2024 NFL Draft: How every team should tackle the QB position

Check out more of Matt's team-need rundowns here: Running Backs | Wide Receivers

Teams that have a critical need

Chicago Bears

The Bears need a quarterback, and they have the No. 1 overall pick. They will take Caleb Williams there.

The more interesting question is how Williams fits with this offense. Shane Waldron runs a pretty traditional, McVay-tree offense but has a pretty detailed and well-developed drop-back pass game. Williams played in a mess of a unit at USC last season so this will be a breath of fresh air for the young quarterback. As long as he can color in between the lines and play within structure, there will be vertical throws to make here with DJ Moore, open intermediate routes with Keenan Allen and check-downs available with DeAndre Swift.

Washington Commanders

The Commanders signed Marcus Mariota as their backup quarterback and sent Sam Howell to Seattle for a package of picks. The deck is cleared for a true franchise quarterback in DC for the first time since Robert Griffin III’s electric rookie season.

There has been smoke and speculation about multiple quarterbacks at the second-overall pick. I’d take Drake Maye and never think twice about it if it was my choice. We’ll see if Washington’s brain trust agrees.

The Commanders have Kliff Kingsbury at offensive coordinator and the makings of a quality group of skill-position players. The offensive line is a question, but running backs Austin Ekeler and Brian Robinson have complementary skill sets. Whatever you think about Kingsbury’s passing concepts in Arizona, the run games were good. Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson have the potential to be maximized by an aggressive downfield passer. It’s not a perfect ecosystem but you can see a world where they successfully develop a highly-touted prospect.

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota signed Sam Darnold in the wake of Kirk Cousins’ free agency exit but outside of a few segments of sicko football Twitter, no one really believes he can be an even middle-term solution.

The Vikings acquired an extra first-round pick in this draft to try and sweeten any trade offer to move up the board from No. 11. Whether they make the godfather offer to get into the top three for one of Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels, or they come up a little later for J.J. McCarthy, a Round 1 rookie will be on this roster come April. The Vikings have the ecosystem you need to develop a young passer and that guy could sit behind Darnold for a small handful of games if needed.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos only have Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci under contract at quarterback. They are desperate for a real solution under center but pick all the way down at No. 12 and don’t possess the extra resources needed to make a big move up like Minnesota.

If Denver gets squeezed out of one of the top four quarterbacks, they could look to Day 2 but only have the 76th overall pick in Round 3. It’s a risk to assume someone falls there. Outside of an extremely costly trade up the draft board or what would be labeled a big reach at 12th overall, it’s hard to see how Denver gets their answer under center this season.

We could be looking at a “kick the can down the road” season for Sean Payton’s Broncos with an all-out pursuit of a franchise passer in 2025. It’s a tough pill to swallow but someone will be left without a chair when the music stops. Just based on their draft picks, it could be Denver.

Teams that have a clear need

New England Patriots

The Patriots signed Jacoby Brissett in a reunion move and if I am being honest with you, among all the current QB1s in the “Critical Need” and “Clear Need” groups, I feel best about him as a starting option. That’s what landed them in this tier over the previous. That said, I’m not delusional; Brissett is not the future and is only on a one-year deal.

The Patriots would be well within reason to take their franchise quarterback at third-overall without much of a second thought — I suspect ownership will push for it. That said, this roster is in no way set up to develop a rookie and certainly not ready to drop him in and go from Week 1. With so many teams thirsty to trade up for quarterbacks, they could move down a handful of slots and build up the team while Brissett holds down the fort for one season in preparation for the guy to come in down the line. That’s a tough sell to a fanbase used to winning but could be the long-term, prudent move.

Either approach is justifiable.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders signed Gardner Minshew to a multi-year contract and have 2023 rookie Aidan O’Connell on the roster. That alone is not a good enough quarterback room to take yourself seriously as a contender. The Raiders need to add another young arm with starting upside to compete in this room.

I’m not the first to make the connection but Michael Penix Jr. in Round 2 almost makes too much sense.

Minshew is a quality backup and O’Connell flashed some potential to be at least at that level last year. We didn’t see anything on either player’s film to say they are set-it-and-forget-it starters. If the Raiders had to go into Week 1 with this quarterback room, it wouldn’t be an outright embarrassment but the ceiling would be quite low.

New York Giants

I believe the idea that this coaching staff and front office already have buyer’s remorse on the Daniel Jones contract. That said, unless they’re the team smitten enough with J.J. McCarthy to shove other teams trying to trade into the top-five for the Michigan passer out of the way, it’s unlikely they find a clear-cut upgrade in the draft. You just can’t deny that they need better from the position than what Jones projects to give them, even in a best-case scenario.

The Giants signed Drew Lock as the backup, but don’t be shocked if he starts games for them this season, especially with Jones coming off a major injury. You can’t blame Brian Daboll if he wants to draft a new quarterback, but his best bet may be to try and get functional enough play out of Jones/Lock to save his job and re-roll at the position next offseason. It’s a fine line to walk.

Teams that are mostly set but could add a depth body

Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen is one of the best quarterbacks on planet Earth. Behind him, Mitchell Trubisky was brought back to reprise his role as Allen’s backup. I’d like to see them add a developmental body since we know what Trubisky is at this point and their QB2 spot has been a revolving door the last few seasons. The Bills have a ton of picks in this year’s draft and could spend one on Day 3 for a long-term backup.

New York Jets

The Jets have QB1 and QB2 set with Aaron Rodgers and Tyrod Taylor, assuring themselves a real backup plan is in place this season. I think it’s best for all sides involved if Zach Wilson moves on, even if they can’t find a trade partner. The Jets should be interested in someone to groom behind Rodgers.

Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson is coming off his second MVP season and is a premier player at the position. Long-time backup Josh Johnson is the backup here but you could see the Ravens add a developmental reserve with Tyler Huntley moving on to Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Steelers

I’d be a little surprised to see Pittsburgh add to the quarterback room after acquiring a veteran in Russell Wilson and a still-developing player in Justin Fields. Still, someone on Day 3 to get in the system could be in play since Wilson is on a one-year deal and neither guy is a lock to be in their future plans.

Tennessee Titans

The new brain trust in Tennessee seems to have a lot of faith in Will Levis but he is still an unknown. Overall, I doubt they actually make any big moves at this position but there’s a chance they replace Malik Willis on the depth chart as the GM and head coach who drafted him are now gone.

Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes is the best and most valuable player in professional football. Chris Oladokun and Ian Book are the other quarterbacks on the depth chart. Kansas City should add a veteran at some point and consider another in-house drafted option for their backup spots.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have Taylor Heinicke as the backup behind the newly minted Kirk Cousins. Heinicke is a holdover from the previous coaching staff, so perhaps Raheem Morris and co. want their own developmental guy in the building. However, Heinicke is fine if they need to get through a brief Cousins absence and he knows the players on offense.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have last year’s No. 1 overall pick on the roster and a steady backup in Andy Dalton. Of course, Bryce Young didn’t play anywhere close to the level they needed last year. There’s no threat to his job and this new coaching staff will do all in their power to ensure he’s a success. You just can’t credibly say “no need” after the results of Young’s rookie season.

Teams with little to no need

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are fully committed to Tua Tagovailoa as their starter and have Mike White on the second season of his two-year deal as the backup quarterback.

Cincinnati Bengals

As long as Joe Burrow is, and stays, healthy, the Bengals should feel confident that they’ll get elite quarterback play this season. Jake Browning showed last season that he can be a more than capable backup. He’s back on an exclusive-rights free-agent deal.

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland added both Jameis Winston and Tyler Huntley to a roster that already had 2023 rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson behind Deshaun Watson. There’s a version of reality where, if Winston got on the field, he could pull off a good impression of the volatile but enthralling Joe Flacco run. At this point, I don’t personally have any faith Watson will ever be a consistent high-ceiling quarterback again; it’s just been too long since we’ve seen it, but he’s their guy and they’re now deep at backup quarterback.

Houston Texans

The Texans have C.J. Stroud coming off a dynamic rookie season with nothing but bright optimism about how his career will pan out. Behind him, Davis Mills and veteran Case Keenum combine to make an acceptable quarterback room.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are exceptionally high on Anthony Richardson both in terms of the brief flashes he showed last season and his development behind the scenes. He just needs to stay healthy. They signed Joe Flacco to be the backup and still carry Sam Ehlinger as the QB3.

Jacksonville Jaguars

For all the internet wars over Trevor Lawrence and whether he lived up to being a “generational prospect,” he’s a verifiably good starting quarterback in this league. The Jaguars acquired Mac Jones to develop behind him as a backup option.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers brought back Easton Stick to serve as Justin Herbert’s backup. This is a new staff so they must have liked what they saw in his brief action to end last season.

Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott is going into the last year of his contract — surely this won’t create offseason drama for Dallas — but is entrenched as a quality starter coming off a great year. Cooper Rush remains in the backup role while Trey Lance is their developmental third quarterback.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles traded for Kenny Pickett to be the backup behind Jalen Hurts. Philadelphia loves to talk about its “quarterback factory” so you can’t rule anything out with it. But on paper, they don’t need to spend a pick at this position.

Detroit Lions

Detroit added Hendon Hooker in the third round last season to give itself a developmental prospect behind Jared Goff. He should be able to participate in offseason programs this time around after recovering from injury last season. Detroit is likely to extend Goff soon, as well.

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay always likes to add to its quarterback room but took Sean Clifford on Day 3 last year and he garnered good preseason reviews. The Packers' main priority at the position this offseason is figuring out an extension for Jordan Love.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If the Bucs were comfortable with Kyle Trask competing with Baker Mayfield deep into last summer, you’d imagine they’re cool with him as the backup this season. Mayfield was brought back on the rare middle-class NFL starting quarterback contract at $100 million over three years.

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans restructured Derek Carr’s contract this offseason in the annual effort to get cap-compliant. I don’t know how I feel about further tying yourself to Carr for multiple seasons but that’s where the Saints are. They added Nathan Peterman to the room with Taysom Hill and 2023 Day 3 pick, Jake Haener.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals traded Rondale Moore to acquire Desmond Ridder from the Falcons to back up Kyler Murray. Ridder’s starting run was a mess, but he’s a capable reserve. Murray should have a strong second season off his ACL tear if the Cardinals can beef up the receiver room in the NFL Draft.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams signed Jimmy Garoppolo as the backup behind Matthew Stafford and he likely knows the language of this offense. Stetson Bennett was meant to be their long-term developmental guy last year but was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list all season. Maybe they make a similar pick on Day 3 but that’s about it.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have Brock Purdy in place as one of the biggest values at the quarterback position given his play on a mega-cheap rookie deal. They signed Joshua Dobbs to serve as his understudy.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks traded for Sam Howell to replace Drew Lock as the backup behind Geno Smith. Howell has some Ryan Fitzpatrick to his game where, even if he’s a limited non-starting quarterback, he can give you exciting relief stretches. This is a good room.