The race for the No. 1 overall draft pick was as good – or as bad – as it gets the final week of the regular season. The Bears lost to the Vikings, and the Texans pulled off a dramatic come-from-behind victory to secure their third win of the season.
In doing so, they choked away the No. 1 overall pick in the draft on April 27. The Texans fired coach Lovie Smith the next day. His decision to go for a two-point conversion and the win left the Texans sitting at No. 2 overall.
It was a perfect scenario for Bears general manager Ryan Poles. He now has all the power. He controls how the top of this draft will shake out. Best of all, he probably doesn’t need to take a quarterback.
Justin Fields showed plenty of promise this season as both a runner and a passer. The Bears have a quarterback they can build around. They don’t necessarily need the services of Alabama QB Bryce Young or Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud.
But other teams do.
Here are five teams who could seek to move up in the draft and select a top quarterback prospect.
1. Houston Texans
Current top pick: 2nd overall
Total picks in 2023: 11
Why it could work: Here’s why Week 18 was so interesting. If the Texans had simply lost, they could pick whichever QB they wanted first overall. Now, they have to worry about the threat of the Bears trading the pick to someone else, which would leave them hoping that trade partner doesn’t take the QB they want.
Much like Ryan Pace once scared himself into trading up from No. 3 overall to No. 2 overall in order to take Mitchell Trubisky, the Texans could be forced to pay a king’s ransom to move up one spot in order to grab the quarterback they want.
Oh, and the Texans have a ton of draft capital, including two first-round picks this year and two first-round picks next year.
2. Indianapolis Colts
Current top pick: No. 4 overall
Total picks in 2023: Seven
Why it could work: The Colts have punted on drafting a quarterback in the first round ever since Andrew Luck retired. No team has had as much draft luck in landing Peyton Manning and Luck back-to-back as the Colts have. And no team has cycled through as many washed up veteran QBs since Luck retired.
For GM Chris Ballard, it’s finally time to take a risk on a young QB. Ballard said this week he would move “heaven and earth” to find the right QB.
Dropping to No. 4 overall would be a great scenario for the Bears. If two QBs go ahead of them, they likely still would land a top prospect at another position.
3. Las Vegas Raiders
Current top pick: No. 7 overall
Total picks in 2023: Nine
Why it could work: If the Raiders do want to move on from Derek Carr, which seems to be the case, they appear likely to court a veteran. Josh McDaniels’ old buddies Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo will top the list.
But convincing a veteran to go play for a team that just went 6-11 might be a tough sell. If the Raiders don’t land a veteran, they should be looking for a QB in the draft. They can find one at No. 7 overall, but that quarterback probably won’t be their top choice.
The Raiders swung big at receiver last year, trading for Davante Adams. Why wouldn’t they take a swing at quarterback?
4. Carolina Panthers
Current top pick: No. 9 overall
Total picks in 2023: Seven
Why it could work: The Panthers, like the Colts, are another organization that has punted on drafting a quarterback in the first round. They haven’t taken a first-round QB since they drafted Cam Newton first overall in 2011. They drafted Matt Corral with a third-round pick last spring, but Corral suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason.
Carolina is set to hire a new head coach and begin a new era. The Panthers have some promising pieces at other positions, but they still have a major question mark at QB. They hold two second-round picks and two fourth-round picks thanks to the Christian McCaffrey trade. Carolina has the ammunition to move up, if it wants.
Dropping to No. 9 still would give the Bears a chance to find a high-caliber prospect.
5. New York Jets
Current top pick: No. 13 overall
Total picks in 2023: Six
Why it could work: The Jets just went 7-10, but this is after losing six straight to end the season. They did it with Joe Flacco, Zach Wilson and Mike White at quarterback. They should be feeling as if they are only a quarterback away from truly contending.
That might be why they will seek a veteran in free agency or via trade. If, however, they swing and miss in that arena, they are not going to want to trot Wilson and White back out there for another season. They have to do something different in 2023.
The Jets don’t have the draft capital of some of the other teams on this list, but they do have plenty of picks in 2024 and lots of young talent who could come back in return.
Other teams to consider
The Atlanta Falcons (who pick eighth overall) and the Tennessee Titans (11th) could be in the mix as well. Two playoff teams to keep an eye on might be the New York Giants (Daniel Jones is set to be a free agent) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (depending what Tom Brady does).