Even before this past draft I thought that the quarterback position in the league was as strong as it had been in many years, if not ever. That's still the case but injuries have taken a high toll already and a few teams are looking toward the future of the position as much, if not more than the present. Just to lay it out clearly, here is how the position lays out league-wide, weakest to strongest.
Miami - Josh Rosen/Ryan Fitzpatrick
Tennessee - Marcus Mariota/Ryan Tannehill
Tampa Bay - Jameis Winston
Carolina - Kyle Allen/Cam Newton
Cincinnati - Andy Dalton
Denver - Joe Flacco
Indianapolis - Jacoby Brissett
Chicago - Mitchell Trubisky
Jacksonville - Gardner Minshew/Nick Foles
Buffalo - Josh Allen
San Francisco - Jimmy Garoppolo
Washington - Case Keenum/Dwayne Haskins
Minnesota - Kirk Cousins
New York G - Daniel Jones/Eli Manning
Oakland - Derek Carr
New York J - Luke Falk/Sam Darnold
Pittsburgh - Marson Rudolph/Ben Roethlisberger
Los Angeles C - Philip Rivers
Arizona - Kyler Murray
Cleveland - Baker Mayfield
Baltimore - Lamar Jackson
Detroit - Matthew Stafford
Atlanta - Matt Ryan
Houston - Deshaun Watson
Dallas - Dak Prescott
Los Angeles R - Jared Goff
New Orleans - Teddy Bridgewater/Drew Brees
Seattle - Russell Wilson
Philadelphia - Carson Wentz
New England - Tom Brady
Green Bay - Aaron Rodgers
Kansas City - Patrick Mahomes
That's a loose ranking. Any of the first seven teams may be in play for quarterbacks in the first round next April which will only make the position even deeper at this time next year. From eight into the mid-20's the QB's are either aging or unproven in one way or another.
It's probably little surprise that my main interest is the guy slotted at 13. Even before game 1 had been played I settled on the idea that this is the make or break year for Cousins in Minnesota. With a guaranteed salary through next season, he's not going anywhere. If the Vikes miss the playoffs again or come up lame and would be out after the first game then it would be time to look elsewhere. The free-agent market rarely has signal callers of even Cousins' quality and with the team's salary cap situation, that wouldn't be an option even if another one did become available.
Maybe they could trade for Josh Rosen who has a few years left on his rookie deal but I'd rather another team take him on. If things only go okay this year then they'll be drafting in the low to mid-teens. From there it may be possible to jump up to the point at which they could draft one of the top quarterbacks, though a trade may not even be necessary. As things stand today, a lot of people have it as Tua & everybody else. As always seems to happen, other QBs will rise as the evaluation process unfolds.
Justin Herbert is widely considered the second-best with opinions varying after him. If the Vikings can find their way into a Deshaun Watson caliber quarterback without having to trade up, it would recalibrate everything about the franchise. He could sit behind Cousins for a year, or who knows, maybe he would beat him out in training camp & make KC the highest-paid backup in the league. Afterward, it would give the team four years of deeply discounted production so they could have even more depth across the rest of the roster.
Yeah, I'm dream chasing!
It's a dream because it would require the scouting department, GM and all others involved in the evaluation process to do what they have yet to do - successfully find a quarterback in the draft. Bridgewater was close but the catastrophic injury derailed that process. Now it seems like they have become gun shy about selecting one at any point of the draft, much less in the first round.
With all the teams ahead of them on the list and all the QB's that are much closer to the end than the beginning, the opportunity may not arise for them to pull off another draft day heist. If they make it to the NFC championship or better yet to the big game, then other needs may move into the spotlight. Sunday's game is another big-time test in figuring out the long-term future of the team at the quarterback position but it's not too early to start the discussion!