Will recent free-agent QB frenzy hurt NFL draft prospects?

Rick Kamla
March 14, 2018 - 9:49 am
Lamar Jackson

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Day 2 of the National Football league’s “legal tampering period” was unkind to the top quarterback prospects coming into the draft because several teams acquired their 2018 starting QB on Tuesday.

The Saints brought back Drew Brees. The Vikings signed Kirk Cousins. The Jets snagged Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals swallowed hard and inked Sam Bradford.

In the days before, Tyrod Taylor went to Cleveland, the Jaguars re-signed Blake Bortles, the Niners Brinks-trucked Jimmy Garoppolo and Alex Smith went to Washington.

As such, the only team left in the market for a free agent QB—like AJ McCarron—is the Buffalo Bills, who are officially the most QB starved team in the NFL. Including the Bills, there are 10 teams who could, or should, take a QB in the draft. The other nine are: the Dolphins, Giants, Cardinals, Browns, Jets, Ravens, Jaguars, Colts, Chargers.

Of those 10 teams, only the Bills HAVE to take a QB in the first round. The Dolphins, Cardinals and Jets probably should take a QB in Round 1. However, the Browns and Jets can now wait until Round 2 or beyond, and the Giants, Ravens, Jags, Colts and Chargers might not take a QB at all.

If you are Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson, the NFL’s quarterback carousel has not spun your way... and it might have cost you millions of dollars. The demand for this pristine QB class isn’t as high as it once was now that 31 of 32 teams have their starting quarterback for 2018.

Bottom line: I still expect four QBs to be taken in the first round, by the Jets at No. 6, Dolphins at No. 11, Bills at No. 12 and Cardinals at No. 15...but none in the first five picks—where the really big bread is.

One of the aforementioned QB prospects is going to slip to the second round, and I believe it will be Lamar Jackson to the Browns with the first pick in Round 2. I have a first-round grade on Jackson, but old-fashioned thinking by Bill Polian and others will cause him to fall.

UPDATE: Okay, so the plot certainly thickened with the Browns signing Carlos Hyde to a three-year, $15 million deal on Wednesday. That tells me the Browns will NOT be taking Saquon Barkley No. 1 overall and instead will take Sam Darnold. After all, the Browns also have running back Duke Johnson, who they love.

If that happens, then the Browns would not be in the market for Lamar Jackson at the top of the second round. It would also likely send Barkley to the Giants with the second overall pick. Furthermore, Hyde to Cleveland tells me that five QBs—not only four—will be taken in the first round, when you add the Browns to the Jets, Dolphins, Bills and Cardinals. And if five QBs go in Round 1, that should usher Jackson to the stage by the middle of the first round.