Going back to before the 2017 NFL draft, the majority of draft analysts were saying it was going to be one of the all-time great quarterback classes. During the summer there was even talk by writers and draft analysts that teams would “tank” the '17 season so they could be in position to draft one of these so-called outstanding quarterbacks.
Now that we are just about done with both the college and NFL football seasons, we have seen that this year’s quarterback class isn’t close to what was advertised, yet there are still some who believe that it’s a great class. None of the top quarterbacks this year is the equal to any of the top three a year ago. If you recall, last year the analysts dubbed the 2017 quarterback class as a poor one. The “real” analysts (the NFL clubs) felt differently, and three quarterbacks went in the top 12. Two clubs (Kansas City and Houston) traded up to draft their quarterback. The analysts weren’t going to be wrong this year, and thus overrated this year’s class, thinking that the majority of the top-five picks will be quarterbacks.
Reality is they are both right and wrong. When you look at the teams that will most likely be drafting in the top five, most have a need at quarterback, and because it is the most important position on the team, they could overdraft a player at that position.
Many of the higher-rated quarterbacks this year are underclassmen, and as of today, haven’t declared for the draft. In another week or so we will know for sure who is in and who is staying in school. Wyoming’s Josh Allen has already declared, and it is expected that UCLA’s Josh Rosen will declare very soon. USC’s Sam Darnold is expected to go back to school, but until USC plays its Bowl Game this week, we won’t know for sure.
While the final order of the draft isn’t set yet, we do know who will be picking in the top three. Cleveland has locked up the top spot, and the next two teams selecting will be the New York Giants and the Indianapolis Colts, but we won’t know the order of two and three until Sunday night.
Two of those three teams have a huge need at quarterback. Both the Browns and the Giants need to draft a quarterback. This will be the third straight year that Cleveland has picked in the top two, and in the two previous years the Browns passed over quarterbacks to either trade down and acquire more picks or select a player at another positon. New York hasn’t had a strong need at the position for a while, but with Eli Manning near the end of the line, the Giants have to draft someone who will eventually take his place.
The ironic thing with both the Browns and the Giants is that there is a change at the top of both clubs when it comes to leadership. Cleveland replaced former executive VP of football Sashi Brown with veteran NFL executive John Dorsey a few weeks ago. Dorsey is very old school and isn’t about to overdraft a quarterback. He will take a player where he should be selected.
Cleveland, though, has two first-round picks, with the second originally belonging to Houston. With Houston having just four wins to date, Cleveland is guaranteed of having two picks in the top eight. The Browns could very well pass on a quarterback with the top overall pick and take one with their second first-rounder. They also have the ammo to move up, if Houston’s pick is out of the top five.
The Giants have not yet selected their general manager but have already interviewed four people for the position, and they could make a decision this week. The favorite going into the interviews was former Carolina Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, who spent a decade with New York prior to going to Carolina. Gettleman is another old-school type and he will not “reach’ to draft a quarterback. If the Giants' draft board has a quarterback rated that high then Dave would use the pick on one.
Other teams that will be drafting high that have a quarterback need are the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos — who each have five wins going in to the final week. Down the line, teams with quarterbacks needs are the Buffalo Bills (8 wins), perhaps Washington — if it loses Kirk Cousins to free agency — and maybe Pittsburgh and New England. The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger almost retired last year and will make a decision about next year in the coming months. In New England, Tom Brady will be 41 next year and the Patriots lost backup Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade, so they need to develop Brady’s eventual replacement.
The fact is, there could be as many as four quarterbacks drafted in the first round this year but how high they actually go still is to be determined.