Quarterbacks drive today's NFL.
If a team doesn't have a good quarterback, it better find one. If those in charge can't find one, they probably won't be employed for too much longer.
Despite this increased importance placed on the position, plenty of teams around the NFL still struggle to fill the position. With a weak 2013 draft class and few options available elsewhere, a handful of teams are stuck with a stable of mediocre options competing for a starting spot. Other teams have quality young quarterbacks pushing the incumbents.
Training camp should clear up some of these situations, but here are the murkiest quarterback pictures after minicamp.
After a 2012 season mired by terrible quarterback play, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the Jaguars would address the position in some way this offseason. Instead, new general manager Dave Caldwell decided to focus on the rest of the roster, which was in need of quite a bit of fixing, too.
That didn't stop the Jaguars from bringing in competition at quarterback in an effort to bring out the best in incumbents Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. With the signing of Mike Kafka last week, the Jaguars now have five quarterbacks on the roster, including undrafted free agents Matt Scott and Jordan Rodgers.
Gus Bradley and Jeff Fisch will bring an entirely new offensive scheme, and the quarterbacks will all be on a level playing field in an open competition. While the team's quarterback situation is far from settled, whoever ends up starting will have more offensive weapons surrounding him than the Jaguars have had in some time. If the quarterback play continues along the same path that it has, Caldwell will likely look to find a long-term fixture at the position next offseason.
With Rex Ryan firmly on the hot seat, the prospect of having to start Mark Sanchez at quarterback in a make-or-break season has to be terrifying for the Jets coach. It may come to that for Ryan, though, as Geno Smith has yet to separate himself in offseason activities. Until the second-round pick makes a stronger case to start, Sanchez will be the team's only option.
Sanchez's 2012 season was enough to destroy any quarterback's confidence. He was one of the biggest reasons for New York's last-place finish in the AFC East, as he threw 18 interceptions and just 13 touchdowns. Smith was considered by most to be the best quarterback in the 2013 draft class, but ended up being passed over a number of times on draft day. He would be best served sitting for a while, learning to trust his reads and improve his decision-making. But if Sanchez plays anything like he did a season ago, it won't take long for the Jets to turn to the rookie.
When the Buffalo Bills made E.J. Manuel the first quarterback off the board in April, they made a commitment to him as the future of the franchise. But the former Florida State quarterback is no lock to start for the team in Week 1. Buffalo also brought in Kevin Kolb this offseason to provide some stability under center.
Kolb has had some rough luck with injuries in his career, but he managed to string together a few impressive performances when healthy in 2012. He played in six games and had eight touchdowns to just three interceptions. That's not an incredible stat line, but it should be enough to hold off a raw Manuel in a training camp battle.
The Raiders were one of the most aggressive teams this offseason when it came to trying to fix their quarterback situation. Gone is Carson Palmer, but instead of giving Terrelle Pryor a chance to take over as the team's starter, the Raiders traded for Matt Flynn and drafted Tyler Wilson out of Arkansas in the fourth round.
Early word out of Raider camp is that Wilson is giving Flynn a run for his money. Wilson thrives on toughness and arm strength. Flynn has never gotten his chance to be a full-time starter in the NFL after showing flashes of brilliance in Green Bay. There is a real chance that neither quarterback is Oakland's fixture long-term, but both were acquired with minimal risk and have the upside to bring stability to a team that desperately needs it.
Chip Kelly's chance to coach an NFL team has come, and nobody really knows how he will approach it. The Eagles have three options at quarterback, and it's tough to say who will be the opening-week starter. Michael Vick would seem to be the favorite. His speed will be useful in Kelly's offense, but more importantly, he needs to prove his ability to read the field and make accurate throws with appropriate timing.
Nick Foles got a chance to start a chunk of games last season in Philadelphia and fared pretty well. He and fourth-round pick Matt Barkley are by no means out of the picture as the training camp battle approaches, though Foles has a better shot than the rookie.
Vick was recently quoted as saying he would like Kelly to make a decision by training camp, but the first-year coach doesn't feel compelled to rush the decision. He's presumably aware of just how important getting this call right is.