This year's NFL off-season has been characterized by the perpetual QB carousel. And this has continued right up to draft day.
Don't look now, but Drew Lock has competition for the starting quarterback job in Denver. Just like that, the Broncos sent a 2021 sixth round pick to the Carolina Panthers, and - voila - Denver now has veteran QB Teddy Bridgewater in the fold.
It was a smart move by Broncos' GM George Paton - getting a proven signal caller for next to nothing. He now has a very decent quarterback tandem in Lock and Bridgewater. If Lock should falter, Bridgewater is there to step in and provide stability. Should Lock respond and take flight as a starter, the former Panthers pivot is there to provide insurance and act as a mentor.
Rest assured, this is only one of many moves that will take place prior to and during the NFL Draft.
Where rookie quarterbacks will land remains one of the biggest unanswered question of the 2021 rookie draft.
Now, the burning question is, will the Broncos take a quarterback - perhaps OSU's Justin Fields - with their ninth overall pick if he's still available?
Or. will they go for a running back or receiver to provide Lock and Bridgewater with some additional weapons? Maybe a shutdown defensive back? Intriguing stuff.
The plot thickens with the New England Patriots. Will they also choose a quarterback with their 15th overall pick? Candidates would be Florida's Kyle Trask and Texas' Kellen Mond. Might the Pats even be able to snag Fields if the Broncos choose to fill other needs with the reliable Bridgewater now under center? Hmmm. You can nearly hear the wheels in Bill Belichick's mind turning.
Here's my prediction of how the first 15 are likely to unfold:
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB
- New York Jets - Zach Wilson, QB
- San Francisco 49ers - Mac Jones, QB
- Atlanta Falcons - Trey Lance, QB
- Cincinnati Bengals - Ja'Marr Chase, WR
- Miami Dolphins - DeVonta Smith, WR
- Detroit Lions - Jaylen Waddle, WR
- Carolina Panthers - Penei Sewell, OT
- Denver Broncos - Jaycee Horn, CB
- Dallas Cowboys - Caleb Farley, CB
- New York Giants - Kyle Pitts, TE
- Philadelphia Eagles - Patrick Surtain II, CB
- Los Angeles Chargers - Rashawn Slater, OT
- Minnesota Vikings - Christian Darrisaw, OT
- New England Patriots - Justin Fields, QB
The first two picks - Lawrence and Wilson - are (as most everyone knows by now) guaranteed.
It looks like the 49ers are locked in on Jones, while the Falcons won't be able to pass on the chance to add Lance, who can work on filling out the weak spots in his game behind Matt Ryan for the next year or two before stepping in as a multi-threat starter.
In Chase and Smith, both Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa will get favorite targets from their days at LSU and Alabama. Meanwhile, Waddle will help fill out the Lions' depleted wide receivers core, and Sewell will provide much-needed protection for the Panthers' new franchise quarterback, Sam Darnold.
Both the Broncos and Cowboys will get much-needed upgrades in their secondaries by taking Horn and Farley respectively, while the Giants will add a big play threat in the form of the explosive Pitts.
Likewise, Surtain II will add depth to the Eagles beleaguered secondary, while Slater will make sure that Chargers QB Justin Herbert gets the time he needs to perform aerial surgery downfield. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins will also be happy to see Darrisaw's name called to plug a hole in his O-line.
Last but not least, Fields will fall into the lap of the Patriots. We can already see Bill Belichick sporting a smirk that might almost qualify as a full-out smile.