For NFL general managers lacking a franchise caliber quarterback on their roster, there will be motivation to see what it would take to vault themselves into the top five picks of the 2018 NFL draft in an effort to land one of the top quarterback prospects who they believe can change the fortunes of their franchise. But how many of the teams in the top five are realistically open for business?
It might be surprising to know that all four teams in the top five (Cleveland has picks one and four) are at the very least willing to listen, and in one or two cases are prepared to move back if the right offer presents itself.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the teams currently residing in the top five.
Picks 1 4: Cleveland
The Browns are the team dealing from the greatest position of strength, not only because they have the first overall pick, but because even if they part with the top selection, they would still pick fourth overall.
GM John Dorsey isn’t afraid to make a bold move after he moved up 17 spots from 27 to 10, as GM of the Kansas City Chiefs last year in a deal with Buffalo to take the strongest-armed quarterback in the draft in Pat Mahomes.
Not surprisingly, Dorsey is ready to entertain any and all offers for either pick one or pick four.
“There are a lot of things I can do at one and not just get a quarterback,” said Dorsey. “My door is wide open. If somebody wants to come up and talk to me about a trade, I’m willing to trade. I’m going to do what’s best for this organization.
“Any good GM wants to field phone calls from all his peers, so why wouldn’t I? So that’s why I say give me a call and see what’s up.”
Already armed with 12 picks, including six in the top 65, the Browns are already in position to really do some damage in the first two rounds of the draft. So would Dorsey be interested in adding more selections with a trade down?
“You can’t have enough good football players on your team,” he said. “We’ll see how that unfolds.”
For teams further down the board coveting a quarterback, it’s encouraging that Dorsey is keeping an open mind. He wouldn’t divulge if he’s more willing to part with pick one or pick four, but he’s expected to hang on to at least one of those selections.
Pick 2: NY Giants
Another situation where a new GM enters the fold in Dave Gettleman. A veteran personnel man, Gettleman has already committed to going forward with Eli Manning as his team’s starting quarterback in 2018.
Of course that doesn’t preclude him from taking a quarterback with the second pick in the draft. Gettleman already has a young quarterback on the roster in the form of 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb.
The Giants GM confirmed that he will be comparing Webb to the prospects in the 2018 class, so it’s clear that a succession plan at quarterback is near or at the top of the priority list for Gettleman.
He may find Webb to be a sufficient succession plan, though he doesn’t have much to go on in the way of NFL experience. So if he feels he can do better than Webb in the draft, will he not part with the second overall pick?
“If someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse, would I move back? It depends upon who’s there,” he said. “If there is a guy worthy of being the second pick of a draft, and what we’re basically saying if we answer that question in the affirmative is that you think you’re drafting a Hall of Fame player. So you can’t get too cute about the whole thing.”
Knowing there are multiple teams in need of an answer at quarterback, it could prove to be a seller’s market for teams like the Giants at two. Gettleman isn’t ready to write that in cement, but he sounds eager to see if it proves to be accurate.
“We’re going to find out,” he said.
Pick 3: Indianapolis
The Colts are seen by many clubs to be the one team in the top five with a definitive answer at quarterback in Andrew Luck, albeit one that missed the entire 2017 season following surgery on his throwing shoulder. Provided GM Chris Ballard likes the reports he’s getting from Luck and his rehabilitation assistants, does Ballard move down the board to add picks to his arsenal to fill more holes on his roster?
“I think you’ve got to weigh it versus for the player or players you might take, versus the picks you’re going to acquire and who is going to be there,” he said. “If you trade back and there are only 15 or 16 players with first round grades, is it worth trading back for these extra picks? Then (you have to consider) the player you’re going to take. Is he a difference maker to where that one guy is going to make that much of a difference for our football team versus three guys. I think you’ve just got to weigh it. Are we always open (for business)? Absolutely, but with that in mind we’ll always do what’s best for the team.”
Ballard reiterated that if you think you have a difference maker at any position you take him, which would indicate he’d be inclined to stay at three and draft a can’t miss prospect. Of course a minute later in his press conference he used the term ‘difference makers’ – plural.
“One thing we really need are some difference makers. Guys who in crunch time situations or on third down can make a play, whether it’s the passing game or rushing the passer,” he said. “We need some difference making players to make those plays to win games. That’s why the third pick is important because we think there are some difference making players in that area. But saying that I think it’s been proven over time that you can find guys like that all through the draft.”
It’s hard to tell if he values the third pick because of who he can get at three or what he can parlay the third pick into via trade. Either way it seems like Ballard has an open mind to move back if the offer is right or multiple teams are coveting the third overall selection.
“It’s too early to say that (will happen) and you don’t know what’s going to happen at one and two,” he said. “Then you have to know how does everybody else view the quarterbacks that are in this draft? Do we think we’re in a pretty good spot? Yes.”
Pick 5: Denver
Broncos Team President, John Elway, has a quarterback conundrum of his own. Trevor Siemian regressed in 2017, Paxton Lynch struggled and Brock Osweiler didn’t advance his game from the first time he played in Denver. So what to do?
Most believe Elway will make a strong push to land free agent QB Kirk Cousins, but there figures to be stiff competition for the Washington free agent to be. Elway clearly believes his team can fiscally be in the running saying he is comfortable with the team’s cap room to do whatever he wants to do.
Elway has been down this road before, and landing the big kahuna last time, in the form of Peyton Manning, led to a pair of Super Bowl appearances and one championship.
If he lands Cousins, his grip on the fifth overall pick could be considerably loosened. The question then becomes is the fifth pick too late to be a part of the quarterback selection party?
“Everything is going to come in order,” said Elway. “Obviously, free agency is first, but we’ll be open for business depending on how things fall.”
If he can’t land Cousins, do Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater or Case Keenum garner any interest from the Hall of Famer?
It’s likely knowing how Denver’s last three first-round quarterback selections have panned out (Lynch, Tim Tebow, Jay Cutler).
That could clear a path for a team to land the fifth pick in a deal with the Broncos. Of course, Elway has never been gun shy.
“Believe me, I’m not done swinging and missing,” said Elway laughing. “Misses don’t bother me. We just have to figure out a way to get it right. That is what we are working on.”
Can the Bills make a play?
There’s no questioning the fact that the Bills have a good deal of draft capital with four picks in the top 56 selections. GM Brandon Beane was asked if he’s cringing about what it would take to move into the top five.
“I do like my picks. It’s one of those things where if you’re going to move up, especially in round one, it takes a lot. The higher you go it exponentially increases. You have to feel good about what you’re doing and you can’t just go up there and say, ‘Hey, we need a quarterback, we’re going to mortgage everything to go up there,’” said Beane. “We have to know that we feel this guy is the guy and is worth the ransom or whatever you want to call it that it would take to move wherever you have to move to get a guy you think fits your long-term plan.”
As for this year’s quarterback class, Beane recognizes the talent level.
“There’s a lot of good players. Again, I haven’t got to meet them all yet,” he said. “There are some guys who have done a lot of good things. There are a lot of different guys. Different flavors, different skill sets, different personalities. Not everybody is a fit for every team. We have to decide what the best fit is for the Buffalo Bills.”
So Beane and head coach Sean McDermott, along with the college scouting department, will weigh their draft capital against the cost of landing a top quarterback prospect, if they believe one exists in this draft, and see what that could bring.
“Picks are valuable,” said Beane. “I trust my scouts, I trust our vision, and I trust our coaches in the process that we’re going to select good players. Any time you’re packaging picks, in any round to move up, you have to know you’re doing it for the right guy. I do take that very seriously. I have to look at those things. There’s a time to be aggressive, but knowing when is trusting your gut and the stuff you’ve done to learn.
“All the research you’ve done on these guys. Again, meeting them, film study. Everything through the process that says, ‘Hey, I value this guy at 12. If he falls past 10, let’s go up and get him. Or if he falls to 20, let’s go get him there.
“Until I can put that final value on where we see each of these quarterbacks, and any other position, I’m not going to worry about where I’d have to move to if we decide we need to move up and get one.”