking about where free agents like Jason Campbell, David Garrard or Vince Young will likely land.
I think that the Cardinals will view these veteran quarterbacks and realize that it is a smart move to sign one of them (I am speculating that it would be Campbell) and bring them in to training camp with a chance to compete for the starting job.
If it shakes down that way, I would project Campbell to beat out Kolb and John Skleton to claim the starting quarterback role, which is a job he would be able to keep all year.
There is no question that Matt Ryan is the undisputed quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons. He will not be challenged in 2012 for the job.
As per this tweet from NFL Network analyst Jason La Canfora, it appears that the Falcons are already trying to secure Ryan for a long-term deal, even though he still has two years left to go on the current contract. That is about all a player can ask from his team, is to keep him financial secure and not worrying about his future.
The Falcons would sure like to see some playoff wins for their investment, but for now, they have demonstrated that they are being very patient with Ryan.
Another team that is set at quarterback is the Baltimore Ravens with Joe Flacco. Even though his contract isn't up, the Ravens are already starting talks with Flacco about a long-term deal.
This is good news for Flacco and says that the Ravens feel the same way about Flacco, as the Falcons do about Matt Ryan.
That is a great indication that Flacco isn't going anywhere and that his starting job is safe in Baltimore.
The Buffalo Bills have already tipped their hand about their starting quarterback when they decided to sign Ryan Fitzpatrick to a long-term contract during the 2011 season.
After Fitzpatrick guided the Bills to last-minute wins against the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, followed up by a big win at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Bills were concerned that Fitzpatrick would ride a hot streak out for the rest of the year. The fear was that they would lose him in free agency like they have lost so many other key free agents over the years.
Two days before the Bills were set to play the Washington Redskins in their annual game up in Toronto in Week 8, Fitzpatrick signed a seven-year contract for $62.195 million that guaranteed Fitzpatrick $24 million. The Bills wound up shutting out the Redskins, 23-0, but Fitzpatrick paid a price. He took a big hit in the game from ex-Bills linebacker London Fletcher that cracked four of his ribs and injured his sternum.
Fitzpatrick's play immediately started going south after that, so I don't see that the contract had anything to do with the decline in play. If you try to throw a football with four cracked ribs, you just aren't going to be able to put that much on your throws. If you have ever had a cracked rib, you know what I am saying is true. As a result, Fitzpatrick wound up throwing 24 touchdowns to 23 interceptions in 2011, which is obviously not a great ratio.
As for 2012, the Bills are hoping to re-sign free-agent wide receiver Steve Johnson and free-agent tight end Scott Chandler. The Bills are also looking to add another playmaking wide receiver opposite of Johnson so that Fitzpatrick will have a full compliment of assets to work with. The Bills plan to keep their current duo running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in 2012, so the Bills offense will be in good hands with Fitzpatrick throughout the 2012 season.
The NFL draft is no sure thing. Just look at the Carolina Panthers over the past two years. They invested a second-round draft pick on Jimmy Clausen in 2010, and he couldn't have possibly played any worse than he did. Then, the Panthers were benefactors of Clausen's ineptness to have the first-overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft, and landed Cam Newton.
Now, the Panthers are set. They have identified their franchise quarterback, and Newton delivered with a monster rookie year, setting new NFL records and winning NFL Rookie of the Year.
Now, the Panthers need to shore up their defense and add a little more depth, surrounding Newton with enough weapons. Whether or not the Panthers keep Clausen around remains to be seen, but no other quarterback should plan to be directing the Panthers offense anytime soon, outside of Newton.
The Chicago Bears have witnessed how bad things can get when they lost Jay Cutler to injuries in both 2010 and 2011.
Cutler is a tough quarterback that has been asked to take a severe pounding due to the inability of the Bears offensive line to keep Cutler upright when he goes back to pass. Cutler has been sacked 75 times in the past two seasons, so as long as the Bears play with an inferior offensive line, they run the risk of Cutler getting injured.
The Bears as a result need to have a better back-up quarterback ready to step in. In what would be an ironic twist, maybe the Bears should consider bringing Kyle Orton, the player they traded to Denver to acquire Cutler, back to Chicago.
I project that Cutler will finish the 2012 season as the Bears starting quarterback, but there is a reasonable chance that he will not be able to finish the season healthy. The Bears should be an active player in free agency to bring in an experienced veteran back-up quarterback.
The Cincinnati Bengals are another team that appears to be quite content with their current starting quarterback, as Andy Dalton had a solid rookie campaign in 2011.
Dalton could well be the starting quarterback for the Bengals for the rest of this decade. He hit a little bit of the rookie wall in the playoffs, but I expect Dalton to show progress and continue to improve as he receives more experience as the unquestioned starter in Cincinnati.
Being able to start from the first game of his rookie season is a great way to speed up the learning curve. Dalton shows no signs of being overwhelmed, like Blaine Gabbert did with the Jaguars.
As badly as some Cleveland Browns fans might want the team to trade away the farm to the St. Louis Rams in hopes of jumping up to draft Robert Griffin III, I see the Browns going in a different direction.
The Browns realize that they are going to be asked to give up too much of their future, so they are going to hang on to their extra high draft picks and continue to add as many blue-chip caliber players to the team as they can via the draft.
When it comes to their 2012 quarterback situation, I like the Browns to emerge as the winner of free agent Matt Flynn sweepstakes. The Browns only have to invest some of their salary cap to sign Flynn, and they get to hold on to all their draft picks.
Flynn will be allowed to compete with incumbent Colt McCoy during the 2012 season. Even though McCoy knows the offense and has formed strong alliances during the past two years, I predict that it will be Flynn that emerges from the battle of the 2012 regular season to eventually become the Browns starting quarterback.
The Browns have a good situation with McCoy and Flynn to compete against each other, and if they draft well with their extra high draft picks, they could continue to develop a solid core for the future.
The Dallas Cowboys are in this position of seemingly being stuck with Tony Romo as their starting quarterback for better or worse. At times, Romo will come through with some amazing performances and make you think like he has turned a corner and is evolving into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Then, he will follow that up with a real clunker and have some kind of a back-breaking turnover that costs the Cowboys a win.
The Cowboys have too much invested in Romo to part ways with them, so they appear to be set on just riding things out with Romo and hope that by surrounding him with as much talent as they can, that things will evolve and work out OK.
The running game really took a major step forward when rookie DeMarco Murray took over in 2011. It is no accident that the Cowboys went on a winning streak when Murray became involved as a starting running back. Assuming that Murray can stay healthy in 2012, that bodes well for Tony Romo, as the threat of Murray will allow Romo more time to throw.
Unless Romo goes down with an injury in 2012, I don't see where any other quarterback will be gaining many snaps in 2012.
I expect Tim Tebow will be the No. 1 quarterback coming into training camp in 2012, but I also believe that John Fox and John Elway will bring in several quarterbacks to compete with Tebow for the starting job.
With the way that NFL defenses started to figure out how to play against Tebow (namely New England and Buffalo come to mind), the copycat nature of the NFL will result in other teams coming up with new ways to defend Tebow and putting him in situations that he is not going to have as much success with.
I have no way of knowing how many weeks it will take, but you can be sure that Coach Fox will have allowed Tebow enough games to show the fans that a change has to be made at starting quarterback. But who would the Broncos turn to?
As of now, I have heard very little about any other NFL teams expressing interest in free agent Vince Young. He may not be as mobile as he was when he originally came out of the University of Texas, but Young is a quarterback that can run with the ball and throw on the run, so the Broncos wouldn't have to scrap the offense altogether.
By the time the 2012 season is completed, Tebow will be relegated to second-string, and Young will have emerged as the starter. I have nothing against Tebow personally.
Maybe Tebow is able to work enough on his game that he could still emerge as the starter from Week 1 in 2012 and keep the job all year. But, he will have to ready and able to make adjustments to his game as NFL defenses adjust to him, and I am just not convinced that he is able to do that yet.
After two straight injury-marred seasons to begin his career, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was finally able to put together a completely healthy year in 2011, and the results were quite impressive.
How impressive? How about a QB Passer Rating of 97.2? If you combined all the stats from Stafford's limited number of starts in the first two seasons, they still wouldn't come close to what he did in 2011.
In 2009-2010, Stafford had 13 starts, passing for 2,800 yards and 19 touchdowns. In 2011, those numbers read 16 starts, 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. Like I said, this was a dramatic increase in production.
Leading the Lions to the playoffs for the first time in a decade is another important development and is another reason why Stafford's role is very secure in Detroit.
The way things appear to be headed for the 2012 NFL season, Aaron Rodgers will continue to run the Green Bay Packers offense, while Matt Flynn will move on to another NFL team to have the chance to become a starting quarterback.
Whether or not Flynn goes to Cleveland as a free agent or via trade, the point is that he will be gone, so what kind of insurance will the Packers have in case Rodgers ever goes down with an injury? The only other quarterback on the roster is untested Graham Harrell, so the Packers will need to find a veteran that can come in to back up Rodgers.
Rodgers had another great year in Green Bay, as he threw for 4,900-plus yards when you combine his regular season with his playoff game against the New York Giants.
The Packers have already re-signed tight end Jermichael Finley, so expect Rodgers to have another strong year throwing the ball to his many targets.
I am expecting bigger things from Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans in 2012. I expect that both Schaub and the Texans will take a step up as they attempt to go further in the postseason in the new year.
Schaub played in all 16 games in both 2009 and 2010 and threw for more than 4,000 yards in both of those seasons. The Texans featured a team in 2011 that had talent on both sides of the ball, and it was unfortunate that Schaub went down for the season, because there is no telling how far they might have gone if he was healthy for the playoffs.
While there might be a certain segment of fans that are rooting for backup quarterback T.J. Yates, this is Matt Schaub's team, and he will be asked to lead them back to the playoffs in 2012. I don't really see any major challenge coming from either Yates or Matt Leinart to take the job away this year.
There is Andrew Luck flying in the air at the dome in Indianapolis. He isn't Superman, which is probably the only other individual that would be an acceptable replacement to try to fill the shoes of Peyton Manning. But, Colts fans have to begin facing the cold, hard reality that Manning is probably not going to be part of the Colts organization in 2012.
I suspect that the Colts will have Luck starting from Week 1 and that he will be asked to start for the whole year, just like Cam Newton and Andy Dalton did in their rookie campaigns last year.
What we don't yet know is who will be Luck's mentor, because I just don't see Curtis Painter as being the ideal mentor candidate. Perhaps the Colts bring in a veteran that would basically be out of work to work with Luck. Possibilities there range from Jeff Garcia, Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn, Jake Delhomme or Donovan McNabb.
While Manning will be sorely missed in Indianapolis, Colts fans will enjoy seeing the progress of Luck as he transforms from a raw rookie to a polished starter. There will be some growing pains, but Luck should be able to put up a decent rookie year. How good the rookie year is will be the result of which free agents the Colts bring back and what else they are able to do in the 2012 draft.
While everyone that is connected with the Jacksonville Jaguars is concerned about some of the holes they discovered in Blaine Gabbert's game, the situation has the potential to get even worse in 2012.
Gabbert's confidence was shaken in 2011, and he developed the dreaded "happy feet syndrome" where he starts to panic in the pocket even when there really isn't any real pressure coming. That will take some more playing time and maturity to conquer, and it may not totally be cured by the time the 2012 season ends. In fact, I am banking that it won't happen, which is where Chad Henne comes in.
I suspect that Gabbert will be asked to start the 2012 season as the Jaguars starting quarterback. The Jaguars will work with Gabbert to get him to become more comfortable in the pocket, but somewhere in the range of Week 8-10, head coach Mike Malarkey will have seen enough and let Gabbert watch from the sidelines for the rest of the year.
Chad Henne doesn't really have any team lined up for 2012 that I can see, so I think he will stay in Florida and sign with the Jaguars to initially come in as the No. 2 quarterback. When Malarkey demotes Gabbert in midseason, Henne steps in and runs the offense for the rest of the year.
The Kansas City Chiefs had a rough 2011 due to all the season-ending injuries they suffered to many key players. While Matt Cassel wasn't able to escape the injury bug himself, he should come back healthy for the 2012 season.
There hasn't been any definitive word yet out of Kansas City if the team will bring back Kyle Orton to compete with Cassel in training camp. That would make sense to do, as competition can never be a bad thing for a team.
But, despite Romeo Crennel's comments about being interested in Peyton Manning, the Chiefs will focus on trying to bring back as many of their own key free agents as they can and take their chances with Cassel.
I see Cassel playing the entire 2012 season as the starter. How well the team and Cassel will do is up in the air. It certainly would be a major boost if the Chiefs can bring back Dwayne Bowe and that Jamaal Charles returns to full health.
I don't know how many years that Peyton Manning has left where he can still play at a high level, but I am projecting that he will play out the rest of his career as a member of the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins will determine that the future price to give up to move up and draft Robert Griffin III is too expensive a price to pay, so they will focus their efforts instead on bringing Manning to Miami after the Colts release him.
Matt Moore will still be under contract for 2012, so he will serve as a reliable backup to Manning.
Once the Dolphins have secured Manning, and assuming that his nerve has regenerated to the point that he has most of his old throwing ability back, then they have to work on finding a solid wide receiver to place opposite of Brandon Marshall. Reggie Bush is a good target coming out of the backfield, so most of the ingredients will be there for a better offense.
It will be curious to see if Manning has signed prior to the draft or if he is still not ready to throw for other teams by then. If he signs prior to the draft, then the Dolphins will have to use their picks to maximize their ability to be a better offensive unit with Manning at the controls.
The Minnesota Vikings made a bold statement at the 2011 NFL draft, when they surprised most NFL experts by taking Christian Ponder with the No. 12 overall draft pick in the first round.
Ponder had the chance to observe playing quarterback from veteran QB Donovan McNabb, and then he was thrown in to the fire.
In 2012, the Vikings hope to surround Ponder with better players on offense, ranging from improving at left tackle and at wide receiver. It looks more and more like the Vikings will be happy to draft left tackle Matt Kalil, and that would be a positive development for Ponder's future in Minnesota.
I don't see anybody else challenging Ponder during the 2012 season.
The New England Patriots don't have very much to worry about at quarterback. With Tom Brady on board, the Patriots know that they have one of the very best quarterbacks in the NFL and that they will be in good hands.
Sure, Brady is capable of turning in a clunker game now and then, but he will keep the Patriots in the thick of the AFC East race, assuming that the Patriots bring back Wes Welker, who is obviously a key part of the Patriots offense.
The other big topic at quarterback for the Patriots in 2012 is, who is going to back up Brady? Will the Patriots keep backup Brian Hoyer, who is a restricted free agent, or will they turn the back-up job over to Ryan Mallett?
Either way, Tom Brady will be the unquestioned starting quarterback for the 2012 season.
While it has to be somewhat disconcerting to New Orleans Saints fans that the team has not been able to sign free-agent quarterback Drew Brees to a new contract yet, they can at least feel good that the two parties are continuing to talk and negotiate towards reaching a new deal.
The only thing to keep in mind is that in two weeks from now, free agency begins on March 13, so the clock is ticking for the Saints to get some kind of a deal done. The last thing that they want to happen is have Brees reach free agency without a deal and then get blown by some other team that has lots of salary cap room to work with.
We can only assume that Brees is willing to work with the Saints and is trying to be reasonable in his salary demands so that the Saints can also bring back some of the other key free agents like Carl Nicks, Robert Meachem, Marques Colston and Tracy Porter.
If Brees signs a contract, then he is the unquestioned starter throughout 2012 for New Orleans. If they fail to sign him, then that makes New Orleans an unexpected team that will enter the free agent market and 2012 NFL draft looking for a starting quarterback.
After turning in a great December that led to winning the NFC East and then a strong playoff run that culminated in winning Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants are secure in knowing that they have no qualms with their starting quarterback Eli Manning.
Manning has talented young receivers to throw to, so there is no doubt that he will continue to keep the Giants in most games. The Giants running game was found lacking for a good stretch of 2011, and the injuries to the tight ends have to be somewhat of a concern.
But with respect to who will be playing quarterback in 2012 for the New York Giants, this one is rather easy to answer. It is Eli Manning all the way.
I have to admit that I was tempted to make a bold prediction to shake up the quarterbacking situation with the New York Jets, but then I thought more about the way the Jets are going to be focused more on the running game in 2012 under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, and I realized that there is no need to make a drastic change for the Jets.
As long as the Jets return to a rushing-oriented offense, there will be less emphasis on what kind of a job Mark Sanchez is doing throwing the ball. With less throws comes less turnovers and fewer headlines that blame Sanchez for whatever losses the Jets encounter.
Make no mistake that the Jets were not happy with the offense in 2011, and that is why Tony Sparano is now with the Jets.
While I can't say with 100 percent certainty that Mark Sanchez will be there to quarterback the Jets at the end of the 2012 season, I believe that he will still be there at the end of the year. If the Jets as a team are playing at a .500 level and in danger of missing the playoffs, then there is no telling what drastic moves Rex Ryan may make if he feels his job is in any jeopardy.
Even though it is safe to say that Carson Palmer has already peaked at 32, he is still a respectable quarterback capable of putting up good numbers. The new regime of GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen weren't responsible for the costly package to acquire Palmer, but they will feel obligated to at least start him when the 2012 season begins.
Palmer has already been in the league nine years, so now, with a full offseason to prepare for the 2012 season, I suspect that Palmer will perform better than he demonstrated down the stretch run in 2011.
Will Palmer still be standing as the starting quarterback at the end of the year? The Raiders currently have Terrelle Pryor as the only other backup at QB. Kyle Boller is a free agent, as is Jason Campbell, and Trent Edwards signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
If Campbell is brought back to compete with Palmer, that is the one scenario where I might be temped to waver on picking Palmer to finish the year as the starting quarterback. Campbell played very well for the Raiders in 2011 until being sidelined due to injury. But we have no way of knowing where Campbell will sign, so due to that, I select Palmer to be the Raiders quarterback that finishes out 2012 as the starter.
Michael Vick will be 32 years old when the 2012 season begins. Vick may not be able to last for a full season any more. He has missed at least three or four games every year that he has played for the Eagles. Who knows for sure if he will still be standing at the end of the year, as he could just as easily miss the games in December as any other month.
Vick's style of play results in him taking a number of hits. Whether it is trying to scramble around in the pocket to buy more time for his receivers or tucking the ball and running downfield to pick up a first down, Vick will take his fair share of big hits during the year. With Vick set to enter his 10th season in the NFL, those big hits will continue to take their toll and make him susceptible to more injuries.
There is little doubt that Vince Young will want to move on so that he can have an opportunity to become a starting quarterback elsewhere, so that leaves the Eagles cupboard rather bare at QB.
Philadelphia Inquirer beat writer Les Bowen thinks the Eagles could use an early-round 2012 draft pick on a quarterback. Maybe that is more of a concern about the quality of Vick's current backups than it is a concern over Vick's style of play.
As for this presentation, I will predict that Vick finishes the year as the Eagles starting quarterback.
With every passing year, you marvel at the way that Ben Roethlisberger is able to play through severe pain and go out there week after week when he can barely run. Luckily, his big frame allows him to take on big hits that he can't avoid due to the lack of great mobility when he is playing hurt and escape without getting further injuries that would cut his career short.
It will be interesting to see how the new duo of offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Roethlisberger co-exist in 2012 and how the new offensive philosophies work out in Pittsburgh. If the Steelers run the ball more often, that should lead to Big Ben taking fewer hits, and we can then presume that the chances of him staying healthy improve across the board.
While the Steelers have been working feverishly to restructure contracts in an attempt to create enough salary cap space to keep restricted free-agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, it is interesting to see them place upcoming seasons in further jeopardy due to this strategy. With each new restructured contract, the Steelers are rolling money into future seasons, which will continue to limit the salary cap space that they have to work with.
The fact that they are doing all this for a wide receiver, even though they are going back to more of a run-oriented offense, is somewhat surprising. Obviously, Wallace is a talent, but the Steelers will also have to find another running back to replace Rashard Mendenhall, who is expected to miss most of 2012. Maybe the Steelers will ultimately decide they don't have the proper personnel for that and go back to the pass-heavy attack.
Whatever they decide, it will be done with Ben Roethlisberger as the starting quarterback for the year.
It is safe to say that quite a few San Diego Chargers fans had to be concerned about the 2011 in-season fade of quarterback Philip Rivers. The Chargers starting quarterback demonstrated some questionable decision making as he came up with a career-high 20 interceptions in 2011.
In fact, Rivers' interception totals have been rising over the last three years, going from nine to 13 to 20. He has a productive running back in Ryan Mathews to take some of the pressure off, and he still had Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson to throw the ball to.
But something was wrong in 2011, and Rivers never let on to what was bothering him. He insisted that he was never injured, but if you watched him play, you could just tell that something didn't appear to be quite right.
The 2012 season will be interesting to see what the Chargers do if they ultimately lose Vincent Jackson to free agency. How will they respond to that, and what happens to the Chargers offense as a result?
For what it is worth, Rivers isn't due to become a free agent until 2016, so Chargers fans can count on him being the starting quarterback for a long time. However, if the number of interceptions continues to rise above 20, all bets are off.
Even though Tarvaris Jackson finished up the 2011 season as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, I would be very surprised if he was able to duplicate that feat in 2012. The Seattle Seahawks need a better quality quarterback to upgrade their offense, so the question is, who will be the guy to take over in Seattle?
Looking at the best options for a moment, the favorite teams that have the assets available to trade up and take the St. Louis Rams draft pick at No. 2 overall are the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins. That basically eliminates the Seahawks from RG3 consideration.
Next up is Peyton Manning. The Miami Dolphins appear to be in the driver's seat there, and Dolphins fans are already erecting billboards to proclaim their desire for Manning to turn around their team.
So, where does that leave the Seahawks? There is a vast array of available free-agent quarterbacks that they can analyze. Let's throw out some names to consider: David Garrard, Brady Quinn, Vince Young, Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb, Chad Henne and Josh Johnson. By the way, there was an update on David Garrard, who is claiming now that he is 100 percent healthy and is looking forward to playing in 2012.
As for a quarterback available in the draft, once you eliminate Andrew Luck and RG3, the rest of the quarterback class of 2012 is available for consideration. That includes Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler, Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles.
While Seahawks fans may be disappointed that the top names are not probably going to be playing in Seattle, there are plenty of talented quarterbacks in the two groups above that pose as providing the Seahawks with some future upside at quarterback. For the sake of this presentation, I have to name a quarterback that can finish the 2012 year as the Seahawks starter, and I will go with David Garrard.
The San Francisco 49ers appear to be quite enamored with Alex Smith as their starting quarterback, and he seems to feel the same way about the team.
Unless we hear something that is contrary to that belief, assume that Smith will begin and finish the year as the 49ers' starting quarterback.
But having just said that, there is a part of me that has the feeling that the 49ers are a dark-horse team that could pop up out of the woodwork and make a run at a player like Peyton Manning to join the team. Think about it: They have a top-five NFL defense. They have the strong running game with Frank Gore, and you know that they are going to either draft or pick up a wide receiver or two in free agency.
This again is nothing more than speculation on my part, but when I look at the 49ers as a team, the one ingredient that would vault them towards being a true Super Bowl contender is a better quality quarterback. Will it happen? Guess we will know the answer over the next two months.
The St. Louis Rams need help in a lot of different positions. That is why the strong performance of quarterback Robert Griffin III at the NFL scouting combine is such important news for the Rams and their future.
Just in the last 24 hours, opinions are now coming out that the Rams will require three first-round draft picks for a team to trade up to the No. 2 overall draft slot. The price to trade up yesterday had only been two first-round picks and some later picks thrown on top of that. Imagine what the price will have escalated to by April 25-26.
The Rams and new head coach Jeff Fisher are content to play Sam Bradford as their starting quarterback and build a team around him. They will use their added draft picks to acquire some much-needed talent to add to the offense and try to do a better job of protecting Bradford by upgrading the offensive line.
The draft should be an exciting time for Rams fans to see how this whole spectacle for RG3 continues to unfold. If the Rams don't walk away from the draft with a markedly better team from a talent perspective, than something is terribly wrong.
As for Bradford, he will start and finish the year at quarterback, assuming that the Rams offensive line allows him to do so. That is not necessarily a given.
New Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Greg Schiano has his work cut out for him. He will have to change the culture of the Bucs organization and try to bring discipline to a team that was sorely lacking it.
One thing Schiano will not have to worry about is who will be his starting quarterback. That honor continues to go to Josh Freeman, and we suspect that Freeman will maintain control of the starting quarterback position throughout the year.
One of the interesting highlights of the Bucs 2012 offseason will be to learn who the team has been able to add to give Freeman some more weapons to work with. The offense wasn't very special in 2011, so we will see what new offensive coordinator Bill Sheridan can do to improve the efficiency of the offense.
Whatever happens, Josh Freeman will remain the main man in 2012.
I don't know how many people will consider this pick a surprise, but I project that Matt Hasselbeck will start out the 2012 season as the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback, but that Jake Locker will wind up finishing off the season as the starter.
Locker had the 2011 season to observe from watching Hasselbeck perform and then had the opportunity to get his feet wet by playing in enough games to throw 66 passes, which included four touchdowns and no interceptions.
With a full 2012 training camp and OTA's to work with, Locker will have the chance to develop much faster in 2012 than he did last year.
As the 2012 season unfolds, and since I see the Houston Texans as the team that will run away with the AFC South division, head coach Mike Munchak will finally decide to go with Locker somewhere in the Week 10-12 range and let him finish out the year to further his development as the starting quarterback of the future for the Tennessee Titans.
I am of the opinion that the Washington Redskins will do whatever it takes to move up in the draft and acquire the second-overall draft pick from the St. Louis Cardinals.With that pick, the Redskins will select Robert Griffin III, and he will be their starting quarterback for the next 10 years.
Just like Cam Newton did in 2011, the Redskins will turn the ball over to Griffin and let him learn of the job. It is too hard to tell which quarterback the Redskins will bring back to mentor Griffin between John Beck and Rex Grossman.
For what it is worth, I don't have any team picking up Donovan McNabb, so I wonder if he is open to returning to Washington and becoming a mentor to Griffin?
Bonus Slide: This group of 24 quarterbacks, according to my predictions, would then be left to fight out various backup quarterback jobs or serving as a mentor to a younger quarterback. This list also includes some rookies that were not fortunate enough to land a starting quarterback job, so they will have to wait for their turn. Listed in alphabetical order, they are:
Derek Anderson, John Beck, Jimmy Clausen, Blaine Gabbert, Rex Grossman, Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Hill, Brian Hoyer, Tarvaris Jackson, Josh Johnson, Kevin Kolb, Matt Leinart, Colt McCoy, Donovan McNabb, Matt Moore, Kyle Orton, Terrelle Pryor, Brady Quinn, John Skelton, Ryan Tannehill, Tim Tebow, Tyler Thigpen, Joe Webb and Brandon Weeden.
Thanks for checking out the presentation.