Note: This article has been updated to reflect the Raiders' trade for quarterback Matt Schaub.
So many teams selecting near the top of the 2014 NFL draft need starting quarterbacks. Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland own four of the first five selections, and none appears to have its long-term starter on its roster. The same goes for Minnesota and possibly Tampa Bay, both also drafting in the top 10. But unfortunately for QB-needy teams, the widely panned pro-day workout for Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater was about as convincing as the 2014 college QB class overall. Too many question marks exist for teams to comfortably pick one among the top few selections -- particularly in a draft brimming with premium talent at other positions.
Overdrafting a QB is bad enough, but it's worse when it's carried out at the expense of adding front-line talent. The 2011 draft comes to mind. Jacksonville selected quarterback Blaine Gabbert 10th, one spot before Houston landed J.J. Watt. Minnesota selected quarterback Christian Ponder 12th, two spots before St. Louis chose Robert Quinn.
That was also the year two QB-needy teams, Arizona and San Francisco, came out looking smart for taking a cornerback (Patrick Peterson) and outside linebacker (Aldon Smith), respectively, among the top seven picks. Watt, Quinn, Peterson and Smith are building-block players. Gabbert, Ponder and the other overdrafted quarterback from 2011, Jake Locker, are not.
While pointing out the pitfalls of overdrafting is easy, resisting the temptation in the face of abiding need is not. There are no guarantees, regardless. While the Texans (Watt), Rams (Quinn) and Cardinals (Peterson) got it right in 2011, every one of those teams fired its coach within a few years anyway. Poor quarterback play was largely to blame.
What's a smart team to do? A few calls around the league produced one viable option that could allow QB-needy teams to make the circumstances work to their advantage. We spell it out below while taking a closer look at which teams -- 13 overall -- need to draft QBs this year, when they should look to take one, and whom they should target. (Spoiler: There are a few teams on the list who have solid starters already in place.)