For a multitude of reasons, no NFL team other than the Ravens appears more than mildly interested in paying lucrative money for Lamar Jackson. But that doesn't mean there aren't a handful of teams still in clear need of a quarterback upgrade. Most of the notable veterans available this offseason have already found new homes. So that leaves the 2023 NFL Draft as the next best place for needy organizations to find new signal-callers.
With that in mind, we decided to break down which teams are real possibilities to spend an early pick at the position. In this case, we're defining "early" as the first two rounds; typically a QB selection in that window means the rookie will at least compete for a starting job out of the gate. We've separated the possibilities into three tiers: near-locks, safe bets and wild cards.
In total, we believe 14 of the NFL's 32 teams, or roughly 43% of the league, are reasonable candidates to draft a QB with a first- or second-round pick.
The following 18 teams are not included because of their stable or unique QB situations: the Bears (Justin Fields), Bengals (Joe Burrow), Bills (Josh Allen), Broncos (Russell Wilson), Browns (Deshaun Watson), Cardinals (Kyler Murray), Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes), Chargers (Justin Herbert), Cowboys (Dak Prescott), Dolphins (Tua Tagovailoa), Eagles (Jalen Hurts), 49ers (Trey Lance/Brock Purdy), Giants (Daniel Jones), Jaguars (Trevor Lawrence), Jets (Aaron Rodgers), Packers (Jordan Love), Saints (Derek Carr) and Steelers (Kenny Pickett). That's not to say some of these teams shouldn't explore another QB investment; it's just that we don't anticipate any of them doing so.
Note: The draft picks listed for each team below only include those in the first and second rounds.
For more draft content, check out our latest prospect rankings and mock drafts, as well as our new weekly podcast, "With the First Pick," featuring former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. (Check out the latest episode below.)
|Picks: 1, 39|
|After they traded with the Bears to get the top pick, the question isn't whether they'll add one, but which one it'll be. Odds are they're down to Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, this year's top prototypically built pocket passer; and Alabama's Bryce Young, the total package save for a smaller stature. New coach Frank Reich could easily be enamored by both. Florida's Anthony Richardson, the splashiest specimen, would represent more of a boom-or-bust play, potentially requiring veteran backup Andy Dalton to serve as a mentor and bridge out of the gate.|
|Picks: 2, 12, 33|
|Technically they could get bold and try to address another need (EDGE, DL) at No. 2 before jumping around to land whichever QB falls, but they're positioned to get a great consolation prize no matter which guy the Panthers take. Stroud would be a natural pocket leader for DeMeco Ryans after the ex-49ers assistant enjoyed Jimmy Garoppolo's efficiency in San Francisco, whereas Young boasts the decision-making they need at the spot. A wild card could be Florida's Anthony Richardson, who'd require more patience but has the juice to reinvigorate the Houston fan base.|
|Picks: 4, 35|
|They're the most intriguing of the trio destined to come away with a QB, if only because they might miss out on the consensus top two in Stroud and Young. Assuming they don't pursue Lamar Jackson, whose proven playmaking is probably a more enticing bet, the Colts could bet on Richardson as a dual-threat project for new coach Shane Steichen, especially after the latter helped develop Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. In that scenario, ex-Eagles backup Gardner Minshew might open 2023 as the tentative starter.|
Solid bets (2)
|Picks: 5, 20, 37, 52|
|Geno Smith's three-year deal in free agency couldn't have been much more team-friendly. Everyone in Seattle seems to be on the same page, knowing Smith is a fine placeholder after an explosive 2022 breakout but totally replaceable beyond 2023. And with all kinds of draft capital from their Russell Wilson trade last offseason, the Seahawks are better positioned than most to jump around the board for a long-term bet under center. Should their preference of Young or Stroud slip beyond No. 2, it's possible they could explore a trade to No. 3 overall. If not, Richardson or Kentucky's Will Levis, another raw but dynamic dual threat, profile as potential fits for Pete Carroll's run-first approach.|
|Picks: 7, 38|
|Like the Seahawks, they paid for a veteran starter in free agency, albeit with little commitment beyond 2023. Jimmy Garoppolo is a fine, if fragile, replacement of Derek Carr for Josh McDaniels' offense. But McDaniels and Co. have talked repeatedly about the possibility of drafting someone to groom as well. Richardson would give Las Vegas a true ball of clay, with similarities to former McDaniels pupil Cam Newton. But Levis, coming out with more pro-style experience and accuracy, might be the most logical target at No. 7, where he may well be available.|
Wild cards (9)
|Picks: 6, 18, 48, 55|
|Time and again, Lions brass has defended Jared Goff since his arrival in 2021's Matthew Stafford trade, and for the most part, Goff has actually proven them right, delivering an underrated second season in Detroit. With an improved, ascending roster, he might have a playoff run on deck. Still, he's relatively pricey as the 10th-highest-paid QB, and he's long shown his limitations as an off-script passer. With so much ammo at the top of the draft, the Lions may not want to waste the chance to secure a more athletic successor, even if Goff himself stays under center for at least another year.|
|Picks: 8, 44|
|Few teams have been more awkward about transitioning at QB, holding onto a declining Matt Ryan for too long, then trading him only after a failed big-money pursuit of Deshaun Watson, and now declaring 2022 rookie Desmond Ridder the Week 1 starter even before a camp competition with new highly paid backup Taylor Heinicke. After a spendy offseason, are they really going to let Ridder enter his second year unopposed? Perhaps. But you don't get back-to-back-to-back chances at a top-10 pick very often, and someone like Levis could be too intriguing to pass up.|
|Picks: 11, 41|
|Of all the teams sitting outside the top 10, none has done more documented work on top QB prospects than Tennessee. Coach Mike Vrabel was careful to leave the door open for a Ryan Tannehill exit when recently addressing the pricey veteran's future. And new general manager Ran Carthon, hailing from the 49ers front office that moved up for Trey Lance, could be tickled by the opportunity to draft and develop his own raw dual threat for Vrabel's run-heavy offense.|
|Picks: 14, 46|
|It'd be surprising if New England went QB on Day One just two years after selecting Mac Jones 15th overall, but this has been an offseason of offensive turnover, with Bill O'Brien back as Bill Belichick's coordinator and Belichick himself signaling an open competition between Jones and 2022 fourth-rounder Bailey Zappe. Why stop taking swings as the post-Tom Brady hangover lingers, especially after ownership has already openly flirted with the idea of Lamar Jackson? Imagine, for example, Tennessee's Hendon Hooker as a second-round possibility, giving the Pats yet another long-term option without the need to rush him into the lineup.|
|Picks: 16, 47|
|Like the Falcons, who stole Taylor Heinicke, the Commanders are seemingly content in QB purgatory, with tentative plans to enter 2023 captained by a second-year prospect (Sam Howell) and veteran No. 2 (Jacoby Brissett). The issue is, Howell's a total unknown, and Brissett's best suited coming off the bench. So Washington is still, as per usual, lacking projectable star power. A change in team ownership might get the ball rolling on a more aggressive approach (i.e. a potential trade up), but if a polarizing athlete like Richardson or Levis slides to No. 16, they'd have to consider it, right?|
|Picks: 19, 50|
|In the wake of Tom Brady's retirement, odds are they'll play it cheap for at least a season, letting Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask duke it out for the right to open 2023 under center. But if, say, Levis slips into the teens, GM Jason Licht might not be able to resist seizing a more dynamic long-term option. Otherwise, Tampa Bay could easily take a Day Two flyer at the position, seeing as neither Mayfield nor Trask is guaranteed to even be on the roster beyond this season.|
|Their inclusion is of course dependent on what happens with Lamar Jackson. Should they actually move the disgruntled star QB before the draft, they could look to make an immediate pivot and draft his replacement, perhaps with an additional first-rounder acquired via trade. In that scenario, Anthony Richardson would make for an intriguing stylistic fit as an instant threat on the ground, though someone like Will Levis could also have appeal as a slightly more refined passer. It's not out of the question they'd also consider a later gamble, such as with Hendon Hooker, to pair with Tyler Huntley.|
|At present, they are not especially well-equipped to move up for a QB. But after an offseason of shedding big-name salary and settling for mostly low-risk flyers, GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is a dark horse to shop -- or at least find a successor to -- Kirk Cousins. The latter is solid but unspectacular, and more importantly, he's entering a contract year. Dalvin Cook remains as a potential trade chip, while Adofo-Mensah has openly pondered Cousins' long-term ceiling.|
|They've spent the offseason paying their dues for the all-in moves that helped them hoist the Lombardi in 2021, and the draft is evidence of it as well, with Los Angeles boasting a single pick in the first two rounds. Basically any position could warrant the No. 36 pick. But if they can add another pick or two via additional trades (say, for WR Allen Robinson), you'd think GM Les Snead would at least entertain adding to the QB room. Matthew Stafford is aging, expensive and coming off serious injuries, hence L.A. reportedly shopping him early in the offseason. They also have no other QBs under contract.|