Griff and I were chatting today about topics for the site and for the podcast in upcoming editions and he set me a task.
“Remember last year when the Bears unexpectedly traded up and took a QB in the first round? Which team, who no-one is talking about, will take a QB in the first round this year?”
This is particularly tough this year as there are so many teams who could potentially (and probably will) take a quarterback in the first round. There’s been a lot of chat about the Browns, Giants, Jets, Broncos, Dolphins and Cardinals all being in the hunt for a QB. I’ve also seen articles about the Ravens, Saints, Patriots and even the Chargers taking a young QB to sit behind their respective veteran stars. That doesn’t leave many teams who could shock us by taking a QB.
The other issue is that it’s very likely that Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson are all likely to go inside the top 20. Some might be shocked to see Jackson go that early but needs must. That doesn’t leave many QBs worthy of being a first round pick!
With all that in mind, what I’m looking for is a team that doesn’t have any holes to fill within their starting roster – not even at quarterback – and a team that has a first round pick. I’ve nailed it down to two teams. The first is the Philadelphia Eagles. But in Carson Wentz, they have a long-term franchise QB and an apparently decent backup in Nick Foles who is of course the reigning Super Bowl MVP.
That whittles the list down to one and that one team is the Minnesota Vikings. I just want to remind you of the task here; identify a team who, should they select a QB in the first round it would be very left field. I don’t expect the Vikings to do this but there’s an argument as to why they might.
The Vikings have pretty much every position on their roster covered by a good player. They made the NFC championship game last year and the odds on them winning that were pretty decent. Despite the result, they go in to the 2018 season with a well-stocked locker room, a new quarterback and a very good chance of going back to the playoffs.
Let’s tackle the elephant in the room. The Vikings have just given a $84m fully guaranteed three-year contract – why on earth would they then draft a QB so high? Whilst I expect Cousins to be successful, there’s an opportunity for a rookie QB to sit behind the starter for three years, learning the offence from a solid professional. If the Vikings decide not to re-sign Cousins after three years, they then have two years (if they enact the fifth-year option that comes with first round picks) to see what they have in their 2018 rookie. If they decide to keep Cousins, then they can trade the 2018 rookie QB and get some value back for him.
The next question to answer is who they could draft with the 30th pick? As I said above, the top five are all likely to be gone and the Vikings aren’t going to be desperate enough to trade up for what will initially be a back up quarterback. After the top five, the quality does drop off a fair bit and whilst there have been murmurings that this could happen, it probably would be a shock if Mason Rudolph was selected in the first round. He is certainly the next best in terms of quality though doubts have been raised in his ability to find receivers in tight windows. Likely, Rudolph will go on the second day of the draft
Sticking with left field options, if Luke Falk went at the end of the first round it would be a shock, but his stock is rising. More recent scouting reports have stated that Falk has a better than average arm. His biggest strength though is his accuracy – in 2016 his completion percentage stood at 70% and whilst this dropped in 2017, it was still good at 67%. To convince you a little bit more, the pro comparison often given to Falk is none other than Kirk Cousins!
Like I’ve said, this is a long shot, but I’ve come close to convincing myself that it could happen. But it won’t!