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Early look at teams that could be in 2018 NFL Draft QB market

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  • By Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks NFL.com
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Editor's note: NFL.com analysts and former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the Move The Sticks Podcast share some of their scouting notes, including:

» Jeremiah's take on the Browns' handling of DeShone Kizer
» Two USC defenders who have helped themselves in first half of season
» An under-the-radar QB to keep an eye on

But first, we kick off this week's notebook with Bucky Brooks' look at which NFL teams have the greatest need at the quarterback position.

The 2017 season in college football has already been dubbed "The Year of the Quarterback" by pundits lauding the potential talent and depth of the class at the position. Although I'm not quite convinced that this year's collection of QBs features a number of franchise players, I do believe that we are poised to see a changing of the guard at the position in the NFL with several veteran quarterbacks nearing the end of their respective careers.

Will Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer walk off into the sunset as retirement calls? Will Eli Manning and Philip Rivers make one final run at the Lombardi Trophy before hanging up the cleats? We know this -- it's time for several franchises to begin making succession plans at the QB1 position. That doesn't include the cellar dwellers that are also looking for long-term answers at the QB1 spot to revive their playoff chances.

Put it all together, and nearly a third of the league's teams could be considering dipping their toe into the 2018 quarterback pool next spring. Now, we all know much can change between now and the draft, but as it stands today, here are 10 teams that I believe will need to be in the market for a franchise QB in the spring:

Arizona Cardinals: With Carson Palmer nearing the end of the road, the Cardinals have to take a look at finding a successor at the position. Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert are "bridge" quarterbacks capable of holding down the QB1 spot until a young field general is ready to assume duties as the team's new franchise player.

Cleveland Browns: At this point, it is anyone's guess what the Browns will do at quarterback. The team has invested draft capital in the position the last two years, yet they aren't any closer to developing a legitimate QB1. DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler are still options for the team, but it's possible that Cleveland will the dice again in the 2018 draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Doug Marrone has done a great job of winning in spite of the shaky play by Blake Bortles in 2017, but the team will need an upgrade at the position to become a viable contender down the road. If the Jaguars can identify a dynamic QB1 in the draft, this team could go from good to great in a hurry in the AFC.

Los Angeles Chargers: Philip Rivers continues to amaze at his advanced age, but the Chargers need to plan ahead for his departure. The team grabbed Cardale Jones via trade to have a young, developmental option on the roster, but a high pick in the 2018 draft could prompt the team to add a franchise-caliber QB1 prospect to serve as Rivers' successor.

Minnesota Vikings: The injury history of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford could force the Vikings to explore other options at the position (Bradford is due to become a free agent). The team has a competitive roster with the talent to make a run at the postseason, and a durable quarterback with spectacular playmaking ability could make the Vikings legitimate contenders in the NFC.

New York Giants: Eli Manning has helped the franchise capture a pair of Lombardi Trophies but age and skill deterioration should encourage Jerry Reese and Co. to explore options in the draft. The team likes Davis Webb as a developmental prospect, but that shouldn't prevent Big Blue from making a run at a big-time prospect in the draft.

New York Jets: Despite the Jets' surprising start under Josh McCown, the team still needs to find a young franchise quarterback to stabilize the future. With Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty destined for QB2/QB3 status for the rest of their NFL lives, the Jets could be heavy players in the quarterback market on draft day.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Big Ben's disappointing play and retirement chatter should prompt the Steelers to start looking for his replacement at the position. Although the team plucked Joshua Dobbs in the 2017 draft, the rookie is more of a developmental prospect than ready-made starter at this point.

San Francisco 49ers: Brian Hoyer is a stopgap at the position and C.J. Beathard's talent doesn't scream franchise quarterback. If the 49ers finish with a top-5 selection, Kyle Shanahan could grab the QB1 of his liking in the 2018 draft. Of course, the 49ers could fill their need prior to the draft if Kirk Cousins becomes a free agent and chooses to reunite with Shanahan.

Washington Redskins: Speaking of Cousins ... the massive pay day he's due could force the Redskins to search for younger, cheaper options in the draft. The team has Colt McCoy ready to serve as the stopgap starter while a young quarterback could be groomed for the QB1 role. -- Bucky Brooks

HOW BROWNS SHOULD'VE HANDLED DESHONE KIZER

The Browns and head coach Hue Jackson made the decision to bench rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer this week. This is an example of the wrong way to develop a young signal-caller. I applauded the decision to draft Kizer in the second round earlier this year, but I can't defend their decision to throw him into the starting lineup to start the season.

Every quarterback should have a customized development plan. Some guys are ready to play right away, while others need to be brought along slowly. Kizer wasn't ready to play and it showed. While he had some flashes of brilliance, he often looked overwhelmed and struggled to get rid of the football on time. This was predictable. His last season at Notre Dame was a struggle and it affected his confidence. He needed more time to learn and grow in the privacy of the Browns' practice field before being thrown into the fire of regular season game action.

In order to make a determination about whether to pursue a QB at the top of the draft next spring, the Browns needed to see Kizer start some games this fall. However, I thought it would be best to hold off on playing him until the last 5-6 weeks of the season. They could have given Kizer the last handful of games to audition for the 2018 starting role. They didn't wait that long. They rushed him into action and this is the result: You have a winless team, a rookie quarterback with very little confidence and 11 long weeks to go. -- Daniel Jeremiah

TROJAN DEFENDERS ON THE RISE

While so much attention has been placed on Sam Darnold and USC's inconsistent offense, two Trojan defenders are quietly playing at a high level.

Defensive tackle Rasheem Green was a highly regarded recruit coming out of Serra High School, the same school that produced guys like Adoree' Jackson, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. He was expected to make a similar impact for the Trojans, and the talented junior is beginning to live up to the hype, recording 6 tackles for loss (including 3.5 sacks) in the first 6 games. He has been outstanding at the point of attack and he's been disruptive in the passing game. Green's probably better suited to play defensive end at the next level, but he battles on the inside and finds a way to affect the game.

The USC defender generating the most buzz in scouting circles? That would be outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu. He has steadily put on weight and added strength during his career and he's playing his best ball this fall. As a pass rusher, he can bend the edge and he has a nifty inside counter move. However, even when he can't generate pressure, he makes an impact. He has batted down 8 balls this year and he also recorded an interception (he's among the FBS leaders in passes defensed). As a run defender, he needs to get firmer at the point of attack, but he plays with excellent effort.

Both Green and Nwosu will need to be at their best as the Trojans go through a tough stretch of games (they host Utah on Saturday before traveling to South Bend to take on Notre Dame next week). -- Daniel Jeremiah

UNDER-THE-RADAR QB TO WATCH

College Football 24/7 Hot Topics:

While I primarily focus on upperclassmen when studying college players, every now and then an NFL scout will text me a name or two to keep an eye on for the future. One name that keeps coming up -- Duke QB Daniel Jones. I decided to study couple of his game tapes and I came away impressed.

His passing numbers don't jump off the page (121 of 222 for 1,194 yards, 6 TDs, 5 INTs), but I really like his combination of size, athleticism and touch. He's listed at 6-foot-5 and moves around really well on designed runs and scrambles. He throws a nice, catchable ball and he also displays some toughness in the pocket. It doesn't look like he has a "wow" arm on tape, but it's always better to evaluate arm strength at a live game. He's definitely one to watch as we enter the second half of the 2017 campaign. -- Daniel Jeremiah

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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