5 quarterbacks who are very happy about their team’s NFL Draft
Every team has a different priority during the NFL Draft. Some franchises are rebuilding, some are in win-now mode. Some teams need defense, some want the best player available, and some need a quarterback. Other teams with established veteran quarterbacks can look to help their signal-caller in the draft by adding offensive weapons and protection on the offensive line.
Every quarterback would love to have a talented running back to help share the load, a deep wide receiver group to spread the ball around to, and a sturdy offensive line to give him time to make reads and quality throws. What follows is a list of five established NFL quarterbacks who will be very happy with their teams’ drafts, as their franchises went a long way toward surrounding their guys under center with bigger and better talent.
5) Andy Dalton, Bengals
The Bengals’ draft was controversial to say the least, both for drafting players with character concerns and reaching on some of their picks. They were accused of being too bullish on first-round wide receiver John Ross, for instance. Quarterback Andy Dalton won’t be complaining, though.
Ross has injury concerns, but his speed is second-to-none, and as long as he can stay on the field, he’ll be a huge threat on every single play. Wide receiver Josh Malone also went to the Bengals later in the draft, and adds another speed threat to the receiving corps.
Of course, the elephant in the room here is running back Joe Mixon, a first-round talent who fell because of his assault of a woman in college. As far as football talent goes, he’s going to help the Bengals, and Dalton will be extremely grateful to have yet another option at running back to make the offense go. They’re going to have to deal with a lot of deserved off-field outcry, though, but the pure talent will help make Dalton’s offense a better unit.
4) Blake Bortles, Jaguars
Bortles has gone from hearing rumors that he’d be replaced to being the beneficiary of the Jags’ draft. Jacksonville’s first draft under new football czar Tom Coughlin actually seemed to de-emphasize Bortles’s importance to the future of Jacksonville’s franchise. No longer will he be asked to do it all for the Jaguars thanks to the pick of running back Leonard Fournette at No. 4 overall. That can only help Bortles, though one could argue that the pressure is on as he’ll have fewer excuses as he gets more talent around him. Fournette has every chance to be a star, and Bortles will be more of a threat if defenses have to respect the running game.
One addition that will help both Bortles and Fournette is tackle Cam Robinson, whose second-round draft position belies his outstanding talent. He’ll slide into a starting spot on the offensive line and be hugely beneficial to both players. The team also took a flier on wide receiver Dede Westbrook in the fourth round, a talented player with a ton of off-field issues. As with the Bengals, they’ll get criticism for the pick, but Westbrook can help from a pure football standpoint.
3) Marcus Mariota, Titans
The Tennessee front office has a lot invested in Mariota, and understandably want to see him become a success. With that in mind, it’s no coincidence that Titans general manager Jon Robinson used three of the team’s first four selections on targets for his talented young quarterback.
No. 5 overall pick Corey Davis has every chance to become a star receiver in the NFL and will instantly help Mariota. So will third-round receiver Taywan Taylor, who profiles as a slot receiver but potentially a very good one. If that still wasn’t enough for Mariota, big tight end Jonnu Smith landed there in the third round as well, coming off a very successful college career at Florida International.
Mariota can have no complaints after the Titans devoted three of the first 100 picks in the draft to surrounding him with help. He and the Titans could be in line for a big step forward in 2018.
2) Philip Rivers, Chargers
Los Angeles’s entire draft — or at least the beginning of it — was pretty much aimed at giving Rivers as much help as possible. They made Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams their first-round pick. He’s a big, talented target for Rivers to throw to who will complement Keenan Allen well. They also put an emphasis on keeping Rivers protected and on his feet, with second-round guard pick Forrest Lamp rated as a first-round talent and a potential steal. Another guard, third-round selection Dan Feeney, will also push for a starting job quickly.
The Chargers very clearly prioritized keeping Rivers on his feet longer and giving him a new target to throw to. The intent is quite obviously to get their 35-year-old franchise quarterback in the playoffs again, where they haven’t been since 2013. Rivers cannot complain about that. On the contrary, this has to be quite the exciting time for him, as it happens along with the team’s move to Los Angeles.
1) Cam Newton, Panthers
The Panthers have been overly reliant on Newton in the past, particularly in 2016, where far too much was asked of him. If the quarterback wasn’t producing, nobody was, and Carolina’s season ended in a disastrous 6-10 campaign. General manager Dave Gettleman immediately went to work on making sure Newton had help, spending the first three picks of the team’s draft on players that will take some of the pressure off the franchise quarterback.
Christian McCaffrey will be Newton’s dream, a talented running back who can also shift out wide and be an effective receiver. Second-round pick Curtis Samuel is a talented wide receiver who can serve as an auxiliary backfield player. Perhaps more importantly, third-rounder Taylor Moton should step into the team’s glaring need at tackle and help Newton stay on his feet longer.
The Panthers quarterback was overworked and abused in 2016 — even by his own team — but these three players should be very helpful in relieving the pressure.