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NFL Mock Draft Monday: How the Kyler Murray decision and the Joe Flacco trade shake up the first round

What does it all mean for the Buccaneers?
Could Kyler Murray go first overall to the Cardinals in April's draft? [Associated Press]
Could Kyler Murray go first overall to the Cardinals in April's draft? [Associated Press]
Published Feb. 18, 2019|Updated Feb. 18, 2019

The quarterback dominoes have started to fall.

Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray declared last week that he is “firmly and fully committing” his life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback. Two days later, the Ravens reportedly reached an agreement to trade Joe Flacco to the Broncos.

What does it all mean for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NFL draft?

The good: As long as Murray interviews with NFL teams better than he did with Dan Patrick, his stock will climb. Greater interest in Murray means more suitors for the Bucs’ No. 5 pick.

The bad: The Broncos, who hold the No. 10 pick, were one of those potential suitors. With Flacco headed to Denver, the urgency to upgrade in the near term no longer exists.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the quarterback situations of the teams who own picks at the top of the draft. How stable are they at the position and what’s the likelihood of their decisions affecting the Bucs?

1. Arizona Cardinals

Starting quarterback as of today: Josh Rosen (-53.0 percent DVOA in 2018, 34th out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks)

Analysis: In his most recent mock draft, the Draft Wire’s Luke Easterling has the Cardinals drafting Murray, which is suddenly plausible. The source: new coach Kliff Kingsbury, who has said that Murray is worthy of the first overall pick. Subterfuge? If Kingsbury said it last week, then maybe. But he said it in October when he was the coach at Texas Tech. If Murray goes here, the chances of the Bucs landing one of the top defensive prospects (Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and Josh Allen) increase.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: High

2. San Francisco 49ers

Starting quarterback as of today: Jimmy Garoppolo (-12.6 percent DVOA on 102 passes)

Analysis: The 49ers need an impact pass rusher, and if the Cardinals take Murray, they’ll get one in Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa. It’s hard to see them passing on that opportunity.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Low

3. New York Jets

Starting quarterback as of today: Sam Darnold (-15.1 percent DVOA, 30th)

Analysis: This is the spot to watch. The Jets will be in position to draft Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams or Kentucky defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen but might not be able to resist offers from quarterback-needy teams looking to jump in front of the Raiders at No. 4 or the Giants at No. 6 (New York doesn’t have a second-round pick because of its trade for Darnold last year). Even the Giants might prefer to trade up rather than risk Jacksonville, Denver, Cincinnati, Miami or Washington acquiring the No. 4 or No. 5 picks and nabbing a quarterback.

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Probability of affecting the Bucs: High

4. Oakland Raiders

Starting quarterback as of today: Derek Carr (-0.9 percent DVOA, 22nd)

Analysis: The Raiders need help everywhere. They don’t have an offense. They don’t have a defense. Heck, they don’t even have a place to play their home games this season. Their greatest needs are on defense (that’ll happen when you trade a superstar like Khalil Mack), but you can’t rule out a quarterback. Because Jon Gruden.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: High

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Starting quarterback as of today: Jameis Winston (6.2 percent DVOA, 15th)

Analysis: If the Ravens fetched a fourth-round pick for Flacco, the Bucs should at least quietly gauge Winston’s value. That’s not going to happen, though. As you might have heard by now, the Bucs and Bruce Arians are all-in on Winston. “Everything is going to be built around him,” Arians said last month.

The defense is broken — it can’t consistently pressure quarterbacks and it can’t consistently cover receivers — so trading down and acquiring more picks might be the best course. No matter where Tampa Bay picks in the first round, cornerback and defensive line are the priorities. Among the possibilities:

• defensive end Montez Sweat, Mississippi State (ESPN’s Mel Kiper)

• cornerback Greedy Williams, LSU (CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso)

• defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Houston (Easterling and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller)

6. New York Giants

Starting quarterback as of today: The dried-up husk of Eli Manning (-2.3 percent DVOA, 24th)

Analysis: General manager Dave Gettleman hasn’t fully committed to Manning, and for good reason: Manning has been average or worse for years. Several mock drafters have New York taking Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins here, but if the Giants truly want him, they won’t want to risk waiting for him to fall to No. 6 given how motivated the Jets, Raiders and Bucs might be to trade down.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: High

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Starting quarterback as of today: Blake Bortles (-18.9 percent DVOA, 31st)

Analysis: The Jaguars doubled down on a turnover-prone quarterback, and here they are, the owners of the No. 7 pick. A cautionary tale perhaps? The buzz is that Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles ultimately will land in Jacksonville via a trade with the Eagles. That wouldn’t mean the Jaguars would take quarterbacks off their draft board, but it would make it less likely that they’d trade up to get one.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Low

8. Detroit Lions

Starting quarterback as of today: Matthew Stafford (-0.6 percent DVOA, 21st)

Analysis: Lions general manager Bob Quinn has said that the team will “consider any position in the draft at any point in time.” Does that mean Detroit is open to drafting Stafford’s successor? No. Quinn signed Stafford to a contract extension in 2017. Though the Lions traded up twice in last year’s draft, they’re prime candidates for a trade down. Their porous pass defense could use an influx of depth and talent. Only Tampa Bay and San Francisco allowed a higher passer rating than Detroit (102.7).

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Low

9. Buffalo Bills

Starting quarterback as of today: Josh Allen (-35.9 percent DVOA, 33rd)

Analysis: The Bills’ focus will be on building a supporting cast for Allen. Receiver and offensive tackle are among their biggest needs.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Low

10. Denver Broncos

Starting quarterback as of today: Flacco (5.5 percent DVOA, 16th)

Analysis: John Elway can’t possibly be expecting the Broncos pass offense to improve by leaps and bounds with Flacco under center instead of Case Keenum, can he? Flacco is basically Keenum but with a better arm. Many mockers have had Denver trading up for Missouri’s Drew Lock, but I don’t see that happening now. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Broncos picking a quarterback at No. 10, but the more likely scenario is that they see how things go with Flacco this season, and if it doesn’t pan out, they hit the reset button and draft a quarterback in 2020.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Low

11. Cincinnati Bengals

Starting quarterback as of today: Andy Dalton (5.2 percent DVOA, 17th)

Analysis: You forgot about the Bengals, didn’t you? I can’t blame you. They’re the AFC’s version of the Lions. The only people who can tell the difference between Cincinnati and Detroit are the poor souls who live there. You can go back to forgetting about the Bengals in May, but for now they’re worth some of your attention. They’ve reached a pivot point; they hired a new coach (Zac Taylor) last month and could decide to part ways with their quarterback. Though Cincinnati could cut Dalton and not incur any charges against their salary cap, $16.2 million isn’t much for a pedestrian passer. The Bengals could follow the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes blueprint and trade up for their quarterback of the future but have him spend a season understudying Dalton.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Moderate

12. Green Bay Packers

Starting quarterback as of today: Aaron Rodgers (8.2 percent DVOA, 13th)

Analysis: The Packers drafted Rodgers in 2005, Brett Favre’s age-36 season. Rodgers turns 36 this season, soooooo … so nothing. Favre went on to play five more seasons; Rodgers should be able to do the same, especially in an era in which defensive linemen get 15-yard penalties for giving quarterbacks wet willies. A significant move up here would be extremely uncharacteristic of Green Bay.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Low

13. Miami Dolphins

Starting quarterback as of today: Ryan Tannehill (-20.7 percent DVOA, 32nd)

Analysis: Don’t let the Dolphins’ 23-25 record over the past three seasons fool you. This team needs to jump with both feet into rebuild mode. That’s not just Tannehill’s fault. The defense is in tatters. They’re better off stockpiling picks rather than consolidating assets to move up for a rookie quarterback and then throwing him into a what-is-that-smell type of fire. They should stay put, but they’re the Dolphins. Does it ever seem like they have a plan?

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Low

14. Atlanta Falcons

Starting quarterback as of today: Matt Ryan (18.2 percent DVOA, fourth)

Analysis: If the Falcons wanted a higher draft pick, they should have asked Matt Bryant to miss the field goal at the end of their Week 17 game against the Bucs. Those three points cost them the No. 8 slot. Good job, guys. There’s no need to make a play for a quarterback here. Ryan, who turns 34 in May, is still one of the best in the game. With 25 percent of their salary cap tied up in Ryan, Desmond Trufant and Julio Jones, what they need most is cheap depth.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Low

15. Washington

Starting quarterback as of today: Taking applications. Must have two fully-functioning legs.

Analysis: With Alex Smith’s recovery from a broken leg expected to last deep into the 2019 season, Washington needs a quarterback. It’s possible the Skins take one in the first round, but someone would have to fall to them, and that someone won’t be Haskins or Murray. To land one of those two, they’d have to jump into the top five. Though the price of such a move should be prohibitive, this is a franchise that never learns from its mistakes. In 2012, it held the No. 6 pick, which it traded — along with two first-round picks and a second-round pick — to the Rams for the No. 2 pick, which became Robert Griffin III. Washington’s more likely route this offseason: signing or trading for a veteran quarterback.

Probability of affecting the Bucs: Low

Contact Thomas Bassinger at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tometrics.

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