5 QB-needy teams looming as potential trade-up threats in NFL draft

With a loaded quarterback class, these five teams in need of a signal-caller could make a move up the 2024 draft board

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The 2024 NFL Draft could see a very early run on quarterbacks.

USC's Caleb Williams, UNC's Drake Maye, LSU's Jayden Daniels and Washington's Michael Penix Jr. headline a loaded class of quarterback prospects, with all four boasting the potential to be top-10 picks.

But not all teams near the top of the draft order are locks to take a signal-caller.

The Chicago Bears, who hold the first and ninth overall picks, have a decision to make with former first-rounder Justin Fields. The Arizona Cardinals (No. 4 pick) seem committed to Kyler Murray long term. The Los Angeles Chargers (No. 5 pick) have Justin Herbert. The New York Giants (No. 6 pick) just paid Daniel Jones last offseason. The Tennessee Titans (No. 7 pick) got a promising rookie season out of 2023 second-rounder Will Levis. And the New York Jets (No. 10 pick) are in contention mode with Aaron Rodgers returning from injury.

That could pave the way for QB-needy teams to move up the first-round board for a signal-caller, a scenario that's played out countless times in NFL draft history. In just the past few drafts, the Carolina Panthers went from No. 9 to No. 1 for Bryce Young, the San Francisco 49ers went from No. 12 to No. 3 for Trey Lance and the Bears went from No. 20 to No. 11 for Fields.

So, which teams loom as potential trade-up threats in 2024? Here are five to keep an eye on.

Atlanta Falcons, No. 8

The Atlanta Falcons gave Desmond Ridder the starting reins entering the 2023 season. But the 2022 third-round pick went just 6-7, while throwing 12 touchdowns and 12 picks, and was benched multiple times as the Falcons missed the playoffs and fired head coach Arthur Smith. Suffice to say, Ridder isn't the answer long term.

Atlanta has used a top-10 pick on an offensive weapon in each of the last three drafts. Now, it's time to go get a franchise quarterback to pair with the likes of Bijan Robinson and Drake London.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is expected to go first in nearly every 2024 NFL mock draft. Here are five things you should know about the star QB.

Minnesota Vikings, No. 11

It just wouldn't be a Minnesota Vikings offseason without questions surrounding Kirk Cousins' future. The four-time Pro Bowler suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 8 and Minnesota went 3-5 without him while shuffling through Joshua Dobbs, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall at quarterback.

Even if Cousins, who turns 36 in the offseason, doesn't depart via free agency, it would be wise for the Vikings to start planning for the future. NFL analyst Brett Kollmann recently reported that Minnesota made a hard push to trade up for Anthony Richardson, who went fourth overall to the Indianapolis Colts, last year. Could the Vikings try to move up for a QB again in 2024?

Denver Broncos, No. 12

It looks like the Russell Wilson-Sean Payton marriage is only going to last for one (messy) season. Wilson was benched for Denver's final two games, possibly bringing an end to a massively disappointing two-year run in Denver for the Super Bowl champion QB. Payton said the late-season quarterback change was made in an effort to spark the offense while Wilson claimed the team had threatened to sit him if he didn't alter his contract.

Regardless, Wilson reportedly expects to be cut in March, which would put the Broncos back in the market for a QB. While Jarrett Stidham is confident in his ability to be Denver's starter, Payton and Co. should make other plans.

Here are five things you should know about LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels.

Las Vegas Raiders, No. 13

The Las Vegas Raiders' first quarterback decision in the post-Derek Carr era proved to be a swing and a miss, as Jimmy Garoppolo was benched after just six starts. But fourth-round rookie QB Aidan O'Connell, along with interim head coach Antonio Pierce, helped Las Vegas end the season on a positive note, going 5-4 down the stretch highlighted by a road win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now, the major question of the offseason in Las Vegas will be whether O'Connell is worthy of entering next season as the starter, or if the Raiders should pursue a different young QB in the draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers, TBD

Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the playoffs. But their quarterback for Super Wild Card Weekend (Mason Rudolph) began the season as the third-stringer and is now starting over the team's 2022 first-round pick (Kenny Pickett).

So barring a miraculous Rudolph-led run in the postseason, Pittsburgh is going to enter the offseason with a question mark at quarterback. That's because Pickett still hasn't shown enough to cement himself as "The Guy" through 24 starts.

Will Pittsburgh give Pickett one more season with a new offensive coordinator, or could the franchise take a QB in the first round for a second time in three years? The Steelers not turning back to Pickett so he can get exposure to playoff football in a game they're huge underdogs in anyway makes the latter not seem so far-fetched.

Michael Penix Jr. has been one of the top quarterbacks in college football. Here’s five things to know about the Huskies standout.
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