Predicting Landing Spots for Quarterbacks in the NFL Draft's First Round

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 25, 2019

Predicting Landing Spots for Quarterbacks in the NFL Draft's First Round

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    Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

    The 2019 NFL quarterback draft class might not be special, and it certainly isn't the most talented position group in this year's event. But quarterbacks matter more than anyone else, and they hog the majority of the attention every April. 

    So while you might have been feverishly studying middle-round interior offensive line prospects since January, others who are less fanatical and are cramming here on draft day might just want to know where the passers could land Thursday night. 

    With that in mind, we offer up what is essentially a quarterback mock draft. 

Kyler Murray: Oakland Raiders (4th)

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    I don't think this should happen, but I've become convinced it will happen. One thing I won't do is predict that Heisman Trophy-winning Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray will wind up on the Arizona Cardinals. 

    The Cards already have a quarterback. They sacrificed their first-, third- and fifth-round picks for Josh Rosen last spring, and Rosen is only 13 starts into his professional career. Most of those starts were admittedly shaky, but so were the Cards in general.

    I wouldn't have expected better from Rosen under those circumstances, and rebuilding Arizona would be better off taking a defensive stud or trading down to improve the roster around Rosen. 

    Pete Prisco of CBS Sports reported Sunday that he's been told the Cardinals will do exactly that and "go in a different direction."

    Meanwhile, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said this week that Oakland Raiders head coach "Jon Gruden loves Kyler Murray, I'm told. And does not necessarily love Derek Carr, I'm told, which is going to be the interesting thing to see."

    Whether Murray slips to the No. 4 spot or Oakland makes a splashy trade up to the top spot, Murray just might wind up playing football this season in the same stadium in which he was supposed to play baseball.

    Most likely alternatives: Arizona Cardinals (1st), New York Giants (6th or via trade-up)

Drew Lock: Denver Broncos (10th)

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    Plenty of signs have pointed to a Drew Lock-Denver Broncos connection throughout the predraft process, and with Murray likely to go off the board in the top five, Broncos general manager John Elway should have a chance to pounce on the Missouri product with the No. 10 overall selection. 

    Lock has the size and arm talent Elway typically looks for in a quarterback, and the 6'4", 228-pound three-year SEC starter met with Elway at the Broncos facility earlier this offseason. 

    Joe Flacco is probably a stopgap quarterback at age 34, and I get the impression from the Flacco trade that Denver is losing patience at the position. Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins might be more of a boom-or-bust prospect coming off only a single season as a college starter, while Lock looks to be further along in his development than the progression-averse Daniel Jones. 

    Don't be surprised if the Broncos even try to move up from the No. 10 spot to grab Lock just outside of the top five. 

    Most likely alternatives: New York Giants (6th), Washington Redskins (15th), New England Patriots (32nd or via trade-up)

Dwayne Haskins: Cincinnati Bengals (11th)

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    Todd McShay suggested earlier this month that Dwayne Haskins' stock was dropping, while scout-turned-analyst Jim Nagy figured that stock was originally inflated by media hype. Could that cause the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year to drop out of the top 10?

    If the Cardinals refrain from taking a quarterback first overall, the Broncos roll with Lock and nobody else trades into the top 10, there's a good chance that happens. If it does, the Cincinnati Bengals might be incapable of resisting the temptation to take one of the highest-profile players in this draft class. 

    The Bengals, who have a notoriously small scouting department, have developed a habit of selecting well-known players in the early rounds, and Haskins was tailor-made for them. He's an old-school, prototypical pocket passer with a monster arm, and the Bengals have no long-term financial commitment to current starter Andy Dalton

    Dalton will turn 32 this season, and he has regressed in recent years. The Bengals could give him a year or two to try to make something happen while the somewhat raw Haskins is groomed. 

    It just makes sense.

    Most likely alternatives: Washington Redskins (15th), New York Giants (17th), Oakland Raiders (24th or via trade-up)

Daniel Jones: New York Giants (17th)

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    It's impossible—maybe even illegal—to write about the potential marriage between Daniel Jones and the Giants without alluding to David Cutcliffe, who coached Jones at Duke as well as current Giants quarterback Eli Manning (and his brother Peyton) at Mississippi. 

    But that connection can't be ignored. Cutcliffe knows a thing or two about grooming quarterbacks, and the Giants' front office still has a thing for the 38-year-old Manning. If general manager Dave Gettleman, who played a role in acquiring Manning via a draft trade with the Chargers in 2004, wants an Eli clone, Jones is the closest he'll come in this draft class. 

    There's been talk that the Giants are open to Manning coming back in 2020, which seems wacky considering his clear-cut decline. But if the rebuilding G-Men aren't in a rush to boot Manning, Jones also makes a lot of sense. While Kyler Murray and Drew Lock might be ready to contribute early as top-10 picks, Jones could drop out of the top 15 because he lacks polish. 

    The Giants likely can afford to wait for the 21-year-old to develop a stronger ability to work through his progressions. 

    It's possible the Giants could grab him with their 17th overall selection, but they could even be enamored enough to jump ahead of the Redskins at 15. 

    Most likely alternatives: New England Patriots (32nd or via trade-up), Miami Dolphins (13th), Washington Redskins (15th), Denver Broncos (10th)

Will Grier: New England Patriots (32nd)*

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    * This is my prediction if Will Grier sneaks into the first round, but it's more likely he'll go off the board on Day 2.

    The Baltimore Ravens grabbed the draft's other first-round-caliber quarterback with the final pick of Round 1 last year, and Grier feels a little like this year's Jackson as QB5. 

    Could the New England Patriots go that route in the 32nd spot? It's a distinct possibility for a team that needs an heir apparent to its soon-to-be 42-year-old quarterback. And for what it's worth, the Pats met with Grier earlier this month, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

    The West Virginia product could slide into Round 2, but the Pats don't pick again until the No. 56 spot, so they could be willing to reach here. In fact, DraftAnalyst.com's Tony Pauline reported this week that New England has "shown a ton of interest in Grier and could draft him as the first round closes out."

    Grier is ready. 

    "Me and Jake Spavital, my [offensive coordinator] at West Virginia, watched a lot of Patriots film and built our offense off a lot of what they [do]," he said at the NFL Scouting Combine, per Devon Clements of Patriots Wire. "We watched a lot of Tom Brady film. The opportunity to learn from a guy like that would obviously be priceless."

    Grier's quick release suits him well for the New England offense, but he's also quite wild and aggressive, and his mechanics need work. Bill Belichick would have to be convinced he could tame and mold the two-year starter. But if he figures he can, this could happen. 

    Most likely alternatives: Miami Dolphins (Round 2), New York Giants (Round 2), Washington Redskins (Round 2)