If you’re wondering whether or not XFL brass places the same importance on the quarterback position that I have this week, that question may have been answered.
On the latest “Go Long with Dunne & Monos” podcast, XFL Senior Director of Football Operations, Jim Monos, not only expressed the importance of the QB position, but put forth a suggestion to rearrange an NFL team’s scouting staff around the position.
“I’ve always thought…why don’t you just have a two-to-three man staff that is literally grading every starting college quarterback – I don’t care if they’re a true freshman – and you are following them like, ‘hey, I’ve been watching him now for three years, he gets better every year,’ ‘hey he plateaued – this is year three – he has plateaued, I don’t see him getting any better.’ It’s worth it to put that type of work into that position. There’s no reason not to,” he said, when speaking about teams that have quality NFL quarterbacks versus those that don’t.
“I think you could do it analytically and make it really efficient and really study it from the time they have their first start until their last start, everything you saw in their career,” he added.
“Maybe that’s an XFL innovation, eh?,” prodded Tyler Dunne, the host of the podcast and former NFL beat writer.
“I wonder if it’s been talked about?,” Monos asked rhetorically. “You never know…”
Earlier in the week, I profiled the quarterback depth charts of AFC teams, found here, in an effort to determine who among them may lead XFL teams at that all-important position in 2023. Today, I’ll finish up with the NFC teams and their QB situations heading into organized team activities and training camp.
QB Depth Chart: Kyler Murray, Colt McCoy, Trace McSorley, Jarrett Guarantano
Cardinals fans had a roller-coaster off-season in tracking Murray’s moves while seeking a contract extension. He’s playing 2022 under the fifth-year option the Cardinals activated, but Murray wants a long-term deal. He’s skipping OTAs as an expression of his feelings on the subject. McCoy is a steady veteran backup who can fill-in admirably in a pinch. McSorley is an interesting project, a former 6th round pick of the Baltimore Ravens who has played sparingly but has some positional versatility. As a QB, he has yet to show much. Guarantano is an undrafted free-agent from Washington State via Tennessee who has played just nine games the past two college seasons. He’s a deep reserve with the measurables (6’3″, 219 lbs) to intrigue.
QB Depth Chart: Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, Feleipe Franks
Longtime starter Matt Ryan moved on to Indianapolis and the Falcons turned to former #2 overall pick Mariota to lead them. He never lived up to that draft status in Tennessee, but has since built a nice resume as a backup. He gets a chance to stake his claim to the starting job in Atlanta this summer. Ridder was one of many quarterbacks to fall further than expected in this year’s draft. The Falcons ended his slide early in the third round. I’m high on Ridder’s potential but he may not be ready to start right away. Franks is a huge (nearly 6’7″) project who spent last year as Atlanta’s #3 quarterback. If he makes the roster, he’ll likely play the same role this season. If the Falcons opt to go with two QBs, Franks may be one in whom the XFL player personnel department could have some interest.
QB Depth Chart: Sam Darnold, Matt Corral, PJ Walker, Davis Cheek
Carolina’s quarterback situation is, to put it bluntly, a mess. A change of scenery was supposed to help Darnold unlock his potential last season, but injuries and poor play led to Carolina calling on Cam Newton to bail them out. The only QB of note they added this off-season was Corral as a third-round pick, which feels more like a half-measure to solve the issue. Walker, of Houston Roughnecks fame, returns to likely make a case for the team keeping three QBs. Cheek signed as an undrafted free-agent out of Elon of the FCS. With head coach Matt Rhule perhaps down to just this season to prove he’s worthy of this job, Carolina may be in the market for a Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield if they can swing a trade this summer. The team has even said they’re keeping in contact with Newton, who looked close to done last year.
QB Depth Chart: Justin Fields, Trevor Siemian, Nathan Peterman
Recently Released: Ryan Willis
Fields showed enough last year to make Bears fans think they’ve solved their long-suffering quarterback woes. Now they just need to create an offense that takes advantage of his strengths. Siemiean and Jon Gruden’s favorite QB, Peterman, will battle for the backup job. Peterman has all of three passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions to his name in his NFL career. It’s hard to see him unseating Siemian, who has shown to be a competent number two. Willis is a Spring League alum having been the MVP of their championship game in 2021. If he doesn’t get an NFL shot this summer, it may be more likely he tries his hand at the USFL given its connection to the now departed TSL.
QB Depth Chart: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Will Grier, Ben DiNucci
Prescott came back from an ugly leg injury that ended his 2020 season to produce career highs in completions, completion percentage, and touchdowns in 2021. Dallas returns all three backups from last year. Rush won his first career start in dramatic fashion in October after attempting just three passes the previous four seasons. Grier was claimed off waivers from Carolina at the start of last season to serve as the #3 QB while DiNucci hung out all of 2021 on the practice squad. Rush is probably locked in as the backup, so can DiNucci overtake Grier if the Cowboys keep three QBs? Grier would be a nice XFL signing if that happens.
QB Depth Chart: Jared Goff, Tim Boyle, David Blough
Recently Released: Steven Montez
There was thought that Detroit would look for the successor to Goff in the 2022 draft, but they opted against the quarterbacks available in April. They’ll ride Goff for another year as they continue to rebuild. Boyle, formerly of the rival Green Bay Packers, returns on a one-year deal. So too does the former Purdue Boilermaker Blough, who didn’t attempt a pass last season. All three began 2021 on the Lions active roster. Montez was a sought-after undrafted free-agent in 2020 and has been on Washington and Detroit’s practice squads. He could pick up some deep reserve work this summer.
Green Bay Packers
QB Depth Chart: Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, Kurt Benkert, Danny Etling
The wounds that existed between Rodgers and the Packers franchise have healed as well as one could expect. It’s likely to be a year-to-year situation with Rodgers from here on out. It also means the future of Love, whose drafting in 2020 seemed to start the Rodgers-Packers relationship rift, is in serious question. For as many teams that still seek a quarterback, you don’t hear his name often in the rumor mill. Will Green Bay be comfortable starting Love when Rodgers ultimately moves on? Benkert has bounced around the practice squads and active rosters of the Falcons and Packers since 2018. Etling is on his seventh NFL team in four seasons. If he doesn’t make a team out of camp this year, a league like the XFL could be where he seeks refuge.
Los Angeles Rams
QB Depth Chart: Matthew Stafford, John Wolford, Bryce Perkins
Another team that returns all three quarterbacks that made the opening day roster in 2021, the Super Bowl champion Rams are content to not fix what isn’t broken. After giving up his body for years of futility in Detroit, it was a feel-good story to see Stafford win the big one in L.A. Even at 34 years old, he still looks like he has a few good years left. Wolford was the AAF’s second-best quarterback behind Garrett Gilbert, and he’s been able to use that as a springboard to carve out a nice career as an NFL backup. Perkins threw for the fourth-most passing yards during the 2021 preseason as the Rams rested most of their veterans. He was able to show some skills worth developing. If the Rams decide to keep just two QBs this year, Perkins could provide a real challenge to Wolford’s spot.
QB Depth Chart: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion, Kellen Mond, Nate Stanley
In March, Cousins signed a fully-guaranteed deal that will keep him in Minnesota for at least two more seasons. The Vikings hired Cousins’ former QB coach in Washington, Kevin O’Connell, as head coach. There is belief that there is still more to get out of Cousins, and O’Connell will attempt to do that. Two former 3rd round picks will vie for backup duties in Mannion and Mond. They are very different quarterbacks, from the statuesque Mannion to the scampering Mond. It would not be surprising to see Mond graduate to Cousins’ immediate backup. Stanley was a 7th pick in 2020 who spent all of last year on injured reserve. He’s a practice squad candidate, if not an XFL/USFL candidate.
New Orleans Saints
QB Depth Chart: Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Taysom Hill, Ian Book
New Orleans was a popular destination to mock first-round quarterbacks in 2022, to the point that draft analyst Tony Pauline reported just before the draft that belief around the league was it was a “sure bet” that the Saints would take a QB in round one. Not only did they not take a first round quarterback, they didn’t take one in any of the seven rounds. They’ll instead go into the season with Jameis Winston as their starter. Winston played well until he tore his ACL last year. Veteran Andy Dalton provides an experienced insurance policy. Hill is being moved to tight end by the new coaching staff, leaving an opportunity for Book, a 4th-round pick in 2021. His style compares more favorably to Hill than Winston, which may not be a mark in his favor.
New York Giants
QB Depth Chart: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor, Davis Webb
Recently Released: Brian Lewerke
Expectations are high for Jones, now in his fourth year, with Brian Daboll as his head coach. Daboll worked wonders with Josh Allen as Allen’s offensive coordinator in Buffalo, so fans and management are expecting a leap in Jones’s game in 2022. The Giants remade their quarterback room behind Jones, bringing in Taylor and Webb as backups. All three can play a similar style with the running component that Allen utilized with the Bills. Webb played for Daboll in Buffalo, which should give him a leg-up in making the team. Taylor has performed well wherever he has gone, enough to take over the starting job in a few places after being brought in as a backup. The Giants hope he won’t have to do that here. Lewerke is a limited athlete who may struggle to get meaningful work in the NFL going forward.
QB Depth Chart: Jalen Hurts, Gardner Minshew, Reid Sinnett, Carson Strong
In Hurts’s first full season as a starter, he led Philadelphia to a Wild Card playoff berth. Yet, some are still not sold on him as the answer in the City of Brotherly Love. He’ll get at least another year to prove those folks wrong. Minshew has proven a capable backup during his career, but that should be his ceiling: Teams are able to figure out his magic when he’s out there long-term. Strong has a decent chance to upend Sinnett and take the clipboard-holding job. Thought by some to be a first-rounder as recently as early 2022, a potential long-term knee injury, on top of already being seen as a stationary quarterback, landed Strong in undrafted territory. His $20,000 signing bonus and $320,000 guarantee to sign with the Eagles says he will get a legitimate shot to make the team.
San Francisco 49ers
QB Depth Chart: Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo, Nate Sudfeld, Brock Purdy
Along with Baker Mayfield, Garoppolo seems like the next most likely proven quarterback to get moved before the season begins. San Francisco is apparently forging ahead with Lance as their starter, even while Garoppolo was 9-6 in his 15 games at the helm last year. Sudfeld returns for his second season by the bay. If Garoppolo is moved, Sudfeld is the top candidate to be Lance’s main caddie. Purdy was this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, the final pick in the NFL draft. Projected to be selected as high as the middle rounds, Purdy could prove to be far from irrelevant if he can be a dependable long-term reserve.
QB Depth Chart: Geno Smith, Drew Lock, Jacob Eason
Recently Released: Levi Lewis
Seattle is one of the only teams that has a genuine quarterback battle taking place this summer. Smith and Lock are pretty close to even in their bid to replace Russell Wilson with the Seahawks. The loser will settle for #2, but this battle may rage all the way into the regular season. Pete Carroll’s crew is down to three quarterbacks on its off-season roster with the release of rookie free-agent Lewis. Louisiana’s all-time leader in touchdown passes could latch onto another team in search of a camp arm this summer. Eason was claimed off waivers from the Colts last October. He’s technically a part of the starting quarterback battle, but doesn’t feel like he’s on the same standing as the other two; then again, the last time Seattle had an open QB battle, it was Wilson unseating the two more likely starters in Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson for the job.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Depth Chart: Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask, Ryan Griffin
It was a scary 40 days for Bucs fans when Brady announced his retirement in February before deciding to come back for at least another season. The team’s QB depth chart will tell you why they felt that way. A bust of a first round pick with the Jaguars, Gabbert has settled into a fine career as a second-stringer. Trask’s game is similar to Brady’s in some ways, which made Tampa the ideal landing spot for the 2021 second-round pick. It doesn’t seem like he’s ready to challenge Gabbert, let alone take over for Brady, quite yet. Griffin has been in the league since 2013 and has played all of two regular-season games. There doesn’t seem to be room for him on this roster unless he accepts a practice squad role.
QB Depth Chart: Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke, Sam Howell, Cole Kelley
Washington is gambling on being able to return Wentz to his former glory, something QB guru Frank Reich couldn’t do in Indianapolis. The Commanders may not be ready to compete for a playoff spot this year anyway, so they get a free look at Wentz without a lot of pressure. Heinicke, the former St. Louis Battlehawks backup, will return to that position on the depth chart after being forced into the starting role in the second game of the season following an injury that landed starter Ryan Fitzpatrick on the shelf for the rest of the year. Howell, a fifth-round pick, is the presumptive #3 this year. Some have pegged him as a potential future starter. He’ll battle undrafted Kelley, from Southeast Louisiana, for the final spot. Kelley could be a fit for the XFL.