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NFL AM: All About The Quarterbacks

Brock Osweiler will have suitors; Connor Cook is slipping; Cardale Jones could be a late riser.

Charlie Bernstein



Growing Market For Osweiler

The Denver Broncos face an interesting dilemma with their quarterback situation.  It’s been no secret that they want to move on from Peyton Manning and the next best option would be backup-turned-starter-turned-backup Brock Osweiler.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Osweiler happens to be a free agent and Denver will have some competition if they want him to return in 2016.

Osweiler has to take into account what happened last season when he was thrust into the starting lineup for the stretch run of the regular season, only to be pulled in the season finale for Manning, after a tough first half in which he had a pair of tipped ball interceptions and a Ronnie Hillman fumble.  None of which was his fault.

Hillman certainly wants him to return to Denver and said so in a Sirius XM NFL Radio interview.

Football Insiders talked to a Broncos source who said that the team hopes to re-sign him, but they didn’t want to overspend.

“I think a deal in the neighborhood of three years and $36 million would be fair,” the source said.  “How good is he?  Was he really that impressive?”

Therein lies the problem with the Osweiler situation.  The sample size has been very small as he sat behind Peyton Manning for most of his career.  The Broncos know what his strengths and weaknesses are more than any other team and how they approach signing him should send a message to the rest of the league. Unfortunately for them, there are teams who should be interested in Osweiler.

The Houston Texans are looking for an upgrade at quarterback and currently hold the 22nd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.  Will there be a legitimate franchise quarterback available to them at that spot?  If there is, they would be taking somewhat of a chance trying to groom a young signal caller while they’re clearly in the midst of the championship window being open with a great defense.

Osweiler would likely represent an upgrade over current Texans signal caller Brian Hoyer, and they would also be weakening the team that they are chasing in the AFC.

The real question is what is it worth in terms of guaranteed dollars to find out if the former Arizona State star is the answer?

Another team who should be interested in Osweiler’s services is the Los Angeles Rams.  The Broncos backup has movie star good looks and the team would like to improve upon their situation as they get ready to play their first season in Los Angeles after a 21 year hiatus.

Is Osweiler better than Nick Foles or Case Keenum?  On the surface you’d think so, but Foles has a greater body of work and Keenum has a limited skill set, but he did manage the team to some victories down the stretch.

Other teams who may at the very least drive up the price for Osweiler include the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.  All seem like long-shots, but you can make a case for each to move in a different direction at the position.

Connor Cook Is Slipping

There seems to be no consensus No. 1 quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft.  Many scouts and executives like North Dakota State’s Cason Wentz, some like California’s Jared Goff and a few prefer Memphis’ quarterback Paxton Lynch.

The quarterback that nobody is really talking about positively is Michigan State’s Connor Cook.

Cook’s film shows a sure-fire first round draft pick and he’s played well in big games and fought through some tough injuries.

So why isn’t he getting more love?

We appear to have a real life “Draft Day” situation.  Of course you remember the Kevin Costner film where he plays the general manager of the Cleveland Browns and holds the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and vacillates between taking the stud Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and an undersized linebacker.

Whereas much of the film was completely unrealistic, one of the story lines was that the quarterback was disliked by teammates and nobody went to his birthday party, alas Costner decided to go in a different direction.

We’ve heard the same whispers about Cook at Michigan State.

One NFC executive told us this about Cook.

“I don’t think he gets picked in the first or second round,” he said.  “He’s dropping because he’s a bad interview and there are plenty of other question marks not based on his play on the field.”

This adds greater emphasis on the interview process and how that’s become one of the key factors for teams in determining whether they’d like to add a player to their roster, regardless of their film.

The same source commented on Cook choosing not to participate in January’s Senior Bowl.

“Not playing in the Senior Bowl was a huge mistake (for Cook),” he said.  “He could’ve erased a lot of the question marks around him and chose to compete against (Carson) Wentz.  Instead he ducked the competition.”

Many had Cook linked to the Houston Texans in Round One and if the team went in that direction it would certainly be understandable.  If Bill O’Brien doesn’t select the Spartans quarterback, it could be a long couple of days for him waiting to hear his name called.

Cardale Jones Is A Forgotten Man

What a difference a year makes.

Just 13 months ago, the football world was talking about Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones and what sort of quandary he could put the National Football League in.

At that time, Jones had started just three collegiate games, all victories which included a Big Ten Championship win, a victory over Alabama in the national semifinal and then the National Championship victory over Oregon.

His film wasn’t perfect, but the arm strength and mobility was something that teams couldn’t ignore and quarterback needy franchises would be playing Russian Roulette if they didn’t select him high in the draft.

He foolishly decided to return to college and then won the starting job for Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes before losing it to J.T. Barrett.

Now, the NFL has seen the warts and instead of seeing a guy who was miscast as a third-string quarterback they see a guy who once again lost his starting job.

Former Ohio State teammate and current Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Michael Bennett told Football Insiders what he thought about Jones’ ability.

“I think he’s got all the tools to be a Tom Brady,” Bennett said.  “He’s got all of those tools.  A very smart guy, very big, huge arm.  He makes good decisions and he’s very good under pressure.  He can take it as far as he wants.”

Jones helped wide receiver Devin Smith get selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets with the deep ball connection that the two of them had.

“He has the strongest arm I’ve ever seen,” Smith told Football Insiders.  “He can throw the ball 80 yards with ease.  He’s going to be a great pro.”

Current draft projections show Jones being a Day 3 pick, but don’t be surprised if that improves over the next two months.  He will stand out in workouts and drills, and he still has all that athleticism that helped Ohio State win the 2015 title.

If Jones is available in the second day of the draft, any team with a veteran quarterback nearing the end, i.e. New Orleans, San Diego, both New York teams and Dallas would be crazy not to consider him.  If a team like Denver or Washington wants a little insurance to their quarterback situation that would certainly make sense as well.

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.

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