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:
But first, we kick off this week's notebook with Jeremiah's look at 5 NFL teams that he believes should be considering moving up in next year's draft for a QB.
The Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles each made bold decisions to trade up in the 2015 draft for what they hoped would be a franchise quarterback. The Rams vaulted all the way from the 15th selection to secure the No. 1 overall pick, which they spent on Jared Goff. The Eagles moved up from the eighth selection (originally they were picking 13th but they made a deal with the Dolphins to move up to the eighth spot) to the second overall pick, where they selected Carson Wentz.
These were not cheap trades. Both teams had to give up a haul of draft picks to make the move up the board. However, based on the play of Goff and Wentz, I think it's safe to say they made the right move.
As we all know, the NFL is a copycat league. Teams are always studying the competition around the league to help guide their own decision making. With that in mind, I've identified five teams (based on the current draft order) that should consider a similar move this spring. I know I'm getting way ahead of myself and that the draft order will change week to week until we reach the end of the season, but I do believe these clubs are likely to find themselves in a position where a move up in Round 1 makes sense.
Los Angeles Chargers (currently hold eighth pick): I believe Philip Rivers has a few good years left, but the Chargers shouldn't go into their new stadium, opening in 2020, with questions about their QB succession plan hanging over their heads. They are in the same market, and eventually will be in the same facility, as the Los Angeles Rams, who have an exciting offense led by a very promising young quarterback in Goff. The Chargers need to secure their quarterback of the future before they enter the new stadium, and it might take a bold move up the draft board to do so.
Denver Broncos (currently hold 9th pick): The Broncos' defense carried them to a Super Bowl title a couple seasons ago, but I wouldn't count on their ability to duplicate that feat without more help on the offensive side of the ball. It's beginning to look like 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch isn't the guy, and they need to address the position soon or else they will squander a tremendously talented defensive unit.
Arizona Cardinals (currently hold 11th pick):Carson Palmer is 37 years old and on injured reserve with a broken arm. The Cardinals need to start planning for the future and that starts at the quarterback position. However, they might win just enough games to make the cost of a move up the board very prohibitive.
Baltimore Ravens (currently hold 12th pick): The Ravens have had a tremendous run with Joe Flacco at quarterback, but it might be time to overhaul the offense, including the most important position on the field. Flacco is only 32 years old, but he isn't viewed as an upper-tier player anymore. If the Ravens fall in love with a quarterback prospect, they should make the move and go get him.
New York Jets (currently tied with Raiders for 13th pick): The Jets are one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season. They are hovering around .500 and they've been very competitive on both sides of the ball. QB Josh McCown has been a steadying force for the offense, but he's a short-term solution. They still have a need to find a young franchise passer. -- Daniel Jeremiah
GIANTS DOING HOMEWORK ON QBs: NO-BRAINER
The Giants generated headlines this week when ESPN reported team co-owner John Mara directed the scouting department to do its homework on the top signal-callers that could be available in this year's draft class. I can understand why there's great interest in what's going on behind the scenes with the Giants, but it isn't surprising information. Of course they're studying QBs.
Let's go over some facts: 1) Their team is decimated with injuries, especially at the receiver position. 2) They are staring a top-5 pick in next year's draft right in the face. 3) Their starting quarterback is 36 years old. 4) The 2018 quarterback class is likely to be loaded with potential starters.
This isn't very complicated. The Giants' leadership would be crazy not to explore/study the 2018 quarterback class. They've had an amazing run with Eli Manning over the last decade, bringing home two Super Bowl trophies. However, he's nearing the end of his career and for an organization that's had as much success as this one, opportunities to possess a top five draft pick don't come along very often. I'm not saying they have no choice but to take a quarterback, but I am saying that it's absolutely necessary for them to do all of their homework. -- Daniel Jeremiah
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME'S STUD GUARD
For as long as I've been a scout, I've often heard team builders discuss the early picks in the draft as sacred territory reserved for quarterbacks, left tackles, pass rushers and impact playmakers (running backs, receivers, defensive backs and linebackers). The premise behind excluding offensive guards from the early part of the draft is based on the notion that interior blockers are a dime a dozen and their minimal impact on the passing game depresses their value in a quarterback-driven league.
"I just can't take an offensive guard near the top of the draft," said an AFC executive. "There are too many Pro Bowlers who have been taken outside of that range. Plus, there are so many variables in the equation for even the top players at the position. Guards get help from the center on passing downs, and most are required to make every block in the run game. Sure, you have to be able to control the point and work to the second level, but depending on the scheme, you might not ask the guy to block extensively on the move. With so many guys succeeding without checking all of the boxes, I don't think you need to value the position that high."
Enter Notre Dame fourth-year junior OG Quenton Nelson, a talent with the potential to challenge the conventional wisdom about how to value his position, whether he enters the draft in 2018 or 2019.
The 6-foot-5, 330-pound blocker is a road grader with a nasty disposition and a bully mentality. Nelson moves defenders off the ball on running plays, exhibiting outstanding strength, power, and technique. He latches onto defenders quickly and his strong hands allow him to own the down. On the move, Nelson isn't a nimble athlete, but he makes solid initial contact and blows defenders out of the hole. It isn't always pretty, but it's hard to argue with the results on tape.
In the passing game, Nelson is a rock-solid blocker with quick hands and a strong anchor. He excels at short-setting against powerful inside rushers, which neutralizes their speed, quickness, and power at the line of scrimmage. In addition, Nelson shows outstanding instincts and awareness picking up stunts in the pocket. With a high football IQ and terrific awareness, Nelson's combination of anchor ability and diagnostic skills make him a ready-made security blanket in the pocket.
Given the way the game is changing at the NFL level, it's more important than ever to have an offensive guard with a diverse set of skills. More teams are placing a greater emphasis on finding interior pass rushers and offensive guards must be able to handle a more polished and explosive athlete on the inside.
"The game is changing in the trenches," said a former NFL head coach. "Teams are loading up their defensive lines with edge rushers on the outside and disruptive penetrators with pass-rush skills on the inside. If you don't have a blocker who can hold his own against those guys, your quarterback will have a tougher time finding his rhythm in the pocket."
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how evaluators grade Nelson after they spend more time scouring his tape, including this weekend's marquee matchup against Miami and its ultra-athletic defensive line. -- Bucky Brooks
SENIOR BOWL QB CLASS COULD BE SPECIAL
We're still more than two months away from the Reese's Senior Bowl, but I have some good news for NFL scouts and fans of the game: This year's quarterback group could feature several of the top talents at the position. While the national focus has been primarily on the underclassmen at QB (Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen), this senior group of passers has the chance to produce several NFL starters. Here are four names to keep an eye on:
Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield: Mayfield is viewed by many as the current front-runner for the Heisman Trophy and he's gaining steam with NFL scouts. He has an ideal blend of arm talent, playmaking ability and charisma. He could be the headliner for the game.
Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph: Rudolph has put up video-game numbers. His size and accuracy are appealing to NFL evaluators. Some scouts view him as a potential first-round pick while others see him as a second- or third-round option. He could really help himself with a big week of practice in Alabama.
Washington State's Luke Falk: Falk has been benched on two separate occasions this fall, but I like most of what I've seen from him in 2017. He has outstanding touch and his toughness in the pocket can't be questioned. I believe he will eventually be an NFL starter at the position.
Virginia's Kurt Benkert: Every year we see a relatively unknown player emerge at the position. This year it's Benkert. He has generated a lot of buzz with NFL scouts because of his size, arm strength and poise. His stats don't jump off the page, but he has a big upside.
Those are four excellent candidates, and keep this mind: Fourth-year juniors can be invited to the Senior Bowl as long as they've already graduated. If Allen meets the criteria, he could make this one of the best Senior Bowl QB groups we've seen, although the 2016 squad was quite impressive: Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott and Jacoby Brissett all participated in that year's game. -- Daniel Jeremiah