Demand for quarterbacks high, supply after draft low

The most striking thing about the teams picking in the top 10 of this year's draft is that seven have quarterback as one of their top needs. Some believe that number should be nine, but the Browns and Redskins insist they won't draft one with their top pick.

The dire need at the top of the draft makes it almost a certainty that Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton will be taken in the top 10 picks, perhaps both could even go before the Bills pick at No. 3. Extend the list past the top 10 and the Vikings, Dolphins and Seahawks are other teams in search of a quarterback. Think about it. That's 11 teams, or one out of every three in the NFL, that are thinking about pulling the trigger on a quarterback early on in the draft.

Some will be able to address this deficiency, but certainly not all, which will force those that don't to find other ways to fix the most critical position on the field.

The demand far outweighs the supply, which means Kevin Kolb is going to have more value after the draft than before. Once we get to the "offseason" the quarterback derby will be really interesting and some teams will be left without an answer.

Here's a breakdown of the teams picking in the top 10 that need a quarterback, as well as some advice on what they can do to solve their issue:

1. Carolina Panthers

Current QB depth chart: Jimmy Clausen, Brian St. Pierre, Keith Null

Why they need a QB: The Panthers know they can't count on Clausen to be a short- or long-term answer at quarterback. All the concerns that caused him to slip into the second round of last year's draft are real and came to light during his rookie season when Carolina finished with the worst record in the league. The Panthers have no one on their roster that is a viable option to start, or even be a solid No. 2 for that matter.

Their options: The Panthers don't have many options when it comes to the quarterback position. They either pick Newton or Gabbert, or they will be picking in the top 5 again next year. Now, there's an excellent chance they end up in the top 5 again even if they draft one of the top two QBs, but at least with one of them under center there will be a sense of hope for the future. I know Gabbert is not 100 percent perfect, but neither are Joe Flacco or Matt Ryan, or Aaron Rodgers when he left the University of California. As Bill Walsh would often tell me, "The search for the perfect player never ends." Gabbert is not perfect, but he would be my pick if I were running the Panthers' draft.

2. Denver Broncos

Current QB depth chart: Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn

Why they need a QB: I know I am going to get four million emails saying the Broncos love Tebow and I am crazy for writing they need a quarterback. However, the reality is they don't love Tebow, and are not in love with Orton, their projected opening-day starter. I'm a Tebow fan, but unless the Broncos are "all in" with him, it won't work.

Their options: John Elway is rumored to love Newton, in part because Denver's new executive VP of football operations loves the athletic talent and the big arm. It's interesting that Elway was at Newton's pro-day workout. If the Broncos were so sold on Tebow, why would Elway take time from his draft preparation to make the trip to Auburn? I don't expect the Broncos to take a quarterback with the second pick, although it would not shock me to see the former Florida teammates reunited. A more likely scenario is the Broncos entertain all the second-level quarterbacks, from Christian Ponder of Florida State to Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.

3. Buffalo Bills

Current QB depth chart: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Brohm, Levi Brown

Why they need a QB: Todd Collins, Alex Van Pelt, Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, Drew Bledsoe, J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards were all suppose to fill Jim Kelly's shoes. Bills fans need hope, they need a franchise player, they need a face of the franchise. They have to fix this position, and stop the band-aid approach.

Their options: Much like the Panthers, the Bills don't have many. They are never going to close the gap with the Patriots or Jets until they solve their quarterback need. Fitzpatrick is not a starter, but would do a great job of holding down the position as the Bills develop their next quarterback. The Bills will have an opportunity to pick either Newton or Gabbert, assuming the Broncos don't go quarterback. Each one is worthy of the pick from a talent standpoint, but the Bills have to be comfortable with each as a leader. Buffalo should pick either Gabbert or Newton at three, depending if either one is still there. If not, Fitzpatrick is a better option than any other quarterback they could select or sign in free agency.

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4. Cincinnati Bengals

Current QB depth: Carson Palmer, Jordan Palmer, Dan LeFevour

Why they need a QB: Palmer is not bluffing about retiring if he isn't traded, and neither is owner Mike Brown, who says he won't deal the veteran quarterback. Brown is taking Palmer at his word that he will retire, and now knows they need to address their quarterback situation.

Their options: The Bengals have made their share of draft mistakes at the position, from David Klingler to Akili Smith, but this does not make them gun shy in picking one. The Bengals will take one this year -- they won't let their chances at getting a talented player like Gabbert or Newton pass by if they are still available. If they both are gone, then expect Cincinnati to take the best option in Round 2, as they are not going to be aggressive in the free-agent market. And don't rule out Ryan Mallet in Round 1 if Gabbert and Newton are off the board, as the Bengals have been not been worried about the Arkansas QB's off-field issues. Also, I could see them making a call to the Redskins to inquire about Donovan McNabb's availability via trade once the lockout ends. If the Bengals are unable to secure a top quarterback in the draft, trading for one might be their only option. McNabb would appeal to coach Marvin Lewis, who would be able to remain competitive with the veteran QB under center.

5. Arizona Cardinals

Current QB depth: Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall, Richard Bartel

Why they need a QB: If you want to really understand the value of having a quarterback, look no further than the 2010 Cardinals. A playoff team in 2009, Arizona turned into a five-win team last year.

Their options: The Cardinals needed a quarterback last year when Kurt Warner retired, and had their chance to acquire McNabb from the Eagles but chose not to. I don't expect them to say yes now if the Redskins make him available. They did want to sign Marc Bulger, but with Matt Leinart in the way at the time, Bulger was not an option. That could change this offseason; he might be a nice piece for the short term. Last season was a dose of reality for the Cardinals, who I fully expect to draft a quarterback, and go hard after Bulger hoping to rekindle his career. What quarterback would they draft? I would think, either Gabbert or Newton would fit Ken Whisenhunt's offense. Whisenhunt is creative and would be able to design an offense that best fits either one. But will either of them be there? I doubt it. Bulger might be the best option when the lockout ends.

7. San Francisco 49ers

Current QB depth: David Carr

Why they need a QB: Can you imagine driving to work every day and looking at your depth chart and only seeing David Carr as your starting quarterback? I might turn around and go back home.

Their options: The 49ers are thinking about bringing Alex Smith back as a backup, allowing new coach Jim Harbaugh to determine if he can become the player they hoped he would become when they drafted him. The 49ers must be divergent in their thinking. They are in a bad spot in the first round and must hope for a mistake from the teams in front of them needing a quarterback. The 49ers need to address the short- and long-term issues, and might even think about trying to move up in the draft to put themselves in position to acquire either Newton or Gabbert. However, without a mistake the 49ers will have to rely on their evaluation skills deciding which "other" quarterback can fit their scheme. Is it Jake Locker? Kaepernick? Ponder? Don't rule the 49ers out of the Carson Palmer sweeps if the Bengals decide to draft one. And I would fully expect them to make a play for Bulger once the free-agent market opens.

8. Tennessee Titans

Current QB depth: Vince Young, Rusty Smith, Brett Ratliff

Why they need a QB: Young is expected to be cut or traded as soon as the lockout ends. When that happens, the Titans will have no one on the roster with any experience and will need to make at least two moves to solve their problem.

Options: The Titans could draft a quarterback in the first round, but they are seriously evaluating the second-level quarterbacks, feeling that is their best option considering all the teams that need quarterbacks in front of them in Round 1. The Titans will have to sign a veteran free agent regardless of which round they select a quarterback. Tennessee is another team that might have to make a call to Washington to check on the asking price for McNabb, as well as a team that might be in constant dialogue with the Eagles concerning Kolb.

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi.

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