Big Ten Football: Denard Robinson or James Vandenberg, Who's Better?

By Andrew Fisher

When it comes to Big Ten quarterbacks, there are two big names, Denard Robinson and James Vandenberg. These two seniors are the cream of the crop, both in their own regards.

Robinson is a classic run first college quarterback, while Vandenberg is a prototypical drop back passer.

But who’s the better overall quarterback?

The answer depends on who you ask, and what the goal is. If the goal is winning the B1G and going to the Rose Bowl, Robinson is the answer. If the goal is a future NFL career, the answer is Vandenberg.

Argument for Robinson

Most preseason rankings have Robinson as the favorite to be first team all Big Ten.

Up to this point, Robinson has been a running quarterback (3229 yards). His career passing numbers are actually pretty decent though, completing 58 % of his passes for nearly 5000 yards, along with 40 TD and 30 INT.

Robinson is capable of making tough throws, and I expect him to improve in the passing game this season. If he stays healthy, and the Michigan Wolverines win, Robinson will be a major contender for the Heisman Trophy. It’s that simple.

Argument for Vandenberg

If you’re looking for the best drop back passer in the Big Ten, look no further than James Vandenberg. The senior looks to be the man, for a new look Iowa Hawkeyes offense under first year coordinator Greg Davis.

He’s coming off a solid junior campaign, completing 58.7 % of his passes, for 3022 yards, with 25 TD and only 7 INT.

With the extreme lack of depth and experience in the Iowa backfield, Vandenberg will be throwing it all over the field. 3800 yards passing is not out of the question.

Vandenberg is clearly the top NFL quarterback prospect in the B1G conference, and will only improve his stock with a standout senior season. At this point he’s probably a fourth or fifth round prospect, but could easily work his way up to the second or third round.

So Who’s Better?

If you’re just judging on what’s in front of these two players this year, in the situation they’re in right now, the answer is Robinson. He has a more realistic chance to lead his team to a B1G title, and BCS bowl game, and football is all about winning. Robinson can beat defenses with his feet, and is a more dynamic college football player.

However, there’s always going to be a place for a guy like Vandenberg in the NFL. He’s the right build and type of quarterback that can be successful at the next level. Clearly he’s got a long way to go before he would be ready to play in an NFL game, but the potential is there.


These quarterbacks combined bring a wide spectrum of talents to the table. Big Ten fans should sit back and watch both players, because they will be making entertaining plays all season long. These two will have a late season showdown in Ann Arbor on November 17, which could decide who wins the Legends division…

Follow Andrew Fisher on Twitter @the_realfish








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