The Pittsburgh Steelers could potentially draft a quarterback early in the 2013 NFL draft—a shocking, but brilliant move for the future of the franchise.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette reported the following:
For the first time since they drafted Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, [Kevin] Colbert would not rule out drafting a quarterback in the first round. "We won't close the door on any position in any round. We can't ... Once we get into free agency and the draft, I don't see any position that's off limits."
Pittsburgh isn't the only team that could surprise fans by selecting a quarterback in Round 1, either.
Given the recent revelation from Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey that he and his staff don't see any quarterback as a clear-cut first-round pick (h/t the Kansas City Star's Adam Teicher), it won't shock anyone to see a couple of the top quarterbacks fall into the latter half of Round 1.
Should this happen, there are a few playoff teams that would be tempted to take a gamble on a top signal-caller this year in the first round as insurance against injury and as a hedge against any future contract disputes with their current quarterback.
Note: Surprising teams that will select a quarterback will be highlighted like in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
The Chiefs don't feel comfortable about any of the quarterbacks in the draft as the No. 1 overall pick, and they won't take a gamble under these circumstances. Joeckel is the clear-cut best player in the draft, and he's an easy choice here.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Taking Mingo here is a huge gamble, but given the sad state of affairs on the Jaguars' defensive line, it's a gamble worth making. New head coach Gus Bradley ran a hybrid scheme as the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, and he'll be looking to implement a similar scheme in Jacksonville, making Mingo a perfect fit.
3. Oakland Raiders—DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The Raiders have needs across the board, and it won't shock anyone to see Reggie McKenzie pull off a trade that moves Oakland down into the middle of Round 1 in order to gain more picks. That said, if Oakland stays with the No. 3 pick, it would be smart to take Floyd to bolster its defensive line.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
New defensive coordinator Billy Davis has a tough task ahead of him to fix a broken defense. The Eagles need to beef up the defensive line, and though the team drafted Fletcher Cox in Round 1 last year, it won't be a mistake to pick up one of the most dominant interior linemen of this year's draft to play next to him in 2013.
5. Detroit Lions—DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Cliff Avril will likely be too expensive to keep on the roster in 2013, and Detroit already let Kyle Vanden Bosch go. It's time to get younger on the edges, and adding Werner to the mix on a line that includes Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley would be a terrific start.
6. Cleveland Browns—OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Ray Horton will be implementing his 3-4 scheme in Cleveland this summer, and the Browns need an explosive pass-rusher to make it work properly. Look no further than Jones, who is a dynamic player on the edge and understands how to effectively play in space.
7. Arizona Cardinals—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
There isn't a greater need on Arizona's roster than its offensive line. Cardinals quarterbacks were sacked more than any other team's signal-caller in 2012, and the team's offense cannot function under those conditions. Fisher is an extremely gifted pass-protector, and taking him here is a no-brainer.
8. Buffalo Bills—WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
In the first "shock" pick of the draft, Buffalo could easily take a risk on Patterson to add a deep threat to its offense. Patterson is a raw route-runner, but his elite speed and after-the-catch abilities would make him a dynamic threat opposite Stevie Johnson.
9. New York Jets—QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
No surprise here. The Jets desperately need to draft a quarterback to compete with Mark Sanchez—if not to supplant the beleaguered quarterback. If Smith is still on the board when New York picks, new general manager John Idzik won't hesitate to pull the trigger.
10. Tennessee Titans—OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Chris Johnson is still capable of racking up insane rushing totals, but he needs help from his offensive line. Adding a mauler like Warmack would greatly improve his quality of life in 2013, and it would also make a big difference for Jake Locker, who needs more protection.
11. San Diego Chargers—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Chargers could easily reach for an offensive lineman here, but Milliner is a top-10 player. Given the fact that San Diego is in need of secondary help almost as much as it needs offensive linemen, it would be foolish to let Milliner slide further down the board.
12. Miami Dolphins—CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Since Patterson is already off the board and it would be a tremendous reach to take another receiver here, the Dolphins will do the next-best thing and improve their secondary. Rhodes is an elite cover corner who has a chance to solidify a top-15 ranking with a solid 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Tampa Bay's secondary was disgustingly inept last season, giving up more yards than any other team in the NFL. Rookie safety Mark Barron and Ronde Barber both played well, but the team's cornerbacks were atrocious. Banks is a talented, ball-hawking corner who would help the team remedy this situation.
14. Carolina Panthers—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Carolina's defense started playing good ball toward the end of last season, but a dominant defensive tackle would really put the icing on the cake for the team's front seven. Richardson's quick first step and his ability to penetrate into opposing backfields will make him a fine addition.
15. New Orleans Saints—OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Rob Ryan will be transforming the Saints defense into a 3-4 scheme this year, and he'll need to add a couple of pass-rushers who understand how to play in space. Jordan's versatility and outrageous athleticism makes him a perfect fit with New Orleans in 2013.
16. St. Louis Rams—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Sam Bradford is better than fans believe; he just hasn't been given the proper tools with which to succeed in St. Louis. He needs a better offensive line and a couple of play-making receivers, and adding Johnson to protect Bradford's blind side is a good first step toward a solution.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Ben Roethlisberger has been slipping. He is undoubtedly one of the NFL's best quarterbacks, but he threw two games away this past season with badly thrown, ill-advised interceptions.
There's no better way to light a fire under Roethlisberger than by drafting a quarterback in Round 1 to push him to get better. Bill Walsh didn't hesitate to give Joe Montana the push he needed to keep playing at a high level back in the 1980s by bringing in Steve Young, and it's a move the Steelers need to strongly consider.
Wilson has the arm, leadership skills and confidence to become an excellent pro quarterback. His biggest drawback at this time is that he tends to get too confident and throws bad interceptions far too often (think Tony Romo on a bad day).
Sitting behind Roethlisberger would be good for Wilson for a year or two, and then, who knows what might happen?
18. Dallas Cowboys—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
The Cowboys seem to be completely sold on Romo as the quarterback of the future, and as such, it will behoove Jerry Jones to bring in some competent interior offensive linemen to protect his player. Cooper would be a perfect fit for the Cowboys, as he's extremely gifted as a pass-blocker at the guard position.
19. New York Giants—DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
After logging 48 sacks in 2011—the team's Super Bowl-winning season—the Giants only logged 33 last year. Justin Tuck is getting old and Osi Umenyiora isn't likely to return. Adding a raw, yet talented player like Ansah makes sense for the long-term success of the team's defense.
20. Chicago Bears—ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Character concerns notwithstanding, Ogletree is a dynamic, sideline-to-sideline defender who will be an instant starter in the NFL. Brian Urlacher is on his last legs (if he doesn't decide to retire), and the Bears need to add a dynamic linebacker to replace him.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Cincinnati won't likely bring back Rey Maualuga, who was a big-time liability in coverage last year. The team already features a dynamic front seven, and if it can retain Michael Johnson and draft Te'o, the unit will be dangerous against the run and the pass in 2013.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—WR Keenan Allen, California
After securing Bradford's blind side, the Rams should now focus on adding a playmaker. Allen may not be as fast or explosive off the line as Patterson, but his ability to snatch difficult passes from all angles and make plays after the catch makes him a dangerous weapon.
23. Minnesota Vikings—QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Anyone who is convinced Christian Ponder is a legitimate franchise quarterback needs to take another look at this young man's limitations as a passer.
One key stat when evaluating a quarterback's ability to stretch the field and challenge—thus challenging opposing defenses to cover the entire field—is yards per attempt. Ponder possesses a weak arm, and his numbers reflect this: He ranked No. 31 in the NFL last year—right in between Mark Sanchez and Blaine Gabbert—averaging just 6.08 yards per attempt.
Ponder's inability to stretch the field makes Adrian Peterson's accomplishments in 2012 all the more impressive, as he was consistently beating defenses that brought eight and nine men into the box to defend the run.
Adding a talented, strong-armed quarterback like Nassib would be a wise move. He isn't a polished passer at this time, but neither is Ponder.
24. Indianapolis Colts—DT John Jenkins, Georgia
Indianapolis needs to beef up its defense. The team made an impressive transition to the 3-4 scheme last year, but it was gashed for huge gains on the ground far too often. Drafting a space-eating, run-stuffing nose tackle like Jenkins would be a great move to shore up this deficiency.
25. Seattle Seahawks—DE Datone Jones, UCLA
Seattle struggled to bring pressure when Chris Clemons went down with an injury last year, prompting Pete Carroll to declare that the team's biggest offseason priority would be to bring in pass-rushers (h/t the News Tribune's Eric Williams). Jones isn't as heralded as many of the pass-rusher in Round 1, but he'll be a terrific addition to the Seahawks' dangerous defense.
26. Green Bay Packers—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
The Packers reluctantly released Charles Woodson, who would have cost the team a lot of money to stay in 2013. Green Bay needs to replace the future Hall of Famer, and Vaccaro would be a perfect fit.
27. Houston Texans—ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
Houston's defense wasn't as dominant after Brian Cushing went down with an injury last year. Barrett Rudd and Bradie James weren't able to pick up the slack, and it would be wise for Houston to bring in another inside linebacker to pair with Cushing in 2013.
28. Denver Broncos—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Champ Bailey isn't getting any younger, and though he still has some tread on his tires, it won't be long before he's ready to hang up the cleats for good. Trufant is an excellent cover corner who would be a terrific addition to Denver's young defense.
29. New England Patriots—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
New England won't be using the franchise tag to lock up Wes Welker (h/t the Boston Herald's Ron Borges), which means the Patriots may be in the market for another slot specialist. Austin is a dynamic player who will fit that role, and he has the game to challenge for the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award with Tom Brady firing him passes all year.
30. Atlanta Falcons—RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Michael Turner will reportedly be released as a cap casualty this spring (h/t the Atlanta Constitution-Journal's D. Orlando Ledbetter), opening up a need for the Falcons to draft a running back. Adding Lacy would allow the Falcons to pound the rock in 2013, opening up the team's passing game all the more.
31. San Francisco 49ers—DT Jesse Williams, Alabama
Isaac Sopoaga is a free agent, and even if the 49ers keep him on board in 2013, the team needs to bring in depth and youth for its defensive line. Williams is a prototypical nose tackle who could also be an effective tackle when the team plays its nickel package.
32. Baltimore Ravens—QB Mike Glennon, North Carolina State
Joe Flacco is undoubtedly one of the game's hottest quarterbacks, but the Ravens don't have a backup plan in place should he get injured.
Tyrod Taylor is a completely different kind of quarterback than Flacco, and should Flacco go down with an injury, the team will be forced to implement an entirely new playbook to facilitate Taylor's skill set.
Glennon, on the other hand, is almost a carbon copy of Flacco. He's tall, lanky, doesn't move well in the pocket and will thrive in an offense that take shots down the field.
Drafting Glennon here at the bottom of the first round would be incredibly far-sighted of Ozzie Newsome, and though it would certainly be a controversial move, it would be smart.
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