Ranking Every Team’s Pre-Draft Quarterback Situation, Part Two

Quarterback ranking
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 30: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings looks for an open receiver in the first half against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

I recently published the first article of our series, Ranking Every Team’s Pre-Draft QB Situations. In Part One, I listed what I believe to be the bottom 12 teams in terms of quarterback talent and depth in the NFL.

“As we look at rosters across the team, there are many teams with fluid situations at the most key position to their franchise. Many depth charts will drastically change over the next few month’s before the first preseason games of 2019 come in August. Who will take the draft’s cream of the crop in Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, or Drew Lock? Who will take a chance on a late-round option like Tyree Jackson or Kyle Shurmur? Who will wait for next year’s class?” I evaluated each NFL team’s quarterback situation, and speculate answers to these questions.

Now, in Part Two of that series, we review the middle 10 teams, 11 to 20. These are a mix of teams that made the playoffs, came close to it, or suffered debilitating setbacks last season. Some of these quarterbacks are proven winners, but do they have what it takes to bring their teams over the hump? Bold players are the presumed team starter, and bold draft picks are first rounders.

  1. Minnesota Vikings

  • Division: NFC North
  • 2018 Record: 8-7-1
  • QBs on Roster: Kirk Cousins, Kyle Sloter
  • First three 2019 Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 18; Round 2, Pick 50; Round 3, Pick 81

The Vikings made it to the NFC Championship two seasons ago with Case Keenum under center, but switching him out for Kirk Cousins proved to have a negative effect on the team. There were definitely other issues in Minnesota outside of quarterback, but the mega-contract they handed him appears to have become more of a burden than a successful move. Cousins struggled to hold on to the ball or get it to either Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen with consistency. This will be the team’s first year under new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and assistant Gary Kubiak, but like Keenum, Kirk may operate best when he doesn’t have to carry the entire team on his back all the time.

  1. Baltimore Ravens

  • Division: AFC North
  • 2018 Record: 10-6
  • QBs on Roster: Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III
  • First three 2019 Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 22; Round 3, Pick 85; Round 3, Pick 102

The Ravens knew midway through last season that they were going to move on from Joe Flacco in favor for the younger, faster Lamar Jackson. While Jackson is a superb athlete, many feel his quarterback skills are insufficient of leading an NFL team to success. With Alex Collins and John Brown gone, Baltimore has more work to do on offense if they want to surround Jackson with the best talent. They re-signed the similarly athletic RG3 as their backup. We’ll have to see if Jackson’s first full season as a starter proves to be better than expectations.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Division: AFC South
  • 2018 Record: 5-11
  • QBs on Roster: Nick Foles, Cody Kessler, Tanner Lee, Alex McGough
  • First three 2019 Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 7; Round 2, Pick 38; Round 3, Pick 69

Team Vice President Tom Coughlin is giving Head Coach Doug Marrone a significant upgrade at quarterback by releasing Blake Bortles and handing a big contract to former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. The Jaguars are not automatically in contention with Foles, however; Foles has not started an entire season in his career. St. Nick will be tasked with leading a team for an entire season on his own. I believe Foles can do it, but it’s far from a guarantee.

  1. Atlanta Falcons

  • Division: NFC South
  • 2018 Record: 7-9
  • QBs on Roster: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub
  • First three 2019 Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 14; Round 2, Pick 45; Round 3, Pick 79

More and more time continues to pass from Matt Ryan’s MVP season, and similarly, so does Atlanta’s chances of going to and winning a Super Bowl. Top target Julio Jones will receive a large extension, and backup Matt Schaub even got 2 extra years, but this team lives or dies by Matt Ryan. While searching for a replacement shouldn’t be in serious consideration yet, the Falcons have to answer this question: Can Ryan contend for a Super Bowl again? If so, what else does he need? If not, where do you go from there?

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

  • Division: NFC East
  • 2018 Record: 9-7
  • QBs on Roster: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld
  • First three 2019 Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 25; Round 2, Pick 53; Round 2, Pick 57

Remember the days the Eagles were stuck with Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, and Nick Foles? Well, Philly has been spoiled as of late, having the first-world problem of choosing between Carson Wentz and a much better Nick Foles. This offseason, they made their final decision, letting Foles jump to Jacksonville. Now that Wentz is the only arm in town, can he lead the Eagles back to the mountaintop as Foles did before? One thing’s for sure: This is a much better issue to deal with over a good portion of the league.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Division: AFC North
  • 2018 Record: 9-6-1
  • QBs on Roster: Ben Roethlisberger, Joshua Dobbs, Brogan Roback, Mason Rudolph
  • First three 2019 Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 20; Round 2, Pick 52; Round 3, Pick 66

Say what you want about Ben Roethlisberger the person – and there is plenty to say – but the 2004-drafted quarterback managed to take a fractured offense to a 9-6-1 record and within one step of the playoffs. Without Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell or Jesse James going forward, things are only going to get harder for the aging quarterback. Big Ben still has much more game left, but in a division with duos like Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr.Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, and Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, the team around him needs significant upgrades if they have a chance to make it to the playoffs and down the stretch again.

  1. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers appear to have the best quarterback situation a 4-12 team could ask for. All three have had starting experience, and Mullens made a name for himself by winning difficult games last year. Garoppolo is clearly the best out of this crop, but San Fran could developing all three of these quarterbacks into future starters at this position if they can continue to maximize on their potential.

  1. Dallas Cowboys

  • Division: NFC East
  • 2018 Record: 10-6
  • QBs on Roster: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Mike White
  • First three 2019 Draft Picks: Round 2, Pick 58; Round 3, Pick 90; Round 4, Pick 128

So while a lot of people are still not sold on Dak Prescott, he has a 32-16 record, 8 comebacks and 16 game-winning drives, better numbers than guys like Foles, Alex Smith and Eli Manning over the last three seasons. The only question remaining is if he can get it done in the playoffs, as Prescott is 1-2 in his first three career postseason games.

  1. Cleveland Browns

  • Division: AFC North
  • 2018 Record: 7-8-1
  • QBs on Roster: Baker Mayfield, Drew Stanton
  • First three 2019 Draft Picks: Round 2, Pick 49; Round 3, Pick 80; Round 4, Pick 119

This upcoming season will be Baker Mayfield’s first full year under center in Cleveland, and he’ll have one of the best supporting casts you could ask for – Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt (following an eight-game suspension), and a mostly solid offensive line, even though Kevin Zeitler was shipped to New York in return for Olivier Vernon. The ceiling is very high here, but it goes without saying that fears of a sophomore slump or injury are very possible. Let’s hope for Cleveland’s sake that they don’t come true.

  1. Houston Texans

  • Division: AFC South
  • 2018 Record: 11-5
  • QBs on Roster: Deshaun Watson, A.J. McCarron, Joe Webb III, Branden Weeden (Free Agent)
  • First three 2019 Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 23; Round 2, Pick 54; Round 2, Pick 55

Signing A.J. McCarron and Re-signing Joe Webb as backups, the Texans should have no issues here as long as Deshaun Watson stays healthy and playing at the level he was last year. That’s easier said than done, though.

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