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QB-Needy Teams in Top 5 of the NFL Draft: Should They Take a Top College Prospect or Make a Run at Lamar?
The 2023 NFL Draft is nearly here, and each team is focusing on the best moves to make for their team in terms of rebuilding or making a Super Bowl run.
But which of the top 5 teams in the draft need a quarterback? And should they take one of the top college prospects, or should they make a run at Lamar Jackson?
I will briefly summarize what each of the top three QB prospects can bring to the table and what signing Lamar could mean for a team.
Then, I’ll break down which of the four playmakers would best benefit Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts.
The top college quarterback prospects entering the 2023 NFL Draft
The big buzz for the 2023 NFL Draft is the top college QB prospects, and they are looking solid. Folks may argue about how to rank them, but everyone pretty much agrees the top three quarterback prospects are:
- Bryce Young, who is an exceptional playmaker.
- CJ Stroud, who possesses the size and skills any team would seek.
- Anthony Richardson, a prospect with athleticism that makes him stand out immensely.
Let's learn more about these soon-to-be pro QBs.
Bryce Young — Alabama
2022 QB stats
Bryce Young is the most well-rounded quarterback going into the draft. He can scramble well under pressure, has accuracy, and can run efficiently when there’s an opportunity.
Built like Kyler Murray, this Alabama QB might not have the ideal frame, but his skills can likely benefit a team immediately. He’ll be ready to step into an NFL game in Week 1.
CJ Stroud — Ohio State
2022 QB stats
Although Young is the most polished, CJ Stroud’s college football stats are comparable to Young's, and he has the physical build most teams prefer in their quarterbacks.
This Ohio State play-caller is 6’3 and 214 pounds, has a massive arm, and has a great football IQ. He’s a pocket passer and has been called the “safe” QB for this draft class.
Anthony Richardson — Florida
2022 QB stats
Anthony Richardson doesn’t have the stats to show he’s a top 5 or 10 pick, but he quickly changed people’s minds at the NFL scouting combine.
Sitting at 6’4 and 231 pounds, experts say Richardson is one of the “most athletic prospects in NFL history,” and no other QB “possesses better physical traits” than him.
This Florida Gator is not coming into the draft as a developed play-caller, but he can improve behind a starting quarterback for a year or two.
Is Lamar Jackson worth pursuing?
As we know, to this day, none of the 32 NFL teams have shown interest in Lamar Jackson quite yet. Heck, I’d be shocked if one takes him before the draft, but that doesn’t mean he’s not one of the top talents in the sport.
At the same time, Lamar is undoubtedly one of the best rushing QBs in the league, but he’s not necessarily a dual threat.
For the five seasons Lamar has played for the NFL, he has been one of the top two quarterbacks with the most rushed yards of the regular season. With that, Lamar has averaged 23rd place among all QBs in yards thrown.
He's not known for his arm talent, but he makes up for it in his run game. But what’s the longevity of this style of play? Especially for an offensive leader who has been injury-prone the past two seasons.
No, he didn’t sprain his ankle or PCL while running the ball, but missing the end of the last two seasons—when wins matter most—understandably makes people cautious.
So, of course, the guaranteed money Lamar is asking for makes coaches, GMs, and owners alike unsure about what that could entail for the team’s future.
But assuming that this running-dominant QB stays healthy, then a franchise has one of the greatest playmakers in the NFL that will likely take their team to the playoffs each year as he has with the Baltimore Ravens.
A Lamar Jackson-led offense will obviously have to rely more on his running game than his passing (although statistics say his passing game doesn’t suffer). So the team who takes him will want to be equipped with a solid offensive line and high-level receivers with vision, sure hands, and quickness.
Which of the top 5 teams in the draft need a quarterback?
All of them.
But out of the top 5 teams in the 2023 NFL Draft, three are truly QB-needy:
Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts.
Would the Carolina Panthers benefit more from a top college prospect or Lamar?
As the first team to pick in the 2023 draft (acquired during a trade with the Chicago Bears last month), the Panthers have their eyes on a quarterback.
And yes, a new-to-the-league quarterback.
Even though Lamar has the physical stature the new Carolina coach, Frank Reich, is looking for, the Panthers GM Scott Fitterer confirmed in a recent press conference that Carolina will not pursue Lamar because he’s a “really expensive option.”
So it’s rumored that Panthers are going for that someone who has a 6’3, 214-pound build and will cost the franchise less money—CJ Stroud.
Could they benefit from Lamar? Of course. Baker Mayfield lost more games than he won. Sam Darnold still couldn’t wow the NFL world and was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. And Matt Corral, the only QB on the Panthers today, has yet to have a chance to showcase his skills. Lamar would be a more successful step-in than Carolina has been used to.
But CJ Stroud will be a great second.
He’s coming into the NFL with a Rose Bowl win during the 2021 season and a Heisman finalist for the last two years. Over those two years, he’s averaged over 4,000 passing yards and 42 touchdowns.
His college stats are top-notch, and he has everything a team would want in a rookie starting quarterback: accuracy, poise, a natural feel for the pocket, and an excellent QB IQ.
Why the Houston Texans should sign Lamar over drafting Bryce Young
The Houston Texans are second in the 2023 draft because they went 3-13-1 in 2022. But it’s also important to note that in 2021, the Texans went 4-13, and both years were with Davis Mills as QB.
So, you could say they’re in dire need of an exceptional offensive leader.
Bryce Young has received a lot of flack for his lack of size, but he has fantastic field vision nonetheless. He has a defining trait of reading defensive coverages, throws with an accurate arm, and makes efficient decisions under pressure.
Lamar Jackson is not small, and he can run the ball better than most quarterbacks in the league. Lamar doesn’t have the best completion percentage (62.3%), and it’s hard to defend him there, but can Young have that fantastic field of vision in the NFL, where the play is bigger, faster, and more aggressive?
Even with that said, KPRC reported that the Texans will not go after Lamar Jackson either.
Should the Indianapolis Colts consider a top college prospect or Lamar?
The Colts haven’t found their franchise quarterback since Andrew Luck retired in 2019, so their eyes are set on a new signal-caller for their first-round pick in the fourth position of the 2023 draft.
If the Arizona Cardinals don’t take Anthony Richardson or the Colts trade up to the third position, they’ll have the opportunity to add a QB in Richardson who possesses rare physical skills. He’s explosive, has a cannon of an arm, and can torque his body to make a challenging play and pull away from defenders.
But Richardson is still new to leading a football team with only one year of starting experience in college. Still, he could potentially be a great backup to Lamar—if the Colts can make proper arrangements to afford both—until he can display maturity and consistency in his decision-making.
Right now, Lamar could easily be their future franchise quarterback.
If the Colts traded the Ravens for Lamar, they wouldn’t be gambling their millions of dollars on a player that doesn’t have the stats to show what he can do for a team. Lamar has the skills and athleticism and is still young enough to play for another ten years. He’d be wise to invest in something similar to TB12 to keep his body healthy.
Stephen Holder reported that Jim Irsay, the Colts owner, says Lamar’s asking price is “not the problem”—it’s the compensation.
A trade that includes two first-round draft picks—one for 2024 and 2025—is one Irsay may find too much of a gamble.
Although Carolina and Houston are two of the many teams that have expressed their avoidance in considering Lamar, the Colts have not completely foregone the option. And with a few minor alterations, they have the salary cap to make it happen.
Irsay recently hinted that they have many options for round one of this year’s Draft: stay or trade to take a new QB, or don’t take a new QB at all.
The final word
Lamar will most likely not get traded or come to an agreement with the Ravens until after the 2023 draft. I could also see the transaction happen with a team hoping they had copped one of the top QB prospects but had no such luck.
No one is rushing for the MVP player right now because they don’t feel like they’re on a clock or a tight deadline. It’s honestly baffling how many teams have come out and clearly stated they are not interested in taking Lamar.
Lamar could be the quarterback of the future for either Carolina, Houston, or Indianapolis—that is, if they want to start winning now.
Irsay and team will reap the benefits of seeing the value of trading two first-round picks for a 5-year NFL quarterback rather than a new play-caller that could be a solid backup for the time being.
If Indianapolis is looking for an offensive leader ready to step on the field and win games, they’ll find it in Lamar Jackson.