The most thrilling part of the NFL draft is the quarterback position. The selection of a quarterback can single-handedly change the fortune of a franchise, like Tom Brady or Russell Wilson, or sink the team into mediocrity, like Tim Couch or Ryan Leaf. This year, the Rams and Eagles, two quarterback-needy franchises, traded the farm for a top spot in the draft. Los Angeles chose in-state product Jared Goff, while the Eagles added North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. That was followed by another trade up late in the first round, the Broncos for Paxton Lynch, and a couple more quarterbacks went off the board every round. Here are my takes on each of the new quarterbacks and their new NFL homes.
Los Angeles Rams- Jared Goff, California (Round 1, Pick 1)
When the Rams gave up a bounty to trade up to the top spot, they were taking a risk that could either pay huge dividends or backfire amazingly. When your team goes 8-8 every single year, that is a risk that you should make, even if you give up a ton of future draft picks. The Rams are loaded on defense and have monster running back Todd Gurley in their backfield, so the addition of a quarterback was the only thing that could get them over the hump. I’m not sure that the Rams will sneak into the playoffs this year given their difficult division, new home and therefore no home-field advantage, and my lack of trust in head coach Jeff Fisher (six playoff appearances in 27 seasons) and the Rams organization overall (no playoff appearances since the early 2000s). Goff is a talented player, drawing comparisons to Matt Ryan, but he’s not in a position to succeed immediately.
Philadelphia Eagles- Carson Wentz, North Dakota State (Round 1, Pick 2)
The move up to the second spot was puzzling for Philly fans, but the opportunity could provide the Eagles their franchise quarterback for the next 10 to 15 years. Wentz, a small-school phenom, could be the next Donovan McNabb (also the second pick of the draft and from Syracuse), but he’s thrown into a messy situation with three starting-caliber quarterbacks, both of whom make big bucks with the Eagles. I’d advocate for the Eagles to develop the athletic Wentz this year behind starter Sam Bradford or backup Chase Daniel, because he is a project and the roster screams mediocrity.
Denver Broncos- Paxton Lynch, Memphis (Round 1, Pick 26)
The Broncos outbidded the Cowboys to select their new quarterback, moving up from 31 to 26 to take the Memphis gunslinger. Paxton Lynch addresses a need, and though he will compete with Mark Sanchez for the starting job, he’s the future of the franchise. Lynch is athletic and has high upside, and his addition will put Denver in realistic Super Bowl contention. On the field, Lynch is a better player than Peyton Manning was last year and will be surrounded by talents in the backfield and out wide and backed up by the league’s best defense. The battle between Lynch and Sanchez should be interesting and don’t be surprised to see Lynch play a lot this season and in January.
New York Jets- Christian Hackenberg, Penn State (Round 2, Pick 51)
If I was a Jets fan, I’d want to throw this one back in the water. The Jets aren’t ready to take on a developmental quarterback and the selection of Hackenberg could spiral quickly. The priority should be re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to play under center, and Hackenberg isn’t ready for action. If New York really wanted to develop a quarterback, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty, two current Jets quarterbacks, are better options and don’t cost a second rounder. I’d be pleasantly surprised if Hackenberg blossoms in New York, but I doubt he will.
New England Patriots- Jacoby Brissett, NC State (Round 3, Pick 91)
With Tom Brady out for the first four games of the season, the Patriots wanted another option behind or possibly instead of Jimmy Garopollo. Enter Jacoby Brissett, a prospect that most experts thought would be selected in the late rounds. Brissett is athletic, but Jimmy G looks like a suitable starter and New England usually holds only two quarterbacks on their roster. Since they are the Patriots, I won’t doubt this pick too much, but it is difficult to see this pick panning out.
Other Quarterback Selections
Round 3, Pick 93- Cody Kessler, USC, to Cleveland Browns
Round 4, Pick 100- Connor Cook, Michigan State, to Oakland Raiders
Round 4, Pick 135- Dak Prescott, Mississippi State, to Dallas Cowboys
Round 4, Pick 139- Cardale Jones, Ohio State, to Buffalo Bills
Round 5, Pick 162- Kevin Hogan, Stanford, to Kansas City Chiefs
Round 6, Pick 187- Nate Sudfeld, Illinois, to Washington Redskins
Round 6, Pick 191- Jake Ruddock, Michigan, to Detroit Lions
Round 6, Pick 201- Brandon Allen, Arkansas, to Jacksonville Jaguars
Round 6, Pick 207- Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech, to San Francisco 49ers
Round 7, Pick 223- Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky, to Miami Dolphins
Undrafted- Trevone Boykin, TCU, to Seattle Seahawks
Undrafted- Jacob Coker, Alabama, to Arizona Cardinals