Ranking NFL Starting QB’S – James Damon Blog

James DamonRanking NFL Starting QB’S    –

I’ve ranked NFL head coaches for years now and it seemed only right that I give some consideration to doing the same to the most important position on the field.  So, with that in mind, here are the inaugural Prepcasts-KCMW NFL QB rankings.  Sit back, enjoy, and throw things in frustration where you disagree.
In any ranking system, it’s easy to choose your particular favorites based on any number of factors and criteria.  While any ranking will have some level of bias (good or bad), factored in criteria for these rankings include: championships (Super Bowls and AFC/NFC titles), MVP awards, wins, and statistics.  I had originally wanted to separate out the QB’s into about five categories, but it grew entirely too tedious, so without further ado.
1.  PEYTON MANNING (BRONCOS) One Super Bowl title along with another loss, multiple MVP’s, turned around a moribund franchise, statistical warhorse, and his 2013 season is better than video game numbers.  Though he won’t have the overall number of titles of others, he is likely the greatest to ever play the position. 2.  TOM BRADY (PATRIOTS) Multiple Super Bowl champion and MVP winner, always seemed to do more with less.  Impressive career stats, and were it not for two insane catches would have two more rings.  Wow.  Imagine how he would be talked about now were it not for the crazy Giant catches. 3.  DREW BREES (SAINTS) A guy you have to love watching play.  Certainly has benefitted from the prolific passing attacks of the day, but he has a Super Bowl title to go with the great stats.  How many MVP’s might he have playing in an era apart from Manning and Brady?  He gets plenty of credit and the media love him (rightfully so), but he might still be a bit under-rated! 4.  AARON RODGERS (PACKERS) Likely the next real great.  Already has a Super Bowl win on the resume and a near undefeated season coupled with an MVP.  He is the youngest on the short list, so probably the man to carry the torch.  He is vital to the franchise, because the Packers had their moments, but looked downright moribund without him this season.  He comes back and leads them into the playoffs; he is the man in Wisconsin. 5.  ELI MANNING (GIANTS) Now speaking of those two insane catches, this likely gives indication how small the window is sometimes from good to great, from winner to loser.  Stats are not overly impressive, but he just continues to manage to get the job done for his team.  Squad is certainly defense-built, but he makes plays late in key games like few others.  And he has those two rings; the last name never hurts.  I’m not an Eli fan, but he has two rings and is still young enough to steal another one (hey, the first two were impressive thefts) and three puts him into rarefied airs. 6.  ANDREW LUCK (COLTS) Clearly much is always expected of the top pick.  Then you add in his NFL pedigree, intelligence, success both on and off the field, and he takes his team to the playoffs in season one.  The 2012 season may be remembered, as much as anything, as the year that the concepts we have about first and second-year QB’s got obliterated.  No more are the days of sitting a talent like Aaron Rodgers for three years and then unleashing him.  If you are drafted first round, you must start some time in year one.  Thank you Mr. Luck.  He’s got all the needed tools, and the AFC talent will likely take a dip down in the next 3-5 years when we see Peyton and Mr. Gisele Bundchen exit the game.  And scan the big guns around the league right now—the vast majority are in the NFC, which means this guy likely becomes the new face of the AFC.  I just hope he shaves more often.  And he just got his playoff signature win over KC. 7.  BEN ROETHLISBERGER (STEELERS) Toughest call of where to put on this list; I think he’s definitely fading, but he is a Super Bowl winner and he rode an average team to almost get a playoff bid (and they should have).  Aside from his off field shenanigans in bars and the like, he is a warrior.  He’s got the titles and year in and year out he’s a proven winner.  Interesting era we are in now, because Pittsburgh brass has to decide how to honor the great years past of Big Ben, but move forward into a future that cannot see him at the helm much longer. T8.  COLIN KAEPERNICK (49ERS) I think my mom somehow got on the Kaepernick bandwagon in the off-season and she’s not much of a fan.  We know the team around him is solid, though underachieving some to start the season.  The expectations are massive after his 2012 campaign, though, and his star surely is hitched to Mr. Harbaugh’s.  He simply has to win a Super Bowl (or three).  Read more about Wilson below; I see them in quite similar situations. T8.  RUSSELL WILSON (SEAHAWKS) I don’t know which story I read more these days: the undersized QB who turns the league on its’ head and makes Pete Carroll look like a genius, or how bad the Jaguars selection of a punter was ahead of Wilson.  A couple seasons are not enough to anoint him the NFL’s new messiah, though I like both his tangibles and intangibles.  And if we must blast the Jags, we should rip every franchise for letting him drop this far.  If he’s that good, even a team set at QB should have taken a flyer on him by round three.  I really see him and Kap the same way; stats overall will be OK, but they are leaders who form an amazing West Coast battle and each could win a couple Super Bowls. 10.  JOE FLACCO (RAVENS) This is a muddy part of the list.  Flacco has a title, and he sure got his money, but I think we began to see the real Flacco in 2013.  Without better weapons and a completely lost Ray Rice, he seemed average more often than not.  Is he a top 1/3 QB in the league?  Sure, and he’s now got a Super Bowl ring, which you can never take away.  He does not quite fall into the game manager QB’s that rode phenomenal defenses to titles (Brad Johnson & Trent Dilfer, anybody), but he is not the superstar that people made out to be during the title run.  Frankly, he’s a fallen Broncos cornerback away from being another solid quarterback with things to prove, similar to Matt Ryan, perhaps.  I will be stunned if Baltimore makes another deep playoff run, let alone wins a title with Flacco at the helm; and putting studs around him on offense got tougher with the mega contract he got. 11.  TONY ROMO (COWBOYS) Until Dallas either commits to the running game or gets a running game (depending on which side of the fence you fall), Romo will put up great fantasy numbers.  And with solid targets to throw to, that does not seem to ever change.  But he will throw a bad ball every couple quarters and you just don’t know when that will burn you.  Plus this team is a reflection of him, or vice versa, because everybody seems to think they should be better.  At some point, you are what you are.  This is that point for Romo.  Good player, great stats for a career, wins quite a few games, even a couple in the playoffs, but never anything more….Dallas fans all agree while cringing yet hang on hoping I am so wrong. 12.  MATT RYAN (FALCONS) Well, he finally got his first playoff win and that tosses a monkey aside.  The talent around him offensively is video-game like, though injuries crushed them this year.  Apart from 2013, he won far more than he lost.  I think he’s an intelligent QB and he has the tools to succeed, but something just does not quite feel right about him.  Is he Alex Smith Lite?  A high pick that so much was thought of that he became over-rated forcing everybody to take their eyes off and then he became under-rated?  This team should be able to make a deep playoff run in the next couple years, even with the 49ers, Seahawks, and Pack in the NFC mix.  If a complete rebuild is done, Ryan does not seem like the guy that can just carry them every week.  Other than RGIII’s unique situation, Ryan likely has the farthest to potentially drop. 13.  RGIII (REDSKINS) I love this guy’s talent, moxie, and character.  But I take a huge breath, because the vast majority of people are NOT Adrian Peterson.  So how seriously will this injury affect him long term?  Bad start to the season, teammates suggested he was nowhere near full speed, 100%, or the same player pre-injury from last year.  If he’s healthy, then he is near the top of this second tier list.  If not, then he becomes a middling type of guy, in my mind.  Now throw in a new coaching staff and questions arise and even abound. 14.  PHILLIP RIVERS (CHARGERS) I originally published this and had Rivers about 4-5 slots lower, but he does have three playoff wins, so it seemed right to bump him above a group that might be better, but has not got playoff wins or stats yet to assure that.  While little is said about Rivers being a major underachiever, something has to be mentioned.  He’s had the stats and regular season wins, but little success in the playoffs.  I think Norv Turner is a classic underachiever, so I’m willing to give Rivers a bit of a pass.  While I think he’s a good QB, he is prone to make some poor decisions at crucial times, and he simply cannot move up any higher without more playoff success.  A good run this year helps, because this would be an over-achieving run. 15.   ANDY DALTON (BENGALS) Expectations were so tempered with Dalton and the Cincy folk that playoff appearances, wins, and solid play have elevated those expectations in most minds.  He is not a superstar nor a stat-sheet stuffer, but he’s solid and easily in the upper half of the league.  He has something extra special with Green on the outside; if Bernard matures in the backfield and he gets another weapon, he is a brilliant game manager who can make big plays to win games, especially with Mr. Green.  This might be the year for the Bengals to make a run.  16.  MATTHEW STAFFORD (LIONS) This guy has a howitzer for an arm and the absolute beauty of tossing it to perhaps the most gifted wide-out ever, and now Reggie Bush is added to the mix.  But after a magical season two years ago, the Lions have looked awful since.  The NFC North was very win-able this year, but the Lions could never get over the hump.  I love Stafford on my fantasy team, but would I want him leading my franchise?  He’s still young, there’s much to be written, but his name is not mentioned in the upper echelon of real stars in the league, so make of that what you will. 17.  ALEX SMITH (CHIEFS) What a heartbreak!  He finally had some good coaching and was clearly turning the corner and then he gets injured, lost his job, and is traded away.  But if there was a land of milk and honey for Smith it likely is KC as a team desperate for a leader and a QB that at least occasionally throws more TD’s than INT’s gets him at the helm.  Solid 2013, but a first round playoff loss leaves him in the middies of the league.  Good but not great player; very smart, will put the ball to the right spot 99 times out of 100.  That wins you a lot of games, but without the deep ball arm strength and at least a hint of gunslinger, rarely does that QB find titles or extended success. 18.  CAM NEWTON (PANTHERS) This is the selection that could burn me after a #2 seed in the NFC, and a chance to make a run in the playoffs.  He has such a unique skill set as he can throw the ball all over the field, run over and past most defenders with a linebacker build, and dodge accusations from collegiate rivals like no one before him.  But his team rarely won before this year, and ultimately who cares how nice your numbers are or how high you are drafted in fantasy leagues if you are not winning games?  His game is hard to figure out, and say what people will about the evolution of the position, there is yet to be a Super Bowl winner who was not some variation of the prototypical pocket type of passer.  Is that era truly over and the Kaepernick/Wilson/Newton, et al era going to revolutionize the game?  Or will there be slight changes and modifications, but the guy who generally stays in the pocket (though might be mobile) and moves the ball down the field with his arm primarily wins the championships?  Newton can change that this year. 19.  CARSON PALMER (CARDINALS) It sure looked like his career was in the gutter before this year, but playing for the Raiders can easily do that for anybody.  He helped lead the Cardinals to the cusp of the playoffs, and while Coach Arians should get tons of credit, Palmer should not be left out of that discussion.  I don’t know how much is left in the tank, but at the start of the season, I would have had him down about five spots. 20.  JAY CUTLER (BEARS) Cutler is the guy playing at the school you don’t like that either makes you so happy after your team plays his (because he gives the game away with bad decisions and turnovers) or you are infuriated (because he just had a career game throwing six TD’s etc.).  He is the Riddler of the NFL; you just never quite know what to expect.  He’s got the talent, though his nonchalance rubs many wrong, and his head just seems to not be on right sometimes.  His stats always seem to be OK at the end of the year, and he usually is on teams that are likely to be more winner than loser, but he just does not seem to be the guy.  Trestman apparently likes what he has, seeing him inked to a long new deal.  Ultimately, the Bears need to make a post-season run, though, for Cutler to really move up this list. 21.  NICK FOLES (EAGLES) I never would have imagined putting Foles this high on the list, but he took over in Philly, seemed to stabilize the offense, led them to the playoffs, and is in solid position to get a win as well.  Maybe Foles is not the answer for the Eagles, but he sure played well for two-thirds of the season, and were it not for Manning’s monster year, he probably would get some MVP chatter. 22.  SAM BRADFORD (RAMS) A lot of folks are really down on Bradford, but I think he’s still got some upside potential.  A change of scenery might be the best thing for him, but rarely does a QB have outstanding success for a second team.  There are some examples (Drew Brees is one of the best), but they are few and far between.  Will Bradford do the same, and be the exception or the rule?  Or will he find success in the STL? 23.  EJ MANUEL (BILLS) I really liked what I saw from this young guy and the team seemed to rally around him.  We’ll see how he rebounds from an injury and if the team (and he) moves forward in his second year.  I think he has solid potential to move up this list. 24.  RYAN TANNEHILL (DOLPHINS) I thought it was a huge reach for the Dolphins to chase Tannehill, though his NFL intangibles were solid.  He has had some really good moments as well so far for Miami, but they had a chance to make the playoffs this year and threw it away.  At some level, that has to point to the QB (too much credit for wins; too much blame for losses). 25.  JAKE LOCKER (TITANS) This feels like it’s too high for a guy that struggles to stay on the field and really has not done that much.  His athletic ability is off the charts, but his football acumen seems to be “up and down”, at best.  A new regime is on the way to Tennessee, and we’ll have to wait and see if they give Locker a shot and if he does anything with it. 26.  MATT SCHAUB (TEXANS) When I originally began compiling this list a couple months back, Schaub was much higher, but he clearly is not the long term answer for Houston.  Now with a regime change and the top pick in the draft, it is almost certain that there will be a house cleaning.  The team itself is an enigma if ever there was one.  They finally got past the hurdle of making the playoffs, then winning a game.  But now the next step seems a mile away.  How much can be left in Andre Johnson’s tank, and backs that touch the rock as much as Foster have, usually fall off the cliff quickly (which may have already happened this year).  Though it does not seem like the window has been open long (and Texan fans may curse the existence of Brady, Manning, and Ravens defenses), it may be closing for Houston and time for a re-build. 27.  GENO SMITH (JETS) He seemed like a typical rookie QB, which we apparently forget after recent seasons like Luck’s, RGIII’s, and Wilson’s.  Smith had some flashes, and then looked awful at other times.  I am not very high on him, but the Jets clearly were not going anywhere with Sanchez and needed some sort of change.  Progression of some sort in year two will be crucial.  Ryan is clearly a good coach that gets far more than he should out of his talent.  Will Smith provide the same, or will NYJ look QB again in a couple years? 28.  MIKE GLENNON (BUCCANEERS) I was not sold on Glennon as a pick, nor his being elevated to starter at QB.  However, his play was not that bad and he seemed to be improving.  New coach Lovie Smith has done much with very little (Rex Grossman), so there’s good reason to think that Glennon has some upside in that scenario.  Big arm, strong guy and he likely will get a legit shot at being the man. 29.  BRIAN HOYER/BRANDON WEEDEN/JASON CAMPBELL (BROWNS) There is much talk of the Browns looking for a QB, though they thought something had been found early in the season with Hoyer.  We’ll have to see how he rebounds.  Campbell is a quality backup, but not somebody to win a game week after week.  Weeden seems to be an enigma.  He has some quality moments, but then makes some absolutely befuddling plays as well.  All signs seem to point he is definitely on his way out.  There is much turmoil in Cleveland behind center right now, and amazingly there are three teams beneath them with QB situations. 30.  CHRISTIAN PONDER/MATT CASSEL/JOSH FREEMAN (VIKINGS) Obviously when you have a slash line, multiple QB’s playing significantly throughout a season despite no major injuries, and really no direction for the future, that says a lot about both the state of the franchise and the QB’s.  Cassel is clearly a stopgap guy who can have some success in limited situations with talent around him, but not as the long-term guy.  Ponder has had more than enough of a shot and has not seized advantage.  The organization must see something they like in Freeman to sign him after the Bucs dumped him, but also to keep him around at a bit of a high cost.  It’s tough to think the Vikes don’t chase a QB with their first round pick. 31.  TERRELLE PRYOR/MATT McGLOIN (RAIDERS) People want to talk about how McGloin look poised and made some big plays, but ultimately that meant very few wins.  Though athletic, Pryor often lacked poise and seemed to make crucial mistakes which hurt his team.  I don’t think it’s outrageous to consider QB with round one pick. 32.  BLAINE GABBERT/CHAD HENNE (JAGUARS) Who knows the situation here for sure?  I think Blaine Gabbert is David Carr II.  I think he could have been successful were he not just on an awful team with a horrific offensive line.  Henne seems to get more out of less than a lot of guys, which says some things about his work ethic and character.  Very solid backup, but not a starter.  They almost certainly have to draft QB in round one.

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