The Schein Nine  

 

2014 NFL Draft: Rams, Bengals among quarterback-needy teams

You certainly can make the case there isn't a clear "franchise quarterback" prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. I have expressed this opinion -- repeatedly -- and will continue to do so as we approach the main event.

To be honest, I'm not convinced there's a signal-caller who is 100 percent worthy of being drafted in the first round. But I do think there are many QB prospects with talent, some of whom will eventually start. The position definitely isn't loaded at the top, but there's depth.

We could see nine quarterbacks being drafted in the first three rounds, with Round 2 being the real sweet spot. And yes, I believe there are nine teams in this draft that absolutely must take a QB by the end of Day 2.

This list, by the way, doesn't include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The organization surely could consider snatching up another QB. General manager Jason Licht wouldn't rule it out when we spoke on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports." (In fact, Licht wouldn't even rule out addressing the position in the first round, which would seem like a stretch.) But the Bucs already have a talented youngster in Mike Glennon (albeit one who was drafted by the prior regime) and a capable vet in Josh McCown. Thus, I don't considered QB a must for Tampa.

But when it comes to a host of other organizations, the position demands attention ... now! Here are nine teams that definitely should be in the quarterback business on draft weekend:

1) Houston Texans

I already penned the column explaining why Jadeveon Clowney must be Houston's choice with the No. 1 overall pick. But the Texans still need a quarterback.

While no QB provides enough value to be taken with the top selection, Houston is in prime position to draft an eventual starter at the top of Round 2. Zach Mettenberger makes sense. And Tom Savage is the kind of pure pocket passer who could thrive in coach Bill O'Brien's offense.

Might Teddy Bridgewater be available with the 33rd overall pick, as I have speculated? If Blake Bortles were to slide, would it be worth hitting the trade market to acquire another first-round pick?

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid stopgap (and potential mentor). Houston needs to find its quarterback for 2015 and beyond.

2) Jacksonville Jaguars

As I've mentioned before, I'd be shocked if the Jags took a quarterback with the third overall pick. This franchise isn't simply a QB away. Jacksonville must continue building the overall depth of its roster, and that starts with drafting the most talented player available at No. 3. (Khalil Mack seems sensible.)

The Jags should seek a quarterback in Round 2 or 3. Would they invest the No. 39 pick on a signal-caller? (Remember, Jacksonville passed on a chance to take Geno Smith at No. 33 last year.) Coach Gus Bradley and GM David Caldwell are building something special, but they need a leader/difference-maker at quarterback (perhaps somebody like Mettenberger or Jimmy Garoppolo). Chad Henne is serviceable -- for now -- but he's hardly the future.

3) Cleveland Browns

I think the Browns are likely to nab a quarterback with one of their two first-round picks. Personally, I think Sammy Watkins should be their pick at No. 4. If he's there, it's a no-brainer. In my mind, Johnny Manziel would be a reach at such a high draft slot. Having said that, Manziel would -- if nothing else -- have the chops to take Cleveland on the road to Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati in the AFC North. And I think he'd be a good fit in coordinator Kyle Shanahan's offense. GM Ray Farmer appears to have mixed feelings about Mr. Football, calling him "electric" and "exciting" while also conceding an important point: "He's different."

If the Browns do indeed go non-QB at No. 4, I could see them pouncing on Derek Carr if he's there at No. 26. Brian Hoyer is the ideal backup. Cleveland needs a potential starter -- badly.

4) St. Louis Rams



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Sam Bradford going down last year was a big -- gigantic, even -- deal. This isn't discussed enough. The season-ending knee injury furthered his reputation as a brittle quarterback, and it also prevented Jeff Fisher from truly learning what he has in the former No. 1 overall pick.

I'm not convinced that Bradford has convinced Rams brass that he's the guy to lead this team back to the promised land. To wit, GM Les Snead gushed about this draft class' QB depth on my radio show.

I predict St. Louis will pick a quarterback within the first three rounds. Could it be Bortles with the team's second first-round pick (No. 13 overall)? Might the move come in Round 2?

Or will Snead, who's shown a willingness to flip first-rounders, trade down a bit from No. 2 overall and take Johnny Football?

On CBS' "NFL Draft: On The Clock" this past weekend, NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell told me: "Johnny Manziel fits this whole philosophy of matching up in the NFC West. You have to beat them at their own game."

5) Cincinnati Bengals

Jot down team needs for the Bengals. Quarterback should be in your top three.

I picked San Diego to beat Cincy in the playoffs last season because of Andy Dalton's earned reputation of being a poor postseason quarterback. He proved me right, and I wrote about it the Monday after the game.

Cincy is a signal-caller away from reaching the Super Bowl. Dalton wants to be paid like a franchise quarterback. The Bengals shouldn't heed this desire. Instead, Cincinnati should draft and develop a young QB. Dalton is holding this team back when it matters the most.

6) Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals like Carson Palmer. And he gave them a shot of credibility in Year 1, as his arm strength fits coach Bruce Arians' downfield scheme. But the 34-year-old isn't getting any younger, and Arizona is building quite the formidable roster around him.

While GM Steve Keim didn't seem to view quarterback as a first-round priority when we spoke last month, he made no bones about the club's intention to address the position at some point in the draft. Maybe the Cards pull the trigger in the second round; maybe they wait until Day 3 to get somebody like Logan Thomas (who has the kind of arm Arians covets); and maybe there actually is a quarterback that Arizona can't pass on in Round 1.

But there's no maybe about one thing: Arizona must add a QB at some point.

7) Tennessee Titans

If Jake Locker is the answer, I'd love to know the question.

I do think new coach Ken Whisenhunt can help any quarterback. But the Titans can't be shortsighted and ignore Locker's spotty play. Finding a youngster who can eventually replace Locker is paramount. Bortles, Carr, Manziel, Bridgewater, Savage, Mettenberger, Garoppolo, AJ McCarron -- Tennessee should be studying all of them.

The defense clearly has some areas of need, but the 22nd-ranked offense needs a steady distributor.

8) Oakland Raiders

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I like Matt Schaub. I think he can resurrect his career in Oakland and be the team's starting QB over the next couple of years. But the Raiders needs a young quarterback to groom, especially now that they've given up on Terrelle Pryor. Manziel isn't the answer in Oakland, but GM Reggie McKenzie needs to find somebody to mold.

9) Minnesota Vikings

Matt Cassel can sling it. He's been to the Pro Bowl. He's guided a team to the playoffs. He's twice won double-digit games in the NFL. I think he can be solid in coordinator Norv Turner's offense. But with Cassel turning 32 in May, Minnesota needs to think about its long-term plan at the position.

With Mike Zimmer as the coach, it's easy to imagine this team drafting defensively in the first two rounds. But what if the defensive value just isn't there when the eighth overall pick comes around? I don't think Manziel fits Turner's style, but if Bortles is available, I'm sure the Vikes will consider him as a developmental option behind Cassel.

Remember, though, Minnesota just recently reached on a first-round QB in Christian Ponder. How'd that work out? Well, the coaching staff that was there at the time is gone, Ponder's an afterthought and the Vikings still need a quarterback of the future.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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