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DFWPROSPORTS Official NFL QB Rankings (numbers 25-32)

June 21, 2012

With Ron Jaworski breaking down his top 30 QBs I thought it would be a fun exercise to follow in his footsteps and create my own list (why top 30 why not top 32). I haven’t seen his list yet so his opinions won’t be influencing mine in any way and I’ll be curious to see how similar our rankings end up being. I’ll be breaking up the groups into 4 quarters with the first (worst) group being the game managers or “bus drivers.” These 8 starting quarterbacks generally lack arm strength and/or mobility causing them to have to rely on a quality supporting cast and good game planning to overcome their deficiencies. They’re the type of quarterback that needs a strong running game to setup their passes and a good defense to keep them from having to win a game by scoring 30 or more points. A team can win with these types but the win tends to be due to the team’s superiority in other facets of the game as these quarterbacks at their best are efficient and don’t lose a game but also rarely win a game.

32. Blaine Gabbert:

Positives: He’s tall (6’4), mobile (4.61 40), and young (22) so there are tangibles to work with but that’s about it.

Negatives: He has average arm strength, below average accuracy, poor leadership skills, a lack of toughness, and never put up dominant stats in college. It’s no surprise that a player like that would come in and be bad but even I was surprised how bad he was. He was last in QB rating (among 34 QBs so even worse than a few backups) at 65.4, he was last in Total QBR (a stat I am a tad dubious on) at 20.5, and he had the 4th lowest completion % for a season in the past 7 years with 2 of the other 3 players (JaMarcus Russell, JP Losman) out of the NFL and the 3rd (Tim Tebow) having running abilities and leadership qualities that Gabbert could only dream of.

Overall: It will surprise no one who reads my material that I have Gabbert as the worst QB in the NFL. I called him one of the most overrated QBs I had ever graded last year when he came out ofMissouri and his terrible rookie season proved my doubts about him. He’s young and has some physical skills so he could improve but he’ll never be accurate or tough and that guarantees that he’ll be in the bottom quarter of NFL QBs for the majority of his career.

31. Matt Flynn:

Positives: Accurate (+60% passer each of the past two seasons), smart, hard working, and somewhat mobile. Being tutored by the best QB in the NFL (oops I blew the suspense didn’t I) the past few seasons can’t hurt either.

Negatives: He only started 1 game last year and 2 games in 2010 so he’s almost as raw as a rookie. Also Green Bay’s short passing game worked well for him as he isn’t a strong armed guy and there is a worry that Green Bay’s elite WR corp and the opposing defenses lack of film on him was a large reason for his amazing stats. He’s also not that tall (6’2) and lacks a pedigree (7th round draft pick) but Romo, Fitzpatrick and others have overcome those same issues. The fact that his former offensive coordinator (Miami Head Coach Joe Philbin) didn’t even offer him a contract worries me.

Overall: Flynn was this offseasons Kevin Kolb as a backup who looked outstanding in his brief opportunity. Sometimes these stories work out (Matt Schaub) and other times they don’t (Kevin Kolb, Charlie Whitehurst) but his game againstDetroit (480 yards 70.5% 6 TD 1 INT) definitely was intriguing enough to warrant a downtrodden team to offer him a contract. I am erring on the side of caution with this rating so don’t put too much stock into it but if I were a GM I would have passed on him as he essentially had one great game in his career and turned that into a 3 year $26 million deal. It’s risky but it doesn’t surprise me someone did it and it even could work out in the end for them. Surprisingly the Seahawks were the team to do it despite their lack of success the last time they tried this exact strategy with Charlie Whitehurst. This time next year he could be much higher on this list or he could be someone’s backup and no longer on the list at all. Neither would surprise me.

30. Christian Ponder:

Positives: Smart, accurate, hard working, and experienced for his age with 3 years of starting experience in college and 1 year in the NFL despite just recently turning 24. He was the Senior Bowl MVP and showed a lot of maturity as a rookie last year. He also surprised me with how mobile he was this year as his OL was terrible and he often had to leave the pocket early because of this.

Negatives: He had average arm strength before his shoulder injury in college so it’s unlikely he can be classified with anything higher than below average arm strength now. He’s accurate but does make poor decisions as in 50% of his starts where he threw +20 passes he had multiple interceptions. This continues a trend he started in college as his collegiate career TD to INT ratio of 1.63 is very poor (Luck’s was 3.73) and was one of the reasons why I gave him an early 3rd round grade. He’s also been very injury prone throughout his career.

Overall: The Vikings reached tremendously in the 2011 Draft when they took him at #12 and there was little I saw last season that made me think I was wrong. I like him as he’s accurate, smart, experienced, mature, and has underrated mobility but he has a weak arm, is injury prone, has a history of making the big mistake, and just doesn’t have the physical skills you would like in the position. I expect a poor year from him in 2012 and the Vikings to once again have a top 5 pick which they might decide to use on a new QB of the future.

29. Kevin Kolb:

Positives: His QB rating was average in 2011 (81.1-ahead of Flacco, Palmer, and others higher on this list) which surprised me as I saw a few Cardinals games and every game he was either out due to an injury or playing poorly. He throws a good deep ball and has a solid understanding of the offense.

Negatives: He has an average arm, isn’t very mobile, is injury prone, and his 9 TD to 8 INT ratio last year was very poor. The supporting cast around him is basically Larry Fitzgerald, Beanie Wells, and a bunch of nobodies but I have my doubts that he’d be dramatically better even with more help. He’s not considered a leader.

Overall: I was wrong on Kolb as last offseason I thought he was worth trading for and his poor showing surprised me. Looking at his numbers makes me realize his season wasn’t as bad as I thought from the games I watched but still he is looking like a bust and the fact that his coach won’t even name him a starter over John Skelton is an indication of just how much he’s struggled. His “hot start” to his career (3 of his first 5 starts had him throwing for +300 yards in 2009-2010) seems like it was ages ago and the fact that his big games as a backup QB hasn’t translated into success as a starter is a reason why I’ve tempered my expectations for Matt Flynn this season.

28. Matt Cassel:

Positives: Matt is a smart QB who has had two very good seasons in the NFL (2008 & 2010) where he was a Top 10 QB in passer rating. He thrives off the play action game and would fit well in a Norv Turner or Mike Shanahan offense as he throws a good deep ball.
Negatives:
He struggles with his accuracy (under 60% each of his 3 seasons in KC) making him a poor fit in a short passing game or in an offense like Green Bay’s or New Orleans’ that has the pass setup the run. For a player that throws a good deep ball he has only average arm strength and despite being 30 years old he isn’t that experienced with 0 seasons of starting experience in college and only 4 so far in the pros. When his supporting cast breaks down like it did in 2009 and 2011 the results can be atrocious as those two teams went 11-21 with him being ranked 25th in QB rating each of those seasons.

Overall: In 3 seasons with the Chiefs Matt has been 25th, 10th, and 25th in QB rating. How you view those numbers determines how you view Matt as I see the 2010 season as the anomaly and consider him a game manager at best. Others excuse the 2009 season as his first year with a new team and the 2011 season as ruined by injuries throughout the roster (Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, etc.). If excusingCassel he probably would rank in the low 20’s but I don’t excuse him and if I were the Chiefs GM I would be actively trying to replace him. He’s a below average QB who needs a strong supporting cast to succeed and now is on the wrong side of 30.

27. Carson Palmer:

Positives: He used to have a cannon of an arm and though age and injury have reduced it a bit he still can laser the ball into tight windows with the best of them. He’s a very underrated leader being one of the few QBs to be able to somewhat handle the T.O. show as he deflected all criticism and consistently was the “bigger man” in defusing situations. He’s also very accurate when he gets his feet set and is a veteran who understands offensive philosophies.

Negatives: He’s become what Drew Bledsoe was in his final few seasons as he still has the arm and accuracy but is slow, injuries have robbed him of some of his talent, and is just smart enough and rich enough to realize that he maybe no longer needs this game.

Overall: This probably is the first surprise on the list as many people still rate him as a top 20 QB yet he hasn’t had a top 15 QB rating since 2007 despite a pretty solid offensive supporting cast the past few years and is a bit of a fraud as a top QB considering he’s only had a QB rating over 90 twice in his 8 year career. He was clearly tired of losing and I think he would have retired if the Bengals hadn’t traded him as he doesn’t appear to be too terribly passionate about the game anymore. His strong arm and good accuracy make him a good QB when he has a clean pocket and deep threats on the outside but that’s why he’s so low on this list for me as even when he has all of that he isn’t a great QB and when he doesn’t have those things he’s a slow footed, inaccurate QB (poor thrower on the run) who doesn’t have any passion. The fact that the Bengals got a 1st and a 2nd for him is pretty surprising.

26. Matt Moore:

Positives: His QB rating in 2009 (7 games) was 98.5 and in 2011 (13 games) was 87.1. Both seasons had him ranked in the top 15 with his success being attributed to his accuracy (+60% both seasons) and his great TD/INT ratio (24/11). He is a very good game manager.

Negatives: His lack of arm strength, overall size (only 203 lbs), and average mobility make him a huge liability when his supporting cast breaks down. This happened in 2010 with the Panthers and it wasn’t pretty as he had a 55.6 passer rating in 6 games. He lacks the talent to be anything more than a game manager or “bus driver” type.

Overall: Surprised Matt Moore is ahead of more well known QBs like Palmer, Kolb, andCassel? You shouldn’t be asMoore has been a very underrated player the past few years and a case can be made that he’s the new Kyle Orton, a QB who consistently outperforms bigger names yet for some reason has to prove himself again every year. Moore has had two very good seasons sandwiched in between a terrible 2010 campaign yet considering the fact that all three years he was quarterbacking teams with mediocre offensive talent I would argue that 2 out of 3 isn’t too bad. Put a good offensive line and capable wideouts arounds him and you should expect a QB in the top 12-20 in efficiency stats. He isn’t higher on this list b/c of his 2010 season, his talent or lack thereof forces his offensive coordinator to play more conservatively than some would want, and because at 203 lbs he will always be injury prone.

25. Andy Dalton:

Positives: Extremely intelligent, good accuracy, and very underrated mobility are his calling cards. He is a polished player for his age as he’s one of the few QBs I ever scouted who looked off safeties and had an NFL ready play action ball fake during their college career. At his best he reminds me of a young Chad Pennington.

Negatives: Average arm strength is being kind as I rated him as a 4th rounder simply because I didn’t think he had the arm strength to ever be a quality starter and career backups can’t be graded on my board any higher than the 4th round. I would argue he has the weakest arm out of the 32 starting QBs in the NFL and the only ones close are Flynn, Moore, and Fitzpatrick with that hardly being an elite set of throwers. He also was helped by AJ Green’s elite jump ball abilities as quite a few of his big plays were simply alley oops 30-40 yards downfield. Randy Moss made Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, and Daunte Culpepper all look better than they were due to this skill and I think Green also artificially pumped up Dalton’s numbers a bit last season. At his worst he reminds me of Colt McCoy.

Overall: Dalton was a guy that I missed on last draft as he looked too noodle armed for me to think he could succeed long term as a starter. Early on defenses didn’t have much film on him and he exploited that advantage leading his team to a 6-2 record yet he ended the season 3-5, including 0-4 vs. the Ravens and Steelers, as team’s began pressuring the short passing game and forcing him to throw deeper and outside the hashes. The book is far from written on Dalton as his 80.4 QB rating was good for a rookie but below average for anyone else and, with Jerome Simpson and Cedric Benson no longer with the team, opponents will surely double team AJ Green and force Dalton to attack them in other ways. I have him as the best of the “game manager” QBs as his overall lack of talent leaves much to be desired but his good accuracy and elite intelligence makes me think he could mold himself into a Chad Pennington clone who outsmarts defenses and leads an efficient attack.

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