Ever since we unveiled our early list of 2020 NFL draft prospects, we’ve been thinking about which teams potentially could be quarterback buyers next April in what might be a better crop of prospects at the position than the 2019 draft gave us.
We had four QBs drafted in the first 42 selections this past April, though, which still shows you how valued a commodity the position is viewed as. The 2017 NFL draft featured five taken in the first 32 picks.
But even with nine teams making heavy investments at QB over the past two seasons, there remains a host of franchise that might be interested in taking one next year. If Oregon’s Justin Herbert has a big senior season and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa matches his early career brilliance, it wouldn’t be shocking to see quarterbacks go 1-2 either.
Consider, too, that Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray in no way were considered strong possibilities to be top-pick candidates at this time two years and one year ago, respectively. There are always surprise candidates who emerge, which only adds to the intrigue.
These NFL teams are ranked somewhat by the perceived strength of their 2020 QB draft needs, even with a million factors to figure out between now and then. We certainly could see several from this list drop out of need, as well as other teams joining the list.
But for now, here’s how we handicap it:
Who they have: Andy Dalton, Ryan Finley, Jeff Driskel, Jacob Dolegala
The Bengals passed on Dwayne Haskins last year to draft an offensive lineman in Round 1 for the second straight year. We believe that says more about how the Bengals felt about Haskins than it does in their confidence in Dalton. New head coach Zac Taylor attended a slew of pro days and was said to be involved in a lot of the team’s QB draft scouting.
The Bengals ended up drafting Finley near the top of Round 4, but we believe he profiles more as a career backup and spot starter. Maybe Finley gets a shot down the stretch this season if Dalton struggles, and with no more dead money attached to Dalton’s contract there’s ample opportunity to move on after 2019.
I don’t know if they’re the favorites to land, say, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. But it might be fun to bring back another lefty to a franchise that had one of the best southpaws a few generations ago in Boomer Esiason.
2020 QB draft likelihood: Moderately high
Who they have: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen, Jake Rudock
The feeling in Miami is that the team must find out whether Rosen can be that guy. Whether Rosen can beat out Fitzpatrick to start the season remains an unknown, but the sense as the Dolphins wrapped up their offseason program prior to training camp was that Fitzpatrick left with the early (but surmountable) lead in that race.
Rosen has time to win it. In fact, he doesn’t even have to win the job prior to Week 1 to prove he’s the man long term. All he needs is to make it a close race, have Fitzpatrick’s gunslinging backfire at some point and earn ample starts this season to showcase his ability. If Rosen does that, Miami can enter next offseason in a really interesting spot where QB isn’t on the frontburner. Offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea and quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell are considered strong teachers who can maximize his talent and construct a system that fits Rosen’s skills.
But the Dolphins also bought low on Rosen and are not tethered to him completely. They sent a low second-round pick and a 2020 fifth-rounder to Arizona to get him, and Rosen’s salary would be easy to walk away from without much hindrance. The Dolphins also might be picking in the top 10 next year, making a QB pick a strong temptation regardless, depending on who is available. They’ll also have two second-rounders (theirs and New Orleans’), plus two fourth-rounders and compensatory picks to be named later, to use as ammo to move up if needed.