NFL Quarterbacks: Power Rankings
Quarterback Power Rankings
The NFL today is dominated by offense and the offense is dominated by the quarterback. In the earlier days of the league, the quarterback was often just another part of the team. Teams won with defense and by running the football, but the times have changed. There are exceptions, of course, but if teams are going to win a championship in this day and age then they better have a very good quarterback.
The change started back in the 1970’s when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys were winning every season. The rules were set up for the defense to control the game, defensive backs could bump wide receivers all the way down the field and the quarterback was not protected like the way they are today. At some point late in the decade, the league realized that offense was more attractive to the casual fan and if the league was going to grow then it had to change.
Over the past thirty years, every rule change has been designed to help the offense and open up the game. Defensive backs can barely touch receivers today and the quarterback is protected more than the President of the United States. In some respects, the league may have gone too far but it is hard to argue with the results. The NFL is the most popular game in America and the quarterback is the most debated position in the world of sports.
With that as the backdrop, here are the power rankings for all 32 starters in the NFL today. Keep in mind; we will rank the “starter” even if they are not currently playing due to injury. We start with number 32 and work our way to number one. After reading our rankings, please feel free to send us a Rant with your rankings.
32. Matt Cassel
Remember when the Kansas City Chiefs brought in Matt Cassel thinking he was finally the answer at quarterback? He might be the answer to some question but he is not the answer to anyone’s problem at the quarterback position. The Chiefs have a decent team everywhere else, but Cassel is so bad that it doesn’t matter.
31. Blaine Gabbert
The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Blaine Gabbert with the idea that he would be the franchise quarterback, that was a bad idea. Gabbert has no clue what he is doing and will be out of the league in three years.
30. Jake Locker
It’s possible that Tennessee Titan’s quarterback, Jake Locker will turn into a good player but don’t hold your breath. Locker is missing that “it” factor that cannot be explained, but you know it when you see it.
29. Kevin Kolb
The Arizona Cardinals are 4-1 and Kevin Kolb deserves some of the credit, but he’s still not a very good quarterback. Kolb struggles when he is pressured and often fails to make the easy throws far too often. If the Cardinals begin to struggle, Kolb will be replaced quickly.
28. Mark Sanchez
It’s hard to believe that Mark Sanchez led the New York Jets to the AFC Championship game in two straight seasons, but he did. Now Sanchez looks lost and is fighting his confidence. It remains to be seen if he can ever regain that early form, but the guess here is no.
27. Brandon Weeden
The only reason Brandon Weeden goes here is because at least he has the potential to get better for the Cleveland Browns. Weeden has some natural ability but it remains to be seen if he can adjust to the pro game. I will give Weeden this; he has improved each and every week and has very little help from the receiver position.
26. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks was the story of the preseason and won the starting job. He hasn’t played bad but he hasn’t played nearly as well in the regular season. It’s too early to make judgments one way or the other, but the early returns are not great for Wilson.
25. Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford had a very good rookie season a couple of years ago, but regressed last season and there was concern from the Saint Louis Rams. However Bradford has bounced back nicely early this season, and appears to be back on track.
24. Ryan Tannehill
The Miami Dolphins may have finally found a quarterback. Ryan Tannehill appears to be the answer in South Beach after so many failures in the years following Dan Marino. Tannehill is still young and raw, but the talent is there. He can make every throw and if the Dolphins surround him with the right kind of talent, then they may finally have their quarterback.
23. Josh Freeman
A couple of season ago, Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was considered one the up and coming quarterbacks. I cannot put my finger on it but there’s something missing with Freeman, and he is never going to live up to that early potential.
22. Ryan Fitzpatrick
If Buffalo Bills quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick could get rid of the Jekyll and Hyde act, then he would be ranked higher. One week, he looks like an All-Pro and the next week he is throwing five interceptions. The bad news for the Bills is that’s who he is and he will never change.
21. Carson Palmer
There was a day not that long ago when Carson Palmer would have been a top 10 quarterback but those days are gone. Frankly, the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders is average at best and should not be expected to be any better than he is now. The Raiders gave up way too much for Palmer and will be paying it for years to come.
20. Christian Ponder
The most improved quarterback from 2011 to 2012 is Christian Ponder of the Minnesota Vikings. Ponder often looked lost last season and had the smell of a bust, but he has played very well through the early part of this season. Ponder is leading the most surprising team of the young season and will continue to be a story to follow in the coming months.
19. Robert Griffin III
Very few players have had a better debut then the one turned in by Washington Redskins quarterback, Robert Griffin III. He played great versus the Saints and pulled off the upset in New Orleans on opening day. Griffin, like Newton, is a dual threat but is a passer first and should continue to excel as he adjusts to the pro game. As great as Griffin’s physical abilities are, it is mental abilities that are going to make him a special quarterback.
18. Andy Dalton
Some quarterbacks are just good, solid players who do not make mistakes and run the offense. That’s Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals. Dalton does not have the physical tools of some other quarterbacks but he is smart, and knows how to run an offense. As long as the Bengals continue to put the right people around him, then Dalton can be a productive quarterback in this league.
17. Cam Newton
Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers is off to a slow start in his second season, but there’s little doubt that he will be one of the best quarterbacks in the league for seasons to come. Defenses have adjusted to his game, now it is up to Newton to adjust to what defenses are doing to him. Newton has the rare ability of being a great passer from the pocket while still being able to move around with his legs. As he figures out the pro game, Newton will be a thorn in the side of opponents for years to come.
16. Andrew Luck
The first rookie to make the rankings is Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck. The truth is Luck probably could have made this list as a senior in college. He is wise beyond his years and has all ready adjusted nicely to the pro game. It seems a little unfair that the Colts go from Manning to Luck, but the rookie is well on his way to a great career.
15. Michael Vick
In terms of pure athletic ability, Michael Vick might be the best player to ever play the position. The problem is that he has never fully learned how to play quarterback and relies on his athletic ability too often. It might be too late but if Vick would play quarterback and not running back, then he and the Philadelphia Eagles might have a chance to do something.
14. Tony Romo
Now we are getting into guys who can be great one week and awful the next, and no one represents that category more than Tony Romo. The quarterback for the Cowboys teases you with unreal talent but also frustrates you with mind boggling mistakes. Romo is no longer a young quarterback and even with all of his talent, he may be running out of time.
13. Matthew Stafford
There’s no quarterback with more physical tools than Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions. There are times when Stafford looks like a top five quarterback and there are other times when he looks like he’s a bottom five quarterback. If Stafford and the Lions are going to take that next step, then he must be more consistent.
12. Alex Smith
There’s a part of me that doesn’t believe I am writing this but Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers is a top quarterback in terms of power rankings. He’s not the best passer in the league but he is an effective quarterback on one of the best teams in football. It took some time and the presence of head coach, Jim Harbaugh but Smith is finally living up to the talent that made him the number one overall pick so many years ago.
11. Joe Flacco
How many years have the Baltimore Ravens been waiting for an offense to match their defense? The answer is too many but quarterback; Joe Flacco may finally be the answer. He is throwing the ball with more authority this season and looks comfortable in the pocket for the first time in his career. The question is, will Flacco and the offense deliver before that defense is too old?
10. Jay Cutler
If personality were a part of ranking quarterbacks, Jay Cutler would not be in the top 10 but when it comes to throwing the football; there are few who do it better. Cutler finally has some weapons with the Chicago Bears and he is proving that he knows what to do with them. If Cutler can keep it together between the ears, then the sky is the limit for him and the Bears.
9. Matt Schaub
The first real surprise of the power rankings come here, starting with the quarterback of the Houston Texans. Matt Schaub has taken the next step and is on his way to becoming one of the elite. There’s no on better at the play action game and Schaub throws a great deep ball. There are two things that Schaub still has to prove; he has to stay healthy and he has to win a championship. If he does those two things, then he doesn’t have to take a backseat to anyone.
8. Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan is about to join the party with the best of the best when it comes to quarterbacks in the NFL. No one is playing better than Ryan in 2012 and he has the Atlanta Falcons off to their best start in years. Ryan is known for his calm under pressure and that was on display in a recent win. He led the offense to a game winning field goal with little time left. Ryan has a great team around him and his hitting his stride; he will be tough to deal with for a long time.
7. Phillip Rivers
Phillip Rivers is the best quarterback who has not won a Super Bowl yet but it is not because of him. Rivers has not had the luxury of having the same skill people year in and year out, but he still puts up huge numbers every season. No one would teach a young player to throw like Rivers but it works for him, and he will continue to pick apart defense for years to come.
6. Ben Rothlisberger
Not every quarterback is built the same way and none of them are built like Steelers quarterback, Ben Rothlisberger. He is not always pretty and he is not your typical pocket passer, but he will find away to beat you. Just when a defender thinks he has Rothlisberger in his grasp, the big quarterback escapes and hits the open receiver for a touchdown. Just as Brees is perfect for New Orleans; Rothlisberger is the perfect quarterback for Pittsburgh.
5. Eli Manning
Eli Manning is no longer the little brother to Peyton; in fact he has won one more Super Bowl than older brother. The only reason he is ranked lower is due to his inconsistent performance in the regular season. Manning still throws too many interceptions at times and can be erratic, but there’s no one better when the chips are down. If the game is on the line in the fourth quarter, there’s no one better than Eli. He has also proven that winning big games on the road is not a problem as he has done often.
4. Peyton Manning
When Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos, his presence alone turned the Broncos into contenders. It remains to be seen in the marriage ultimately leads to a championship but Manning has all ready proven that he is still one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. His accuracy is still second to none and as he gets comfortable with his new teammates, Manning will be even better in the second half of 2012. As of right now, Manning is on pace to break his own record for yards in a single season. Not bad for a guy who some thought was finished.
3. Drew Brees
If there has ever been a perfect match between a city and a quarterback, it is the one between the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees. They both face adversity in the middle of the decade and together have climbed to the top of the mountain, winning the Super Bowl a few seasons ago. Brees is a coach on the field and gets the ball to the open receiver on almost every play. 2012 has been a tough one for the Saints and Bress but make no mistake, he is one of the best signal callers in football.
2. Tom Brady
New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady is getting older but he is not slowing down. In some respects, Brady is throwing the ball better today than he was ten years ago. He is loaded with talent at the receiver and tight end position, making it very likely that Brady will continue to put up huge numbers. As great as the raw numbers are for Brady, the thing that really drives him is winning and there’s no reason to believe he and the Patriots are going to slow down anytime soon.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers was in a tough spot following a legend but if it is possible, Rodgers has made Packers’ fans forget about Brett Favre. Rodgers combines pinpoint passing with the ability to get out of the pocket and beat you with his legs. He has all ready won one Super Bowl and led the Packers to a 15-1 record in 2011. Rodgers still has a lot of football left and is surrounded by a very good football team; his stats and championships will continue to pile up.