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March 15, 2021

Mailbag: Eagles should have plenty of future competition for quarterbacks if they don't draft one now

Eagles NFL

In our Eagles chat on Sunday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow, as well as some commonly asked questions on Twitter and via email.

Question from Sean: In 2016, when explaining why the Eagles moved up to get Carson Wentz, Howie Roseman said that they looked around the division and league to assess the quarterback demand over the next two years and determined that it was going to be high (Eli old, Romo old, etc, etc). Is the quarterback demand going to be higher in 2021 and 2022 than in 2016 and 2017?

Great question. Back in 2016, we took a look at the entire NFL and came up with 16 teams (half the league) that we thought could be transitioning from their quarterback already in place to someone else in the next few years.

Some of those 16 teams had immediate glaring needs, some had aging stars, some had recent one-year wonders that they hoped could be more than that, and some had middling guys who should never really be 100 percent safe. As it turned out, only one of those 16 teams (the Steelers) is projected to have their same quarterback in 2016 open the 2021 season as their starter. 

Looking at the present day NFL, here are the teams that I believe are candidates to find a new quarterback in the next 0-3 years.

Teams with an immediate glaring need (who aren't definitely taking a QB high in the 2021 draft)

  1. Football Team
  2. Bears
  3. Panthers

Aging and/or declining stars (and their team hasn't already drafted their likely eventual replacement)

  1. Buccaneers
  2. Patriots
  3. Steelers
  4. Falcons

Recently drafted a quarterback high in the draft, but that quarterback has not yet distinguished himself.

  1. Giants
  2. Dolphins
  3. Jets
  4. Broncos

Currently employ a middling, expensive vet that they should not be content to settle on.

  1. Vikings
  2. Raiders
  3. 49ers

Starter will have an opportunity to show something, but there's reason to fear failure.

  1. Lions
  2. Colts
  3. Saints

Teams with quarterback turmoil (but their QB is great, and would solve somebody's QB position, if not their own).

  1. Texans
  2. Seahawks

So if we're not counting the Texans or Seahawks, whose quarterbacks would negate one of the other team's quarterback issues should they move on, that would be 17 teams who could reasonably select a quarterback high in the draft in the next few years.

In other words, that reality hurts the premise that the Eagles could simply draft a quarterback in 2022 should Jalen Hurts falter in 2021.

Question from Lothar: I've seen a common theme in the debate over Jalen Hurts vs. drafting a QB at 6, that if Hurts succeeds, then great, the Eagles have a QB. And if he doesn't, the Eagles will be bad enough to just grab one up high next year. But this seems to ignore a not-so-insane probability of a third option... What if Hurts is just OK? It's not hard to squint and see a second year QB with a full offseason, a new staff designing an offense around him, and a little bit of improved luck in the health of the team somehow squeezing out say, 7 wins next year, which is the difference in drafting in the top 6 versus drafting around 15th, where the price to draft a top flite QB gets significantly steeper. Lurie's recent meddlesome comments aside, how much might this thinking affect the decision to take a QB this draft given the Eagles don't usually draft this high, and the price to move up from 6 likely won't be as crippling as it might be from the middle of the pack? 

I think that a prime example of the scenario you lay out above is the Broncos. They went into 2020 with a second-year, second-round quarterback in Drew Lock, who showed something as a rookie in 2019.

Lock and the Broncos proceeded to have a dreadful 2020 season, going 5-11 with a point differential of -123, which was fourth-worst in the NFL. Lock wasn't even "OK," and they're picking ninth! If Denver doesn't trade pretty far up, there's a good chance that the top four guys will all be gone by the time they pick, and that's in a loaded quarterback draft.

Question from Tony: Everyone's talking about taking a WR in the first round but I believe a strong, healthy OL has always been an important part to the Eagle's success, which didn't happened this past year. I think if Ja'Marr Chase is off the board at No. 6, the Eagles should nab either Rashawn Slater or Penei Sewell. Question: Slater has the ability to play either left tackle or guard. Philly loves OL guys with a bit of versatility. Is picking Slater at 6 a reach?

Slater has sort of been the guy that nobody mentions as a possibility for the Eagles at 6, even though a number of the draft experts (including Daniel Jeremiah) have him ranked ahead of Sewell.

I do think he would be a reach, though. I like the versatility you mention, but if I'm taking an offensive lineman at sixth overall, he better be a stud offensive tackle, and I think Sewell is the more likely player to be that. The Colts have been widely praised for selecting Quenton Nelson at sixth overall because he is such a good player, but if we're looking at any guard, how much are they really affecting wins and losses? Aaron Donald aside, there just aren't many star interior rushers these days for guards to negate.

Conversely, when you look at the season Lane Johnson had in 2017, when he faced a murderers' row of star edge rushers and shut them all down, he made a huge difference.

Slater's ability to also play guard is a nice bonus, but it's not what I'm looking for if I'm picking sixth.

Question from Dustin1419: What/Who do you think will be the Eagles’ biggest pleasant surprise this season?

I think that in 2020, the biggest pleasant surprise was probably Alex Singleton becoming a competent starting linebacker. Maybe Jordan Mailata. What a brutal season, lol.

Looking forward, I don't see much in the way of potential breakout players. Perhaps the surprise is that they win the NFC East, which wouldn't be that crazy, given its general awfulness. If there's one thing the Eagles could have going for them, as long as they can stay healthy (lol), it's that they will have the best personnel in the trenches in the division, which isn't nothing. 

Then again, winning the division could also be looked at as a bad thing, because there's almost no scenario in which they'll be Super Bowl contenders, so all they'd be doing is guaranteeing a low draft pick and a likely quick exit from the playoffs.

Question from PRINCE WOO HOO: Who will be the Eagles' back up QB this year? Jacoby Brissett? Tyrod Taylor? Nate Sudfeld?

If it were up to me, I would just bring Sudfeld back on a veteran minimum deal, because, who cares? However, my sense is that they're going to pay Brissett too much money to come to Philly because he knows Nick Sirianni's offense and can help Hurts learn it.

As we detailed in our "Three free agents who make sense for the Eagles, version 3.0" post, each of the last three Eagles new head coaching hires have brought quarterbacks along with them to help install their offenses.

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