Quarterbacks run the discussion during the NFL Draft, and usually it’s not too hard to guess where each is going to end up.
This year is different. Almost every team in the league has either recently drafted a quarterback it feels comfortable with, or has recently invested a big contract in a veteran quarterback. Plus, it’s not exactly a loaded year for quarterbacks compared to recent years — or the hyped 2020 class.
That makes slotting the top quarterbacks in this year’s class a bit harder, but let’s try it anyway. Here are my predictions for where the four quarterbacks who could be drafted in the first round will land.
Kyler Murray — Arizona Cardinals, pick No. 1
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The rumors connecting Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals have been everywhere. Kliff Kingbury, when he was the head coach of Texas Tech, is on the record saying he would select Murray first overall. The Cardinals met with Murray at the NFL Combine, and they had a private meeting with him at his pro day. Kingsbury continued to talk up Murray at the annual league meeting while giving a little bit of praise to Josh Rosen as well.
The big question mark here is what happens to Rosen. The Cardinals selected Rosen with the 10th pick in last year’s draft, but Kingsbury wasn’t the head coach when that decision was made. With the No. 1 overall pick in his hand, Kingsbury has the chance to grab a quarterback prospect that he really covets as he tries to bring his air raid attack to the NFL.
The rumors for potential Rosen landing spots have been mostly quiet, but they’re starting to pick up some steam:
“There are 3 teams that I have heard and I know are very interested in Josh Rosen: New England, the New York Giants, and the LA Chargers. One of those have already offered a 2nd-round pick. … Arizona is waiting for a 1st — I don’t think they’ll get it.” — @joelklatt pic.twitter.com/tcTMgXHHGR
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) March 27, 2019
Drafting Murray wouldn’t necessarily be an indictment against Rosen and his future. If the Cardinals have a chance to select a quarterback who’s better than Rosen, or one they feel is better than Rosen, they should probably jump at the opportunity. The No. 1 pick doesn’t come around very often — if the Cardinals think Murray gives them the best chance for long-term success, they should pull the trigger.
Drew Lock — Denver Broncos, No. 10
Drew Lock is the consensus pick for Denver in our mock draft database, though not by an overwhelming majority. While Lock isn’t quite as pro ready as Dwayne Haskins, it wouldn’t be that weird for Lock to get drafted first. The Broncos showed interest in him at the Senior Bowl and they’re holding a pre-draft visit with him.
Lock also seems to fit the archetype that John Elway has fallen in love with over the years: He’s tall (6’4) and has an absolute cannon for an arm.
The Broncos wouldn’t have to play Lock right away with Joe Flacco entrenched as the starting quarterback. Lock needs to improve his footwork to help his accuracy on downfield throws and needs to work on his reaction to pressure. Sitting behind a guy like Flacco would be beneficial for him as he starts his career.
If Lock were to come in and ball right away, though, the Broncos could move on from Flacco without any financial penalty after the season. They don’t owe Flacco any guaranteed money after making the trade for him this offseason.
Dwayne Haskins — Miami Dolphins, pick No. 13
The Dolphins could be a big winner on draft night. Just about every team in the league has its quarterback situation in place for the upcoming season, so a major talent could end up falling into the Dolphins’ laps with the 13th pick in the draft.
If Murray goes first overall to Arizona and the Giants legitimately aren’t interested in taking a quarterback with the sixth pick, then Haskins could be in for a bit of a draft-day slide. SB Nation’s Dan Kadar isn’t buying that the Giants are completely out on Haskins, but it is up in the air right now.
Just take a look at the draft order. After the Giants pick at No. 6, the next picks are Jacksonville, Detroit, Buffalo, Denver, Cincinnati, and Green Bay before landing on Miami. The only real threats to snag Haskins before the Dolphins pick are Denver and Cincinnati — assuming that no team trades up.
The Dolphins could very well be in position to draft Haskins, and it would be a great situation for everyone involved. Miami wouldn’t be forced to put him on the field right away with the recent signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick. It would also kick off the Brian Flores era with a bang by finding the team’s quarterback of the future.
Daniel Jones — New York Giants, pick No. 17
Right now, it looks like Daniel Jones is going to be a consolation prize for whichever team misses out on Murray, Haskins, and Lock. The SB Nation mock draft database currently has Jones as the most popular picks for Washington and the Giants’ second pick at 17th overall.
Washington seems a bit unlikely for the former Duke quarterback. Jay Gruden’s job is on the line this season — spending a first-round pick on a quarterback who wasn’t very productive in college isn’t what he needs to make the most out of this season.
As much as Washington does need a quarterback of the future, Jones is probably the biggest risk of the potential first-round quarterbacks. In this scenario, the three best quarterbacks are all off the board by the time Washington picks. The match between Washington, who has a coach on the hot seat, and Jones doesn’t seem likely.
The Giants taking Jones with their second first-round pick, which they received from Cleveland when they traded away Odell Beckham Jr., seems like a more plausible destination. New York seems committed to Eli Manning for at least one more season and general manager Dave Gettleman said that a Round 1 quarterback is “probably” in the cards this year.
Jones wouldn’t be a real threat to usurp Manning from his throne as the starting quarterback this year, which is probably good for him. The Giants don’t have much talent that strikes fear in defenses outside of running back Saquon Barkley — giving the front office another year to pump talent into the offense before handing the keys over to Jones.
At the very least, it would allow the Giants to keep starting Manning while holding fans off a bit with the idea of a franchise quarterback coming behind him.