Drew Lock

Poll: Which Team’s New QB Will Have Best Season?

While this offseason did not bring quite the same level of quarterback movement 2018’s did, a handful of teams will deploy new starters. Draft choices, trade acquisitions and free agent signings will be given the keys to offenses that struggled last season.

The Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jaguars and Redskins made moves to fortify their quarterback jobs. Which team’s investment will work out best?

Denver will use a different starting quarterback for the third straight year. Joe Flacco is set to be the Broncos’ fourth starter since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. While his QBR figure (58.7) was better than any the former Ravens starter had posted since a quality 2014 season, Flacco still ranked 20th in that metric last season. Having never made a Pro Bowl and fresh off back-to-back years featuring injury trouble, with a back problem limiting him during the 2017 offseason and a hip injury beginning the Lamar Jackson era, the 34-year-old starter will try to revive his career in Denver. Flacco, though, is the most accomplished quarterback the Broncos have employed since Manning.

The other surefire veteran starter acquired this year, Foles will have his first chance to be a team’s unquestioned first-stringer since 2015. The 30-year-old flourished in his second Philadelphia stint, submitting an all-time postseason run in 2017 and helping the Eagles back to the playoffs last season. A 2013 Pro Bowler, Foles will take over a Jaguars team that does not possess the kind of aerial weaponry recent Eagles rosters did. Jacksonville is in line to have Marqise Lee back from a torn ACL, but the team’s wideouts and tight ends will place additional emphasis on Foles living up to his contract. With the Rams in 2015, Foles threw seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions before being benched.

Kyler Murray represents the other locked-in starter added this offseason. The electric one-year Oklahoma starter accomplished about as much as a college passer can in a single season, turning in Division I-FBS’ second-ever 4,000-1,000 season en route to Heisman Trophy honors. Working with Kliff Kingsbury, Larry Fitzgerald and a host of young wide receivers, Murray is the centerpiece of one of the most daring experiments an NFL team has attempted.

The Cardinals turned the keys over to a sub-.500 college coach and a 5-foot-10 signal-caller — the first sub-6-foot passer to be chosen in Round 1. Arizona trotted out the league’s worst scoring and total offense last season, however, and sported a skeleton-crew offensive line by year’s end. The Cards added new starters Marcus Gilbert and J.R. Sweezy up front. Due to the lack of precedent behind this move, it is hard to tell how Murray will fare. But the unique talent has opened as Las Vegas’ offensive rookie of the year favorite.

Washington and Miami have not committed to a starting quarterback yet, but it is fairly safe to project Dwayne Haskins and Josh Rosen will see extensive time. While Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick could log starts, with the latter possibly even on track to do so, the Redskins have liked what their first-round pick has done so far and the Dolphins will need to see Rosen in games to help determine if they will consider a first-round QB in 2020. On the heels of a 50-touchdown pass season, the Ohio State product sits second in offensive rookie of the year odds. Although only eight passers have won this award since 1957, seven such instances have occurred since 2004.

Both Daniel Jones and Drew Lock could factor into their respective teams’ mixes later in the season. Of the 13 first-round QBs taken over the past four years, only Patrick Mahomes and Paxton Lynch were not promoted to the starting role as rookies. (Though, Eli Manning is not your typical stopgap.) Lock was projected by most as a first-rounder, and Flacco ceded his role to the No. 32 overall pick last year. So the 12th-year veteran’s grip on Denver’s job should be considered tenuous.

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jets, Raiders, Broncos, Hardman

During the hours leading up to the draft’s second night, the Jets were calling teams — the Seahawks, Colts and others — about trading way up into the second round. That did not end up happening. The Jets, who traded their Round 2 pick to the Colts last year for the right to move up to draft Sam Darnold, made the calls because of a desire to add one of the high-end cornerbacks available to start Day 2, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. Gang Green sought to jump into the top five of the second round, per Mehta, but they could not come to terms on a deal. Such a jump — from No. 68 into the 30s — would have required a significant draft capital subtraction. The Jets also had a deal with the Eagles to make a less costly move — up to No. 57 — to draft Mecole Hardman, but the Chiefs beat them to it. Corners Byron Murphy, Rock Ya-Sin, Sean Bunting and Trayvon Mullen all went off the board in the first eight picks Friday.

At corner, the Jets have 2018 free agent signing Trumaine Johnson and 2019 addition Brian Poole. As of now, they may be asking Darryl Roberts to be a starter. With no draft picks spent on the position, the Jets may still be on the lookout for help here.

Here is the latest post-draft news from the AFC:

  • The Raiders hoped to trade down from their No. 4 slot, but no calls came, Peter King of NBC Sports notes. Just about every high-end prospect was connected to the Raiders during the pre-draft process, but the team instead went with what most perceived as a bit of a reach in Clelin Ferrell. However, taking the Clemson talent at No. 4 was the team’s backup plan.
  • Joe Flacco‘s work in the early days of the Broncos‘ offseason program dissuaded John Elway from selecting a quarterback at No. 10 overall, something many mock drafts had the Broncos doing. “What made that decision is, Joe is fitting really well with what we want to do offensively, and he looked great in our minicamp last week,” Elway said Thursday, via King. “He really put on a throwing exhibition last week in camp. I truly think we’ve got a guy coming into his prime.” Of course, less than 24 hours later, Drew Lock was a Bronco. Both King and SI.com’s Albert Breer report the Mizzou prospect was the top passer on Denver’s board, with Breer adding that Elway continually brought up Lock in pre-draft meetings, pointing further to the potential value investment at No. 42.
  • As for what would have happened if the Broncos did not receive a strong Steelers offer for No. 10? Denver would have a new starting inside linebacker, with King writing the Broncos would have taken Devin Bush and addressed their offensive needs later.
  • While the Chiefs‘ Hardman pick looks like a Tyreek Hill emergency replacement, and was chosen three rounds ahead of when the polarizing star was taken three years ago, the team views the Georgia speedster as a cross between Hill and gadget-type weapon De’Anthony Thomas — both in terms of role and talent, Breer writes.
  • Of their six 2019 picks, the Jets used one on an offensive lineman — third-round tackle Chuma Edoga. Gang Green entered free agency with plenty of needs up front. While All-Pro Kelechi Osemele is now slotted in as one of the Jets’ first-string guards, Tom Compton represented the team’s only other veteran addition. Although, Jonotthan Harrison re-signed and appears to be a firm option to start, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes. The Jets were eyeing interior lineman Connor McGovern in Round 3, per Vacchiano, but the Cowboys beat them to him. As of now, Harrison — a career part-time starter with the Colts who ended last season as the Jets’ top center — is first in line to snap.

AFC West Notes: Chargers, Stick, Broncos

On Saturday, the Chargers drafted their first quarterback since 2013 when they tapped North Dakota State University quarterback Easton Stick. Stick, who rushed for 2,523 yards and 41 TDs, was pegged by some as a Taysom Hill type who could be deployed more as a trick play type than a traditional QB, but the Bolts say that’s not how they plan on using him.

He’s going to play quarterback for us. We have running backs,” head coach Anthony Lynn said (via the Associated Press). “We don’t a need a quarterback that can run all over the place, but he can certainly create when he has to.”

Of course, as a fifth-round pick, nothing is guaranteed for the mobile signal caller. Stick will look to stick on the Chargers’ roster by proving himself between now and the start of the season in September.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Giants GM Dave Gettleman raised eyebrows everywhere when he selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones No. 6 overall. After the draft, he defended the pick by saying that two teams were prepared to select Jones before the Giants’ next pick at No. 17. So far, it has been hard to identify who these two teams might be, and Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter) confirms that the Broncos were not one of them. The Broncos, he hears, ruled out taking any QB at No. 10 overall and, furthermore, had Drew Lock as their top-ranked QB – not Jones.
  • The Raiders provided the draft’s other major first round surprise when they tapped Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall. Many feel that the Raiders reached for the defensive end, but that’s not how defensive coordinator Paul Guenther sees it. “It wasn’t about his 40-time or his three-cone drill or any of that [BS], it was about the whole package,” the DC said (via The Athletic). “There just aren’t a lot of guys like this. Some guys are great standing up, but you have to get down and dirty in the NFL. They are not just going to let you run up the field all day, you know what I am saying? Then you hear him talk and you’re like, ‘Damn, this guy is a pro.’
  • Over the weekend, longtime Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski announced his retirement from the NFL.

Giants GM Dave Gettleman Defends Drafting Daniel Jones At No. 6

Giants GM Dave Gettleman has already dealt with plenty of criticism for selecting Duke QB Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick of this year’s draft. We heard on Friday that Gettleman may have been concerned that the Redskins — who held the No. 15 overall pick — were going to nab Jones, which forced him to take the former Blue Devil at No. 6 rather than wait until the Giants were on the clock again at No. 17.

And as Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv tweets, Gettleman says he knows for a fact that at least two teams would have taken Jones between pick nos. 6 and 17. Those two teams, according to Vacchiano’s sources, are the Redskins and Broncos.

However, ESPN’s Dianna Russini tweets that the Redskins were never going to draft Jones, and Russini says the Broncos were not interested in Jones either. Mike Klis of 9News tweets that Denver was not going to take any QB with its No. 10 overall selection, and that Drew Lock was the team’s top-rated quarterback. Klis says the Broncos were considering a trade into the back end of the first round to take Lock, but Jones was not on the radar at No. 10.

Of course, other clubs, like the Bengals (No. 11) or Dolphins (No. 13), could have been in the market for Jones in the first round, but it appears that the top two purported threats to Gettleman’s favorite QB weren’t threats at all.

If Jones ultimately is successful with Big Blue, this will all become an amusing footnote to the story of his career. But if he’s not, Gettleman will have a major blemish on his run as the team’s GM.

Broncos Trade Up For Drew Lock

The Broncos will be making back-to-back picks in Round 2. They will send the Bengals two late-round picks to do so.

Denver will ship Cincinnati fourth- and sixth-round picks, along with No. 52 overall, to move into position to go back-to-back. After choosing Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner with the No. 41 overall selection, the Broncos traded up to take Drew Lock.

Linked to the Missouri-developed quarterback before their Joe Flacco trade, the Broncos indeed made the move. Mentioned by many to be headed to the Broncos at No. 10 overall, the four-year college starter will head to Denver as Flacco’s backup 32 picks later. The Broncos moved ahead of the Dolphins, Lions and Packers — who each visited with Lock — in this deal.

While Flacco lost his job to 2018 No. 32 overall pick Lamar Jackson, the Broncos may be eyeing a longer-term developmental project by getting Lock here. John Elway mentioned the 2020 quarterback crop. A second-round quarterback investment this year probably doesn’t remove the Broncos from that discussion, but Lock’s development will now heavily factor into their decision on that front.

Lock completed a career-high 63 percent of his throws last season, and as a junior in 2017, the Kansas City, Mo., native threw 44 touchdown passes. Certainly, this will put Flacco — who has no guaranteed money left on his deal — under far more pressure than it appeared he would be coming into Round 2.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Broncos, Bush, Lock, Colts

The Broncos were widely connected to Devin Bush in the buildup to the draft, but they wound up trading back when they had the opportunity to draft him. Apparently, they weren’t as high on him as many believed (Twitter link via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic).

I don’t know if we would have taken him if we didn’t trade,” head coach Vic Fangio said. “He was certainly one of the guys we talked about, but we just felt the trade value trumped the guy we would get there.”

The Broncos didn’t necessarily feel that Bush was the right choice at No. 10 overall, but the Steelers did. That worked to Denver’s benefit, as they came away with a solid haul in exchange for moving down. Denver secured the Steelers’ No. 20 pick – which they used to take tight end Noah Fant – plus the Steelers’ second-round choice and a third-round pick next year.

While you mull the Broncos’ decision, here’s more draft news:

  • Word has it thatMissouri quarterback Drew Lock went undrafted in the first round due to the nine-inch measurement on his hands (Twitter link via Howard Balzer). For comparison, this year’s first-round QBs Kyler Murray (9 1/2 inches), Dwayne Haskins (9 5/8 inches), and Daniel Jones (9 3/4 inches) proved to have larger hands at the combine. Lock was undoubtedly disappointed, but he probably won’t linger long on Friday night.
  • The Colts may not be done trading back even after moving out of the first round. The idea of sliding back from the No. 34 overall pick is “attractive,” GM Chris Ballard says (Twitter link via Mike Chappell of CBS4).

Breer’s Latest: Jets, Broncos, Rudolph

Some assorted notes from SI.com’s Albert Breer leading up to tonight’s draft…

  • The Jets are beginning to gain some traction on a deal involving the third-overall pick. Breer mentions that the Redskins could be a match, with the team presumably eyeing a quarterback. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins could be an option, as could Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (if he isn’t taken with the first-overall pick). Breer notes that if the Jets remain in the top-10, they could opt for Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who one scout described as “the epitome of a [defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams player.”
  • Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is “rising continuously in draft meetings” among the Broncos front office. The team could be eyeing him with pick No. 10, or they could be preparing for a scenario where Lock falls towards the bottom of the first round.
  • After paying Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter, the Vikings could be looking to deal one of their other pricey veterans. Tight end Kyle Rudolph could be a trade candidate, and Breer writes that he wouldn’t be shocked if the Patriots make a play for the pass-catcher. The writer mentions cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes as well as wideout Laquon Treadwell as trade candidates.
  • Two players who are set to play on their fifth-year option are on the block. Breer writes that Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor and 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead “have been part of trade discussions.” On the flip side, Breer believes that it’s unlikely that the 49ers trade defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.
  • If Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat gets past the Redskins (No. 15), Panthers (No. 16), or Seahawks (No.21), Breer is unsure how far the defensive end could end up falling. Breer points to the Rams as a potential fit at the end of the first round. Reports indicated that Sweat was diagnosed with a heart condition, although there were rumblings today that he may have been misdiagnosed.

Draft Notes: Steelers, Jets, Giants, Dolphins

One of the more traditional NFL franchises, in terms of offseason aggression, the Steelers appear to recognize the urgency their recent defensive struggles have created. They are making calls about a possible trade-up from their No. 20 spot, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Steelers boast big needs at cornerback and linebacker. It is believed the Steelers will be able to land a corner, perhaps the first corner to go in this draft, at 20. But if Pittsburgh wants to make a big move for a linebacker, it will likely need to acquire a top-10 pick. Devin White is viewed at this point as a top-10 lock, and the Broncos have been the team most connected to Devin Bush at No. 10.

Here is the latest from the draft world, hours away from the 2019 event:

  • The Jets have been a highly motivated seller at No. 3, and Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes (on Twitter) the team almost certainly will have a market to move back. Three GMs informed Mehta the Jets will be able to trade back, if they so choose, despite a sense existing as recently as Wednesday Gang Green would not be successful in moving its pick. This is, however, contingent on Nick Bosa being gone at No. 2, with Mehta adding the Jets would likely select the Ohio State-developed edge rusher if he were available.
  • There may be another seller in the AFC East. Earlier on Thursday, the Dolphins were viewed as a trade-down candidate. Teams are now hearing, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (video link), Miami is quite motivated to move back from No. 13. The Dolphins are receiving calls about their pick, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). This would make sense, given where the Dolphins are in their rebuilding process. However, they have done extensive work on both Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones, per Pelissero. But with Miami being mentioned as a candidate to wait until the higher-profile 2020 quarterback class to land its passer, Pelissero adds the Dolphins could pass on both Haskins and Jones even if they were available at 13.
  • John Elway also mentioned the probable 2020 QB class this offseason, and it appears likely his team will not select a signal-caller at No. 10. The Broncos have been connected to quarterback at 10, but it doesn’t seem like that will be the move, James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Instead, it seems more likely that the Broncos will target inside linebacker, defensive line, and tight end help in the draft.
  • More consistently linked to QBs than either the Dolphins or Broncos, the Giants have a major decision between their top short- or long-term need at No. 6. Viewed as possibly having executed a Haskins smokescreen operation, the Giants may prefer Jones or Drew Lock over him. While Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes they “love” both Jones and Lock, neither may be in play at No. 6. Instead, Big Blue may be gambling it can land one of them at No. 17. This would point to the Giants selecting a pass rusher with their initial first-round pick tonight.

Drew Lock An Option For Packers?

Fourteen years ago, the Packers bypassed top help for Brett Favre by taking Aaron Rodgers. After being far more active in free agency this offseason than they were in Ted Thompson‘s first as GM in 2005, would Brian Gutekunst use a similar strategy?

After using a 30 visit on Drew Lock, the Packers indeed like the former Missouri quarterback, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report tweets. Green Bay also tried to meet with Daniel Jones but could not set up a visit. However, Lock might not be an option for the team with their initial first-round pick.

The Packers hold picks No. 12 and No. 30, and in reporting the team’s interest in Lock is real, Albert Breer of SI.com notes going quarterback might be a strategy for the Packers if Lock starts falling on Thursday night. Both Breer and NBC Sports’ Peter King sent tight end Noah Fant to the Packers at No. 12 before giving Rodgers more help at No. 30 with a wide receiver.

As of last week, Lock’s stock was believed to be dropping — to the point he might be an option late in the first round. The four-year Mizzou starter will not fall out of Round 1, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. He could then be a consideration for teams that passed on a quarterback with their first pick, with JLC adding there is no shortage of teams at the end of Round 1 willing to trade out of the first round. This would help a quarterback-needy team, with Round 1 securing 2019 prospects’ rights through the 2023 season.

Having vacillated between the second and fourth quarterback prospect in this draft, Lock visited the passer-needy teams. If it’s true his value resides closer to the end of the first round than the middle of it, seeing which team makes the move will make the final picks of opening night much more interesting.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Draft Rumors: Cardinals, Murray, 49ers, Broncos

On Saturday, Arizona State receiver and local product N’Keal Harry visited the Cardinals for a private visit, NFL Network’s Ian Rappoport tweets.

Possessing the size, strength and speed of a prototypical outside receiver, Harry could be an option for Arizona should he still be on the board when the team is on the clock at No. 33. Harry should fully be in play there, as the Cardinals reportedly like the value of going receiver with their second-round pick, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller tweets.

Should the team go with Harry, it would pair him with another local standout in Christian Kirk, who impressed as a rookie before missing time with an injury down the stretch. The pair of young wideouts would join veteran and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald in a potentially loaded receiver corps for either Josh Rosen or Kyler Murray, should the team go with the Oklahoma product as expected a week before the draft.

Here’s more draft talk from around the league:

  • Sticking with the Cardinals, though the team has been heavily linked to Murray, Kent Somer of the Arizona Republic believes the team should pass on the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He thinks the team should stick with Rosen, attempt to trade down to pick up more picks, and, if that option is not possible, take either Quinnen Williams or Nick Bosa.
  • Speaking of Williams, many NFL executives reportedly prefer the Alabama defensive lineman to Ohio State’s Bosa as the draft’s top overall prospect, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes. In a poll of 14 personnel members by Bob McGinn, six chose Williams as the top picks, twice as many as Bosa, who received the second most. Also receiving votes were Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins and Jeffery Simmons.
  • The Broncos have been heavily tied to quarterback’s heading into this week’s draft. Helping pick that signal-caller, if they do indeed go that route, is new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who learned how to pick the position from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran writes“Kyle had a lot of success (evaluating quarterbacks) and (he) showed me some things that I use in the evaluation process,” Scangarello said. “It’s a tough position to evaluate. You just get them in (the meeting room) and you try and find out what you can about them.” Denver has been linked with Drew Lock, but Daniel Jones, Murray and Dwayne Haskins could all fit the bill at No. 10 if everything falls right.
  • The 49ers have been heavily tied to either Bosa or Williams with the No. 2 pick on Thursday, but the team is looking to the skill positions for their Round 2 pick, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco writes. At the top of the list is wide receiver, where they are looking to find a starter-level pass catcher to complement second-year wideout Dante Pettis and veteran Marquise Goodwin. Maiocco notes the receivers who have been in for a visit include Harry, A.J. Brown, Hakeem Butler, Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel.