One interesting aspect of the 2011 draft is how many teams out there are in need of a good quarterback. Whether this is to immediately contend, or to slowly build the franchise around, good signal-callers seem difficult to come by these days.
While a case can be made for more than a third of the teams in the league, here are the top five teams who most desperately need a quarterback.
With Alex Smith being all but a certain bust at this point, the 49ers will need a quarterback if they want to legitimately compete for a playoff berth. With an above-average defense, a good running back in Frank Gore, and an incredibly talented receivers in Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, a quarterback would do wonders to improve the play of San Francisco.
Also, the 49ers have little choice, as divisional rivals Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals are highly likely to upgrade their signal-callers. Finding a quarterback is a must if this team would like to move forward and re-assert themselves as a contender.
There are many out there who believe that the Titans should scrap the entire roster and rebuild. I disagree. The Titans have a great deal of talent. They still have a good defense, talented receivers and a franchise running back in Chris Johnson.
What this Titans team needs is someone who is effective in the passing game to open up lanes for Chris Johnson. That alone may be enough to get them into contention in the AFC South. Whether they acquire a quarterback via free agency or the draft remains to be seen, but they will need a capable quarterback if they are to let Vince Young and Kerry Collins walk.
Kurt Warner led the Cardinals to two consecutive divisional crowns. After his retirement, the Cardinals now hold a top-10 pick in the draft. It is true that the Cardinals also had Anquan Boldin opposite Fitzgerald, but it is obvious that quarterback play has been lacking in this franchise.
The Cardinals have many holes that must be filled at some point, but quarterback is perhaps the most glaring hole on this roster. With a weak NFC West, a good quarterback may be all this team needs to make the postseason and win the division.
And just like the 2009 postseason, if they get hot they may be closer contenders for the championship than one would imagine.
The Panthers were the worst team in the league last season and hold the first overall pick in the draft. With a new head coach in Ron Rivera a quarterback of the future is a must to aid the rebuilding process. Jimmy Clausen was anointed as the future but has yet to show any flashes of potential and is a work-in-progress at best and a complete bust at worst.
It should be noted that aside from Julius Peppers, this Panthers team is largely the same as the 2008 team that went 12-4. The Panthers could rebound much quicker than anticipated if a reliable signal caller is attained to throw to Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, Andrew Luck opted to stay for his senior season, otherwise he would have been the perfect option for Ron Rivera at first overall. However, with the likes of Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert to select from, the Panthers can opt to take a quarterback of the future or they can perhaps select a veteran such as Carson Palmer or Donovan McNabb and buy some time until future drafts with better talent at QB. But acquiring a QB is a must for this team.
No team is in more need of a quarterback than Minnesota. This team has a great deal of talent on both sides of the ball. With Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and Antoine Winfield on defense, combined with Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and perhaps the best player in the league in Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings are as talented as any other team in the league.
For years the missing piece to get them over the hump has always been a quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels both proved inadequate. The Brett Favre experiment was proof of this claim, as in 2009 the Vikings were perhaps the best team in the league, losing in overtime due to Favre’s costly mistake.
However, what may be most important is that this team’s window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller. Key playmakers on defense, such as EJ Henderson, Jared Allen and Antoine Winfield, are all 30 years and older. And Adrian Peterson, at 26 years of age, still has plenty left in the tank, but not an infinite supply.
Acquiring a quarterback is a top priority for this team. The Vikings are good and if given the right signal caller they can still return to their 2009 form. Whether this is through trading for a veteran or drafting a younger player, the Vikings need to win and win soon. And they cannot do it without a good quarterback.