2014 NFL Draft: Surprise Teams That Could Draft a Quarterback
The NFL has plenty of quarterback-needy teams. That is simply a fact of life in the league.
Naturally, there is plenty of discussion among the NFL draft's top quarterback prospects and how they will fall among those teams that have a quarterback problem. But what about teams that don't necessarily need someone at the position?
Some teams have quarterbacks that are in the twilight of their careers, though you wouldn't necessarily think of it that way. Others have a hidden quarterback problem, or perhaps there is an inheritance conundrum.
Which of these teams could surprise us with an early selection at quarterback in the 2014 draft? Click through to find out.
If free agency has shown us anything, it's that the Denver Broncos are all in on the 2014 season.
General manager John Elway spent money like there was no tomorrow and why wouldn't he when 38-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning could call it a career at any time?
Manning had the greatest season in NFL history as a 37-year-old, so he could feasibly have a few years left in the tank. The Broncos also have young Brock Osweiler waiting in the wings.
Believing a quarterback will play at a high level into his 40s is wishful thinking, however, and Osweiler isn't exactly enticing as Denver's quarterback of the future.
Sure, Denver spent a second-round pick on the massive backup quarterback but many thought that was too high for the project. He has had the opportunity to sit and learn behind Manning for two-plus years now but wouldn't it be wise to hedge bets?
Odds are the Broncos will go for an impact player with their first pick in the draft but a quarterback isn't out of the question.
You are Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. You have a Pro Bowl quarterback coming off an unexpectedly great season. Why would you take a quarterback in the draft?
To put it simply, Kelly inherited quarterback Nick Foles, and he might want to move in a different direction sooner rather than later. Foles can credit much of his success to those around him—his fantastic offensive line, a nice wide receiver corps and running back LeSean McCoy, not to mention the brilliant offensive mind Kelly brought to the Eagles.
Of course, Kelly did bring his own quarterback in by drafting Matt Barkley in the fourth round last season. But let's not kid ourselves, Barkley isn't exactly starting material at this point.
If Kelly wants to draft a true starter, Philadelphia will have to do it in the first or second round. Given second-round quarterbacks have a poor track record, according to Rotoworld's Evan Silva, it seems the Eagles would need to take that chance in the first.
Kelly has backed Foles in the recent past, but that hasn't stopped him from evaluating quarterbacks in the draft, according to CSNPhilly.com's Reuben Frank:
Head coach Chip Kelly generally dances around the question, either cracking jokes -- “He’s our quarterback for the next 1,000 years” -- or he’s intentionally vague about Foles and his future: “Right now, Nick is that one guy.”
It’s easy to get the impression from Kelly that as much as he appreciates Foles’ ability, his search for a franchise quarterback is hardly over.
He insists constantly he’s not looking for a running quarterback, but the read option is obviously a big part of his offense. And the read option is more effective with a fast quarterback than a lumbering one like Foles, whose strength is in the pocket.
Would it be a huge shock? Probably not. But the Eagles could surprise by taking a falling star, should that come to pass on May 8.
The Miami Dolphins have a young, budding quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. So why would they spend a high-round draft pick on another?
Tannehill did improve in most facets of the game last season—even when taking into account his dismal final two games—but there is a new sheriff in town. General manager Dennis Hickey took over for embattled Jeff Ireland this offseason, and that puts Tannehill on tenuous ground.
The third-year player was better last season, but he left plenty to be desired. Too many missed connections and a significant share of blame for his team-record 58 sacks might have head coach Joe Philbin thinking about moving in another direction.
A source told CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora that Philbin could even go to backup quarterback Matt Moore if Tannehill doesn't show improvement this season.
Or, after the draft, could that mean a rookie quarterback instead of Moore? It would be a dramatic turn for a franchise that saw more drama than it would have liked for a decade last season.
The likelihood Miami would spend a first-round pick on a quarterback is pretty low, but it's conceivable anytime after that. At the very least, Hickey—who is on a two-year-deal—could be looking toward a contingency plan.
Given all the criticism and vitriol thrown at quarterback Tony Romo over the years, it might not be surprising to see the Dallas Cowboys try to draft his eventual replacement this year.
Given the six years and $80.5 million left on his contract—not to mention the stubborn loyalty owner Jerry Jones has shown to Romo and head coach Jason Garrett—drafting a quarterback would actually be a bit of a shock.
Jones has been prone to admire a certain polarizing quarterback in the 2014 class, however. He loves Johnny Manziel but sees no chance of getting him in the draft, per Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News:
Jerry Jones says the Dallas Cowboys have no shot at Johnny Manziel, and that doesn’t seem to bother him. The Cowboys owner and general manager is just fine with who he has under contract at quarterback.
Asked Tuesday evening about the possibility of drafting the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback out of Texas A&M, Jones said the Cowboys are already set at the position.
“I’m going to be specific,” Jones told the Ben and Skin show on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “I’m a big fan of his, a serious fan of his, as a football player, as a winner. I think it’s highly likely that he’s going to go to a club and since that is the most important position on the club, will elevate that club in the NFL.
Notice his commitment to Romo as part of the reason. But commitments change if opportunities present themselves.
Should Manziel fall to No. 16, where the Cowboys currently sit in the draft, would Jones be able to keep himself honest? Manziel has said playing for the Cowboys—his childhood team, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram—would be a dream come true.
Andy Dalton has had a rather successful NFL career thus far.
The fourth-year quarterback has a 30-18 career record, having led the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons. He has improved statistically in just about every way in each season, culminating in a 4,293-yard and 30-touchdown season last year.
So why would the Bengals want to draft a quarterback?
One reason—"Bad Andy."
Dalton plays well for stretches, but he turns into a pumpkin at rather inopportune times. Most notably, Dalton has thrown just one touchdown and six interceptions in the three playoff games he's lost.
His erratic play has earned the ire of Bengals fans, many of which have expressed a desire for Cincinnati to draft a quarterback sooner or later in the 2014 draft, as shown by ESPN.com's Coley Harvey.
Of course, if head coach Marvin Lewis is to be believed, there is almost no chance this will happen, according to Cincinnati.com's Paul Dehner Jr.:
Marvin Lewis believes in Andy Dalton. And he'd prefer an extension done. Soon.
"We are hopeful we can get a deal done that works and Andy can put it behind him," Lewis said. "He can get back focusing on football. He doesn't have to go into the season and worry about this contract thing, every week someone is going to ask him a question … all those things that come into play later on. Let's get it behind us."
Between clearing of plates and refills of water, Lewis served up his point of view. Dalton lined up with the starting group since the first time he strapped on a Bengals helmet. No. 14 owns 51 consecutive starts since that day. Only four other quarterbacks in history can claim they reached the playoffs their first three seasons.
Defense of Dalton wasn't new. Lewis stood proudly in his quarterback's corner since drafting him in the second round in 2011. The difference in this meal centered around Lewis' urgency to see Dalton receive an extension.
Perhaps Lewis is pushing to sign Dalton to a long-term deal in a bid to avoid overpaying like the Baltimore Ravens had to with quarterback Joe Flacco.
Or, perhaps, is this is all smoke and mirrors to throw us off their trail? In truth, that seems far too dramatic, but the Bengals could still hedge their bets in the second or third round.
New York Giants
How soon is too soon to think about replacing a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback? In Eli Manning's case, that conversation happened yesterday.
Manning is proof that winning Super Bowls buys you miles of rope but sometimes too much rope is enough to hang yourself. The veteran was abysmal last season, leading the league with 27 interceptions and looking like he is the 38-year-old at the end of his career, as it would seem Peyton should be.
The Giants took Ryan Nassib—once considered a potential top 10 pick—with a fourth-round pick in last year's draft. Perhaps they fancy grooming him into an heir to Eli Manning's throne, but is he capable?
Former NFL scout Russ Lande was high on him last year, and he said a NFL source told him Nassib is better than this year's entire class. That might be hyperbole or wishful thinking, but Nassib did have buzz last offseason.
But placing the franchise's hands on an unproven fourth-round pick might be a bit much.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs raised eyebrows when they traded away what would ultimately be two second-round draft picks for the San Francisco 49ers' backup quarterback.
Alex Smith sure took his time living up to that first-round status for San Francisco but improvement couldn't save him from Colin Kaepernick. No matter for him, he picked up right where he left off in Kansas City.
Like in San Francisco, Smith parlayed a strong running game and good defense into a good season. He played mistake-free for the most part, and he helped the Chiefs to an unexpected playoff berth. But is he a franchise quarterback?
Smith had little chance to bring his team back when the Chiefs' defense collapsed late in the season and in the playoffs. He isn't built for that.
ESPN's Ron Jaworski suggested the Chiefs should draft a quarterback early in the 2014 draft. That could prove a fruitful investment, one the Chiefs wouldn't have to try to cash in on in the short term.
New England Patriots
Quarterback Tom Brady has had a magical career, and there is little reason to think it will end soon.
The New England icon might be long in the tooth at 36 years old but is he ready to go out to pasture? After all, it was just 2011 when he told Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio that he would like to play for another 10 years. That would have put him at 44 years old when he retired.
He even said he would play into his 50s if he could, per The Boston Globe's Michael Vega. Some of us would like a toilet seat made out of solid gold, too, but that's just not in the cards now, is it?
Granted, it seems Brady loves the game so much that he would risk life and limb to play past middle age, but Father Time probably has other plans. Head coach Bill Belichick might have plans of his own—at 61, he is no spring chicken himself—and if he wants to keep his Patriots rolling, he might have to think of a contingency plan if Brady does an about face.
Ryan Mallett seems to be that guy, but we have been down this path before with Brian Hoyer. The Patriots surprised some by taking Mallett in the third round of the 2011 draft, but that seems like ages ago already.