NFL Draft Primer: Ranking the Quarterback Destinations

Dan Meylor


With the 2015 NFL Draft getting closer with each day that passes, the age old debate amongst dynasty owners of what is more important when scouting incoming rookies – a player’s overall talent or his opportunity – will raise its ugly head once again.

Like most, I’m of the opinion that talent always wins in the end so I always try to take the situation a player is drafted into out of the equation when I’m on the clock. In time, a supremely talented player who ends up in a less than desirable situation is much more worthy of being chosen in a rookie draft than a less-talented player who’s drafted into an ideal situation. With that said, completely ignoring those prime situations (especially at this point in the process) would be irresponsible.

With free agency having run its course for the most part and NFL franchises preparing to add the latest class of rookies to their rosters, now is an ideal time to identify the best (and worst) landing spots for dynasty purposes. If nothing else, it gives us all something to debate while we wait for draft weekend.

Let’s start by looking at the quarterback position and how all 32 teams rank as far as the potential situation for the incoming rookies. Each of the teams are put into tiers from four stars (great situation) all the way down to one/zero stars (poor.) Look for the other positions as we get closer to the draft.

Four Stars

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers need a quarterback bad and most consider it a forgone conclusion that Jameis Winston will be the top overall pick to Tampa Bay. No matter who they pick however, Lovie Smith made it obvious to anybody following the Buccs a year ago that he doesn’t trust his offense in the hands of Mike Glennon so a path to immediate playing time is clear for a rookie.

With what is turning into a quality stable of pass catchers including Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Buccaneers have put many of the pieces in place to be successful on offense. The only thing working against Tampa Bay here is their offensive line, which gave up 52 sacks a year ago and ranked 29th in the league in pass protection which has yet to be addressed in the offseason. Nonetheless, the Buccaneers are the best possible landing spot for a rookie quarterback which is music to the ears of those eyeing Winston in rookie drafts.

Philadelphia Eagles

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Chip Kelly has a history of getting the best out of his quarterbacks, just look at Mark Sanchez’ production last year once he got under center. Although Sam Bradford is penciled in as the starter, his injury history along with the possibility that he’s traded before or during the draft leaves the door open for a rookie to make an immediate impact in a high octane offense.

On top of possibly getting a chance to play right away, a rookie signal caller would also have the benefit of an offensive line that ranked ninth a year ago in pass protection as well as an elite running back in DeMarco Murray and a couple of quality, young pass catchers in Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz.

Many have anticipated for months that Kelly is after his former collegiate quarterback, Marcus Mariota. While that’s an intriguing possibility, any quarterback who lands in Philadelphia has the upside to make a dynasty impact.

New York Giants

It may not look like it at first glance but New York could be a very nice landing spot for a rookie quarterback. 34-year old Eli Manning is about to enter the final year of his contract and recent reports have suggested the Giants are comfortable letting him play it out. If that’s the case, adding another signal caller to groom for a year under him makes a lot of sense. With Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz along with Shane Vereen in place as pass catchers and top-10 pass blocking offensive line, New York is a top-three landing spot for a rookie quarterback. Of course that’s erased if Manning is re-signed.

Three Stars

Buffalo Bills

With Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin, Robert Woods and Charles Clay – not to mention LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson – catching passes, the Bills front office has turned Buffalo into a desirable destination for a rookie quarterback despite Rex Ryan and Greg Roman promising to deploy a run-heavy offense. It’s really too bad they don’t have a first round pick due to the Watkins trade a year ago. Even so, any rookie quarterback picked by the Bills will have a good supply of playmakers as well as a path to playing time, making Buffalo a top-five landing spot.

New York Jets

With Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith atop the depth chart, the Jets have a pair of useful but not spectacular quarterback options. The addition of Brandon Marshall – to go along with Eric Decker – should improve New York’s 32nd ranked passing offense that averaged just 184.1 passing yards per game last year. The Jets’ offense will likely continue to build around their running game until they have something other than a game manager under center. While New York certainly isn’t a prime destination for a rookie quarterback, there are far worse landing spots now that they have a pair of legitimate receivers.

Cincinnati Bengals

With four straight playoff appearances already under his belt and having signed a seven-year contract worth $97 million in August, most consider Andy Dalton to be safely entrenched under center in Cincinnati for the next handful of years. Four straight first round playoff exits suggest otherwise however. Dalton’s contract begins getting very expensive next year so the possibility exists that the Bengals could be looking at other options sooner rather than later. With A.J. Green catching passes and Dalton’s shortcomings, Cincinnati is a sneaky destination for a rookie quarterback. By no means is it a guarantee that the Bengals take a signal caller, but dynasty owners shouldn’t downgrade a rookie that ends up in Cincy.

San Diego Chargers

On paper, San Diego may not look like a top destination for a rookie quarterback. After all, they already have a quality quarterback and their offensive line and receiving corps both struggled a year ago. Phillip Rivers is entering the final year of his contract though, and the additions of Orlando Franklin (ranked the eighth best pass blocking offensive guard last year by Pro Football Focus) and Stevie Johnson should help solidify those weaknesses. With Keenan Allen already in place along with veteran Antonio Gates, San Diego could be a solid landing spot for a rookie passer – particularly if they add a quality tailback in the draft as well.

Dallas Cowboys

Although Dallas already has a top quarterback option, the Cowboys are an intriguing landing spot for a developmental prospect. Although he’s signed through 2019, Tony Romo will turn 35 later this month and current backup Brandon Weeden hasn’t shown anything that would suggest his job is secure. With an elite receiver like Dez Bryant on the roster and one of the top offensive lines in the league, there are far worse destinations for a rookie quarterback to end up.

Arizona Cardinals

With Carson Palmer in place as the starter and Drew Stanton along with Logan Thomas already there developing under him, it’d be surprising if Arizona adds another quarterback. If they do and he can win the backup job though, there would be some long term upside. Palmer is 35 years old and entering the final year on his contract. With Larry Fitzgerald along with upside receivers like Michael Floyd, John Brown and Jaron Brown on the roster as well as a quality offensive line, there are far worse landing spots for a rookie quarterback with the potential to start in a year like Bryce Petty from Baylor.

Tennessee Titans

Holding the second overall pick in the draft, the Titans could draft one of the top-two quarterback prospects. They already have a developing asset under center in Zach Mettenberger however and countless other needs on both sides of the ball so it seems unlikely they’ll invest the pick in a passer.

Even if the Titans do choose a quarterback, Tennessee may not be the most ideal landing spot in terms of fantasy production. With underperforming skill players throughout the offense such as Bishop Sankey, Justin Hunter and to a lesser extent Kendall Wright, as well as a coaching staff that may be on thin ice and an offensive line that allowed 50 sacks a year ago, the chances that a young signal caller would succeed seem slim.

Despite a clear path to early playing time in Tennessee, there are quite a few landing spots that are much more desirable for a rookie passer.

Two Stars

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh isn’t an ideal landing spot for a quarterback ready to play in his first couple years but does present an interesting possibility for a developmental quarterback in the middle rounds of the draft. Ben Roethlisberger just turned 33 and the Steelers could be looking to secure a prospect that they can develop under him. The Steel City wouldn’t be a horrible landing spot for a guy like Garrett Grayson – who may need a few years to develop.

Chicago Bears

The Bears have Jay Cutler signed through 2020 and have a lot of draft needs. New head coach Jon Fox has promised a run-first offensive approach which doesn’t add to the appeal of Chicago being a quality landing spot for a rookie passer. With that said, having Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery in place does present some future upside if the Bears decide to move on from Cutler.

New Orleans Saints

At some point the Saints will have to draft a successor to Drew Brees. Whether or not that is this year remains to be seen but if Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton pull the trigger now, it’ll be far less appealing for fantasy owners due to their recent commitment to the running game.

Washington Redskins

Washington’s quarterbacks looked solid a year ago. Robert Griffin III was expected by many to regain his pre-injured form and Kirk Cousins was looked at as one of the best back-ups in the league. That’s far from the case now. Head coach Jay Gruden has shown little faith in RG3 despite owner Dan Snyder’s backing. The situation looks like a messy divorce waiting to happen and in these situations, usually the favorite of the boss stays. In this case, it’d be Griffin. Adding another quarterback through the draft may be on the horizon, but ending up in Washington may not be good for that quarterback’s future if a coaching change is on the horizon and RG3 is still on the roster.

Houston Texans

Over the last 12 months the Texans have brought in two potential starting quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, and have drafted a prospect to develop in Tom Savage. Meanwhile, DeAndre Hopkins is the only pass catcher with upside and their offensive line could take a hit if former pro-bowler Chris Myers signs elsewhere. The Texans don’t have a lot to offer a rookie quarterback.

St. Louis Rams

With limited weapons offensively as well as a truly dreadful offensive line, St. Louis isn’t an ideal landing spot for a rookie passer. All indications are that Jeff Fisher is very happy having Nick Foles under center and that the Rams see him as their long term answer at quarterback. With Austin Davis and Case Keenum behind Foles, there are far better places for a rookie with upside to end up.

One Star

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland is a mess. They spent the 22nd overall pick on Johnny Manziel (who was picked number one overall last year in this exercise) a year ago and reports already suggest they may want to move on from the former Aggie. As of right now, Josh McCown is the starter. While he could easily be replaced by a rookie, the offense is poised to be featuring Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline as starting receivers. Any rookie would be walking into a toxic situation if he were drafted by the Browns.

Kansas City Chiefs

Alex Smith is far from being a special quarterback, but he’s firmly in place as the Chiefs starter. If Kansas City were to draft a quarterback, the situation wouldn’t be that bad considering he’d have Jamal Charles and newly signed Jeremy Maclin to distribute the ball to and a relatively good offensive line but Andy Reid seems content on dinking and dunking with Smith.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are a complete unknown right now. New head coach Jim Tomsula and offensive coordinator Geep Chryst have vowed to employ a run-first philosophy and have pledged their allegiance to Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers aren’t a very attractive landing spot for a rookie quarterback due to the uncertainty in San Francisco.

Denver Broncos

John Elway seems content on giving Brock Osweiler the first chance to take over for Peyton Manning when he hangs up his cleats. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will help make the transition into the starter’s role much easier for whatever quarterback takes over for the hall of famer.

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota’s front office is committed to Teddy Bridgewater for good reason.

Miami Dolphins

For the immediate future and beyond, Ryan Tannehill will be under center in Miami. There isn’t room for a rookie due to Matt Moore being a favorite of the Dolphins’ coaching staff.

Atlanta Falcons

With franchise quarterback Matt Ryan signed through 2018 and countless other needs, the Falcons aren’t looking for another signal caller and if they do choose one, he’d be a backup.

Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford is only 27 and has a firm grasp on the starting job in Detroit for the foreseeable future. A rookie quarterback would be on the pine for his entire first contract.

Baltimore Ravens

Despite having one of the best pass blocking offensive line in the league, Baltimore already has their franchise quarterback with Joe Flacco who just turned 30. If the Ravens take a rookie quarterback, he’ll be buried behind a solid starter with the job security that comes along with being a Super Bowl champion.

New England Patriots

Since the Patriots already invested highly in their quarterback of the future Jimmy Garoppolo, there isn’t room for another developmental prospect behind Tom Brady.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have their quarterback. Adding pass catchers for Derek Carr is the priority.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags spent the third overall draft pick last year on Blake Bortles and are focused on adding pieces around him, not investing in another young passer.

One (or Zero) Stars

Green Bay Packers

Two words. Aaron. Rodgers.

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton is their guy.

Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson isn’t going anywhere.

Indianapolis Colts

Same with Andrew Luck in Indy.


dan meylor