National Football League
Which NFL teams are best prepared to start a rookie QB? We rank 7
National Football League

Which NFL teams are best prepared to start a rookie QB? We rank 7

Updated Apr. 25, 2024 9:27 a.m. ET

We know who needs a quarterback. We've dedicated six months to figuring out which teams might draft one during the 2024 NFL Draft, and which prospects they might covet.

Let's look beyond that. It's one thing to read a quarterback's name off a draft card, but how prepared are you to help him lead your franchise?

On the eve of the draft, we decided to take a look at the seven teams in this year's draft with the biggest quarterback need — and how favorable their situation looks for the rookie they might decide to draft.

1. Minnesota Vikings
First 2024 selection: No. 11 overall 


This wasn't a particularly hard choice.

No one with a need at quarterback has done a better job of creating a favorable environment than Minnesota. Now, they just have to find a way to get one.

The obvious talking point is the receivers. Justin Jefferson has a strong case as the best receiver in football, and he'll soon be paid like it. With Jefferson missing a chunk of 2023 with a hamstring injury, rookie Jordan Addison broke out in a big way with 911 yards and an eye-popping 10 touchdowns in his debut season. Wherever you want to rank them, the Vikings are on the shortlist for boasting the best receiver duo in the league.

And while tight end T.J. Hockenson is still recovering from a tear of his ACL and MCL on Christmas Eve, his eventual return provides a quality third option in the passing attack.

The front office also pulled a classic Vikings maneuver this offseason, signing Packers Pro Bowler Aaron Jones after his release in Green Bay. Jones might not be as spry as he once was, but his final five games of 2023 seemed to show he's got some gas in the tank. At any rate, he's an obvious improvement over the Vikings' running back situation from last year.

Up front, the pair of Christian Darrisaw and Brian O'Neill is one of the best tackle duos in football. The Vikings could stand to upgrade their interior, but it's still a nice starting point.

Round it out with a head coach and offensive playcaller in Kevin O'Connell with a track record of success, not to mention a background playing young quarterback.

It all looks pretty good, and it's why Minnesota looks like the most appealing destination for any rookie in this draft class.

2. Chicago Bears
First 2024 selection: No. 1 overall

That's not to say the Bears have done a bad job paving the way for Caleb Williams.

The foundation was laid with D.J. Moore and Darnell Wright, the star additions from 2023, living up to the hype. The Bears have built on that by trading for an eternally underrated star receiver in Keenan Allen and signing a 1,000-yard back in D'Andre Swift. Once Williams is selected No. 1 overall Thursday night, the Bears will also have the No. 9 overall pick to use as they see fit to continue building. 

There's no question this is the best situation a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback has stepped into in recent memory.

If we're examining them for this year, though, there are still a few issues that give pause.

For starters, hopefully the Bears add a few more pieces on offense. Whether they trade that No. 9 pick or use it, it looks awfully tempting to throw another blue-chip talent at that offensive line. If not that, it'd be fun to add another pass-catcher to the mix. The Bears' offense is in a nice place, but it could stand to improve.

More importantly are the coaching questions. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron has a solid enough résumé. He had that job for three years in Seattle, and he comes from the beloved Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. Still, there will be enormous pressure on Waldron to deliver a functional, efficient offense with such a highly touted quarterback under his watch.

The other wrinkle to consider is that Matt Eberflus kept his job as head coach after some consternation about his 10-24 record. Eberflus is also a defensive-focused head coach, meaning his influence on Williams and the offense will likely be lessened.

This is not to say things will go south in Chicago — but if they do, Williams could find himself faced with massive turnover after his rookie year. That's not ideal for a young quarterback's development.

But here in April, where everyone is undefeated, there's no doubt things look promising for Williams and the future of the Bears' offense.

3. Washington Commanders
First 2024 selection: No. 2 overall

Feels strange to rank Washington as a favorable destination for a rookie quarterback, given this organization's recent history. But it's a new era in the DMV.

The Commanders didn't do anything special in free agency, but that felt like the point. Rather than make splashes for the sake of it, new general manager Adam Peters spent sensible money at a lot of positions. 

It's not that anyone should get overly excited about Tyler Biadasz and Nick Allegretti, but these are smaller signings that can stabilize the offensive line. It's not that Austin Ekeler and Zach Ertz are as good as they were a few years ago, but these are still useful vets who can make a young quarterback's life easier. 

Plus, there were some exciting players already on board. Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson form a fun receiver tandem. Brian Robinson Jr. has been steady Eddy during his two years in the backfield.

And, for all his flaws, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury at least has experience with a ton of talented young quarterbacks — and those with vastly different skill sets. Kingsbury has coached Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray and Caleb Williams at either the college or pro level within the past decade, so you'd like to think he can tailor an offense to whichever prospect the Commanders select. (It bears mentioning, however, that Kingsbury's pairing with Murray in Arizona was hit-and-miss.)

The Commanders also have as much ammo as anyone with which to continue improving. After they pick their signal-caller at No. 2 overall, Washington holds five more picks in the top 100 this weekend. That's ample opportunity to put more talent around their new face of the franchise — preferably with a big pick addressing left tackle.

It all adds up to Washington looking like a favorable place for a rookie QB to land. And even if the Commanders are not first on this list, that's a heck of an improvement from what they've been in the past.

4. New York Giants
First 2024 selection: No. 6 overall

I'm expecting some pushback for this since the Giants clearly have some work to do at the skill positions.

But, if they are going to draft a quarterback in 2024, they have already made some serious upgrades to their mess of an offensive line. Last year's struggles clearly bothered general manager Joe Schoen, as we went out and handed out roughly $25 million in guarantees to Jon Runyan and Jermaine Eluemunor to address those issues. Those two, combined with a hopefully healthy Andrew Thomas, change the math for this offensive line a bit.

The challenge for the Giants on Day 1 of the draft will be whether a QB they want is still available to them with the No. 6 pick, or what they might have to give up to grab one earlier.

The Giants already traded their second-round pick, No. 39 overall, to Carolina for Brian Burns. No shade intended, it was an excellent trade, but it still leaves them light on ammo. Will they be willing to pay the price to move up Thursday? And if they do, what will they have left to use on receivers? Their current group of Jalin Hyatt, Darius Slayton and Wan'Dale Robinson could certainly use a boost.

Of course, the Giants will be hoping their coaches can offset some personnel issues. Brian Daboll is widely recognized for helping to develop Josh Allen into an All-Pro talent. He oversaw Daniel Jones' best season to date, and he helped coax three wins out of Tommy DeVito last season. He's assisted by offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, who worked extensively with Patrick Mahomes in addition to his successes in New York.

The Giants also have the luxury of not throwing a rookie quarterback to the wolves. Jones will be in New York for at least one more season and can start once healthy, and Drew Lock is in the fold, as well. This could be a fitting situation for a redshirt year.

It might not look great on paper, but if you squint just right you can see the vision.

5. Las Vegas Raiders
First 2024 selection: No. 13 overall

The Raiders have a similar problem as New York, only the opposite. 

It feels wrong to rank Vegas this low because they do have an All-Pro receiver in Davante Adams, and Jakobi Meyers makes for a solid No. 2. Zamir White is a fun, young piece at running back, and perhaps Michael Mayer makes a leap in his second season.

But is it worth getting excited about the skill players if you struggle to protect your new asset at quarterback? 

The Raiders have a quality left tackle in Kolton Miller, who graded 13th among all tackles last season, per PFF. Andre James is a quality center, and Dylan Parham is a solid guard. That still leaves two spots open. Right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor is off to New York, and there's another guard spot to fill.

Maybe that won't stop first-year brain trust Antonio Pierce and Tom Telesco from going after their guy at quarterback. But would that happen in a trade up, or would it come at pick No. 13? There are a lot of dots connecting Pierce and Jayden Daniels, but perhaps the Raiders would be content to draft Michael Penix Jr. without giving up extra draft capital.

Much like the Giants, the Raiders also have covered themselves from having to play a rookie immediately. Gardner Minshew brought the Colts within a whisker of the playoffs last season and can begin the year as the starter. 

Even still, that offensive line is cause for concern until further notice.

6. Denver Broncos
First 2024 selection: No. 12 overall

It just feels like the Broncos need a little bit of help everywhere — without a lot of resources to do it.

You can see the roster effects of swinging a major, failed swap for a quarterback and trading to acquire Sean Payton from New Orleans. The Broncos only made five draft picks last spring, and they didn't have a first-round pick in 2023 or 2022. This year represents a chance to refurbish the depth chart.

The good news is, the Broncos did some spending on the offensive line last year. They recently lost Lloyd Cushenberry to free agency, but the trio of Garrett Bolles, Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey is a nice starting point.

That's probably why there's been talk about the skill positions. The Broncos have been heavily linked to tight end Brock Bowers due to a glaring need at tight end. The receiving corps in Denver is solid, but with this being hailed as a deep receiver draft, it wouldn't hurt to add some talent there.

The Broncos also don't have the benefit of a strong quarterback room. Zach Wilson has technically started a ton of games, but anyone with an Internet connection knows how his time with the New York Jets went. Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci have combined to start five NFL games. There's not a lot here protecting a rookie quarterback from getting thrown into the fire quickly.

Ultimately, there's a solid infrastructure here — especially with a longtime offensive-minded guru like Sean Payton pulling the strings. But the Broncos have few pieces that get you truly excited, which puts them below most — but not all — of the teams on this list.

7. New England Patriots
First 2024 selection: No. 3 overall

It's just hard to see the vision.

Perhaps if the Patriots had a boatload of big-time draft picks, like the Washington Commanders, you could talk yourself into them bringing in a wave of exciting, young talent. But the reality is, if New England sits tight and picks a quarterback at No. 3 overall, they'll have just two more picks to use in the top 100 of this year's draft.

That's a problem when you look at the rest of the offense. There's currently no left tackle in New England, nor is there a bona fide star at receiver. Guys like Hunter Henry, K.J. Osborn and Kendrick Bourne are fine complementary pieces, but that's essentially the Patriots' entire offense.

Between that and the holes on the offensive line, there aren't enough resources to fix it all this weekend.

Thankfully, the Pats did bring back Jacoby Brissett, and he could be a placeholder until things markedly improve — though that hardly seems fair to Brissett. But given the way things look here, that's probably a better course than throwing a rookie into such a barren situation.

David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports and hosts the NFL on FOX podcast. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team's official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in producing "Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion" about the quarterback's time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter at @davidhelman_.

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