The situation in which prospects are placed often dictates whether they are a success or failure at the NFL level.
Talent only goes so far. A new coaching staff, surrounding cast and system have a dramatic effect on a young player's development. This past year's rookie supporting cast showed just how important these things are in regards to a quarterback's development.
Trevor Lawrence was the most touted quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. The Clemson product has every tool a team could ever want, hence why he became the No. 1 overall pick. But his rookie season was a disappointment because he landed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where one of the league's worst supporting casts and turmoil within the coaching staff basically ruined the 22-year-old's first season.
Conversely, Mac Jones heard his name called fifth in the 2021 quarterback class. Jones emerged as the best rookie signal-caller because he fell to the New England Patriots, who feature one of the league's best coaching staffs and a system perfectly suited to the quarterback's skill set.
With this in mind, the current quarterback class is already considered weak by typical standards with no surefire top-10 prospect, which makes the situations in which they land even more important to maximize each prospect's capabilities.
Entering the offseason, six franchises—the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Football Team and possibly the Houston Texans—will be actively searching for a new starting quarterback. Just because openings exist within these squads doesn't mean they're all good landing spots for the top six quarterbacks counted among Bleacher Report's Top 100 prospects.
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Best Fit: Denver Broncos
As the predraft cycle kicks into gear, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder is QB1 in Bleacher Report's position rankings. His current standing is important when looking at the barren quarterback landscape.
Even as QB1, Ridder isn't billed as a top-15 talent. But the possibility of an organization taking a chance on him much earlier shouldn't be ruled out.
The Broncos are a prime example of a QB-needy franchise and are owners of this year's ninth overall pick. From a financial and status perspective, the possibility of being slotted that high makes it an ideal landing spot. But a proper fit extends beyond simply going as high in the draft as possible.
Currently, the Broncos don't have a head coach. However, the team's personnel should be looked at as favorable. Denver had multiple weapons in the passing game and a strong running attack, with Javonte Williams expected to be a focal point in the coming years.
Ridder may be one of the more advanced prospects at his position, but landing in a situation where he won't be forced to shoulder the load out of the gate could prove massively beneficial.
Worst Fit: Carolina Panthers
The Panthers, who also own a top-10 selection, essentially fall on the opposite side of the spectrum from a personnel standpoint.
As Ridder's performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide showed, constant pressure will limit his effectiveness, as it usually does with young players. But the Panthers are far from settled up front, particularly along their left side, and likely need plenty of help to fix the problem.
After cycling through Sam Darnold, Cam Newton and P.J. Walker this season, Carolina also doesn't seem to have a plan on how to build around its quarterbacks, which became obvious when head coach Matt Rhule chose to fire offensive coordinator Joe Brady midseason.
The chance for instant success in Carolina, despite having Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson on the roster, seems far less likely with an undue amount of pressure to be placed on any potential first-round choice.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Best Fit: Pittsburgh Steelers
Of all the available quarterbacks in this year's draft class, Kenny Pickett best fits the descriptor "NFL-ready."
Pickett emerged as a legitimate first-round possibility during his final season on campus by throwing 42 touchdowns, which was three more than he threw his first four years. More importantly, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner showed how he grasped passing concepts, could throw with anticipation and displayed excellent pocket awareness and the ability to create outside of structure.
Normally, a season like Pickett experienced would push him to the top of the class, much as it did with Joe Burrow. At the same time, an evaluation must be true of an individual's capabilities. In Pickett's case, he'll turn 24 before he ever plays an official NFL down, questions about hand size will arise, his overall arm talent isn't elite, and his ball placement can be consistently better.
For the Steelers, the organization doesn't need an elite quarterback prospect. Pittsburgh simply needs someone who can orchestrate the offense efficiently and effectively. The roster already features a number of playmakers, as well as the help of an always aggressive defense.
Pickett can continue to play at Heinz Field and possibly become a cog in the Steelers' ongoing success.
Worst Fit: Houston Texans
The Texans are in an interesting situation (which we'll get into more with another prospect) because they seem to have something in Davis Mills. At the same time, he's a third-round pick and far from a sure thing.
But an investment in a prospect like Pickett, who's older and has played in a pro-style scheme, would scream automatic transition. Granted, Houston would have to move off of this year's third overall pick to make this a logical match.