There are two types of teams in the NFL: Those that have a quarterback and those that do not.
The NFL draft represents a great place to stockpile and replenish in many years -- but not in this one. A weak free-agent group at quarterback is being followed immediately by a less-than-stellar incoming rookie class.
Marcus Mariota has plenty of upside, but he needs to learn how to consistently take snaps from under center and, depending on where he goes, might not really be ready to make an impact until 2016.
This quarterback class is extremely underwhelming. Questions with the top-end talent and a glaring lack of depth -- that's not an ideal combination for organizations seeking a signal-caller. Teams like Oakland, New England, Tennessee, Arizona, Houston and Cincinnati should be commended for taking a quarterback after Round 1 last May. That was the time to do it, to avoid the reach in this lackluster class.
Still, there are a number of teams that have to take a long look at this year's quarterback crop, just due to the makeup of the roster and lack of talent in the QB room.
We know the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are taking a quarterback at No. 1 overall. (I argued for Mariota over Winston in this space a couple months ago, but at this point, it certainly appears the Bucs will go with the Florida State product.) Who else will dive into the QB pool? When value fits need, which teams might snatch up signal-callers?
Here are nine franchises that must strongly consider taking a quarterback at some point in the 2015 NFL Draft:
1) Cleveland Browns
As I've been saying all offseason, the Browns' 2016 starting quarterback is not on the roster right now. I believe this more and more with each passing day.
Johnny Manziel just spent the last few months in a rehab facility. And last week, he released a very professional statement of apology to the public. The gist: "I owe private apologies to a lot of people that I disappointed but a very public one to the Browns organization and the fans that I let down." The sentiment here is an admirable one, but of course, actions speak louder than words. As team captain Joe Thomas said earlier this month, Manziel burned a lot of bridges within the locker room with the way he handled himself in Year 1. He has a lot of work to do off the field -- and we haven't even discussed his on-field issues. When he played last year, Manziel looked completely overwhelmed. In the preseason, he refused to grab a starting job that was there for the taking, losing an uninspired quarterback competition to Brian Hoyer. In the regular season, he started two games (both losses) and posted a quarterback rating of 42.0.
Long story short: Questions abound on last season's No. 22 overall pick. Questions about his attitude, questions about his commitment, questions about his play. Questions I can't confidently answer. Does this sound like a franchise quarterback to you?
Meanwhile, the Browns signed Josh McCown this offseason. McCown's a seasoned veteran who brings leadership to the position in Cleveland. Turning 36 in July, he's a nice stopgap solution. But what comes after the stopgap? The Browns need a quarterback they can confidently build around, a plan for the future at the position.
I see Cleveland as the most likely team to trade up into the No. 2 spot to snag Mariota. The Browns are armed with two first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 19) and have had a need at quarterback since the beginning of time (approximately). This team is desperate at the game's most important position. And I think this kind of deal could actually work out quite well for Cleveland. Not only would McCown's presence allow the team to develop Mariota before throwing him into the fire, but the veteran quarterback would provide the kind of guidance that every rookie quarterback should be so lucky to receive.
McCown for now, Mariota for the future -- suddenly, the Browns would have a legit plan at quarterback.
2) Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler is not the answer. The question is, when do the Bears face reality and bite the contractual bullet? I just don't see Cutler, a coach killer long on natural talent and short on intangibles, suddenly flipping the switch in Year 10. Cutler's sour demeanor won't jibe with John Fox's rah-rah style.
If Mariota is there when Chicago goes on the clock at No. 7, the Bears should pounce. Though that doesn't seem too likely at this point. If they like Hundley in Round 2, they should grab him. If Petty fits Adam Gase's vision, they should take him. Maybe Garrett Grayson is on Chicago's board as a Day 3, draft-and-develop guy. Great!
The bottom line is, this organization needs to start thinking beyond Cutler. The Bears won't admit it publicly -- and they shouldn't -- but there's no reason to believe Cutler will transform into a franchise savior in his age 32 season. His contract is obviously daunting -- if you can unload it on another QB-needy team, do it! NOW! If not, well, at least young quarterbacks come cheap in the current rookie pay scale.
3) St. Louis Rams
I like Nick Foles. But it turns out his value on the open market was to be traded for a player who didn't play a down last year. (Actually, less than that, when you take the draft picks involved in that deal into account.) The Rams, who pick 10th, have been linked to Mariota in recent weeks -- and understandably so.
Last month, on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports," St. Louis general manager Les Snead told me that the Foles deal essentially takes them out of the mix for a quarterback early. Color me skeptical. Last year, with the No. 13 pick, the Rams added Aaron Donald to an already-loaded defensive line. The value was just too good. What happens if Mariota is still available at No. 10? Or what if they see good value on a quarterback in Day 2? It's not like they're committed long-term to Foles -- he has one year left on his rookie contract.
4) New Orleans Saints
Despite all the noise, I have never believed that the Saints would trade Drew Brees this offseason. But what if New Orleans fails to make the postseason again in 2015? That'd be three playoff-free seasons in four years. Not a good trend. And while Brees isn't getting younger, his salary and cap number will be getting bigger.
5) New York Jets
The new regime in New York has no allegiance to Geno Smith. Mike Maccagnan, Todd Bowles and Co. also haven't surrounded Geno with any real competition. (If Ryan Fitzpatrick is the answer, I'd love to know the question.) If Mariota's available at No. 6, the Jets must consider pulling the trigger. If not? Well, they should still look to potentially hit the position later.
Having brought in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and wide receiver Brandon Marshall this offseason, Gang Green could see improvement from Smith. But that doesn't mean the team shouldn't look for a developmental quarterback in the final two days of the draft. Having a backup plan is not a horrible idea.
6) Dallas Cowboys
I'm an unabashed Tony Romo fan. I've argued forever that he's a top-10 quarterback in the NFL. But this isn't about Romo's play. It's about Romo's back -- and his backup.
7) Philadelphia Eagles
Tebow is better -- and certainly more versatile -- than Matt Barkley as a third quarterback in Philly. Chip Kelly can use him in short-yardage situations, two-point conversions and goal-line packages. I believe Tebow will be given every opportunity to make the team, and that he'll take advantage of the chance.
I won't fully believe Mariota won't play for Kelly until I actually see him join another team.
8) Washington Redskins
After last season, a few things seem pretty obvious ...
First of all, Jay Gruden doesn't have much patience for Robert Griffin III's play, dealings with the media and inability to stay healthy. Secondly, Washington could use some depth and talent at quarterback. I'm not convinced Gruden has much use for Kirk Cousins (remember him!) or Colt McCoy, either.
9) Tennessee Titans
Still, they have to replace Jake Locker. And Charlie "Chuckles" Whitehurst looks good holding a clipboard, but you don't want him actually playing in a game.