Most teams have five games left on their schedule (unless they are one of the six that played on Thanksgiving), and as teams are jockeying for playoff position, fan bases of those already out of contention cannot help but look ahead to the 2015 NFL draft.
The best way to find a franchise quarterback is by drafting as high as possible, and the best way to ensure a high draft pick is with poor quarterback play. For that reason, one win can be the difference between having a chance to draft an elite prospective signal-caller or missing out on a passer entirely.
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk put together a prospective list of the teams likely to be drafting in the top 10 and their quarterback needs. The draft order he uses is comprised of all the teams 4-7 or worse, except for the Falcons and Saints, who are still embarrassingly battling it out for the NFC South division crown.
The Raiders and Jaguars, the two clubs with only one win, look like good bets to be drafting right at the top of the first round. Of course, both teams took quarterbacks in the first two rounds of last year’s draft, and shouldn’t be in the market for replacing them this offseason. The next group is far more interesting, with the Jets, Buccaneers, and Titans all sitting on two wins and tremendous need at the position.
Unfortunately for one of those teams, there may only be two quarterbacks worth such a valuable draft selection. Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State are both vying to be the first quarterback taken. With no third option, one of those three teams will come up empty in terms of fixing their quarterback situations.
The New York media is already calling for the Jets to chase one of these college stars, with Kevin Kernan of the New York Post openly calling for the team to draft Winston.
Of course, a lot can happen in the last five games, and wins and losses still to come can shake up the order, as can an offseason trade or signing that suddenly changes the need at the position. If any of the three teams do manage to win a game or two down the stretch, Washington and St. Louis could crawl up to a higher selection, and each could consider a quarterback according to Smith.
An even more volatile situation is among the college quarterbacks. Both Mariota and Winston still have time to fall out of favor with NFL teams, and both could decide to remain in college another year, pushing back the draft process one more year. Or maybe one of the two impresses so much it convinces another team to trade its future to move up into the top two to take their coveted quarterback.