Written By: Jake Leicht
Every year the NFL draft has surprises that no one sees coming, especially at the quarterback position. Last year, the Chicago Bears traded several picks for the right to move up one spot to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Kansas City Chiefs moved up seventeen spots to pick number ten to obtain their quarterback of the future, Pat Mahomes. Both the Bears and the Chiefs fell in love with these respective quarterback prospects and felt the need to move up to get them. Of course, this was after the Bears infamously signed Mike Glennon to a 3 year, $45 million dollar deal last offseason as well. The Chiefs also had Alex Smith under contract with a team in win now mode. To put it simply, neither team was thought to be in the mix to draft a top quarterback prospect. Finally, the Texans also moved from pick twenty-five to twelve to select Deshaun Watson. The Texans were definitely thought to be in the mix to draft a quarterback, but virtually no one thought they would have the ammunition to move up to get Watson.
The Bears, Chiefs, and Texans are proof that teams are willing to move up in the draft to pick their quarterback of the future. This year, teams like the Cardinals and Bills are heavily rumored to be looking to move up to solidify their quarterback positions. While it makes sense that these teams would be looking to move up, we are still over a month and a half away from draft night. The narrative that these two teams could be looking to make a deal is almost a tired topic at this point in the draft process. Since there is so much smoke revolving around the Cardinals and Bills, I am sure there are at least some validity to these rumors. HOWEVER, with the draft being so far away, these rumors will eventually be so well documented that the average fan will be tired of hearing them. What other teams could be looking to trade up for their quarterback of the future?
There are several teams that I believe could be dark horse candidates to move up in the draft to obtain their quarterback of the future. At this point last year, I do not remember the Bears or Chiefs to be rumored to be drafting a quarterback in the first round. For most of the offseason, the Bears were linked to Solomon Thomas and the Chiefs were linked to wide receiver prospects. Point being, we have no clue what teams could be in the market for a quarterback in this enticing quarterback draft class. While many of the following teams may seem like a longshot to move up for their “guy”, I think at least acknowledging the possibility is intriguing. Again, I am excluding the Cardinals and Bills due to the obviousness of those choices. Remember, this column is meant to throw out some teams that are not being publicly talked about in terms of trading up for a quarterback. These are straight shots in the dark with a little bit of analysis behind the rationale. Let’s buckle up and throw some interesting hypotheticals out there.
Here are your trade-up for a quarterback dark horses:
1. Miami Dolphins (Pick 11)
Offseason Needs: The Miami Dolphins are in a very difficult position going into the technical start of the offseason. They have major interior offensive line questions that need to be answered, as well as major issues in their secondary. They could easily stay put and draft a player like Josh Jackson DB Iowa. They could also trade back and get into a position to draft a player like Isaiah Wynn while also accumulating more draft assets.
Why They Move Up: One position that they also have a major question mark at is quarterback. Ryan Tannehill is the type of quarterback that is just good enough for a team to hold on to and start. However, he is also the type of quarterback that could get a front office fired, as he has shown some improvement over the previous three seasons. Last year he was injured, and the team never really got going like they were expected to in Adam Gase’s second season as the head coach. Going into the offseason, the Dolphins will have to decide whether or not they will be committing to Ryan Tannehill for the long term.
Possible Trade Partner: Given the holes on the team that exists already, trading up may seem like a real long shot. Given the fact that Adam Gase is a young head coach, he may be starting to feel some pressure. Tannehill is serviceable, but what if the Dolphins fall in love with one of these top four quarterback prospects? Taking HIS guy could buy Gase some time to really develop his scheme around someone that he believes in. Ryan Tannehill was given to him. Gase and the Dolphins could easily look to package pick 11, Pick 73, and a sixth rounder next year for Chicago’s pick 8. This would allow the Bears to gain back some draft capital they let go in the Mitchell Trubisky deal while also allowing them to stay in position to draft a defensive back or linebacker as they are projected to do now.
Quarterback Fit: Of course, this is all contingent on the Dolphins both falling in love with a quarterback and that quarterback falling in the draft. One quarterback that I think would fit in nicely with Gase’s system is Josh Rosen. Rosen played in a similar system at UCLA while also working behind a suspect offensive line. Rosen is the most polished passer in the draft, and I think Gase could see that Rosen could start from day one. He wouldn’t necessarily need to start immediately, but Rosen could definitely be the most highly touted quarterback prospect to roll in since Dan Marino. Like Marino, Rosen has some off-the-field concerns that are not devastating to his draft stock but could definitely cause him to drop a bit. Many draft pundits believe Baker Mayfield is the apple of Gase’s eye, but I believe Rosen is a better fit in terms of scheme and, quite frankly, the city of Miami.
2. Baltimore Ravens (Pick 16)
Offseason Needs: The Ravens need a lot of help this offseason. They need playmakers of ALL sorts on the offensive side of the ball. Their wide receiving corps is a train wreck, and their running back position could use some sprucing up as well. I personally think their interior offensive line could get better too. Defensively, they need to get younger at the pass rushing position and inside linebacker. Ideally, I think Ozzie Newsome would draft a guy like Calvin Ridley, or any other Alabama prospect per usual (Rashaan Evans?). Ozzie is retiring after this season, so he will probably be in win at all costs mode going into his final year.
Why They Move Up: This is my juiciest theory. Joe Flacco is not good. Yes, he won a Super Bowl. Yes, he has poor weapons. But simply put, he is not what he used to be. Personally, I don’t think he was that great in the first place. He was a hot quarterback with a really good defense, and he won a Super Bowl. Hooray for Joe! Flacco is about done. Newsome is leaving after this season, and the new GM will probably want to get his own guy to develop next year. HOWEVER, what if the “new” GM is already being developed by Newsome in-house? This is a perfect quarterback draft class to find a guy that you love. There are four legit first round QBs that could go top ten, and several teams are said to be hot on Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph. Flacco is good enough to get through this season with Newsome while the guy they trade up for could sit and learn behind a Super Bowl winning quarterback. Newsome would have then given Ravens’ nation their next franchise guy as his going away present.
Possible Trade Partner: In order to get the player I would like them to pick, they would have to get in front of both the Broncos and Jets to ensure they get this player. This means they would have to make a deal with the Browns… Which probably wouldn’t happen due to them being division rivals. So, that leaves us with Ravens moving up to the Colts’ #3 pick for a combination of pick 16, a first next year, and multiple mid round picks over the next two years. The Colts could definitely use help in multiple positions. Pick 16 could be used on the offensive line or even running back/wide receiver for Luck if they were to fall in love with one. Also, the first round pick next year would be icing on the cake.
Quarterback Fit: Josh Allen. He is a big boy in the mold of Joe Flacco, but his ceiling is so much higher than Flacco’s. Allen would definitely benefit from sitting for a year and learning the position. Allen has the prototypical build of an AFC North quarterback. He fits the Pro-style offense that the Ravens run as well. I believe the Ravens could look to move Flacco next offseason, and I think several teams could look to acquire him as a stopgap quarterback. In terms of the likelihood this happens? It is probably far-fetched to say the least, but no one thought that the Chiefs would move up as far as they did while still having Alex Smith on the roster also. John Dorsey, the man making the decisions at the time for the Chiefs, was in his final draft with his team like Ozzie Newsome is now.
3. Other Intriguing Teams: Bengals and Chargers
The Bengals are an absolute dumpster fire right now. They have a poor offensive line, their defense is getting older, and they are going to have to deal with some serious salary cap problems in the next couple of years. They also refuse to move on from Marvin Lewis, which is insanity at this point. Another problem that they have is that Andy Dalton is regressing. He couldn’t even get the ball to AJ Green effectively last season. The Bengals could look to make a move early in the draft at quarterback, but more than likely they will continue to put their faith in Andy Dalton. Marvin Lewis should be on thin ice, but he always seems to wiggle out of difficult situations. Maybe the Bengals finally do something big. Even if they did decide to draft a quarterback early, they probably wouldn’t trade up to do it. If they did decide to make a move, one quarterback that would fit their system is USC product Sam Darnold. Darnold is a big bodied, strong armed quarterback that could develop quickly in Bill Lazor’s pro-style system. Darnold’s ability to play under center, as well as his play-action passing ability, make him a perfect fit for the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Chargers are another intriguing trade up option. Phillip Rivers is running out of time, and the Chargers are getting ready to run into a new stadium in the near future. I really like Sam Darnold to the Chargers if they looked to move up. Darnold has the odd release like Rivers, and he is a Southern California product that could both sell tickets and sit behind Rivers to learn the offense. At some point, the Chargers will need to invest in a young quarterback option, could this be the year?