The most successful NFL teams in this day and age all have one thing in common: an elite quarterback.
Looking back at the last 10 Super Bowl champions, eight of them have future Hall of Famers as signal callers. The Patriots won twice with Tom Brady, the Giants also won two Super Bowls in that span with Eli Manning, and the Steelers, Saints, Packers, and Broncos each won a title with Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning, respectively, under center.
The two teams (Ravens and Seahawks) that won without a true elite QB still had very good franchise quarterbacks.
With the exception of Denver who already replaced Peyton Manning after he retired following his second Super Bowl victory, those teams will need to find the next face of the franchise sooner rather than later.
Here are the six teams who need to draft a successor to their quarterback in this year’s draft:
Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith’s age isn’t the issue – he’ll be 33 next month – but it feels as if he isn’t the guy to get the Chiefs their first championship since 1970 after all.
Smith was the first pick overall in the 2005 NFL Draft and played his first nine seasons in San Francisco before being traded to Kansas City in 2013.
Smith is a suitable QB that is a quintessential game manager (He’s thrown less than 10 interceptions in each of the last six seasons) and fits well in Andy Reid’s scheme, but it may be time for the Chiefs to move on in order to reach the next level.
Los Angeles Chargers
Philip Rivers is now 35 and his arm strength is weakening every season. He already said he wasn’t opposed to the Chargers drafting his rookie replacement, but added he would have to “sit for a while.”
Kellen Clemens is currently his backup and not the answer the Chargers are looking for.
With a new city and new look, the Chargers will want a new feel at quarterback too.
Ben Roethlisberger gave the Steelers a bit of a scare during the offseason when he said he wasn’t certain he would play this season. No one really believed it given the ultimate competitor Big Ben, but it did likely spark something in the Pittsburgh front office to think about their future.
This is the perfect opportunity to draft Roethlisberger’s replacement. The two-time Super Bowl winner still has a lot left in the tank, although injuries will likely be the biggest factor in deciding how much longer he can play. The new kid on the Steel City block won’t be rushed onto the field considering Landry Jones is a decent backup, giving Pittsburgh an opportune time to find their next franchise QB.
New York Giants
At 36 years old, it still looks like Eli Manning can play forever (it must be in the genes!). He’s arguably the most durable QB and he’s still playing at an elite level, although his play did fall off a tad bit last season.
This is the time New York needs to take a shot on a rookie quarterback; he won’t play immediately, but in two or three years (when New York can get out from under his insane contract) he may be the guy to replace No. 10.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is still a top-5 NFL quarterback, leading the league in yards and completions even at age 37. But, the Saints have to come to the realization that just because it seems like Brees can play well into his 40’s, he won’t be the elite QB he’s been in New Orleans much longer. It’s time for them to draft his successor but there’s one problem: the Saints have a lot of holes they need to fill. Drafting a quarterback early would prevent them from selecting a position they are in desperate need of – anything on defense.