The predraft process is beginning to heat up around the NFL, and it's looking more and more like quarterbacks will be in high demand this April.
The Los Angeles Chargers officially pulled the plug on the Philip Rivers era, and the Cincinnati Bengals could do the same with Andy Dalton.
"They're going to work with Andy Dalton to facilitate a trade out of Cincinnati when the time is right," NFL Media's Ian Rapoport said on NFL Now. "Everyone assumes they're going to take Joe Burrow or at the very least a quarterback, and this is something that's been communicated to Dalton."
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is indeed expected to be Cincinnati's pick at No. 1—winning a Heisman and a national title while throwing for 60 touchdowns passes in the season will make one a coveted prospect. At the least, Cincinnati appears interested in a new quarterback.
Trading down and snagging a prospect like Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa could be an option, but with L.A. now nearly certain to be in the draft market for a quarterback, that becomes a riskier proposition.
2020 NFL Mock Draft
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State
3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
4. New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson
8. Arizona Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
11. New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
13. Indianapolis Colts: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa
15. Denver Broncos: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
16. Atlanta Falcons: K'Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
17. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Julian Okwara, DE, Notre Dame
21. Philadelphia Eagles: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
22. Buffalo Bills: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
23. New England Patriots: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
24. New Orleans Saints: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
25. Minnesota Vikings: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
27. Seattle Seahawks: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State
28. Baltimore Ravens: Zack Baun, Edge, Wisconsin
29. Tennessee Titans: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
30. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
31. San Francisco 49ers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
32. Kansas City Chiefs: D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The Chargers Like Their Options
The Chargers aren't bringing back Rivers, but they may not be rushing to add a quarterback either. At least, that's the stance they're presenting publicly:
For those keeping track at home, the Chargers' internal options are currently Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick. While Taylor does have 46 games of starting experience, Stick has never taken a regular-season snap. The 2019 fifth-round pick could be viewed as a quarterback of the future, but given what he's shown in the NFL—he had a preseason passer rating of just 44.1 last year—that feels unlikely.
It's likely that if Los Angeles is comfortable with the quarterbacks it has, it's only happy with the short-term picture.
The Chargers may indeed be able to rely on Taylor as a starter in 2020 instead of pursuing the likes of Tom Brady, Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill on the free-agent market. However, Taylor probably isn't a long-term answer, and the Chargers may still plan on drafting a quarterback.
The big question is whether L.A. is willing to wait until later in the draft, or possibly even until 2021, to do so.
Are the Lions Looking to Trade Stafford?
Both the Chargers and the Miami Dolphins are expected to consider quarterbacks at the top of Round 1. However, the Detroit Lions could throw a proverbial wrench into their draft plans by snagging a signal-caller at No. 3.
Doing so would appear unlikely on the surface. The Lions have Matthew Stafford under contract through 2022, and there are far bigger needs on the roster. However, rumors have circulated that Detroit could look to move Stafford this offseason—and doing so would create that need at QB.
Trading Stafford has reportedly been discussed.
"I have heard from people who would legitimately know that that's something that's been talked about in the last, at minimum, in the last week," NFL Network's Dave Dameshek said on the Locked on Lions podcast.
General manager Bob Quinn called the rumors "100 percent false," according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, and that could indeed be true. It's possible that someone outside the organization started the rumor to increase the value of a particular quarterback and/or draft slot—perhaps the Washington Redskins at No. 2?
It's also possible that someone within the organization started it to increase Detroit's trade-down value. If the Lions can create just enough intrigue with their quarterback situation, they could potentially fleece a team for a short move down—much like the San Francisco 49ers did in the 2017 draft.
Regardless, it feels like Stafford and his $32 million in dead money will remain in Detroit this season.
Tagovailoa on the Mend
Even if the Bengals take Burrow at No. 1, teams could be looking to trade up for a quarterback. This is because Tagovailoa appears to be on his way back to 100 percent.
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
The three-month CT scan for #Bama QB and coveted draft prospect Tua Tagovailoa was as positive as possible, sources say. The fracture has healed. The hip and its range of motion is good. It’ll likely be another month before he’s cleared for football activities, tho, as expected.
The hip fracture and dislocation that Tagovailoa suffered this past season is the biggest detriment to his draft stock. If it isn't likely to be a significant issue moving forward, however, it likely puts Tagovailoa ahead of prospects like Oregon's Justin Herbert and Utah State's Jordan Love.
In the eyes of some, it could even move him ahead of Burrow.
"Tagovailoa is the most talented QB1 in the class, with a game that makes him feel like a left-handed version of Drew Brees," NFL Media's Bucky Brooks wrote.
Medical checks at the combine will be important for Tagovailoa, and teams will want to do their own evaluations. However, his quick recovery suggests that teams like the Dolphins and Chargers may not be able to hope that Tagovailoa simply falls to them.