With college football postseason nearing its completion, the fevered anticipation of draft season will soon commence. Given the nature of the NFL as a quarterback driven league, there is no surprise the signal caller position tends to get all the hype each and every draft year. Typically, the draft gets an extra added buzz when there are two prospects battling it out vying for the top passer of the draft class. Two players with the potential to transform an NFL franchise for the good, or the bad.
In recent memory, that has included the pitting of Jamies Winston vs. Marcus Mariota, Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III, and who can possibly forget our very own Alex Smith vs. Aaron Rodgers debate, good times; nevertheless, it's not a hyped up draft season unless there are two quarterbacks pressed and spotlighted into competing against each other. Luckily, and good timing for the 49ers fans yearning for a top-pick new signal caller, the 2016 NFL Draft will likely provide us with our two challengers in Cal's Jared Goff and Memphis' Paxton Lynch. The question is, will the 49ers even have an opportunity to select either one, if that's the path they chose to take.
With one more regular season game left to complete the draft order for the top half of the draft, the 49ers currently sit picking 5th, which is well in reach of selecting either Goff or Lynch. However, there are a few quarterback needy teams drafting ahead of the 49ers, so technically, the 49ers could very well miss out on a potential franchise-altering, history-making decision.
The draft order for the four teams currently drafting ahead of the 49ers are as follows:
1st - Tennessee Titans
2nd - Cleveland Browns
3rd - San Diego Chargers
4th - Dallas Cowboys
I think it is safe to say the Tennessee Titans are not in the mix in drafting either Goff or Lynch, since they are already set at quarterback selecting Marcus Mariota in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Titans may consider protecting their franchise signal caller with a quality tackle, and there are a couple of viable options with Laremy Tunsil and Ronnie Stanley very capable of solidifying the tackle position. Titans may also consider trading out of the top spot moving down a few draft spots and still select their coveted tackle of choice.
Who knows what the Cleveland Browns will do. The Johnny Manziel roller coaster of hype has been mostly downhill, but there have been flashes of a potential positive outcome. Of course, we are talking about the Browns and their extensive list of revolving quarterbacks coming and going in and out of the franchise. Nevertheless, the quarterback position is a need for their organization, and with Black Monday just a few days away, it's quite possible a new head coach and a new person running the front office could cut their losses with Johnny Football and add another quarterback to the infamous crossed-out Tim Couch jersey list of Browns' former quarterbacks, which is nearing the ankles by now.
The San Diego Chargers are set at quarterback with Philip Rivers locked in with the franchise until the end of 2019. However, the quarterback position is a need for the Chargers with their backup, Kellen Clemens, becoming an unrestricted free agent at the completion of the 2015 season leaving practice squad member, Brad Sorensen, as the only other viable potential quarterback heading into the following season with the Chargers. The Chargers could very well look into drafting the successor to Rivers allowing the rookie to sit and be groomed preparing his way to eventually take over the reigns from what I expect, an unwilling kicking and screaming Rivers.
One interesting tidbit: scouts for the Chargers were in attendance Tuesday for Jared Goff's impressive, and likely final collegiate game. Safe to say the Chargers weren't there because they have a penchant for electrifying helmets Air Force dons. Obviously, there were other potential draft-eligible prospects at the Armed Forces Bowl, but the quarterback-needy Chargers attending Goff's game is intriguing, nonetheless.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a somewhat similar situation as the Chargers. They are established at quarterback with Tony Romo signed through the end of 2019 season as well. However, as Cowboy's fans can attest, life without Romo behind center has been bleak. Moreover, with the tendency of Romo being injury prone as of late, Jerry Jones no doubt will like to find Romo's successor sooner rather than later. Therefore, with the quarterback position likely a priority need for the Cowboys, this is where the next bit of information gets intriguing. Scouts for the Cowboys were in attendance Tuesday for Jared Goff, and were in attendance for Wednesday's college football Bowl action featuring Paxton Lynch. Jerry World could get interesting, especially after missing out on Johnny Football a couple years back.
Again, having scouts at a specific game could be absolutely nothing (just checking off the boxes, possibly). However, with the 49ers potentially vying for one of the top two quarterback prospects, a bit of drama has potentially entered the landscape, where three quarterback needy teams ahead of the 49ers may beat them to the punch taking both top quarterback prospects off the table leaving the Niners drafting BPA (Best Player Available). Although, drafting BPA is not a bad course of action, since drafting for "needs" is not always a good idea when needs are continuously changing.