With the NFL free agent frenzy nearly complete and just about everyone is set at QB – Denver’s Kyle Orton is the only signal caller who could still be moved; I’m not counting Carson Palmer of Cincinnati, who the Bengals won’t trade – I decided to take a look at the NFL teams with the biggest QB issues. Why? Because the 2012 draft next April is loaded at QB, and there could be three snatched up in the first 15 picks.
(Some, cough, have speculated anyone who didn’t actively pursue a QB this year is tanking. We can revisit that in mid-October.)
The prime target is Stanford’s Andrew Luck, who would have gone No. 1 overall in the last draft. Oklahoma’s Landry Jones is probably Top 5 material, and USC junior Matt Barkley, if he came out, would go in the first round. Arizona’s Nick Foles could also sneak into the first round.
These five teams will probably be in the mix for the first overall pick:
* Seattle Seahawks – Pete Carroll named Tavaris Jackson the starter this weekend. Charlie Whitehurst is his backup. Neither of those guys is the long term solution. Sidney Rice is a nice pickup, but Jackson isn’t accurate enough to get him the ball regularly. Don’t be deceived by last year’s playoff win – this team stinks. Could easily be 0-5 when the bye rolls around.
* Miami Dolphins – They are supposedly trying to get Kyle Orton, but they’ve signed Matt Moore to compete with Chad Henne, so go figure. Back in April, I predicted the Dolphins would have the worst record in the league this season. If they aren’t able to bolster their running game with more than Reggie Bush (unless you think Kansas State rookie Daniel Thomas is going to be a factor), that offense will be anemic again. Schedule: They open with the Patriots, then face the Texans (who will be improved) and games four and five are against the Chargers and Jets. Three of their final four games: Eagles, Patriots, Jets. How does 4-12 sound?
* Washington Redskins – John Beck or Rex Grossman? Mediocre receivers. Mediocre running backs. Is the offensive line that much better? Is the defense? Andrew Luck in the nation’s capital would be a big deal, considering the popularity of the Redskins.
* Buffalo Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a bad QB, but he is most certainly not the long term solution. I’d actually rate Fitzpatrick ahead of Jackson, Henne and Beck (or Grossman), and the Bills open the season with three of four winnable games, so I don’t think they’ll be serious contenders for the worst record in the league. They have enough decent pieces on offense to win 6-7 games.
* Oakland Raiders – I’m a Jason Campbell fan, and he had a decent year in 2010 … but the Raiders picked up Trent Edwards to be his backup after losing Gradkowski. Offensively, the Raiders were as good last season as they’ve been in years, scoring 25 ppg and featuring one of the best running games in the league. But is the defense significantly better? The Raiders open with two road games (neither are definite losses, though) and then the Jets and Patriots come to town. Then they travel to Houston. If the Raiders start 0-5, do they go into “next year” mode and bench Campbell so Edwards can guide them to Andrew Luck?
Teams that just drafted a QB early in 2011, but could still have a terrible record and get in position for Andrew Luck:
* Cincinnati – Not sure why they wouldn’t try to at least get something for Carson Palmer, but whatever. So … rookie Andy Dalton vs. Bruce Gradkowski for the starting job. It remains to be seen of Dalton can be “the guy” or if he’s more of a career backup.
* Minnesota – I might like the Vikings this year … I’ll make up my mind in a week or two. But Donovan McNabb will start over rookie Christian Ponder. Is Ponder really the future?
* Jacksonville – David Garrard probably is the starter … unless first-round pick Blaine Gabbert beats him out in the preseason. But if that happens, and Gabbert is very good, there’s no need for Luck.
* Tennessee – They acquired Matt Hasselbeck to be a bridge to Jake Locker, but that’s assuming you think Jake Locker is starting material.
* San Francisco – Alex Smith was signed for one more year, so presumably, he’ll be the starter. 2nd round pick Colin Kaepernick could win the job. I think he falls into the same boat as Dalton, Ponder and Locker – there are glaring question marks about whether or not they are long-term options in this league. The 49ers are mostly on this list because of the Harbaugh-Luck connection.