With the NFL just around the corner, and my affinity for lists I’ve decided to rank each position in the league by division. Within that will be a ranking of the quarterbacks in the division as a subset to the overall rankings. It is inarguable that the league’s most important position is quarterback, which makes this position the most logical starting point.
8. A.F.C. South
Matt Schuab, Houston Texans
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
A case can be made that Schuab is a top ten quarterback based on his history of production. However, he has yet to win a big game and has battled injuries throughout his career. Little discussed fact is that Matt Schaub is also apart of the 2004 quarterback class, albeit a day two pick (wen the draft was two days). Jake Locker did not play enough last year to show that he is one of the league’s best quarterbacks though it is possible he will be someday, I think Andrew Luck’s potential is higher. Blaine Gabbert heads into the season as the league’s worst quarterback. The Jaguars are hoping that Gabbert proves all of the doubters wrong.
7. N.F.C. West
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks
Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals
I could see a case to be made that the NFC West actually has the league’s worst division of quarterbacks. I just like the depth of the AFC South quarterback squads a lot more than I like the A.F.C. South as of today. I think Kolb, Flynn, and Bradford have interesting potential for this season. I expect Bradford to play much better in 2012. Flynn and Kolb play for two of the league’s most under-appreciated defenses which means they might have surprisingly good years, provided that Kolb can beat out John Skelton for the starting quarterback job.
6. A.F.C. East
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Matt Moore , Miami Dolphins
Tom Brady, to me, is still the league’s best player, though Aaron Rodgers is quickly gaining. The rest of the division…meh. I have Fitzpatrick slightly ahead of Mark Sanchez (though I’m actually of the belief that Sanchez will keep his starting job all year), but in either case both quarterbacks are about as average as you can get. Matt Moore will probably not be the starting quarterback by the time season ends.
5. A.F.C. North
Ben Roethliberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Big Ben is a top five to eight quarterback universally. Joe Flacco has real potential to breakout this year and has been very steady throughout his career. Flacco believes he is an elite quarterback–and could be this year’s Eli Manning if he plays the entire season like he did in the A.F.C. Championship game. Andy Dalton, to me will probably be for his career what he was last year. I do not see too much more upside, though with how dangerous that WR corps is and how good the defense is, he might put up huge numbers and win a lot of games the next few years. I would not have drafted Brandon Weeden in the first two rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft and I am not his biggest fan.
4. A.F.C. West
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
No one is entirely sure of who Peyton Manning will be this year, but I’m confident he’ll play very well. Rivers was terrific in the second half of last season and is one of the leagues best quarterbacks. Carson Palmer could be poised for a big year, and if he’s not the team will probably be picking their franchise signal caller in the 2013 NFL Draft. Cassel is not flashy, but he’s very very solid and has won a lot of football games as a starter adn has a good win percentage.
3. N.F.C. North
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
2. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
3. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
4. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Aaron Rodgers is the second best quarterback in the league to me, the number one quarterback in most people’s eyes. He’s a terrific player. Matt Stafford, if he stays healthy the rest of his career is poised for a very very big year. Jay Cutler is under-appreciated I think I would put him in the top 10 in my own quarterback rankings if I were to do them soon. He’s gritty, has a great arm, and has done a lot without great reliable wide receivers. Christian Ponder is clearly the weak link in the divisoin.
2. N.F.C. East
1. Eli Manning, New York Giants
2. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
3. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
4. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Eli Manning’s story is almost getting old now so I won’t rehash it here. If Tony Romo could make it to a N.F.C. Championship game a lot of the questions about his ability to win when it counts would go away. Michael Vick is extremely physically gifted and has won a lot of games, but he has not been able to stay healthy throughout his career. RGIII is intelligent, shows great leadership skills, and has a lot of physical talent. He’s also going to a pretty good team and I expect a good rookie season.
1. N.F.C. South
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
2. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
3. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
4. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Drew Brees, despite the drama that is going on right now with his coach and contract will have a big season. Matt Ryan is reminiscent to a young Peyton Manning in a lot of ways. I still really like his game. Ryan put up big numbers last year and with the continued improvement of Julio Jones will probably put up even better numbers in the 2012 season. The Falcons should win a lot of games as well. At some point like Eli Manning and Peyton Manning had to prove to doubters, Ryan is going to go on a nice playoff run and possibly win a Superbowl. Cam Newton is the most physically gifted quarteback in the league. I think that’s a very fair and accurate statement. I’m interested to see if he can avoid a sophomore swoon. Josh Freeman was really off last year after starting his career wonderfully. I think he’s better than he was last year.
Use this as a jumping off point and let me know where I went wrong. One thing I think is abundantly clear is that the N.F.C. is stacked at the quarterback position and appear ready for a period of dominance until the A.F.C. catches back up. (It seems to be cyclical).