As the rules continue to evolve the NFL into a flag football league, the quarterback position gains greater importance each year. The difference between the good and bad teams typically starts at the man behind center. The QB needy teams will be looking for an answer in the offseason, here are my predictions:
1. Houston Texans
Situation: The Texans had one of the biggest dropoffs in NFL history last season after a promising 2012. The good news is that much of what made them a great team the year before still exists with playmakers on both sides of the ball. Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Owen Daniels would be attractive to any quarterback.
Prediction: A veteran QB actually makes more sense, but I don’t see them going after Vick. Kirk Cousins makes some sense, but sitting on the top of the draft, the Texans will likely take a quarterback. They will regret taking Manziel, if they do, but I ultimately think that they will come back to Teddy Bridgewater.
2. Cleveland Browns
Situation: Similar to the Jets, the Browns had an underrated season considering their woes at quarterback. A strong defense and the leading receiver Josh Gordon provide a cornerstone for success. The coaching changes add a new wrinkle in the decision making.
Prediction: I actually have a feeling that despite some positioning in the draft, the Browns could move one of their picks to secure Kirk Cousins. The Redskins are lacking selections from their trade for RG3 and Cousins looks ready to start. Also, new OC Kyle Shanahan worked with Cousins in his time in D.C.
3. New York Jets
Situation: Rex Ryan seems to have one last lifeline to regain the momentum he once had. He needs a quarterback to do it. Geno Smith was inconsistent and its hard to think that Mark Sanchez will return. The defense is still strong and the offensive line has talent. A few weapons exist with Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes, but they could use a few more things.
Prediction: I actually think that Mike Vick makes sense to New York. He should be able to handle the attention and provides versatility at the position. He only has a few years and could help teach Geno Smith (or another young QB) the ropes.
4. Minnesota Vikings
Situation: The Vikings are in a similar position as two years ago without a ‘mid-lottery’ pick in the draft, the best running back in the league (Adrian Peterson), and a new coach. Rookie wide receiver Patterson does provide intrigue, but the situation is not as good as some of the others.
Prediction: This one is a tough one. I’m not sure the Vikings will reach in the first round like they did with Ponder so I could see them going defense in round one and waiting until round 2 for one of the next tier QBs like Gorappolo, Mettenberger, or McCarron. However, considering his solid Senior Bowl, I can see Derek Carr reaching top 10 status by draft day.
5. Oakland Raiders
Situation: The Raiders experimented with multiple young quarterbacks in 2013, including Terrell Pryor and Matt McGloin. The latter looks more like a decent career backup. Pryor showed flashes and the Raiders brass may want to continue to develop him, but the situation deteriorated at the end of the season.
Prediction: No one likes flash over substance more than the Raiders and Johnny Manziel is the poster-boy for that strategy. It just makes since.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
Prediction: Blake Bortles stays home and becomes Blaine Gabbert 2.0. Sorry Jags fans.
7. Tennessee Titans
Prediction: Jake Locker (for now) with a young quarterback option behind him. Perhaps Zach Mettenberger or A.J. McCarron.