By Justin Brisson > Freshman > Journalism > University of Missouri
A prevailing thought in the NFL these days is that you need an elite quarterback in order to win football games. Eleven of the twelve teams to make the playoffs this season have a "franchise quarterback" on the roster — Seattle was the only team with a question mark at the position looking forward. By my count, eleven of the first sixteen teams drafting in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft are liable to a quarterback.
Dallas, Houston and St. Louis are really the only three teams in the top half of the first round that are completely settled at quarterback. This would lead me to think that indeed, having stability at quarterback is possibly the most critical step in building a winning team in the NFL.
The North Carolina Panthers possess the first pick in this year’s draft, and had the worst quarterback play of any team this past season. But can they afford to draft a quarterback number one overall? Surely, Jimmy Clausen was drafted in the hopes of being the team’s franchise quarterback, but he didn’t really show much potential in 13 games played. With Andrew Luck staying at Stanford, Carolina will probably shy away from drafting a quarterback with the first pick, but they should look at their options in free agency, just in case an upgrade could be made.
The Buffalo Williams are sitting pretty snug at number three in the draft, and they should at least consider Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert. I know Buffalo feels comfortable with Ryan Fitzpatrick, and admittedly, he had a pretty good season given the circumstances, but is he the future there? I’m not sure, and Mr. Wilson shouldn’t either.
The Cincinnati Bungles could also look at Newton and Gabbert. Incumbent starter Carson Palmer says he wants out, but head coach Marvin Lewis and owner Mike Brown are saying they will not trade away their franchise player. Palmer’s play has seemingly diminished over the past four seasons now, whether that be because of chemistry problems with receivers or not, I don’t know. Needless to say, Cincy shouldn’t be blamed if they look in a different direction at quarterback, especially considering their marquee player doesn’t want to be a part of the team anymore — allegedly.