The Biggest Flaw Every NFL Team Still Must Address After the Draft – Bleacher Report

Sports 01 May 2017
The Biggest Flaw Every NFL Team Still Must Address After the Draft – Bleacher Report

NFL DraftThe Biggest Flaw Every NFL Team Still Must Address After the DraftJustis MosquedaFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2017

The Biggest Flaw Every NFL Team Still Must Address After the Draft

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The 32 NFL franchises made 253 selections this week. For many teams, that wasn't enough. As it sits, plenty of teams have several holes on their roster.

    Some have a few needs, several of which might even sound nit-picky, while others have cannon ball-sized gashes. We'll break down where teams still need help, going team-by-team to question which position is the squeaky wheel that could lead to a summer trade or a post-draft free-agent signing.

    If these positions aren't addressed in 2017, they will develop into first-round-type needs in 2018. Follow along as we look at what's structurally inefficient for how each roster is built.

Arizona Cardinals: Defensive Line

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals looked for a quality defensive lineman to pair with Calais Campbell while he was with the team. Campbell left this offseason to sign a four-year $60 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Now the Cardinals' interior defensive line may be the weakest, in terms of talent, in the NFL. The star there is Robert Nkemdiche, who hasn't seen significant playing time in even one professional game. The likes of Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter, Josh Mauro and Frostee Rucker are also on the roster.

    Playing a college defensive back at inside linebacker (Deone Bucannon) was fun with Campbell up front, but without him, that could be trouble. The Cardinals doubled down on that style of play when they drafted Haason Reddick, a former walk-on defensive back at Temple, in the first round.

    In a division with Todd Gurley, Carlos Hyde and Eddie Lacy, Arizona's run defense could be in for a world of hurt if it doesn't add bodies soon.

Atlanta Falcons: Guard

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons selected Oregon State offensive lineman Sean Harlow in the 2017 draft. However, as a fourth-round pick in a weak offensive line class—where lesser talents were pushed up the board—he really has the skills of a later Day 3 selection. On the offensive side of the ball, the Falcons are loaded everywhere, other than at guard.

    On the defensive side of the ball, they drafted with head coach Dan Quinn's mentality in tow: speed and competition. It's not shocking to say that a team that had a 25-point lead at one point in the Super Bowl has few holes in its roster.

    If you were going to pick one, though, veteran competition at guard would be what you'd point to.

Baltimore Ravens: Receiver

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens had a large need at receiver heading into the draft, at least in terms of talent. When three receivers went in the first nine picks, it was obvious that the Ravens weren't going to fill that hole early.

    Instead, their first offensive selection came in the form of San Diego State guard Nico Siragusa in the fourth round. Their only other offensive selection was Texas A&M offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor.

    Kyle Juszczyk, a fullback who signed with the San Francisco 49ers, had more receptions for the Ravens last year than all but one receiver, Mike Wallace, set to return to Baltimore. Wallace will be 31 years old by Week 1. That seems significant.

Buffalo Bills: Receivers

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills drafted East Carolina receiver Zay Jones early in the second round, locking up one young wideout long-term. Only two more to go.

    The Bills return Sammy Watkins (28 receptions), Walt Powell (14 receptions) and Brandon Tate (eight receptions) in their receiver unit. Watkins, who will be a free agent next year, should be treated as someone with a foot out the door, as recent history says young receivers leave Buffalo when their first contract is over.

    If Buffalo wants to run things through receivers in the passing game, the team should plan for about 200 receptions in the unit. It has 50 returning. That's a problem that Jones alone can't solve. The Bills are a few pieces away.

Carolina Panthers: Pass-Rusher

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Since 2005, with a dozen draft classes seeing playing time, only four third-round pass-rushers have ever recorded multiple double-digit-sack seasons. Those names are Justin Houston, a first-round talent who fell due to off-field issues, Justin Tuck, who was coming off a knee injury, Charles Johnson and Cliff Avril.

    That means only two clean evaluations over 12 drafts saw a third-round pick turn into a No. 1-caliber pass-rusher. The odds are against Texas A&M's Daeshon Hall, who isn't coming off injury and didn't have off-field issues.

    A third-round pass-rusher is the same caliber of prospect as a third-round quarterback. If you draft a third-round signal-caller to fill in a quarterback need, you still have a quarterback need.

    Names like Julius Peppers, Johnson and Mario Addison ended up in headlines when they signed new contracts with the Carolina Panthers, but there isn't a No. 1 C-gap pass-rusher on the Panthers roster entering Week 1.

Chicago Bears: Offensive Tackle

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears have loaded up on their interior offensive line with the move of Kyle Long back to guard from right tackle, the signing of Josh Sitton and the drafting of Cody Whitehair over the last year. Unfortunately, the tackle situation in Chicago hasn't gotten much better.

    The offensive tackles for the Bears are Bobby Massie, who needed to be replaced last year, and Charles Leno Jr., a 2014 seventh-round pick. The Bears didn't add a single offensive tackle via the draft, though they had to give up selections to move up to the second overall pick for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

    Chicago needs to add two bookends before Trubisky can develop into the team's franchise quarterback.

Cincinnati Bengals: Linebacker

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Heading into the draft, it looked like any of the Cincinnati Bengals' linebackers could be replaced. Vontaze Burfict, Kevin Minter, Marquis Flowers, Bryson Albright, Vincent Rey, Nick Vigil and Paul Dawson don't exactly comprise a loaded unit.

    The team did draft Jordan Evans with a sixth-round pick, but most sixth-round picks are closer to undrafted free agents than starters at the majority of positions. The Bengals have been known to overlook a need at a position on defense if they have a veteran they trust there—think Domata Peko—so this could be a reoccurring issue.

    Still, drafting a non-combine invitee doesn't come close to filling three linebacker roles long term.

Cleveland Browns: Right Tackle

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns keep flipping draft picks into at-bats on draft week, and that didn't change this year. Unfortunately, they didn't add much legitimate competition to the right tackle position.

    Cameron Erving was a college left tackle with Florida State who transitioned to center and rose through the Senior Bowl practices to land with the Browns as a first-round pick. After the team added JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler—not to mention the extension of Joel Bitonio—it's clear that Erving is going to have to transition to right tackle soon.

    That means he, Shon Coleman, a 2016 draft pick who barely saw playing time in the preseason, and Roderick Johnson, a fifth-round pick in a bad offensive line class, are going to compete for the right tackle spot. There's a decent chance this team is looking at right tackle as its top priority in 2018.

Dallas Cowboys: Defensive End

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys spent a first-round pick on defensive end Taco Charlton, but in today's NFL, you need two to four starting-caliber pass-rushers if you're going to play in a zone-heavy scheme. Charlton and maybe David Irving fit that role at defensive end.

    The search is still on for more toys for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, as Demarcus Lawrence looked like a shell of his 2015 self last year and Randy Gregory continues to keep himself off the field. The alternative options of Tyrone Crawford, Benson Mayowa, Damontre Moore and Charles Tapper won't keep them from adding another body to the position.

    Dallas' pass defense is what kept it from being unstoppable last year. It added four defensive backs in the first six rounds of the draft. With the volume of picks there, defensive end will see a focus soon.

Denver Broncos: Quarterback

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Since 2007, the only first-round quarterbacks to fail to throw at least 200 passes in their rookie seasons have been:

  • JaMarcus Russell
  • Brady Quinn
  • Jake Locker
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Paxton Lynch

Four of those players are out of the league, while Lynch is still on the Denver Broncos roster. Not seeing playing time in your rookie year is the canary in the coal mine of a quarterback's not being talented enough to compete in the NFL, at least over the past decade.

Trevor Siemian is probably good enough, but "good enough" is never good enough. Chad Kelly, a seventh-round pick who has battled multiple injuries since the 2016 regular season kicked off and has off-field concerns, is a Hail Mary.

John Elway won Super Bowls as a quarterback and as an executive, but Peyton Manning isn't walking through that door, and Elway once spent a second-round pick on Brock Osweiler, for whom the Houston Texans gave up a selection to have a team take on his contract after one year of playing there. It's not out of the question that Elway may not be great at adding passers through the draft.

Detroit Lions: Defensive End

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Ziggy Ansah, a former first-round pick, is slated to be a free agent at the end of next season. Kerry Hyder, a breakout transition from defensive tackle last year, is on a one-year deal as an exclusive-rights free agent. Cornelius Washington is on a two-year contract worth less than $6 million, which is fairly cheap for a defensive end.

    The Detroit Lions need to have a long-term option at defensive end, though. Many predicted the Lions would take an end in the first round, but the team didn't add one until the sixth round, when Jeremiah Ledbetter came off the board. The Lions also added Pat O'Connor in the seventh round.

    Depth isn't the issue in Detroit. Long-term, starting-level talent is.

Green Bay Packers: Guard

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers lost starting guard Josh Sitton as well as T.J. Lang and swing lineman JC Tretter over the past year. Guard was the biggest hole for the Packers until Jahri Evans, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, signed in Green Bay.

    Evans will be 34 when the regular season kicks off, however. The only offensive lineman added to the Packers, other than Evans, was the surprise sixth-round selection of 6'4" Kofi Amichia of South Florida.

    The other slated starting guard in Green Bay, former undrafted free agent Lane Taylor, is in a contract season, as is starting center Corey Linsley. The interior offensive line may see more turnover next offseason.

Houston Texans: Right Tackle

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Houston Texans traded assets to the Cleveland Browns to be rid of the contract of Brock Osweiler. However, the freed-up cap space wasn't used on anything this offseason.

    The Texans then traded up to select Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the first round. The team went all in on Watson's being the difference in a title run. We'll see how that works out.

    Outside of quarterback, the biggest need for the team was right tackle. It wasn't until the 130th overall pick that Houston drafted a tackle in Julie'n Davenport, an FCS product who had rough runs at the Senior Bowl based on what I thought of one-on-one pass-protection drills.

    If Houston can add a starting-caliber right tackle prospect, it could have the best team, sans a proven quarterback, leaguewide.

Indianapolis Colts: Receiver

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Indianapolis Colts have spent plenty of picks and money on wide receivers recently, but that doesn't mean they've found talented ones. Phillip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief, two top-100 selections, had 28 fewer receptions in 2016 than the team's top receiver, T.Y. Hilton.

    The Colts added an offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, an edge-defender, a linebacker, two cornerbacks and a safety in the draft. It's hard to say that they didn't at least add competition to most other positions.

    In light of the lack of draft picks at the position, receiver could be a spot that the Colts could get better at with a late veteran addition.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Blake Bortles has recorded 11 wins in 45 starts with Jacksonville. The Jaguars have selected in the top five in every draft over the last six years.

    The Jaguars need a savior quarterback. Bortles hasn't proved to be that. The search continues.

Kansas City Chiefs: Linebacker

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    Jared Wickerham/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs needed to add competition to their inside linebacker corps, but that got harder to do when the they traded up to draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the first round. Outside of Derrick Johnson, who's 34 years old, they have a massive question mark at linebacker.

    The team needs to find a starter next to Johnson, and it needs Johnson's replacement. The Chiefs added West Georgia linebacker Ukeme Eligwe with a fifth-round pick, but at most that only solves one of those problems.

Los Angeles Chargers: Defensive End

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    The Seahawks built their zone defense around the pressure of talented rushers, fielding four on passing downs. If you follow how Dan Quinn's Falcons and Gus Bradley's Jaguars were built, you'd see that volume of pressure ends is important.

    Now in Los Angeles, Bradley has two quality rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Ingram is also just on a one-year franchise tag. The Chargers could be in the market for up to three defensive ends soon.

Los Angeles Rams: Outside Linebacker

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Robert Quinn, while often injured, is still a quality pass-rusher. He should be viewed as a full-time starter.

    Connor Barwin was added as a street free agent by the Rams, who are transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Barwin only signed a one-year contract, though, and there is no depth outside of fourth-round pick Samson Ebukam, an FCS product.

    New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips had four high-end pass-rushers in Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett in Denver. The Rams have two players in that tier, and one is slated to walk in 10 months.

Miami Dolphins: Right Tackle

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Dolphins are set at left tackle with Laremy Tunsil, a 2016 first-round pick. At right tackle, though, Ja'Wuan James, the 19th overall pick in 2014, hasn't panned out.

    The team didn't make offensive tackle a priority in the draft and picked up the fifth-year rookie option on Ja'Wuan James' contract. However, a hole remains for 2018 and beyond.

    This was after the Dolphins traded away Branden Albert, a 2016 starter, to the Jaguars this offseason. This could be one of the bigger needs for the Dolphins stretching through the 2018 draft.

Minnesota Vikings: Quarterback

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Sam Bradford is on the last year of his contract. The Vikings acquired Bradford a week before the 2016 regular season for a first-round pick after Teddy Bridgewater had a freak injury.

    ESPN's Adam Schefter stated the Vikings are not likely to pick up Bridgewater's fifth-year option. That would mean he's also in a contract season; NFL Network's Ian Rapoport has already stated the contract may toll if he never plays in 2017.

    Do the Vikings want to double down on Bradford, who has played on three teams over the last three years? Is Bridgewater ever going to play again? The Vikings need a quarterback of the future, and after paying the Bradford tax in 2017, they finally have the ammo to make a move in 2018.

New England Patriots: Center

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    What on earth could the Patriots need? They have Malcolm Butler and Jimmy Garoppolo on controlled contracts that they are in no hurry to trade for extra picks and cap space.

    The team traded for receiver Brandin Cooks, tight end Dwayne Allen and defensive end Kony Ealy. It signed running back Rex Burkhead, running back Mike Gillislee, defensive lineman Lawrence Guy and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The team drafted two sleeper tackles in Troy's Antonio Garcia and UCLA's Conor McDermott and two sleeper pass-rushers in Youngstown State's Derek Rivers and Arkansas' Deatrich Wise.

    Their biggest need is center, as Bryan Stork started 17 games from 2014 and 2015 before he was later released and then retired from football. David Andrews, a former undrafted free agent, started 16 games for the team after Stork was cut. This would be the weakest link on a Super Bowl favorite roster.

New Orleans Saints: Defensive End

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Saints really only played three defensive ends last year in Cameron Jordan, a former 3-4 defensive end, Darryl Tapp and Paul Kruger. Kruger wasn't retained, and Tapp may not have made most NFL teams' two-deeps last year.

    The team needed three new bodies to make up a two-deep pass rush.

    The Saints added two in the draft, a mid-major product in Trey Hendrickson, who wasn't even invited to the Senior Bowl, and Al-Quadin Muhammad, who hasn't played football since 2015 after being kicked out of Miami.

    That isn't going to be enough.

New York Giants: Offensive Tackle

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    The Giants have four options at offensive tackle:

  • Ereck Flowers, a first-round pick who looks like the new poster boy for line busts two years into his career.
  • D.J. Fluker, who the Chargers kicked in from tackle to guard after the former first-round pick couldn't hang outside for a quick-strike Philip Rivers offense.
  • Bobby Hart, formerly the 226th overall pick of the draft.
  • Adam Bisnowaty, the 200th pick of this past draft, one with the fewest offensive linemen drafted in several decades.

None of those players are starting-caliber talents at tackle.

The Giants will have to try to scrape up enough cap space to buy a tackle and draft another in the first round next year. Right now, they should be trying to trade or jump on a functional veteran before they run out of time.

New York Jets: Quarterback

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    The Jets signed Josh McCown, a leftover from Cleveland of all places, to compete with Bryce Petty, who has a 60.0 passer rating over 133 NFL throws, and Christian Hackenberg, who hasn't played and is still living off his recruiting status coming out of high school.

    The Jets also didn't add an offensive lineman, and ArDarius Stewart, who wasn't even a No. 1 receiver in college, could be McCown's favorite target in 2017. This year is going to be testing for anyone in New York.

    We'll see if Todd Bowles can survive a "rebuild" year to draft his quarterback of the future in 2018.

Oakland Raiders: Linebacker

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    After the Oakland Raiders added running back Marshawn Lynch, the team had two positions of serious need: cornerback and linebacker. They added to the cornerback position with Gareon Conley in the first round of the draft.

    Linebacker didn't come until the fifth round in Wake Forest's Marquel Lee. Jelani Jenkins was signed to a one-year contract this offseason, but none of the players on Oakland's depth chart make sense as potential full-season starters over the next two years.

    A veteran could sign a two-year contract here and start 32 games over the next two seasons.

Philadelphia Eagles: Running Back

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Ryan Mathews hasn't cracked more than 700 rushing yards in three years. He's now a 29-year-old coming off a neck injury, at a position where finding productive 28-year-olds is rare.

    Darren Sproles is going to be 34. The Eagles need to find their 2018 starter sooner rather than later. How did the team address the position in the draft? They didn't add a single player on Day 1 or Day 2.

    Instead, they took San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey, a 5'8" back who weighed in at the combine at 176 pounds. It would be shocking if Pumphrey ever had a 1,000-yard season as a middle school-sized back.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Linebacker

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Unless T.J. Watt is an inside linebacker, the Steelers are in trouble at the position. Ryan Shazier is talented, but the team lost Lawrence Timmons to the Dolphins this offseason.

    Timmons is a former Pro Bowler who has missed one start over seven years for the Steelers.

    How has he been replaced? With no in-house draft pick, despite the fact the team used one on a long snapper, you'd assume it will have to be Tyler Matakevich or Vince Williams.

San Francisco 49ers: Quarterback

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Over the last seven seasons, Brian Hoyer has bounced around to seven different franchises. The first six have learned that Hoyer isn't the answer. It's San Francisco's turn.

    Over the last four seasons, Matt Barkley has bounced around to four different franchises. The first three have learned that Barkley isn't the answer. It's San Francisco's turn.

    The only other quarterback on the roster is C.J. Beathard, who completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 6.4 yards per attempt as a senior against Big Ten defenses.

    All of them are disposable.

Seattle Seahawks: Quarterback

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    David Goldman/Associated Press

    The Seahawks have few holes on their roster, and they addressed some of them in the draft. One position they have never been strong in, however, was backup quarterback.

    Every quarterback misses time, and the Seahawks have been fortunate that their backup quarterback-turned-starter Russell Wilson hasn't. With his playing style, though, they should prioritize the position.

    There's no competition for Trevone Boykin, who can't stay out of trouble recently. Both NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Ian Rapoport stated on draft week the team wanted to add a backup, with Rapoport even saying the team would have thought about adding one in the first round in Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Offensive Tackle

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Entering the offseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should have been looking to upgrade both of their starting tackle slots, with Donovan Smith slated to be the left tackle and Demar Dotson penciled in at right tackle.

    They added no one in free agency. They didn't even add an offensive lineman in the draft. Those are your 16-game starters in 2017.

    Smith has had a rough two years, and he seems to be living off the fact that he was a second-round pick. Summer scouting for the Bucs should consist of looking for 2018 bookend prospects if they can't add a veteran late.

Tennessee Titans: Outside Linebacker

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Titans have two starters in Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo at outside linebacker, but they have little coming off the bench.

    Morgan is 28; Orakpo will be 31 in Week 1. The lifeblood of defensive football is pass-rushers, and the Titans could be looking for two new starters after next season.

    It's best to get ahead at needs for line-of-scrimmage defenders. You need first-round picks to assure a starter, and being a backup on the line of scrimmage still means you're in the rotation, as no other position sees more rotation.

Washington Redskins: Quarterback

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. We're onto our third straight contract year for Kirk Cousins. Chances are he's gone in 2018.

    The Redskins need to find a general manager. Then that general manager can find his next franchise quarterback. The backup quarterback is Colt McCoy, who somehow has been able to hold down a job in Washington since 2014.

    The only other significant name in that quarterback room is Nate Sudfeld, a second-year sixth-round pick from Indiana. If you want to bet on him, be my guest.

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