Predicting NFL QBs for Bears, Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, and more after draft, free agency

The NFL Scouting Combine is in full swing, and with the majority of front offices in Indianapolis, there’s some information swirling around about what teams could be planning to do at quarterback. At this stage of the game a lot of the info flying around is smoke screen, with teams keeping their cards close to their chest — but there are also some rumors we’re hearing that make too much sense not to happen.

So let’s dive into the QB-needy teams of 2024 to blend logic, with what we’re hearing, and predict how this all shakes out.

Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams

It’s unclear if the Bears even know what they plan to do with the No. 1 pick at this point. However, people in league circles are operating under the belief that the team will trade Justin Fields prior to the start of free agency, and select Caleb Williams out of USC with the first pick in April’s draft.

Williams was the presumptive No. 1 pick for the entire college football season for a reason. He’s a dynamic playmaker, with ludicrous ability to improvise after the snap to avoid pressure. The floor for him seems to be Kyler Murray, but there are some traits to him that aren’t dissimilar to Patrick Mahomes in terms of how he keeps his eyes downfield while under pressure and always looks to move the ball with him arm before his legs.

The upside here makes too much sense for the Bears who need a bonafide superstar, and that’s why it’s looking like he’ll be the pick here.

Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields

When Raheem Morris threw Desmond Ridder under the bus this week it was a sign that something was happening here.

There’s a feeling the Falcons and Bears already have the framework in place for a trade that would sent Justin Fields home to Atlanta. It’s unclear what Chicago would get in the deal, but this would explain why Morris felt so comfortable discussing the team’s need at quarterback.

Fields has shown flashes of brilliance, marred by lots of poor play. This isn’t all his fault, as inconsistent offensive vision and questionable weapons meant he was never able to live up to his potential. The Falcons have weapons he needs, and an offensive coach in Zac Robinson who could truly unlock Fields and turn him into the franchise QB he was destined to be.

Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels

There’s a lot of talk around the Commanders — particularly that they’re really not interested in Drake Maye. In an ideal world Caleb Williams would be on the board, but with the Bears likely to take him the team will skip over Maye and take Jayden Daniels out of LSU.

This is a risky, risky move for a team giving a lot of power to new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. Daniels makes sense in terms of what’s required to run Kingsbury’s system, but it’s a very questionable choice considering Maye is the safest, most NFL-ready QB in this draft with a really high floor.

New England Patriots: Drake Maye

The Patriots are really, really thinking about what they’re going to do in the draft. Interviews will play a big role for them. There’s some thought the team will look to move out of the No. 3 pick if Drake Maye is on the board, while others think they’ll stay pat and get their QB of the future.

Ultimately it feels like getting Maye is too good to pass up. There’s a chance a team offers a haul and gets New England to move off the pick, but Maye is basically everything this team has been lacking at the position. He has elite NFL arm strength, confidence in the pocket to make plays, he’s not afraid of taking a beating, and he’s a sneaky athlete.

There’s some footwork improvement to be made, but this could truly result in the Patriots getting the best QB in the 2024 class.

Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins

The Vikings are fascinating. They sit in the No. 11 spot, just outside of where they’d need to be to land a top quarterback. There is a big chance they could trade up, but GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is an analytics-based thinker who knows how damaging it can be to give up a lot of assets in a trade.

Ultimately there will be a lot of talk, but the Vikings kick the can down the road a little longer and re-sign Cousins. It’s the smartest move for them right now, and they can look to find their long-term franchise QB in the future.

Las Vegas Raiders: Jimmy Garoppolo

Similar to the Vikings, the Raiders are in a place where they can’t really land a top quarterback without trading up. While that’s certainly a possibility that could happen, it’s unclear if the team is ready to dive into the muddy waters of voiding Garoppolo’s deal.

The most likely scenario is giving Antonio Pierce a full season to see what he do with the current structure, rather than rushing to make the QB decision now. It’s a more measured, methodical approach than we’re used to seeing from the Raiders — but it’s a good long-term move for them.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Russell Wilson

The Steelers know they can’t win with their current QB room. As it stands it appears the team will look to find a veteran in the market to bridge the gap, and recover from the sting of whiffing on Kenny Pickett.

There was a lot of credence to the idea the Steelers would make the move for Justin Fields, but it seems like they were beaten to the punch. Now they’ll wait to see what the veteran market looks like.

The top-end here is Russell Wilson. If his time in Denver is truly over (and it’s sure looking that way) then he would be a no-brainer pickup for the team. If that falls through then they’d need to take a mammoth step down and settle for someone like Ryan Tannehill or Gardner Minshew in free agency.

Denver Broncos: J.J. McCarthy

There’s too much about this that makes sense. McCarthy knows what it’s like to play under a strong-willed, domineering head coach in Jim Harbaugh, and thrived. Now he’ll do the same with Sean Payton in Denver.

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to McCarthy because he really wasn’t asked to do a lot at Michigan. What we do know is that he’s very smart with the ball, makes great decisions, and has enough zip to make throws into tight windows. As it stands there’s talk the Broncos are very intrigued with McCarthy and are investing more time with him than any of the other tier two QB prospects in this draft class.

Denver will likely need to move up to get this done, especially with some teams ahead of them potentially eying McCarthy like the Giants and Vikings — still, this would be a very good fit and something that’s too logical not to happen.

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