The 2017 NFL draft has come and gone, and with that marks the unofficial end of offseason roster moves. While there are still some free agents out there, for the most part the rosters you see today are the same ones teams will be bringing to training camp. The time for serious player acquisition is pretty much over.
Free agency was mostly quiet for quarterbacks, with few high-profile moves happening. Tony Romo retired to the broadcast booth and after receiving little interest on the market, and Jay Cutler followed in his footsteps. Trades for Jimmy Garoppolo and AJ McCarron never materialized, and guys like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III are still out there. The draft was basically the last chance for quarterback-needy teams to address the position.
While this year’s quarterback class wasn’t deep, several teams still made bold moves to get one. In the first round, three teams — the Bears, Chiefs, and Texans — drafted a quarterback following big trades. With depth charts more or less set until late July, let’s take a look at the teams most in need of a QB before the draft, and see if they left Philadelphia with their situation improved, worsened, or somewhere in between.
Current depth chart: Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky, Mark Sanchez, Connor Shaw
The Bears were the talk of the draft, but not quite for the right reasons. Just two months after signing Glennon in free agency, Chicago gave up three draft picks to move up one spot and draft Trubisky at No. 2. The fallout was swift and scathing — Glennon felt humiliated at the team’s draft party, John Fox reportedly didn’t know they were taking Trubisky, and even the 49ers (the team that traded with Chicago) seemed confused about the Bears’ process.
Now, if Trubisky actually turns out to be good, this will all blow over and nobody will remember the bounty Chicago gave up. But at the moment, GM Ryan Pace has hitched his wagon to Trubisky. The North Carolina prospect will either make Pace look like a genius, or cost a lot of people their jobs. There is no in-between here.
Who would’ve thought that things look even more uncertain after they finally got rid of Jay Cutler?
Stock: Well, the Bears aren’t boring right now, so I’d say it’s up.
Current depth chart: Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler, DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan
Despite all the smoke about the Browns taking Trubisky at No. 1, they wisely stayed the course and took Myles Garrett, the draft’s consensus best player. Cleveland decided to skip out on a first-round quarterback altogether before settling on Kizer in the second round. It’s already been confirmed that Kizer will sit to start the season, making Kessler the odds-on favorite to be the Week 1 starter — even if history says there’s a good chance Kizer will end up playing at some point his rookie year.
Kizer has a lot of intriguing tools, but he’s far from a sure thing, so taking him in the second round shouldn’t prevent the Browns from drafting another QB next year. We’re still a year away, but as of right now, USC quarterback Sam Darnold is the early pick for Cleveland in Dan Kadar’s 2018 mock draft.
Current depth chart: Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly
It’s a bit surprising that John Elway wasn’t more aggressive upgrading the QB position in the draft. The only addition he made was Mr. Irrelevant, Chad Kelly. A potential Day 2 talent, Kelly’s draft stock was tanked by injuries and off-field problems, but he has legitimate upside if he ever puts it together. Recovering from a torn ACL and wrist surgery, Kelly probably won’t be a factor in 2017.
Otherwise, Denver is rolling with the same group as last year. Siemian was competent but uninspiring, while Lynch looked overmatched as a rookie. Unless Lynch takes a big step forward, it’s hard to be optimistic about Denver’s quarterback outlook this year.
Stock: Slightly down.
Current depth chart: Deshaun Watson, Tom Savage, Brandon Weeden
The Texans paid Cleveland a 2018 second-rounder to get Brock Osweiler’s disastrous contract off the books. Then they traded their 2018 first-rounder to Cleveland to draft Osweiler’s replacement at No. 12 overall. That’s how badly they wanted to get rid of Osweiler.
Watson is a flawed prospect, but he’s in the right position to succeed, with a solid running game and good weapons at receiver. He’s also not Brock Osweiler, so the Texans made out well even with the steep price they paid.
Stock: Up by default.
Kansas City Chiefs
Current depth chart: Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes, Tyler Bray, Joel Stave
The Chiefs weren’t quite a quarterback-needy team in the short term, but Alex Smith isn’t getting any younger and his limited game puts an artificial ceiling on the offense. Sooner or later, the Chiefs need someone who can stretch the field and open up a more dynamic attack if they ever hope to get over the hump and become legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
With that in mind, Kansas City made one of the most aggressive trades in the draft, moving up 17 spots to groom Mahomes as their future under center. Mahomes is raw, and unless Smith gets hurt, he won’t see the field in 2017. But developing under Andy Reid is a good situation to be in, and Mahomes boasts a big arm and fascinating tools. If he can rein in his bad habits and become a more complete passer, the Chiefs are in good shape.
Stock: Unchanged for 2017. All eyes will be on Mahomes after that.
Current depth chart: Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg
The Jets entered the draft with an injury-prone 37-year-old atop the depth chart, and two questionable projects behind him. They leave the draft in exactly the same shape.
With little hope of winning in 2017, going with McCown might be OK. The biggest problem with that is McCown has shown a complete inability to stay healthy in recent years and can’t be counted on to start all 16 games. Meanwhile, Petty showed nothing in limited action last year, while Christian Hackenberg may never be anything but raw. It was always going to be a long season for Jets fans, but the quarterback situation looks even more perilous than it did before the draft.
San Francisco 49ers
Current depth chart: Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, C.J. Beathard
John Lynch’s first draft was mostly a success, though there was one glaring head-scratcher: The 49ers traded up to select Beathard in the bottom of the third round, even with higher-upside quarterbacks like Josh Dobbs and Nathan Peterman still on the board. Despite Beathard reminding Kyle Shanahan of Kirk Cousins, most project the Iowa product as a career backup at best.
Nevertheless, the Niners’ plan seems pretty clear at this point — get through 2017 with what they have and pursue the real Cousins next year for a reunion with Shanahan. Neither Hoyer nor Barkley is an inspiring option, but maybe that’s the point in an obvious rebuilding year.