Testaverde/Bledsoe still in Demand
Just Past Halfway: The Quarterback Situation Shaking Out
Special to NFLDraftScout.com
November 2, 2007 - Forty-three year old Vinny Testaverde reportedly received multiple offers from NFL teams to come out of the living room and into the locker room. The 1986 Heisman Trophy winner actually reneged on a deal with the Arizona Cardinals in order to stay closer to home and join the Carolina Panthers. Four days after that decision, the first overall pick of the 1987 draft became the Panthers' starting quarterback, and he earned another victory in his storied career.
Shortly after Testaverde's initial success, reports surfaced that the first overall pick of the 1993 NFL Draft began to receive calls from interested teams, but Drew Bledsoe could not be coaxed out of retirement.
The overtures that teams are making to Testaverde and Bledsoe are not based on nostalgic affinity for first-overall picks from yesteryear. Rather, there is a lack of depth at the quarterback position in the league, and teams are desperate to add healthy, reliable signal callers.
This year's current crop of seniors could go a long way in filling that void. While last year's crop was thin, as only two quarterbacks were chosen in the first round, this year's draft will yield a much deeper group.
NflDraftScout.com projects three first round quarterbacks, with another four in the second round: seven first-day picks (under the new draft rules), as opposed to five in the first two rounds last year. Further, the 2008 projections were recently lowered for talented signal callers John David Booty and Colt Brennan who were projected to be first and second-rounders, respectively, when the season began.
By my count, there are nine teams that would be justified in taking a quarterback on the first day, and three of those nine are in desperate need for a starter.
Teams with Immediate Need at QB:
1) Atlanta Falcons: Years ago there was a "Joey Heisman" billboard in midtown Manhattan, and I thought Joey Harrington would some day be mentioned in the same breath as Dan Fouts when discussing the best NFL quarterbacks to come out of University of Oregon. While Harrington is a serviceable NFL quarterback, he is not a long-term solution, and the Byron Leftwich experiment fizzled due to injury.
The obvious draft choice for Atlanta is Brian Brohm, because of the connection with Head Coach Bobby Petrino. However, last year I thought the Falcons would take Amobi Okoye for the same reason, but I was wrong. Nonetheless, it would be shocking if the Falcons' draft day card does not have a quarterback's name on it.
2) Baltimore Ravens: If Kyle Boller was their guy, then the Ravens would not have unseated him with Steve McNair, who, at 34 years old, isn't the long-term solution. The team could try and groom former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, but with the current crop of quarterbacks available this year, an opportunity to bring in a more prototypical prospect will present itself. The new prospect can then compete with Smith in a best case/worst case scenario for the number two spot next year. Depending on what route Atlanta goes with their selection, Matt Ryan or Andre' Woodson could be available for Baltimore.
3) Chicago Bears: The Bears' two starters so far this season -- Brian Griese and Rex Grossman -- might not even be on the roster next year. Kyle Orton started 15 games for the Bears just two years ago, but if he was viewed as a projected starter, then the Bears wouldn't have signed Griese to be their primary fallback option to another year of Grossman's struggles. While the Bears are probably hesitant to spend another first round pick on a quarterback, for the health of their franchise, they should seriously consider it. Chad Henne's strong arm could slice through the cold winds of Soldier Field.
Teams with Slightly Less Immediate Need at QB
4) Minnesota Vikings: The Tavaris Jackson experiment was, even at its best moment, a risky one based on his limited technique and experience against elite competition. Despite only a handful of starts in which to gauge his progress, it now appears the decision to hand Jackson the starting job so soon was a mistake. Brad Childress is going to have to make the definitive evaluation after the season as to whether Jackson can be a starter in the future.
It would be tough to swallow using another high pick on a quarterback only two years after selecting Jackson in the second round, but Childress (or whoever will be calling the shots for Minnesota in 2008) must make a decision quickly to turn around this franchise. Should the team elect to spend another second round pick on the position, Tennessee's Erik Ainge has the short and medium range accuracy to perform well in the West Coast Offense.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jeff Garcia is playing very well, but he will not be playing forever. Bruce Gradkowski showed flashes of decency, and Luke McCown is likely a second stringer at best, so this could be a good time to pick up a quarterback on the first day. Colt Brennan would be a fit for Tampa's offense, and he could sit behind Garcia for at least one year and further hone his game.
6) Carolina Panthers: David Carr has yet to prove worthy of being the top overall pick of the 2002 draft. Vinny Testaverde, at 43, is only a short term solution. Jake Delhomme, has regressed in recent years and now resides on the IR. A healthy Delhomme is still the clear-cut starter, but bringing in an heir is definitely worth considering. John David Booty will likely be available in the second round. Booty, a two-year starter, learned while backing up Matt Leinart, and the pro-style offense and tough competition at USC will help his transition into the NFL.
7) Miami Dolphins: Is John Beck the guy? Whether or not the Dolphins use a high pick on a quarterback hinges on that very question. The Dolphins need help almost everywhere, but they have an extra second rounder from the Chris Chambers deal, so if the 26 year-old Beck is not the long-term solution, then taking another quarterback might be an option. Could Dennis Dixon be an option? After all, they took Ted Ginn, Jr. in the first round last year, so the Fins are clearly enamored with the mystical upside, and Dixon has plenty of that.
Honorable mention: New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. Both of those teams recently spent day one picks on quarterbacks. The Jets chose Kellen Clemens in the second round and the Chiefs took Brodie Croyle in the third. Clemens and Croyle will be asked to step up soon, as Chad Pennington and Damon Huard likely will not be starters beyond 2007.
Clemens looked good in the pre-season, and he will get a long look over the latter part of this year, while Croyle had a very poor pre-season, and it is not certain how much he will play this year. The Jets' and Chiefs' quarterback situations are far from settled, so dipping into the quarterback pool could be a possibility.
The 2008 quarterback class does not necessarily have wunderkinds that will make scouts drool, but the group is solid and deep. An infusion of talent at quarterback could slow the trend of calling in draftees from the late 1980's and early 1990's.