The 2023 NFL Draft is upon us, and so is the greatest game of musical chairs, the quarterback depth charts. We live in an NFL where the “watch and learn” window is shortened, and there is much less patience when it comes to team general manager plans. Many dreams have come true already, but unfortunately, that means that hearts will be broken. Throughout the draft, we’ll look at some places in the NFL that you should keep your eye on regarding starter shakeups.
Lamar Jackson - Baltimore Ravens
Yes, this is cheating, but I had to speak on Lamar Jackson’s deal for a second. About damn time, huh? Through all the jousting, Jackson finally gets his payday from the Baltimore Ravens – and some weapons to boot. Not only did they sign Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency, but they just drafted Boston College WR Zay Flowers – a playmaker to complement them both along with TE Mark Andrews. All of a sudden, things are looking up in Baltimore.
Looking Over Their Shoulder
Ryan Tannehill - Tennessee Titans
There were some rumors before this draft that Titans QB Ryan Tannehill was on the trade block. I’m actually surprised the Titans didn’t try to trade up to draft a quarterback, given that Tannehill is in the final year of his deal. They still have Malik Willis, whom they drafted in the third round last year. Although it was a bad sign when the Titans elected to start Josh Dobbs over him in Week 18 against the Jaguars last year.
Kentucky QB Will Levis is headed to the Titans, which means the clock is ticking. Tannehill is likely safe if the team can’t find a trade suitor – as he can be a veteran bridge to Levis’s eventual ascension to being the leading man.
Gardner Minshew - Indianapolis Colts
Gardner Minshew is probably a little agitated right now, but I think he’ll at least start a few games for the Indianapolis Colts this season. Andrew Richardson has been regarded as the best physically talented QB prospect in this entire draft (and maybe in previous drafts). Richardson has a lot of potential to become an amazing centerpiece for the Colts in the future. However, he only started 13 games while at Florida. There might not be a lot of pressure as he learns, and Minshew at least serves as a stop-gap as Richardson acclimates to the NFL system.
Every Other Houston Texans Quarterback
It could very be possible that Davis Mills or Case Keenum be the starter when the Houston Texans open up the season – but the writing is on the wall. This will eventually be C.J. Stroud’s team at some point in the season. Mills didn’t precisely set the world on fire last year with 17 TDs and 15 INTs. Besides Bryce Young in Carolina, C.J. Stroud could be a day-one starter, given all his tools, depending on what new head coach DeMeco Ryans wants to do.
Andy Dalton - Carolina Panthers
Notice what Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich says about his new QB, Bryce Young. Young has to “earn” the starting job, but the goal is to have Young ready to start the Panthers’ first game. Andy Dalton has been the consummate backup at stops with the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints, but I will go out on a limb and say Young will be the starter come Week 1.
Malik Willis - Tennessee Titans
The fact that the Titans traded up to get Will Levis does not bode well at all for the prospects of one Malik Willis. He has a small sample size with three starts last year – but 0 TDs, 3 INTs, and 276 yards later, the Titans are calling up Josh Dobbs to start a must-win game against the Jaguars. The Titans may feel an urgency to move Ryan Tannehill and let their young QBs duke it out for the top spot. Perhaps they can do the same thing in 2024, letting Tannehill walk in free agency. This situation is one to watch in the weeks to come.