With the NFL Draft set to begin later this week, a lot of the focus in Philadelphia will be on what happens at quarterback during Thursday’s first round.
Will a team ultimately trade up with San Francisco at two in order to grab that potential franchise quarterback? Heck, will first-year 49ers general manager John Lynch look to get rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan a young quarterback to call his own?
If nothing happens at two, how long will Thursday play out before a signal caller actually hears his name called?
It’s not seen as an incredibly strong draft at this position, but the same could have been said about last year’s annual event. Despite this, the first two players off the board were quarterbacks.
This leads us to believe that some of the top-end players at that position in 2017 draft will hear their names called earlier than most believe.
Here’s a look at the top-five quarterbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft and where we project them to land.
1. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
First round, second pick: Cleveland Browns (via trade from 49ers)
If the Browns are indeed torn between Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett and Trubisky at No. 1 overall, there’s a relatively easy way to fix this. Why not use the vast amount of draft capital they have to make a move with San Francisco for the second pick? This would guaranteed Cleveland the two players it covets most in the draft.
When projecting deals like this, it makes sense to use a reputable trade value chart. It’s in this that any potential deal between Cleveland and San Francisco would have to start with the Browns sending the second of their two first-round picks (12th overall) and their first second-round pick (33rd overall) to San Francisco. After that, the 49ers would likely demand a third-round pick in this year’s draft as well as either a first or second next year.
This seems like a relatively high price to pay. But if the Browns have Trubisky graded out at a higher clip than other signal callers in the draft, they might have to pay that price. In reality, kicking their quarterback situation down the road will not help the team expedite its rebuilding process. And while Trubisky might not be a rookie starter, he does have franchise quarterback talent.
2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
First round, third pick: Chicago Bears
Even after signing Mike Glennon to a high-priced free-agent contract, it would not be a surprise to see Chicago target a quarterback early in this week’s draft. If that’s the case, Watson has been bandied about as the best fit for the team’s offense. Heck, recent suggestions indicate Chicago might be willing to move up from three in order to secure Watson. Of course, that will be dependent on what happens with the 49ers at two.
Of the top-end signal callers in this year’s class, Watson is seen as the surest bet. He’s also the most pro ready, which could be a selling point for a Bears team that pretty much has Glennon signed to a one-year deal. If Glennon were to exceed expectations, the worst that would happen here is that Watson could sit behind a veteran for a couple years.
Having that type of a transitional thing going on at quarterback has not proven to be a bad thing in today’s NFL. Just ask the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers and Dallas Cowboys with Dak Prescott.
We’re not projecting a trade up from the Bears here. In fact, there’s definitely a scenario in play where Chicago could trade down to lower in the top 10 while adding Watson and another early-round pick to the mix. It’s surely something to keep an eye on Thursday night.
3. Pat Mahomes, Texas Tech
First round, 25th pick: Houston Texans
There’s little question that Houston has focused primarily on the quarterback position during the pre-draft process. And for good reason. Currently, the team only has Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden under contract after trading away free-agent bust Brock Osweiler last month.
Coming off an AFC South title and with a roster equipped for a deep run in the playoffs, Houston would be smart to add a young quarterback to the mix in the first round. Coming from Texas Tech’s spread offense, Mahomes likely won’t be a Day 1 starter. But he would give the Texans a ton of young, raw talent to work with under center. That’s something the team simply has not had during its relatively young existence in the NFL.
Some will conclude that adding a veteran like Jimmy Garoppolo or A.J. McCarron makes more sense here. That might very well be true, but it also takes two to tango. At this point, neither New England or Cincinnati have shown much interest in dealing their backup quarterbacks.
Houston will want to keep as many picks as possible in order to build up its depth as the draft plays out. It’s in this that trading up for a more pro-ready Deshaun Watson doesn’t make much sense.
Mahomes and his strong arm fits extremely well with what Bill O’Brien wants to do on offense. After a year or two of sitting, he would be able to take the helm under center and not look back. At that point, the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Lamar Miller, Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt would still be in the prime of their careers. That would make for an instant Super Bowl contender in Houston.
4. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Second round, 42nd pick: New Orleans Saints
Flush with two first-round picks, New Orleans can afford to exhaust some capital on a potential heir-apparent to Drew Brees. Considering the team remains hellbent on building a contender around the future Hall of Famer, it is unlikely to do that with either of its two first-round picks.
Enter into the equation this uber talented former Notre Dame quarterback. Sure Kizer likely should have stayed in South Bend for another season. Irish head coach Brian Kelly agrees with this sentiment, as does Mr. Kizer himself.
Kizer’s inability to act as a starter in the NFL for the foreseeable future will likely preclude him from being drafted on Thursday night. He will also have to find the right situation in order to succeed.
This is where New Orleans comes into play. Brees would act as a tutor for Kizer until the veteran hangs his cleats up. In turn, Kizer could soak up the vast amount of on-field experience and knowledge that Brees brings to the table. It really is a match made in heaven.
The only real concern here is whether Kizer himself will last until the 42nd pick. After all, the young kid sees himself as a combination of Tom Brady and Cam Newton. If teams come close to agreeing with this sentiment, he won’t be available anywhere near the 42nd pick. Fortunately for the Saints, that’s highly unlikely to be the case.
5. Davis Webb, California
Second round, 45th pick: Arizona Cardinals
There’s no telling how much longer Carson Palmer will play. Heck, the veteran considered retirement following the 2016 season before ultimately deciding to return. Needless to say, Arizona will be looking quarterback early in this week’s draft.
In fact, we don’t have to look much further than comments that general manager Steve Keim made recently about his team’s need for a young signal caller (more on that here).
Already linked to Mahomes in the first round, we’re projecting that Arizona will wait until Day 2 to address this need. It will do so in the form of a fast riser in Webb, who has been generating first-round buzz as of late.
While Webb is still unlikely to go on Thursday, there’s no real reason to believe he will last much further than the top-10 picks in the second round. Despite playing in Sonny Dykes spread offense at Berkeley, Webb’s tape tells us a story of a quarterback that could ultimately become that franchise-type guy.
Much like Kizer, it will take the perfect situation for Webb to succeed. And much like the Saints with Brees, Arizona has that veteran signal caller to show Webb the nuances of the NFL game. Again, this seems to be a match made in heaven.