Like him or not, Geno Smith is the best quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft. After no quarterbacks stepped up at the NFL Scouting Combine, Smith did just enough to practically ensure being the first quarterback off the board.
But for the first time since the 2008 draft, a quarterback won't be going first overall. So where could Smith land? Here are the top five spots in the first round:
Current pick: No. 2
Current QB situation: Former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert is the starter and is a career 53.8 percent passer for his career. He has nearly as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns (21). He's signed through 2014. Chad Henne, signed through 2013, is the only other quarterback currently on the roster.
The logic: Gabbert wasn't the choice of new general manager David Caldwell or head coach Gus Bradley. For all we know, they could fall in love with Smith and take him second overall. Gabbert's contract isn't very big and the rookie contract for the second overall pick would be about $21 million over four years. For the quarterback position, that's not a lot. If the Jaguars took Smith and hit, he would equate to a lot more wins than any defensive player they could draft. That's why he was the pick in my most recent mock draft.
Current pick: No. 3
Current QB situation: The team spent big money on Carson Palmer, who is signed through 2014. His contract includes 2015 and 2016, but they're voidable years. At 33, there have been reports that the Raiders will restructure his contract. Palmer threw for 4,018 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions a season ago. Backup Terrelle Pryor is on a rookie deal through 2014. Palmer missed the last game of the season and Pryor filled in, completing 13 of 28 passes for 150 yards. But it's his ability on the ground that gives some hope to him being a possible quarterback of the future.
The logic: According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the Raiders are interested in Smith. Smoke screen or not, it's notable. But just how much do the Raiders need a quarterback for 2013? Palmer should be serviceable for another season and they may want to figure out exactly what they have in Pryor. It seems to make more sense for the Raiders to take a quarterback deeper in the draft and see what he can become. Someone like Landry Jones of Oklahoma could be a safe fall back option. Gil Brandt of NFL.com thinks Oakland could be the landing spot for Smith.
Current pick: No. 7
Current QB situation: Kevin Kolb is on a big-money contract through 2016 and has battled injuries while in Arizona. At the very least, he may be forced to restructure his deal. That would have be done by March 17 when Kolb is due a roster bonus. John Skelton's in the final year of his rookie contract. Ryan Lindley is on his rookie deal through 2015.
The logic: It may be a struggle for any quarterback to make it behind Arizona's porous offensive line. But don't forget, Kolb was undefeated in his first four games of the 2012 season. The Cardinals will probably stick with him if they can rework his contract. That would allow them to develop Lindley, who was disastrous when he played last season. Of note, former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah thinks Smith goes to the Cardinals.
Current pick: No. 8
Current QB situation: Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a mega deal with the Bills in 2011, but is due just $4.25 million in 2013. However, he counts for $10.45 million on the salary cap in 2013, and $10 million if he's released. Yikes. The Bills brought Tarvaris Jackson back on a one-year contract to compete with Fitzpatrick. Double yikes. Aaron Corp is on a one-year deal as well.
The logic: It may be what if for the Bills and a quarterback in the first round. If they didn't have Fitzpatrick's massive contract, they may be more interested in seeing if they can land the West Virginia quarterback – whether he falls or they try to trade up. Of course they could still take him if he slides to the eighth pick. But that would be a lot of money at the position. It will be interesting to see if the Bills work hard to restructure Fitzpatrick's deal. If they do, it could be an indicator they're interested in a quarterback in this draft, and Smith remains the best choice. Rob Rang of CBS Sports has Smith to the Bills.
Current pick: No. 18
Current QB situation: Current starter Tony Romo is signed through this season and owner/general manager/overlord Jerry Jones wants him to retire a Cowboy. But how much can someone's word in February or March be counted on leading up to the draft? And at 32, Romo has already gone through some injury problems. His backup, Kyle Orton, is signed through the 2014 season. Third stringer Nick Stephens is on a cap-friendly deal through 2014 as well.
The logic: This is certainly the biggest sleeper of the group. It's impossible to know the thought process of the billionaire owner. Nothing could stop him from going to West Virginia's pro day on March 14 and falling in love with Smith.
Who's missing? The Jets could be after David Garrard and/or Brady Quinn. While maybe not the best choices, it seems doubtful Rex Ryan would want a rookie quarterback while he's on the hot seat. Besides, then he'd have to laser off his creepy Mark Sanchez tattoo. Anybody else? Let me know who in the comments.
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