The top of the NFL Draft should be dominated by the quarterback position. Jacksonville is poised to select Trevor Lawrence first overall. The New York Jets have traded Sam Darnold signaling they will select a quarterback with the second pick while the San Francisco 49ers traded up to the third pick for a quarterback. Zach Wilson has been commonly linked to the Jets while the 49ers have been involved in a range of rumors including Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones.
Other critical teams have needs at quarterback and could factor into the quarterback market in the NFL Draft. Using aggregated mock drafts in March and April from Grindingthemocks.com, there are key teams and players to watch as you prepare your dynasty teams before the NFL Draft.
Atlanta sits at a crossroads of their franchise. Matt Ryan has been a top ten quarterback by advanced metrics over the past four seasons but has shown signs of decline. For example, he has finished with 7.3 yards per attempt the past two seasons, his worst marks since 2010. The addition of Head Coach Arthur Smith who ran play action at a higher rate than Ryan has in prior years should help.
Atlanta also restructured Ryan’s deal for salary cap purposes, which would create a dead cap number of over 40 million dollars if he is cut in 2022. Atlanta’s point differential in 2020 was -18, which was indicative of a team much better than 4-12 so Atlanta should not expect to pick this high again.
49.6% of mock drafts conducted since the beginning of March mocked Atlanta to select a quarterback. Justin Fields was the most common selection, followed by Trey Lance (17%) and Zach Wilson (5%). The selection of a quarterback would give Atlanta options in the event Ryan continues to decline, but could create a suboptimal situation if Ryan improves under the new regime. The rookie quarterback contract advantage would be hindered by Ryan’s dead cap number in 2022 if Ryan is cut.
Recent Superflex trades for Matt Ryan indicate a good buying opportunity:
Chicago finds itself in a conundrum. They have a good enough team to prevent them from picking high enough to land a franchise quarterback. Chicago signed Andy Dalton to a one-year deal and picks 20th in the 2021 Draft. Quarterback is the third most mocked position at 14.5%. The most commonly mocked quarterback, Mac Jones (11%), has been commonly linked to San Francisco at the third pick. Chicago will likely need to trade up for a quarterback, and with the front office on unstable ground, it is unlikely they mortgage future draft capital for a quarterback.
Drew Lock was a bottom five quarterback in key advanced metrics last year. As a second round pick, that type of performance creates little allegiance from a front office. Denver picks ninth and new general manager George Paton could look to reset the trajectory of the position. Quarterback is the third most commonly mocked position (18.3%), with Justin Fields (8%) and Trey Lance (6%) the most common players mocked. Denver is a prime candidate to watch for a trade up during the draft.
Recent Superflex trades that showcase good selling prices for Drew Lock before the draft:
- Drew Lock for 2.03
- Drew Lock for two 2022 2nd round rookie picks
- Drew Lock for 2022 1st round rookie pick
Detroit traded Matthew Stafford to the Rams for a package of picks and Jared Goff. Detroit restructured Goff this offseason which created a 30.5 million dollar dead money figure in 2022. The move essentially locked Goff into a starting job for the next two seasons. Goff is 27 and has produced similarly to Stafford since 2017, so the new front office should not be in a rush to address the position. Quarterback is the third most mocked position (6.25%) with Lance the most common quarterback mocked to Detroit (4%). The low probability of a quarterback selection, combined with 66% of mock drafts projecting a wide receiver to Detroit, creates a good situation for Goff.
Recent Superflex trades that could help a team with a quarterback need included:
New England Patriots
The Patriots have been aggressive this offseason in free agency. Will they be aggressive in their pursuit of a franchise quarterback in the draft? The Patriots re-signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal and have been linked to Jimmy Garoppolo. 40% of mock drafts project the Patriots selecting a quarterback with Mac Jones (30%) and Trey Lance (7%) the most common. There has been buzz about New England trading up, which may be necessary because New England picks 15th.
Washington Football Team
The Washington Football Team signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal in the offseason. Fitzpatrick is the type of high variance quarterback that could catch lightning in a bottle when paired with a high-end defense. Fitzpatrick will turn 39 in November and is unlikely a long-term solution at the position. Washington picks 19th and would likely need to trade up to select a quarterback. Quarterback is the third most commonly mocked position (18.6%) with Mac Jones the most common quarterback mocked to Washington (12.6%).
Goff and Ryan project to be starters for multiple seasons and are options that could be acquired to fill a QB2 need in Superflex dynasty leagues. Washington and Chicago may wish to acquire quarterbacks in the draft, but the cost could be prohibitive. Fitzpatrick and Dalton are viewed as one-year stopgaps who could find themselves with multiple year starting jobs if they play well in 2021.