It wasn’t a shocking development when Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert announced that he was returning to Oregon for his senior season; there were multiple rumors swirling around that the first round talent was leaning towards just that decision. But now that it’s now official, even though it wasn’t shocking, it’s still kind of shocking.
From here, what direction can Justin Herbert’s draft stock go? It could go up and be solidified as the first overall pick for the 2020 NFL Draft, but let’s be real, it’s probably going to stay the same or go down. Justin Herbert has spent two consecutive seasons dealing with injuries. In 2017, he had a broken collarbone on his non-throwing shoulder and was shut down for the season. That injury was far more concerning than the bruised shoulder he suffered against Oregon State in November of this season.
Needless to say, Herbert staying another season doesn’t make sense from a financial perspective, so maybe it’s a pride thing? Maybe he wants to try and win the Pac-12 and put the Ducks in position for a National Championship? Whatever the reason, it’s not smart from a business perspective because I don’t see his draft stock making any improvements. If anything, it’s going to be going in the opposite direction.
Speaking of opposite directions, teams in the top order of the 2019 NFL Draft could be going in the opposite direction of the offense. The San Francisco 49ers have the second overall pick and are in some serious need of defensive talent. They need to find an edge rusher to establish some sort of pass rush, but they also need a defensive back with some ball skills to create more chances for their offense. By sitting with the second pick of the draft, they could get quite the haul from a team that is in need of their franchise quarterback.
Who would be the next draft prospect with the “franchise quarterback” label? Dwayne Haskins will grab most of the headlines, but teams could try to put themselves in position to grab Drew Lock from Missouri. We haven’t heard from Daniel Jones of Duke, but he’s also been rumored for a potential spot in the first round. At this point, though, I think teams that are in need of a young signal caller will consider Haskins or bust. If Haskins and Jones both return for another season, the 2020 NFL Draft gets that much more interesting, and the 2019 NFL Draft takes a serious step back with this quarterback class. Keep in mind that Ryan Finley was my top quarterback going into this season, and outside of Haskins, there’s no reason for me to think otherwise now.
Other teams that could consider moving out of the top-5 of the 2019 NFL Draft? The Detroit Lions certainly come to mind. They currently hold the 5th overall pick and could get quite the haul from teams that need a quarterback. Much like the 49ers, they’re in need of some talent on defense and need to find ways to acquire more picks to help their offense. Losing Golden Tate might have been a smart business decision, but it hasn’t helped this team on offense. Meanwhile, their tight end situation has been a mess all season. This is a great tight end class, so they’ll certainly be in the market for one.
Lastly, the New York Jets have a franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. They have a nice piece with Chris Herndon at tight end, but they still need to solidify everything else. They could be in position to draft an offensive tackle like Jonah Williams from Alabama, or they could consider one of the top edge rushers in Kentucky’s Josh Allen. Again, they need more talent on offense, and with only so many picks in the draft, they need to acquire a few more. The best way to do that is by trading out of their current third overall pick and find ways to build up this offense around Sam Darnold. They could consider Kelvin Harmon from North Carolina State or N’Keal Harry from Arizona State. Riley Ridley from Georgia could be a nice day two find for the Jets, and Yodny Cajuste from West Virginia could be another name they consider for their offensive line.
All in all, the Jets, 49ers, and Lions are in a great spot to try and get the “most bang for their buck” in terms of their draft position. Trading back is on every team’s board, but these three teams have a legitimate possibility of trading back to any team that’s looking to solidify their chance at a quarterback. The two teams that come to mind are the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants. The Jaguars have the 9th overall pick (projected) and the Giants have the 6th (projected).
It’s funny because both teams seem to be going in opposite directions with their quarterbacks. The Jaguars are going to move on from Blake Bortles after this season, and it sounds like the Giants are going to keep Eli Manning. Regardless of their decisions to keep or part ways with veteran quarterbacks, both teams seem likely to get into a bidding war for a potential trade up to draft the top quarterback.
Dwayne Haskins has received a first round grade for the 2019 NFL Draft from the NFL’s college advisory board— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) December 23, 2018
Since 2010, here’s how accurate the college advisory board is with prospects given a first or second round grade pic.twitter.com/r11yMSOtlA
Haskins has received a first-round grade from the NFL’s college advisory board. The college advisory board has been fairly accurate with their grades, and if Haskins declares, he’ll be the consensus top quarterback. For now, we will continue to wait on what other underclassmen decide to do and what the free agent market looks like. Nick Foles and Teddy Bridgewater are expected to hit the open market, and if they do, they will get paid. There’s also been speculation that Joe Flacco could be available. Whether he’s traded or available via free agency, I’m not sure, but the Washington Redskins could certainly show interest in the veteran quarterback. Once we have a clear answer, things will become more concrete. With the Justin Herbert news, everyone will be on pins and needles in hopes that this quarterback class doesn’t experience another setback. If it does, it will truly be one of the worst quarterback classes in recent memory.