Quarterbacks dominate the headlines during the NFL Draft, as teams like the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders will look for a passer to lead their respective franchises to relevancy. For teams with established quarterbacks already in place, the later rounds can offer a cheap way to find a backup to be groomed for the future.
One such team is the Baltimore Ravens, as Tyrod Taylor is entering the final season of his rookie contract. General manager Ozzie Newsome has stated that the franchise is looking to secure the backup position behind starter Joe Flacco, which includes preparing for a future that might not include Taylor, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun:
"We also need to be looking at bringing in another quarterback so we can have someone that is capable of going into the game as we move forward in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, in case we can't keep Tyrod, that we have someone who can go and win games for us if Joe gets hurt."
2014 NFL Draft
SB Nation's QB rankings
Teddy Bridgewater stays at No. 1, despite what a few pundits may think, but how do we evaluate the rest of the 2014 quarterback class?
2014 NFL Draft
Wilson writes that the Ravens will look to address more pressing needs early in the draft, which means selecting a quarterback might not become an option until at least Round 3. Given the depth of this year's class, Baltimore could look to use a late-round pick on a second-tier prospect like Aaron Murray, Jeff Mathews or David Fales.
The Ravens aren't the only team that could be in the market for a late quarterback though, as teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams could all look to add depth at the position.
Prospects such as Alabama's AJ McCarron, Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo, Wyoming's Brett Smith or Pittsburgh's Tom Savage could act as long-term projects. McCarron has consistently referenced his winning pedigree, while critics mention his low-development ceiling. Garoppolo boasts a quick release, but lacks the arm strength that is expected of an NFL-caliber passer. Smith has been called a bargain version of Johnny Manziel, with more glaring flaws. And Savage is the pre-draft media darling with size and strength, but heavy feet.
The common bond between the players?
Attractive qualities, a little bit of promise and the potential of high-reward upside. In other words, the perfect candidates for teams looking for late-round bargains.
There were 11 quarterbacks selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, the same amount as the year prior. There were a total of 12 taken in 2011 and 14 in 2010. It will be interesting to see where the 2014 Draft class tops out.