You learn a lot talking to smart people. Daniel Jeremiah’s a smart guy, and I learned a lot from our conversation Saturday evening. Namely: There is one position of great intrigue entering the Scouting Combine this week in Indianapolis, one position that is an absolute mystery with the draft kicking off two months from today. Quarterback.
Jeremiah, NFL Network’s prime draft analyst, has been doing his homework entering the Combine, and his research team came up with this gem: Since 2011, six teams have traded either into the top five picks of the first round, or higher in the top five, for a quarterback. And on every occasion, the acquiring team overpaid, per the old Jimmy Johnson trade chart. The acquiring teams and QBs:
2012: Robert Griffin III, second overall to Washington.
2016: Jared Goff, first overall to the Rams.
2016: Carson Wentz, second overall to Philadelphia.
2017: Mitchell Trubisky, second overall to Chicago.
2018: Sam Darnold, third overall to the Jets.
2021: Trey Lance, third overall to San Francisco.
The Bears have the first overall pick in 2023. There are four quarterbacks likely to go in the first half of the first round, and four teams with major quarterback needs in the top nine: Houston (two), Indianapolis (four), Las Vegas (seven) and Carolina (nine). I hear—though it might be smoke—that none of the four wants to scotch-tape a veteran like 39-year-old Aaron Rodgers and probably not Derek Carr. So the Bears, if they’re not going to use the first pick on a quarterback, could get rich quick by using quarterback desperation against these four teams.
What did the 2022 season teach us about pro football? You need a quarterback to reach the promised land, and you need defenders who can stop the quarterback—edge players, franchise corners. The Bears could just sit at one if they love one of the two best defenders in the class—defensive tackle Jalen Carter of Georgia and edge-rusher Will Anderson Jr. of Alabama. They could sit at one if they’ve fallen out of love—which I doubt—with Justin Fields and want one of the four quarterbacks. Or they could strike a rich deal with a desperate team.
Recent history, in the form of the overpaid move-ups for quarterbacks since 2012, is on the side of the Bears. As Jeremiah said, trading down with Carolina at nine might net Chicago the ninth overall pick plus a second-round pick this year, and first-rounders in 2024 and ’25—if history holds.
“It’s an interesting draft,” Jeremiah said Saturday night, “because you don’t have quite the top-end talent at the top of the draft you’ve had in some past drafts … But in my conversations around the league, I talk to friends and they’re sitting there saying, ‘How are we gonna stop these quarterbacks?’ You hope you have one of them. But if you don’t, you gotta go find one with the upside that’s at that level. The second question, and this has been in talking to some GMs in their draft meetings, literally the questions are: ‘Is this guy gonna help us get off the field against Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen?’ You’ve got to build your team towards trying to deal with this next generation of star quarterbacks, particularly in the AFC.”
This week, when quarterbacks Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis and the fascinating Anthony Richardson show up in Indianapolis, the questions will start to get answered. Not a single one is a no-doubt long-term quarterback, but the desperation for the position will cause some intense jockeying for them.
Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column