The biggest question in the NFL draft — and the biggest variable in the multitude of mock drafts emerging — is this: How high do the quarterbacks go? Two picks into the Bloguin mock draft, we have yet to have an answer.
In fact, the new question might be this: how far will they fall?
In three consecutive years, a quarterback has risen to the top tier of the draft and earned the starting job in Week 1 of that following season: Sam Bradford for the Rams, Matt Shafford for the Lions, and Matt Ryan for the Falcons. Those three teams (no thanks to Stafford’s counterparts on defense) improved by a combined 15 wins with their rookie QBs.
No one expects that trend to continue this year. Neither Cam Newton nor Blaine Gabbert are seen as NFL-ready enough to step right in and lead a team. And very few have either ranked as their “best players available” in a draft with elite talents stacked up on the defensive line, cornerback, and wide receiver.
But when your team has a need at quaterback, as the Panthers so clearly do, arguably there is no greater need, and you are almost compelled to take the best QB available and then look at the rest of your board. Our Bloguin brothers at XtraPointFootball tackled the Panthers’ dilemma head-on back in January, and failed to find a suitable answer among the young QB talents.
The upshot for the Rams? Teams’ tolerance for “project” players will be sorely tested this season, with free agency a huge unknown. And if these projects fall, the “sure-thing” offensive players like AJ Green and Julio Jones will be off the board well before the Rams pick at #14 — and likely well ahead of anywhere reachable without sacrificing huge chunks of draft value.
We will see how this all shakes out in the coming week, with one new pick posted every day. We will also be publishing our own mock draft, written by a new contributor to the Herd, and we’ll be talking to representatives of some of the biggest wildcard teams in this draft.