Not every team is going to land a franchise quarterback in the draft. Some will have to look to the free agent/trade market, but the market’s pretty thin right now.
That said, there are some intriguing options coming up for teams desperate for a passer, and those are the quarterbacks we’re looking at today.
Who are the top available NFL QBs that can make an immediate difference for the 2016 season?
5. Drew Stanton
Do you remember the very first game of the NFL Playoffs? Brian Hoyer was completely overwhelmed for the Houston Texans, having one of the worst playoff games in recent memory. But, the key word in all of that is, playoffs.
As bad as he was, Hoyer showed that he is good enough to not only start, but he helped lead Houston to a playoff game. There is no reason to think that Drew Stanton can’t be that good, or even better for some team.
Remember, the 2014 Arizona Cardinals were an 11-5 playoff team and Stanton started eight of those games, going 5-3
At the very least, any team signing Drew Stanton would likely see a spike in ticket sales.
Really, who wouldn’t pay to see that guy on the sidelines?
4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick is similar to Stanton, but he has a deeper track record as a starter. There are a few teams that would do very well to pursue and sign him away from the New York Jets.
One option is a team with a young quarterback that may or may not be a long term option. In that case, Fitzpatrick could come in and give the youngster a much needed push to see what he’s made of. A specific team that fits that description is Fitzpatrick’s 2015 employer, the New York Jets.
Another place Fitzpatrick would fit in would be a team that has a young quarterback they unquestionably like, but someone who’s maybe a couple of years away from starting. We have to wait for the NFL Draft to unfold to get a sense of who those teams might be, but they’ll certainly exist.
Lastly, Fitzpatrick could go to a team that clearly needs a young quarterback of the future, but doesn’t have one on the roster. Again, the draft will be important in determining who those teams are, but they’ll be out there.
Stanton and Fitzpatrick may not have the sexy potential that any of our final three have, but they don’t have big bust potential, either.
3. Robert Griffin III
Unlike Stanton and Fitzpatrick, Griffin has been a franchise quarterback. It was short-lived, but his 2012 run with the Washington Redskins was incredibly strong. Injuries have certainly been an issue since, but at 26, Griffin isn’t exactly over-the-hill.
In what will be a theme for Griffin and the next quarterback on this list, the important element is finding the right team. At this point, we can’t say that Griffin is a good enough quarterback to step in to any system and lead that team to glory. But, if he finds the right team and the right coaches, RG3 certainly has the tools to again be a franchise quarterback.
While Griffin certainly has speed and elusiveness that can’t be coached, he can also throw a pretty nice deep ball, which is one of the traits that makes him a good long term option.
With a good coach and a good organization, Griffin can be a great quarterback.
2. Colin Kaepernick
Okay, the caveat here, of course, is that Kaepernick is still under contract. If the San Francisco 49ers want to keep him, there’s not much that can be done. With that said, Kaepernick doesn’t want to be in San Francisco anymore and if the 49ers have any common sense (granted, a big if), then they’ll at least be shopping him.
Kaepernick’s skills are unquestioned. He’s got a huge arm, is incredibly mobile and once he’s moving is very hard to bring down. With that said, he has some lingering issues.
At best, Kaepernick is a mediocre touch passer. He can throw the ball incredibly hard, but that’s not always what’s needed to complete a pass.
Also, he has a tendency to get greedy. The 2013-14 NFC Championship Game loss against Seattle is a perfect example. There was no need to challenge Richard Sherman. If Kaepernick was going to throw to Michael Crabtree, he could have thrown a little deeper to where a miss would have gone out of bounds. Sherman made a great play, but Kaepernick didn’t have to give him that chance.
Despite that, what makes Kaepernick so intriguing is that a great coach can harness a great athlete’s raw skills. There’s no coach that can implement great athleticism into someone who’s not a great athlete.
If Kaepernick is going to revitalize his career, he needs to go to a place with good coaching. But if he does, don’t be surprised if Kaepernick is starting meaningful NFL games again.
1. Brock Osweiler
If we take Osweiler’s statistics from the seven games he started for the Denver Broncos in 2015 and extrapolate those out to a full season, the numbers look pretty good.
They’re certainly not perfect numbers, but not bad for a 25-year-old. Additionally, the Broncos were 5-2 in Osweiler’s seven starts.
The other burning hypothetical is what happens if Emmanuel Sanders and C.J. Anderson don’t fumble in Denver’s Week 17 game against the San Diego Chargers. Sanders’ fumble cost the Broncos points, while Anderson’s set the Chargers up for a touchdown.
That’s a pretty significant point swing. Instead of trailing 13-7 in the third quarter, Denver could have been up at least 14-6, and if that had come into fruition we may never have seen Peyton Manning.
At that point, maybe Osweiler is holding up the Lombardi Trophy and drinking Budweisers on Super Bowl Sunday. Manning’s role in the playoffs was not exactly irreplaceable.
It’s a fun hypothetical, and if you’re a Broncos fan there’s no point in re-hashing it. You certainly got an acceptable result.
But the lingering thought that Osweiler could have been a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, combined with what he did while starting, makes him the best available quarterback of the 2016 offseason.