The 2023 NFL Draft is rapidly closing in, and when it comes, the selections will impact the depth charts and starting lineups of teams throughout the league. Over the next couple of pieces, I’ll be looking at teams whose depth charts could change with selections in the draft. Today are ten teams that might be looking for a quarterback in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
On the Roster: Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Felipe Franks, and Logan Woodside
The Situation: The Falcons took Ridder in the Third Round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and he started four games, going 2-2 while only passing for 708 yards. Conventional wisdom has been the Falcons would give Ridder a chance to be the guy. This off-season has seemingly confirmed that, with the Falcons signing Heinicke, a free agent from Washington. Heinicke is 12-12-1 as a starter, mostly the past two years with Washington. He’s spent time on three squads and fits the profile of a journeyman veteran backup more than a long-term option. Franks and Woodside are young players with little experience, and neither would incur a cap hit if released. The Falcons pick No. 8 in the draft and could go for a quarterback if they don’t want to roll the dice with Ridder.
Prediction: I think the Falcons will go through 2023, giving Ridder a chance, and building the rest of the roster through the draft. If Ridder doesn’t work out, they have a bridge starter in Heinicke and can look toward the future next off-season.
On the Roster: Technically, only Anthony Brown
The Situation: The Ravens’ made moves to bring back their top two quarterbacks from 2022—Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley. The Ravens placed a Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag on Jackson and a 1-year tender on Huntley. Both could be back. Or neither could be back. The team certainly won’t roll through the season with only Brown on the roster. If Jackson moves to another team, the Ravens will get two First Round picks in return. That would make them an obvious candidate to be in the quarterback market, especially with top free agent options no longer an option. Even if Jackson signs his Franchise Tag, the Ravens could still look to grab a quarterback option. The team has pick No. 22 in the First Round or No. 86 in the Third Round. It’s far from certain the Ravens can agree to a long-term deal with Jackson, so having a backup plan can’t hurt.
Prediction: I think Jackson will be back, but without a long-term deal. I also think the Ravens will look long at hard at a developmental QB prospect in the Third or Fourth Round.
On the Roster: Andy Dalton, Matt Corral, and Jacob Eason
The Situation: The Panthers made a bold trade two weeks ago to get the No. 1 overall pick, which makes their intentions plenty clear. That has shaped much of the off-season, too. The team signed veteran Dalton to a two-year deal, providing a veteran option or bridge quarterback. But what happens to the rest of the roster? Eason is a veteran that has no guaranteed money. Corral was taken in the Third Round a year ago but missed his rookie year due to injury. He’s supposedly available on the trade market, though no deal has happened so far.
Prediction: I think the Panthers will take C.J. Stroud with the first overall pick, and he’ll be the starter at some point in 2023. I also think the Panthers will find a taker for Corral post-draft as teams look for options.
On the Roster: Case Keenum, Davis Mills, and E.J. Perry
The Situation: Mills, a Third-Round pick, has carried the load the past two seasons, including starting most of 2022, though he was benched mid-season and resumed his spot in the starting lineup. Mills doesn’t seem to be the answer for the Texans, as the new coaching staff is likely to take a future franchise player with the No. 2 overall pick. The team also signed veteran Keenum to be a reliable veteran presence and backup. Perry, meanwhile, feels like a depth option that carries no dead cap hit if he’s released.
Prediction: The Texans will take a quarterback. I believe they go with former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. The bigger question is Mills. He could slot into a career backup role and stay with the Texans, but it’s also possible his experience could make him a trade target post-draft for teams that still have questions at the position.
On the Roster: Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, and Sam Ehlinger
The Situation: Do the Colts have to take a quarterback at No. 4? I guess technically, they don’t, but it’s hard to imagine a new coach wanting to start his tenure with a veteran like Foles or Minshew, who has signed this off-season. It’s also quite possible Foles ($1.5 million) and/or Ehlinger ($65,354) could be released without a significant cap hit. The problem is where the Colts are drafting, and the likelihood that Stroud and Young will go in the first two picks. Do the Colts believe Will Levis or Anthony Richardson can start right away?
Prediction: The Colts have been looking for the answer at quarterback since Andrew Luck retired. A revolving door of veterans has tried to fill the role, but it hasn’t worked. While I think Foles or, more likely, Minshew could start Week 1, I suspect the Colts will take a quarterback. I think they’ll take Richardson as their new coach is used to working with a dual-threat passer after calling plays for Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia.
Las Vegas Raiders
On the Roster: Jimmy Garoppolo and Chase Garbers
The Situation: The Raiders made a move this off-season to sign Garoppolo, who was 38-17 as a starter in six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers. He’s also familiar with Josh McDaniels, having played for him in New England. Jimmy’s contract makes it likely he’s on the roster for the next two seasons, though the Raiders have an out after 2023. But his tenure with the 49ers also shows that when you bet on Jimmy, it’s wise to have a backup option. Currently, the Raiders don’t.
Prediction: I think Jimmy is their starter in 2023, but I also think the Raiders will snag a quarterback. The team has the No. 7 overall pick, and also pick No. 38 in the Second Round. I predict they use one of those picks to grab a future option.
On the Roster: Geno Smith and Drew Lock
The Situation: Smith was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2022 and parlayed that into a new, three-year deal this off-season. The Seahawks also re-signed Lock, who came over from the Broncos in a trade last off-season. Smith will be 33 before next season is over and may have just played the best season of his career. Lock isn’t much more than a career backup. The Seahawks have a solid starter for 2023 and also have extra picks thanks to the Russell Wilson deal, so grabbing a future option makes some sense.
Prediction: I don’t think the Seahawks use a First-Round pick on a quarterback, but I think they could grab a prospect in the Second or Third Round.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
On the Roster: Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask
The Situation: The Buccaneers are beginning life after Tom Brady. The team still has talent enough to make a playoff run but also salary cap issues. They’re not in a rebuild, but they’re not the cream of the crop in the NFC, either. So, their approach this off-season makes sense. Mayfield was a low-risk, high-reward one-year signing. If he’s back to form, he could be good enough to take the team to the playoffs. Or 25-year-old Trask, a Second-Round pick in 2021, could seize the job in his third year. Either way, the Buccaneers have options. But those options are in the short term. Long-term, one of the quickest ways to turn a team around is to have a starting quarterback on a rookie contract. With a pick in the 2023 NFL draft, they could get another bite at the apple, and some insurance in case Mayfield looks like his Carolina days.
Prediction: The Buccaneers have enough needed I suspect they use their First-Round pick elsewhere. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them use Pick No. 50 in the Second Round, or their Third-Round pick to snag an option.
On the Roster: Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis
The Situation: Tannehill is an aging veteran with a big contract. His large dead cap hit makes it unlikely he’s released this season, but the odds improve next off-season. Meanwhile, the Titans drafted a raw prospect in Willis in the Third Round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He got a chance to start last season, and it didn’t go well. In fact, the team moved to sign Josh Dobbs to start the regular season finale over a healthy and available Willis. That’s a grim sign for Willis’ future. The Titans, in general, seem like a work in progress at the moment, especially on offense. Could a move toward the future begin on draft day?
Prediction: The Titans are sitting at pick No. 11. I think if Will Levis is still on the board, the Titans will make a move. No one seems to believe in Willis, and the clock is ticking on Tannehill.
On the Roster: Sam Howell, Jake Fromm, and Jacoby Brissett
The Situation: The Commanders made a move to acquire Carson Wentz prior to the 2022 season, then drafted Howell in the Fifth Round. The move for Wentz didn’t work out, nor did turning to Heinicke to start. Finally, in the finale, the team turned it over to Howell. Clearly, Washington’s staff saw enough from Howell in that game to want to see more, as he went into this off-season the team’s nominal starter. Washington followed that by signing Brissett, who figures to be a veteran option and quarterback depth. From all indications, Howell and Brissett will compete for the job for Washington this season. But could the team also go hunting for a quarterback in the draft?
Prediction: Washington probably should hedge its bets, but the off-season makes me believe they really want to give Howell a chance. Much like Atlanta, I think Washington goes into the season with their current options, and if it doesn’t work out, they enter the quarterback lottery again in 2024.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.