NFL Teams Likely to Move Up in the Draft to Grab a Quarterback
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2013 NFL draft due to start one week from today, football fans are agog with anticipation of epic moves and trades that potentially could be made to land a key playmaker or difference maker.
No position is under more scrutiny than the quarterback position, which has led to a great deal of speculation about how many teams will be executing trades to move up or down to secure their future franchise quarterback.
So, that leads us to explore the following topic: How many NFL teams will likely move up in the draft to secure a quarterback?
Since we are still a week away from knowing the final answer to this question, there are some teams that seem like obvious answers, and then there are some teams that could suddenly fit the bill based on how far specific quarterbacks start sliding down the big board to them.
For example, Geno Smith is widely regarded as the top quarterback in the draft and is a probable top-10 draft pick. But what would happen if Smith was still available halfway through the first round? Would a team that nobody expected to trade up for a quarterback suddenly make a play for Smith if they only had to move up three, four or five spots to grab him?
Why this whole topic is somewhat fascinating is due to the overall talent, or according to some draft experts, lack of overall talent with the quarterbacks in the 2013 draft class. There isn't an obvious stud like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III in this draft. It would not be a major surprise if some of the quarterbacks drafted in the first three rounds resemble Blaine Gabbert or Jimmy Clausen coming out of the gate.
Another issue is the lack of consensus on which quarterbacks are truly worthy of a first-round draft pick. Some experts will pound the table for Matt Barkley, E.J. Manuel or Ryan Nassib.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and teams will have contrasting grades on each of the quarterbacks we highlighted. Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote that the two quarterbacks that are most likely being targeted in the bottom of the first round right now are Manuel and Nassib.
With that much uncertainty surrounding the quarterback class, we also can't rule out the possibility that this is just one giant smokescreen, and much ado about nothing. It is more likely that there will be more trades executed to grab one of the top-five offensive linemen than there will be for quarterbacks.
So having said all that, let's see which teams are most likely to move up in the draft to land their quarterback of the future. We will start with a couple teams that have a long-shot chance of trading for a quarterback and work our way up to teams that have a better shot at pulling the trigger.
Jay Cutler is a free agent after the 2013 season.
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Granted, the Bears' inclusion in this group is a surprise entry. But when you consider the Bears' current situation at quarterback, it forces you to re-consider what the Bears might be willing to do at the draft.
For starters, Jay Cutler is playing out the final year of his contract. He is scheduled to be a free agent in 2014, and is under no obligation to return to the Bears after this season. His offensive line will no doubt be improved thanks to the additions in free agency, but how much better will they truly be? How long will it take for the unit to mesh?
We have seen over the years that the pounding that Cutler takes has been sufficient to knock him out for multiple games at a stretch. The only backup for Cutler is Josh McCown, which tells you that the Bears need to start developing a better contingency plan, and the sooner the better.
Given all the above reasons, you shouldn't be surprised if the Bears wind up trading up to draft a quarterback sometime during the 2013 draft.
New England Patriots
Will Bill Belichick use Ryan Mallett as trade bait in 2013 draft?
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As we said on the opening slide, we will work in a few long-shots in the beginning, which is what the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots would be. Coming into this draft, the New England Patriots only hold a grand total of five draft picks, which are the No. 29, 59, 91, 226 and 235 overall picks.
If the Pittsburgh Steelers decided not to match the offer sheet to Emmanuel Sanders, the Patriots would have been down to just four draft picks.
So, how will Bill Belichick add more draft picks for this draft? The quickest and easiest way would be to trade away backup quarterback Ryan Mallett either prior to or during the draft. For any team that was disappointed that they didn't get the quarterback they wanted in the first or second round, Belichick can swoop in and offer up Mallett for multiple draft picks.
The strategy would leave the Patriots very thin at quarterback, as Mike Kafka would be all that was left to back up Tom Brady. But with the multiple picks they get in the Mallett trade, the Patriots could then use one of them to draft a quarterback to develop for the future.
San Diego Chargers
Will Mike McCoy draft a QB to groom behind Philip Rivers?
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New San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy has Philip Rivers as his starting quarterback and then after that, it is Charlie Whitehurst.
So, that limited depth at the quarterback position vaults the Chargers up the list as a team that could be a surprise player for one of the quarterbacks in this draft. If Rivers were ever to go down to injury, you would want to have a solid No. 2 in place, and it is hard to get behind Whitehurst.
The Chargers could wait until the second round unfolds and then make a move based on how many quarterbacks have flown off the big board. They currently have the No. 45 overall pick in that round, which could be a great pick to use as a starting point.
No doubt the Chargers will be using their first-round pick to shore up the offensive line. But, if they fail to draft a young quarterback, we all saw what happened in 2011 to the Indianapolis Colts when Peyton Manning went down.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greg Schiano wants more competition for starting QB in camp.
In a story by Stephen F. Holder of the Tampa Bay Times, the current theory is that Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano wants a quarterback that is capable of challenging starter Josh Freeman for the job. That quarterback will likely be coming out of the draft, but in what round? That part for now is a mystery.
The Bucs are probably content to address other team needs in the first few rounds, and then assess the quarterbacks left on the board in the middle rounds, according to Holder. If that is the case, there could still be a couple quality arms still left, like a Tyler Wilson, Tyler Bray or Landry Jones to scoop up.
But what if the Bucs have a high grade on somebody and he is has slipped down to the end of the second round or is available early in the third round? Will Schiano's motivation to land another quarterback be enough to convince Mark Dominik to make a move?
With Carson Palmer on the roster, will Arizona still draft a QB?
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New Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has now had the chance to observe Carson Palmer this week in a minicamp setting. While Palmer might prove to be effective for the next several years, you would have to think that Arians is also anxious to have a young stud quarterback that he can be developing at the same time for the future.
Yes, the Cardinals roster has three veterans on board with Palmer, Drew Stanton and John Skelton. But Skelton has no ties to Arians or GM Steve Keim, so he could easily get the axe in favor of a rookie.
The Cardinals have invested time by bringing in quarterbacks such as Matt Barkley and Mike Glennon for private workouts. Why would the Cardinals take the time to do that even with Palmer on the roster? It could be a smokescreen, or doing their due diligence or they have a genuine interest in grooming a future QB.
My educated guess is the latter option, so that makes the Cardinals a team that is in position to trade up to land a quarterback in either the end of the first round, or early in the second round.
Chip Kelly will be running a high-powered offense in 2013.
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The Philadelphia Eagles have only been together for a couple days of minicamp activities under new head coach Chip Kelly, but there is already a major buzz regarding the innovative offense that Kelly wants to run.
According to a Twitter update from Geoff Mosher of CSN Philadelphia, Michael Vick said that he has been practicing running the read option this week. Vick spoke to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN after practice on Wednesday. Paolantonio said on an episode of NFL 32 that Vick described the new offense as refreshing, innovative and nothing that he has ever done before.
Paolantonio also stated on the show that the average NFL offense ran 64 snaps per game in 2012. The Patriots led the NFL with 74 snaps, while the Eagles only ran an average of 67 snaps per game. At Oregon, Kelly averaged running 84 snaps per game. While it seems difficult to imagine a pro team being able to run that many plays a game, it is clear that Kelly wants the offense to put the pedal to the metal.
So, how will Vick hold up in that kind of an attack? He might hold up for the first eight games or so, but his style of play invites big hits, and sooner or later he will be knocked out of action. Enter Nick Foles, and then you have to wonder if he has what it takes to effectively run Kelly's offense.
When you consider all of the above items, it is not out of the question for Kelly to consider trading back up into the bottom of the first round, and snagging the most versatile, athletic quarterback in the draft. That, of course, would be E.J. Manuel of Florida State.
Will Rob Chudzinski draft a QB to compete with Brandon Weeden?
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Another team that has the need to address the quarterback position is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are obviously going with a new regime in 2013 from top to bottom.
New head coach Rob Chudzinski and new GM Michael Lombardi have no allegiance to Brandon Weeden, so they will go ahead and draft a quarterback if they think they have identified somebody that can challenge Weeden for the job.
The Browns have a great situation with the No. 6 overall draft pick that allows them to trade down and secure some additional key draft picks. The Browns can then use one of those new picks to either draft a QB or to package a couple picks to move up and draft somebody early in the second round.
Cleveland already spent their original second-round draft pick, when they took WR Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft last year.
If the Browns aren't able to trade down out of the No. 6 slot, it would then seem unlikely they are able to trade for a quarterback this year. Unless, they want to mortgage some more of their future, then anything is possible.
Will Buddy Nix have to trade up to grab Bills QB of the future?
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The Buffalo Bills are in an awkward position regarding the quarterback derby in the 2013 draft.
Buffalo only comes into this draft with a total of six draft picks. Their top two draft picks are at No. 8 and at No. 41. The only quarterback that seems remotely viable to draft at No. 8 is Geno Smith, but he could very well be gone by then. If the Bills wait to see who is left on the big board at No. 41, it is conceivable that Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley and E.J. Manuel could all be gone by then.
So, what will Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix do? He has promised the Bills fanbase that he will draft a quarterback in the 2013 draft. The Bills held their pre-draft luncheon with the media on Tuesday, and you can hear the press conference through this link here, courtesy of BuffaloBills.com.
If anything, Nix prefers to acquire more draft picks, rather than give up any of the precious few that they have now. The Bills have multiple needs coming into this draft, so if they believe the only way to get the quarterback that they value the most is by trading back up into the bottom half of the first round, then they be relying on the dregs left in free agency to fill their remaining holes.
Not exactly the best option, but the team is not ideally situated. If they wait until their turn comes up at No. 41, Jacksonville, Arizona and the New York Jets could all select a quarterback early in the second round and their top choices could be wiped out.
If the Bills get overwhelmed with trade offers, they could trade down from No. 8 or No. 41 to acquire additional picks and take their chances later in the draft with a quarterback from the group of Mike Glennon, Tyler Bray, Tyler Wilson or Landry Jones.
With the free agency addition of Kevin Kolb, the Bills at least know they have somebody to plug in for 2013 to start. As this draft unfolds, it may turn out that Nix isn't able to come up with their quarterback of the future after all, and will need to look to the 2014 draft instead. At least the 2014 draft class looks to offer a better group of quality arms.
New York Jets
Rex Ryan's belief in Mark Sanchez has waned over past year.
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The New York Jets appear on this presentation because of Mark Sanchez and Darrelle Revis. Sanchez was a major disappointment in 2012 and his regression has necessitated the Jets to re-evaluate the position.
Revis is a key factor because the Jets are in talks to complete a trade with Tampa Bay for multiple draft picks. The trade would easily provide the Jets with the ammunition they need to trade up based on how the draft unfolds in the first round.
But the Revis trade is far from a done deal. The latest news coming out of Tampa Bay is a report by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that states the Jets' asking price is too high for the Buccaneers.
Unless the Jets lower their demands, it could turn out that Revis is still property of the Jets by the end of the draft. If that winds up being the case, the Jets have so many other needs on both sides of the ball, that it would diminish the urgency to package draft picks to grab a prospect at quarterback.
After all, the Jets did sign David Garrard to come in and challenge Sanchez for the job.
However, we can't discount the possibility that Geno Smith could wind up falling to the Jets, who own the No. 9 overall draft pick. That would force the Jets to make a choice between Smith and the best pass rusher that is still left on the big board.
If the Jets complete the trade with Tampa Bay, they will own three draft picks out of the first 39 overall selections. Coming into the draft with the overall picks at No. 9, 13 and 39 would provide New York with the flexibility to either trade up or down as they deem appropriate to land the quarterback of their choice.
As per this report by Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, New York is interested in Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who is also believed to be of interest to the Buffalo Bills, since Nassib's head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett made the move from Syracuse to Buffalo.
If the Jets do pull the trigger and execute a trade at the draft in order to secure a quarterback, that would be as good of an indication as any that the days of Sanchez's run as the Jets starting quarterback are numbered.
Gus Bradley has no allegiance to Blaine Gabbert.
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Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne are the current competitors for the starting quarterback job under new Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. Word out of Jacksonville, according to this Twitter update from Vito Stellino, is that Bradley has both quarterbacks alternating snaps this week with the starters.
According to a story by the Washington Post, Gabbert struggled in minicamp this week, which if anything should convince the Jaguars that they need to invest in another quarterback at the draft.
The Jaguars currently own the No. 2 and the No. 33 overall picks in the 2013 NFL draft. The No. 2 pick might be too early to take any quarterback from the 2013 draft class, while the No. 33 might be a tad too late to get the quarterback they truly want to draft.
The 2012 Jaguars were one of the worst teams in the NFL, so they come into the draft with multiple needs on both sides of the ball. Because of those needs, they have a number of different directions they can address with the pick at No. 2.
So, assuming the Jaguars don't draft Smith at No. 2, when would they pick up their quarterback? If they sit tight to see what falls into their lap with the first-overall selection of the second round of the draft, they may see the quarterback of their choice get snatched in the 25-32 range.
It might not cost the Jaguars too much to be able to move up from the No. 33 spot to No. 26, as an example.
If multiple quarterbacks that Jacksonville likes are still there when the second day rolls around, that would allow the Jaguars to trade down in the second round. They could pick up their quarterback later in the round, and come up with additional picks to fill other glaring needs.