The 2018 Quarterback Musical Chairs

2018 Quarterback

Today we are going to examine what is, in my belief, the unprecedented quarterback market place of the 2018 NFL offseason. Between free agency, trade, the draft, and some combination of 14 different potential teams in need of a quarterback, we are in store to witness a real life do-si-do in the fashion of musical chairs in the NFL. Of course, to play musical chairs there must be music, so here is a nice song for you to enjoy while you continue to read.

Let’s begin with the notable quarterbacks that are impending free agents. This list consists of:

Sam Bradford, Vikings

Drew Brees, Saints

Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings

Kirk Cousins, Washington

Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots

A.J. McCaron, Bengals

Case Keenum, Vikings

Brock Osweiler, Broncos

Despite each of these quarterbacks currently playing on an expiring contract it remains to be seen as to who will hit the open market. The Vikings have three guys on this list and I must imagine they will have varying levels of interest in retaining each of them depending on the remainder of 2017.

The Vikings believed they were ready to compete with Bridgewater before he went down with a serious knee injury. This injury prompted their win-now Bradford trade, who is now dealing with his own knee injury. In relief of Bradford, Keenum has demonstrated he is a competent backup that can guide this team to victories while running the ball and playing defense.

Bridgewater is set to return in the coming weeks and if he can show he is all the way, or most of the way, back to his pre-injury self, it would seem logical the Vikings will want to retain him and perhaps Keenum for continuity. If Bridgewater struggles, and Bradford cannot take the field due to injury, it is likely the Vikings themselves will be a participant the 2018 quarterback market, looking to trade, free agency and possibly the draft. Any scenario leaves the door open to retain Keenum as a backup, but it is certainly possible another team could outbid the Vikings for his services, specifically a team planning to use draft capital on a rookie but keep the rookie on the sidelines for the first X amount of weeks or perhaps first year.

It is very difficult at this point to envision Drew Brees in a different uniform. The likelihood of him hitting the open market is very low. The only real chance is that the Saints completely bomb the rest of the season and the franchise decides to move on from both him and Sean Payton. Sitting atop the division after 7 weeks puts the Saints in a good position to make the playoffs. I picked them as a wild card team before the season began and expect them to remain in competition for a playoff birth until the end of the season. Even if the Saints miss the playoffs by a game I think it is more likely the organization brings everyone back knowing they now have young talent on defense that can help return them to the playoffs. The Saints also have the franchise tag available to them to try to win with Brees for one more year.

The Kirk Cousins-Washington rocky relationship has been well documented so I will not rehash that here. The important pieces of information to bear in mind in this space are that 1. A third consecutive franchise tag for Cousins would cost Washington an astronomical $33 million for 2018 and 2. Cousins has publicly said all the right things and claims to be open to remaining in Washington, and while I believe he is telling the truth, the Cousins-to-49ers scenario makes too much sense to ignore.

The Jimmy Garoppolo mystery box is undoubtedly going to earn him a large free agent offer with some GM essentially tying his future employment to Garoppolo’s development. In a game and a half in 2016 (massive sample size I know), Jimmy G looked like a real, viable NFL quarterback that could very well be much better than anyone outside the Patriots organization realizes. I do think there is some very real potential that Jimmy is a true franchise quarterback, and I base this on the fact that Belichick refuses to trade him before his contract expires. Belichick has created himself a long list of players he has sent away during the final season of their contract, recently sending off defensive starters Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins, for not even first round picks. His hard no to all trade inquiries for a backup that will never see the field makes me believe that Belichick knows exactly what he has in Garoppolo. He had no problem shipping off Jacoby Brissett, or Matt Cassell after his breakout season.

What might complicate Garoppolo’s availability on the open market is if the Patriots tag and subsequently attempt to trade him. The Patriots would have to initially swallow about $20 million on their cap sheet, hindering their ability to make free agent signings until they offload the contract. Perhaps they can come to verbal agreements with free agents with the understanding the deal just has to wait until after a Garoppolo trade. Hey, the Spurs seem to be pretty good at talking players and agents into such an idea. Of course, this is risky, as any player could get antsy, and if another team calls with more money, more playing time, or both, well — I think college recruiting has shown us all how binding a verbal agreement truly is.

I would imagine that at this point in his career, A.J. McCaron would like to have the opportunity to compete for a starting job. The Bengals would probably love to keep him around as their back up but unless there is absolutely no market for his services I don’t see this being realistic. Another unrealistic scenario is the Bengals tagging and then trying to trade McCaron because I cannot envision the Bengals swallowing around $20 million on their payroll until they are able to unload McCaron with a trade partner.

Brock Osweiler had no market after he was released from the Browns. I do not have inside information to confirm this, but it is a logical conclusion given he took the minimum to return to Denver. Perhaps since he was released so late in the process no team really had the money to offer him more, but when you play quarterback and the Browns don’t want you, that reflects pretty poorly upon yourself. I do think Osweiler can fall into the bridge quarterback bin. I do realize the Browns just had this option after drafting Kizer, but it makes more sense that they wanted to see what they had in Kizer ahead of the 2018 quarterback draft class.

Next, we can discuss noteworthy quarterbacks with two years remaining on their contract that may end up available as a free agent or a tradable asset. This list includes:

Blake Bortles, Jaguars

Brian Hoyer, 49ers

Carson Palmer, Cardinals

Tyrod Taylor, Bills

Alex Smith, Chiefs

Blake Bortles’ entire $19 million 2018 salary is non-guaranteed. The Jaguars will most likely shop him for a late round draft pick, and if there are no takers they will release him.

The 49ers can save $4 million if they cut Brian Hoyer, who can go elsewhere in the bridge role. However, Hoyer’s $6.5 million 2018 cap hit is decent for a solid backup and the 9ers may find it more valuable to keep him around in such a role rather than cut him if they end up with a rookie next season. They may even find it valuable to retain him if they bring in Kirk Cousins for continuity purposes.

The Cardinals can get out of Carson Palmer’s contract after this season with only $6.625 million of dead cap. Palmer has a $20.625 million cap hit for the 2018 season, so even if Palmer does not decide to retire (though I think he will) the Cardinals may look to move in a different direction.

The Bills appear to be actively attempting to run Tyrod Taylor out of town. Maybe it isn’t really that aggressive but it seems as if they only want him around until a viable alternative is easily accessible. Taylor has a $6 million roster bonus due the third day of the 2018 league year. The Bills can get out of Taylor’s contract in the offseason with $8.64 million of dead money left on its cap sheet. They also can look to trade Tyrod in the first two days of the league year before his bonus comes due.

The Chiefs have an out on Alex Smith’s contract after this season where there will be only $3.6 million of dead money left on their cap sheet, while his 2018 cap hit is $20.6 million. He is also due a $2 million roster bonus on the third day of the league year. However, the Chiefs must prefer to trade Smith if they wish to hand the team over to Mahomes in 2018. The return for Smith should be rather substantial. The Chiefs gave up two second round picks to acquire Smith, and while Smith is now older, he is having a breakout season at age 33. I am going to trust the 12 years of data that points to Smith being a serviceable NFL starter over the recent 7 game sample that points to Smith being the GOAT. Regardless of which Alex Smith a team is getting, a win-now team should be willing to give up something significant to win any Smith sweepstakes.

To me, the interesting subplot here is that 2018 may be the second time in Alex Smith’s career that he starts for a team in a conference champion only to lose his job to a young, athletic quarterback.

There are four quarterbacks with three years remaining on their contract that I wish to discuss. These four quarterbacks are:

Mike Glennon, Bears

Eli Manning, Giants

Philip Rivers, Chargers

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

Unless the Bears want to absorb a $16 million cap hit so Glennon can hold a clipboard and fashion a pencil behind his ear in 2018, I expect them to cut Glennon after this season with only $4.5 million of dead cap as a consequence.

It blows my mind how forever and always the 2004 quarterback class is and will be intertwined. Each of Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers have three years remaining on their contracts, and each of their teams can get out of the contract in 2019. The Giants can cut Eli with only $6.2 million of dead cap, the Chargers can cut Rivers with only $7 million of dead cap, and the Steelers can cut Ben for only $6.2 of dead cap.

Each of these quarterbacks seem to be in a different position to either stay or leave their current team.

Eli Manning has been rumored to be a trade candidate and tied to the Jaguars due to the Tom Coughlin connection. I will be shocked if this comes to fruition. The path forward for Eli and the Giants seems to be that he either plays out one more season on his current contract while the Giants bring in another developmental quarterback to take over in 2019, or the Giants approach him with a front office offer and force ask him to retire.

I have previously stated that I think the best course of action for the Chargers is to trade Philip Rivers and tank for a top two pick to draft a Los Angeles native quarterback to boost attendance and the fan base. Well, the Chargers have put together a three-win winning streak after starting the season 0-4. With three wins the Chargers are going to be hard pressed to get into the top two of the draft with two teams, the 49ers and Browns, sitting at 0-7. The Chargers can, however, take a developmental quarterback and let him sit behind Rivers.

My educated guess is that Roethlisberger is going to retire after this season. If he does, this would vault the Steelers to the top tier of most-desperate-for-a-qb teams. If Ben does not retire the Steelers can still come out of the 2018 draft with a developmental guy. Yes, they took Joshua Dobbs last season and it is not wise to simply give up on anyone after one season, but bringing in competition can’t hurt.

One more quarterback to mention is Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins have the ability to get out of his contract after this season with only $4.6 million of dead cap on their cap sheet. I’m not saying this will happen, but Tannehill has now suffered a knee injury twice in the span of 8 months and Adam Gase didn’t draft him. The Dolphins can also get out of this contract in 2019 for only $2.3 million of dead cap. It is probably more unlikely than likely we have seen the last of Tannehill as a Dolphin, but the possibility remains.

Now about this rookie class:

If you search the web you will surely find content about how disappointing the “Year of the Quarterback” has been thus far. I’m not going to sit here and argue for or against that statement. What I am going to establish, however, is that even if it is disappointing, it simply doesn’t matter. We live in a world where ahead of the 2017 draft the consensus was that no quarterback deserved a first round grade. Never the less, three quarterbacks went in the top 12 picks, and all of them were acquired through trades that involved handing over substantial draft capital. Another trade involving substantial draft capital and a quarterback is the Carson Wentz trade. A quarterback prospect with only 612 career attempts at the I-AA and a fourth round pick was worth two first round picks, a second round pick, a third round pick and a fourth round pick. Ernie Accorsi believes that if you like a quarterback, there is no such thing as too high a cost. I think the Eagles currently agree.

The Bears dealt away the third pick, two third round picks and a fourth round pick to move up one spot to the second overall pick, to draft a quarterback with 572 career pass attempts.

The Chiefs surrendered two first round picks and a third round pick to take Patrick Mahomes 10th overall.

The Texans surrendered two first round picks to take Deshaun Watson 12th overall.

The Rams surrendered two first round picks, two second round picks, and two third round picks for Jared Goff, a fourth round pick and a sixth round pick.

Hey, here’s a fun list:

Paxton Lynch – 2016 26th overall pick

Blake Bortles – 2014 3rd overall pick

Johnny Manziel – 2014 22nd overall pick

E.J. Manuel – 2013 16th overall pick

Ryan Tannehill – 2012 8th overall pick

Brandon Weeden – 2012 22nd overall pick

Jake Locker – 2011 8th overall pick

Blaine Gabbert – 2011 10th overall pick

Christian Ponder – 2011 12th overall pick

Mark Sanchez – 2009 5th overall pick

If you play quarterback, you will be drafted higher than you should be. So despite the “disappointment” of the incoming quarterback crop so far, I will place a large wager right now on the first two picks being, in some order, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold, with up to four quarterbacks possibly joining them in the first round.

In no particular order, here is a list of quarterbacks that will be available in the 2018 draft:

Josh Rosen, UCLA

Sam Darnold, USC

Josh Allen, Wyoming

Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Will Grier, West Virginia

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Luke Falk, Washington State

Ryan Finley, N.C. State

Riley Ferguson, Memphis

Jake Browning, Washington

That is a lot of potential Thursday and Friday night talent that may be available in late April.

And now, here are the teams I have identified to be, or potentially be, in the 2018 quarterback market:

Bills (Pending Tyrod decision)

Dolphins (Pending Tannehill decision)

Jets (Duh)

Browns (DUH)

Ravens (Developmental)

Steelers (Starter or developmental depending on Roethlisberger retirement)



Giants (Starter or developmental depending on Eli “retirement”)

Redskins (Depending on Cousins resolution)

Vikings (Depending on Bridgewater/Bradford post injury performance)

Saints (Depending on Brees resolution with the heavy odds that he resigns)

Cardinals (Starter or developmental depending on Palmer retirement/decision)


Obviously, some of these decisions/resolutions will affect other teams. Only one team is going to sign Kirk Cousins. If he stays in Washington then they are no longer on this list. If he bolts for San Francisco then we remove the 9ers and keep Washington.

I have not mentioned anything regarding the Broncos, other than Osweiler should find himself on the open market in 2018. Denver still doesn’t know what they have in Paxton Lynch, but they wanted him to win this job in the preseason and he didn’t. Also, John Elway can publicly endorse Trevor Siemian all he wants, and he should, but he must know that if the Broncos are to return to the Super Bowl he needs to upgrade the quarterback position.

So Who Ends Up in Which Chair?

Sitting here trying to project this entire carousel in October is really a fools errand as there are too many unknown factors. But let’s try! Here are the things I think I’m pretty confident predicting:

Ben Roethlisberger retires

Carson Palmer retires

Alex Smith gets traded

Drew Brees signs a three-year contract with the Saints

Teddy Bridgewater re-signs with the Vikings

Sam Bradford hits the open market

A.J. McCaron hits the open market

Brock Osweiler hits the open market

Mike Glennon is released

Blake Bortles is released

The Browns finish with a top two pick

The 49ers finish with a top two pick

So let’s predict the remaining movement.

To me, the most fascinating decision if the above scenarios prove true is what the Browns and 49ers would do to address their quarterback situations. Holding a top two pick guarantees you a chance at  Rosen and Darnold. These are young quarterbacks who are believed to have the upside to become franchise guys. They also will be playing on cost controlled rookie scale contracts for the first four or five years of their careers, depending on if the 5th year option is picked up. Myles Garrett, the 2017 1st overall pick, has a 2017 cap hit of $5.529 million this season. Jared Goff, the 2016 1st overall pick, had a cap hit of $5.079 million his rookie season. The first year salary increases each year in lock step with an increase in the salary cap.

I’m not going to sit here and attempt to project the 2018 NFL salary cap, and a quick Google search didn’t yield many results, but Goff’s rookie year salary represented 3.27% of the 2016 salary cap and Garrett’s rookie year salary represented 3.31% of the 2017 salary cap. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume the top pick will be making roughly $5.979 million his rookie year. Bill Barnwell has previously explained how if you develop your quarterback into just an average league starter that quarterback will return in excess of $10 million of surplus value on an annual basis. You can see why it will be very tempting and logical for the Browns and 9ers to simply draft their future franchise quarterbacks and use the money saved on free agents to put into place around the rookie.

However, the alternative may be better, but of course this is subjective to the eye of the beholder. The Browns have been linked to Jimmy Garoppolo previously, and the 49ers-Cousins connection has been well documented. Let’s say both of these teams are interested in both of the quarterbacks for this exercise. If you want to sign Kirk Cousins it will cost you north of $20 million annually and potentially you may have to make him the highest paid player in the NFL. Garoppolo, on the other hand, will most likely cost around $20 million annually, and while this is cheaper than Cousins, it is still significantly larger than the cost of a rookie scale deal.

Let’s say one of or both of these teams sign one or both of these free agents. Especially in the case of Cousins, you spent a large sum of money on a proven commodity instead of rolling the dice on a rookie. You sacrificed perhaps $18 million in cap space annually, on average, over the life of Cousins’ deal versus a rookie scale deal. The extra benefit to this course of action is you can now hang a big fat “FOR SALE” sign on your top two pick and auction it off to the highest bidder. As of this writing, here is the current order at the top of the draft:

  1. 1. Browns
  2. 2. 49ers
  3. 3. Giants
  4. 4. Colts
  5. 5. Bengals
  6. 6. Buccaneers
  7. 7. Cardinals
  8. 8. Ravens
  9. 9. Raiders
  10. 10. Jets
  11. 11. Chargers
  12. 12. Bears
  13. 13. Cowboys
  14. 14. Broncos

This order will undoubtedly change by the end of the season. But for now, the Giants, Cardinals, Jets, and Broncos are teams within striking distance that have a need for a quarterback. (I know I have talked about the need for the Chargers to develop behind Rivers or replace him, but I find it more likely they use their draft capital to improve the team around him.) I have already discussed the trade hauls teams have received in recent years when trading away a top pick for a quarterback. (Yes, I am aware I did not mention the king’s ransom the Rams received for RGIII, but not only is it an outlier of a payment in comparison to every other quarterback trade, but given how that situation played out I suspect no team will pay such a cost moving forward.)

So do you A. Draft the rookie and use the excess money on free agents at other positions or B. Sign the proven/”proven” guy to a huge money deal and sell off your draft pick for the largest package a team is willing to pay?

Time will tell.

One more item I’m reasonably confident in predicting: Jimmy Garappolo will hit the open market. In 2017 the Saints were unwilling to give up a high first round pick to acquire Malcolm Butler to then hand him a very large contract. Giving up draft equity, your chance at a cost controlled young talent, for the right to then pay someone a large sum of money, is simply not very good business. The quarterback position trumps all, but I don’t foresee teams willing to part with their first round pick to then hand Jimmy Garoppolo a roughly 5-year, $100 million contract. Maybe Belichick can get a second round pick for Jimmy, but then is it worth the hassle of tagging him, freezing a $20 million cap hold on your cap sheet to begin free agency, and then calling around to find the highest bidder?

This leads me to Jimmy signing in Arizona. There have been rumblings that all three of Palmer, Fitz and Arians will retire after this season, and I think Arians’ presence will increase the Jimmy to Arizona odds, but I think it happens regardless. I’ve heard before Arians is a fan of Garappolo and I always thought it made sense he would one-day end up a Cardinal to replace Palmer. The Cardinals could use their top ten pick to draft a quarterback such as Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, or Baker Mayfield, but I think this team with their trio of in-their-prime-megastars (David Johnson, Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson) will prefer the veteran option. Hey, they could sign Garappolo and then auction off their pick! I also believe Jimmy would rather go to the Cardinals instead of the Browns, but perhaps he would prefer the 49ers to the Cardinals. Who knows? What I think I know, however, is in the wee hours of free agency the 49ers will be pursuing Kirk Cousins and the Cardinals will be pursuing Jimmy. Advantage Cardinals.

Gun to my head I think Cousins actually stays in Washington. He has spoken about his desire to spend his entire career with a single franchise. I think that Washington is at a point now where they are not going to low ball him anymore. The 49ers may offer more money, but Cousins has said that it isn’t about the money; it is about feeling at peace. Maybe a change of scenery will make him feel at peace, or maybe finally earning Washington’s front office respect will make him feel at peace.

So much for my sweet scenario of the Browns and/or 9ers signing a veteran and selling off their top pick.

One reason I don’t think the 49ers pursuit of Cousins will be as extreme as it is cracked up to be is that I think Shanahan will be comfortable with either Rosen or Darnold. Rosen, to me, profiles as similar to Matt Ryan but with a better arm. They are built the same, they’re both very smart and not very mobile, and are accurate pocket passers. Shanahan also guided Matt Ryan to his 2016 MVP season.

Sam Darnold, on the other hand, is very mobile with good arm strength himself. To me, he profiles a lot like Carson Wentz. Envision Carson Wentz running Shanahan’s bootleg system.

Who gets Rosen and who gets Darnold depends on who finishes with the top pick and which quarterback they prefer. But in the spirit of making definitive predictions this is where I’m landing:

The Browns and 49ers are both 0-7 and the similarities do not stop there. The Browns +/- on the season is -66 while the 49ers +/- is -63. Football Outsiders has the Browns as 31st in DVOA and the 49ers as 30th in DVOA. Football Outsiders also says the Browns have played the 18th toughest schedule thus far and the 49ers have played the 17th toughest schedule thus far. Both of these teams lost to the Colts, who have the worst +/- in the NFL at -103 and rank last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. I suppose you can say these teams are equally bad. As a result, I am going to go with the Browns as the team that gets the first pick as Football Outsiders has their remaining schedule as the 3rd toughest, while the 49ers are set to face the 11th toughest remaining schedule. Considering, also, that Drew Stanton is now the quarterback of the Cardinals, I think the odds are greater San Francisco ends up with the second pick in the draft.

Like I said, it depends on which team prefers which quarterback, but I am going to say the Browns select Josh Rosen, leaving Sam Darnold for the 49ers. I expect Hue Jackson to get fired, so who knows which of these two any new coach will prefer. However, I have seen roughly 90% of every throw both Rosen and Darnold have made this season, and if you still prefer Darnold I simply don’t understand what it is you have been watching. I am not telling you Darnold is bad, I am just saying that as of this writing it is blatantly obvious Rosen has had the superior season. But that is my opinion. Mel Kiper finally moved Rosen up to the top quarterback spot on his big board and Albert Breer surveyed some NFL evaluators recently and found an even split between Darnold and Rosen.

While I have to imagine the Chiefs would much rather ship Alex Smith off to the NFC (how awesome would it be if he was sent back to the 9ers?) I believe that the Jaguars will send a first round pick to Kansas City for Alex Smith. Maybe it will only be a second round pick, and I know I just spoke about how no one wants to give up a first rounder and then pay a guy, but if Sam Bradford is worth a first and conditional fourth round pick then I expect the Jaguars to pay up.  If Jacksonville remains in the playoff hunt through the end of the season, or perhaps even wins the division, the Jaguars are simply sending off roughly the 21st pick in the draft for the exact type of quarterback they wish they had (read: doesn’t throw interceptions).  I think they will gladly do the swap under the assumption that Jacksonville sees this as the move that makes them a Super Bowl contender.  Frankly, they wouldn’t be wrong to think that.

Here are some quick fire predictions:

Sam Bradford signs with the Broncos.

The Dolphins do not cut Ryan Tannehill.

I don’t believe John Elway wants to go the rookie first round pick route a second time in three years. He clearly has a lot of confidence in Siemian, so he will trust him to come in and start during the inevitable X amount of games Bradford misses due to injury next season.

I believe the Bills are going to hold Tyrod Taylor and spend a first round pick on a quarterback and either go the 2017 Chiefs route or the 2017 Bears route.

I do not think Eli Manning retires and the Giants will look again in the draft for another developmental guy later (perhaps a trade up from the top of the second round back into the middle or end of the first) and will turn in their draft card in approximately 0.00001 Nano seconds to take Saquan Barkley if they manage to hold onto the third pick.

I think the Steelers will spend a first round pick on a quarterback, perhaps trading up to ensure someone they really like, and bring in Mike Glennon or Brock Osweiler to do exactly what Glennon did for the Bears this season: start a few games then turn it over to the rookie. This is the prediction I am least confident in, as signing Mike Glennon and drafting a rookie doesn’t seem like a strategy Le’Veon Bell would like, or one that would make him want to re-sign with the team. It also seems like a move that will piss off Antonio Brown and possibly other veteran players on the roster. But, hey, if the Steelers want to keep Bell they will have to pony up a lot of cash, which will be easier to do if they have a quarterback on a rookie scale contract.

Well, there you have it, my predictions 5 and 6 months prior to any of this being resolved. There is, however, one more tidbit I want to discuss:

The Wild Card Named Indianapolis

Bill Barnwell beat me to the publish button by a matter of hours to discuss how the Colts should shut down Andrew Luck, tank for a top two pick, and then sell off the pick for a bounty. The Colts are 2-5 with those two victories against the Browns and 49ers. The Colts have the worst +/- in the NFL at -103. Football Outsiders has the Colts as the worst team in the NFL by their DVOA metric. They also are facing the toughest remaining schedule of any team, according to Football Outsiders.

It may be tough for the Colts to get a top two pick seeing as how they already have two wins on their record, but if it does end up happening, the Colts are going to hang a “FOR SALE” sign on that pick faster than the Titans did in 2016.  Given all the teams we have discussed as potentially needing a quarterback and how coveted these two prospects project to be, the Colts could be in for a Goff or Wentz size trade offer if they obtain a top two pick.

Still, though, the Colts are well positioned to end up with a top four pick come April. They may just gladly draft Saquan Barkley, if possible, or a defensive stalwart with that pick, but if the top two picks are in fact quarterbacks, another team further down the board may get antsy about locking up their guy and call the Colts. The Colts may feel that drafting a running back that high isn’t a very good strategy despite the recent success of Gurley, Elliot and Fournette. Maybe they believe in Marlon Mack and would rather have the picks. Maybe the Colts end up fourth, behind the Browns, 49ers, and Giants, and Rosen, Darnold and Barkley are all gone once the Colts are on the clock. They will have their pick of the litter from all the defensive prospects, but the draft is a lottery and the best odds you can have are to be the guy holding the most tickets.


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