With the dust settling after the initial wave of free-agent signings, we have a clearer picture of the teams remaining in the market for a quarterback with the 2019 NFL Draft just 38 days away. The Jaguars filled their need at the position with the signing of Nick Foles, while teams like the Giants and Redskins still need to find a young passer to develop.
With that in mind, I thought I'd play matchmaker, connecting the top QB talents available via the draft with the teams most likely to pick one this year. In addition to my top five prospects at the position, I've also included Josh Rosen, since NFL Network's Charley Casserly has reported he's being shopped by the Cardinals. If he's traded, that would restart the game of musical chairs at the quarterback position. So, there's still plenty of time for the outlook to change prior to draft day, but here are the team-player connections that I believe make the most sense as of this writing.
NOTE: Click on a prospect's name for the full scouting report. To see every pick each team holds in the 2019 draft, click here.
Team fit: New England Patriots
Again, based on Casserly's reporting, we're including Rosen in this exercise. I could make a strong argument that the Redskins should do everything in their power to acquire Rosen because I believe he's better than any QB who will be available at Pick No. 15 in Round 1. However, the other team I would keep an eye on is New England. Not only would the Patriots land an heir apparent for Tom Brady, but they love a good deal and Rosen offers a tremendous value for a young quarterback in terms of the money attached to his contract (he has three years and $6.2 million remaining on his rookie deal). Plus, they have an ample amount of draft capital (12 total picks, tied for the most of any team). In my opinion, Rosen is worth the Patriots' first-round pick (32nd overall). I would trade it for him in a heartbeat. They would still have plenty of draft capital to move around the board, if they so desire, even if they swapped that selection.
Bill Belichick covets intelligence and toughness in his players. I think those are Rosen's top two qualities. He'd give the Pats cheap insurance in case something were to happen to Brady, as well as a long-term succession plan. Plus, I think Rosen would thrive in that offensive system. He'll be challenged mentally given the way that they game plan so specifically for each week, and he'll rise to that challenge.
If Rosen is dealt, the next domino to fall would be ...
Team fit: Arizona Cardinals
If Rosen is indeed being shopped, it would seem to indicate the Cardinals are intending to make Murray their pick at No. 1 overall. In the short term, he's an upgrade over Rosen in the sense that Murray's going to be able to cover up some of Arizona's issues on the offensive line. He'll provide excitement to an organization desperately lacking in that department. In a division with the high-flying Rams, the Cards can play an offensive shootout brand of football that new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is accustomed to from his time at Texas Tech. Long term, I'd prefer to build around Rosen because I expect he'll be the better NFL QB once he gets a good offensive line in front of him, but that's not close to being fixed in Arizona. I understand the special relationship between Murray and Kingsbury, who recruited Murray when he was in high school, and I do believe this pairing could work. It's the ideal landing spot for the former Oklahoma QB.
Team fit: New York Giants
I know there's been reporting that the Giants haven't been doing their homework on Haskins, but I don't know how they can justify escaping the top 10 in the draft two years in a row without identifying and selecting a future replacement for Eli Manning, no matter what nice things GM Dave Gettleman says about him. I love Saquon Barkley, but I believe it was a mistake to pass on Sam Darnold with the No. 2 pick last year. I'd rather have Darnold than anybody they're going to see at Pick No. 6 this year, but it's borderline irresponsible to not come away with a QB when you have an aging veteran and you've had two top-10 picks to address that need.
Gettleman did trade away a rare talent at receiver in Odell Beckham Jr., but he's made efforts to bolster the offensive line last offseason (signing Nate Solder and drafting Will Hernandez) and again in recent weeks (trading for Kevin Zeitler), which is crucial for whoever is playing quarterback for this franchise to be successful. Haskins is accurate, smart and he's a distributor. I think he'd function well in this offense.
Now, keep in mind -- the Giants' first pick is sixth overall, and I wouldn't completely rule out the Raiders taking a QB fourth overall. Oakland GM Mike Mayock is on record referring to three QBs -- Murray, Haskins and Drew Lock -- as special talents. If the Giants are nervous about the Raiders getting their guy, they might have to move up the board. I'd call the Raiders' bluff on that one, though.
You hear a lot of whispers about Lock and the Broncos, who hold the 10th overall pick, five selections before Washington's first choice. However, given that Denver traded for Joe Flacco and has a talented defense ready to win right now, I think Elway will elect to build around Flacco instead of finding his eventual replacement in Round 1. He has said he believes Flacco is entering his prime at age 34.
With that being said, Washington has to come away with a quarterback to develop at No. 15, and Lock would be a great fit. I think he has as much upside as any of the QBs in this draft class, and the arrival of Case Keenum means he would not have to start right away. He'll have time to learn the offense, and once he's ready to go, you plug him in. In a division with Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott, the Redskins have to find their next quarterback -- and unfortunately, the injury to Alex Smith has sped up the timetable.
When it comes to arm strength, athleticism, personality, leadership -- Lock's very impressive in all those areas. Now, there's some risk involved, of course. He can make the simple things look hard and the hard things looks simple at times, but he has great ability.
The Dolphins, who will be on the clock two picks before the Redskins, could be looked at as an obvious landing spot for a quarterback, but it's been reported that they are gearing up to land one of the top quarterbacks available in the 2020 draft. They've agreed to a deal with Ryan Fitzpatrick and could circle back for a QB in the middle rounds this year, but I don't think they will invest their key assets in the position this offseason.
Philip Rivers continues to play at a high level, but he's 37 years old. I expect him to still be the Chargers' QB1 once they move into their new stadium (scheduled to open in 2020), but he won't play many seasons at the new facility. The Bolts have been doing extensive homework on quarterback prospects for the last few years -- things just haven't played out in a way that allowed them to land one. It could be different this time around. I can envision a scenario in which Jones is there for them at Pick No. 28 and they opt to secure their QB of the future. Teams are split in their evaluations of Jones, but I love his size (6-foot-5, 221 pounds), athleticism and toughness (he missed just two games last year after suffering a broken clavicle early in the season).
He doesn't possess a huge arm, but operates very efficiently -- and the Chargers will have a fifth-year option on his contract if they take him in Round 1. I know it would be a tough decision because they're right on the cusp of being a Super Bowl team. It'd be awful tempting to go get a player who can help you win right now, but you always have to keep the long-term viability of the franchise in mind. With the Rams entering the same new building with Jared Goff entering his prime, you don't want to get to that point without having a succession plan in place behind Rivers.
As I mentioned above, I'm not expecting the Dolphins to pick a QB in the first round this year. They have a potential starter in place after agreeing to a deal with Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, if Finley is there for them in the third round (they hold Pick No. 78), he would be worth a gamble. He's taken a lot of snaps in an NFL-style offense at N.C. State, he's a good decision maker, he's accurate and he had a great week at the Reese's Senior Bowl. The only thing he's lacking is a big, powerful arm. He has a high floor -- at worst, you'd have a top-tier backup quarterback, but you could also stumble into your future starter.
I see him in the same vein as Matt Schaub when I scouted him coming out of Virginia. Schaub, when plugged into the right offense in Houston early in his career, had some success, earning a couple of trips to the Pro Bowl (2009, 2012). He doesn't possess a huge arm, but he's really bright, accurate and tough. I could envision a similar career for Finley.
Who else could be in the QB market?
There are teams I didn't mention above that could surprise us by taking a QB, and there are some other intriguing middle-round prospects like Northwestern's Clayton Thorson, Washington State's Gardner Minshew and Boise State's Brett Rypien that could fit the bill for those teams. The Lions and Seahawks are two clubs that you might not expect to be in the QB market, but I wouldn't sleep on them in the middle rounds. Both teams seem to be locked in on doing their homework on this year's QB class. I'd also keep an eye on the Steelers (depending on how they feel about 2018 third-round pick Mason Rudolph), the Saints (even though they just re-signed Teddy Bridgewater to a one-year deal), the Bengals (someone to push Andy Dalton), the Jaguars (someone to develop behind Foles) and the Bucs (insurance behind Jameis Winston) in the middle and late rounds.