The 2023 NFL trade deadline is officially past and we saw a flurry of action. Chase Young and Montez Sweat being moved definitely will shake up needs in every mock draft, but I’m going to focus on the quarterbacks.
Kirk Cousins’ season came to a sudden halt with a torn Achilles on Sunday and the Vikings reacted in kind at the deadline. We are also at the halfway point of the season and have learned a lot about a number of young quarterbacks who needed to prove they were the man for the job. With such a deep and talented quarterback class on the horizon in the 2024 NFL draft, I figured now was a good time to check in on which teams could be in the mix come draft day.
These scores reflect how badly each team needs to add to its quarterback room.
1 - No Need
2 - Might need to add depth
3 - Not sure if the long-term starter is on the roster
4 - Need to find a new starter soon
5 - Quarterback is the biggest need on this team
If we had done this after Week 1, there is a chance some fans would say this should be higher than a 1. However, Josh Allen has settled in as Buffalo has looked dominant at times this season. Kyle Allen is a solid backup as well. I don't think the Bills will be using draft capital on a quarterback.
There were still a few questions about Tua Tagovailoa's health heading into the 2023 season. Those have not really gone away. A head injury would be detrimental, but it is hard to argue with how dominant Tua has been so far this year. As I am writing this, he is tied as the MVP betting favorite with Josh Allen. Mike White gives Miami a solid backup option as well if Tagovailoa misses time.
Mac Jones had his fair share of detractors entering the 2023 season, but there were plenty of excuses to point to for his struggles. It is getting harder to blame anyone other than Jones. His weapons are not great and his offensive line is far from elite, but his decision making has been shoddy. He lacks elite traits to begin with. Bailey Zappe does not seem like a true long-term starter either, which opens the door for the Patriots to take another first-round quarterback in the 2024 draft. New England currently holds the No. 5 pick, which would put them in the territory to land the third or fourth quarterback in this class.
The New York Jets might have the most complicated quarterback situation in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers was supposed to solve the issues that have plagued the position for the team for the better part of five decades. Instead, he took four snaps before suffering an Achilles tendon tear. Meanwhile, Zach Wilson has shown signs of progress this season but is still a below-average starter in the league. Rodgers is under contract through 2025. Wilson could be as well if the Jets pick up his fifth-year option, but that feels unlikely. In a deep quarterback class, it would make a lot of sense for the Jets to take a flier on a developmental prospect who could take over in a couple of years.
Lamar Jackson is playing efficient winning football in Baltimore once again, reminding everyone that he is a clear top 10 player at the position. His backup, 2022 Pro Bowler Tyler Huntley, is in the final year of his contract, but he had the opportunity to sign elsewhere this past offseason and did not get much attention. It would not be a surprise to see Baltimore bring him back on a multiyear deal.
After a slow start, it certainly seems like Joe Burrow is finding his groove once again. In the month of October, Burrow completed 75.5 percent of his passes while tossing eight touchdowns and just two interceptions. However, Cincinnati needs a more reliable backup plan. The Bengals would have been smart to rest Burrow early in the season as he recovered from his calf injury. A lack of faith in backup quarterback Jake Browning, who has never completed an NFL regular season pass, saw Burrow try to tough it out and struggle mightily as a result. Finding a veteran backup who can step in for those situations should be a priority this offseason.
I still think it is too early to start considering a replacement plan for Deshaun Watson in Cleveland, if for no other reason than it is too expensive. Watson has struggled with injuries and Browns fans have to hope that is the explanation for his lackluster play. He completed only 61.7 percent of his passes along with four touchdowns and three interceptions in his limited action this season. He ranks 24th in the league in QBR at this point, trailing players like Mac Jones, Jordan Love and Joshua Dobbs, the latter of whom Cleveland traded away prior to the start of the season. P.J. Walker is a decent backup, but I’m sure the Browns could find a better one. They already have a young prospect to develop in Dorian Thompson-Robinson as well.
At some point very soon, the Steelers will need to determine if Kenny Pickett is their franchise quarterback. He is only 19 starts into his NFL career, but it feels a bit like the Steelers are winning in spite of him and offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Pittsburgh ranks 29th in scoring this season while Pickett sits 29th in QBR among qualified passers. Perhaps with a new play caller and a better offensive line, we could see Pickett start to flourish. That being said, I don’t think Pittsburgh can afford to ignore how talented the quarterback class is shaping up to be in the 2024 NFL draft.