NFL Handicapping: Ranking the Available QB Options
by Trevor Whenham - 3/15/2013
The top prize of the year for teams that needed a new quarterback in the NFL was Alex Smith. The Chiefs have secured him, but there are still a whole lot of teams that need a new guy under center — either right now or in the near future. This year is a whole lot different than last year where Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were can’t-miss prospects and a few others were fairly low-risk. This year there doesn’t seem to be a home run out there — in the draft, in free agency, or through trade. There are some interesting options, though. Here is my ranking of the top 5 QB options teams could settle for this year:
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles - Trade
Foles isn’t yet available, but since he doesn’t seem to be mobile enough for Chip Kelly’s system and because the Eagles seem to be amassing quarterbacks, there is a good chance that he will be at some point soon. Given the lack of top prospects, Foles could likely command a reasonable price, and that could be attractive for a Philadelphia team that needs a significant overhaul. We got a glimpse of what Foles could do last year, and it was mostly impressive. His arm is very strong, he made throws as needed, and he’s confident. He’s not a polished prospect by any means, but he’s more attractive in my eyes than Kevin Kolb was when the Eagles made him available. He’s young and healthy, so a team is going to get a guy that they can build around if they show some patience. After guys like Kolb and Matt Cassel, teams could be concerned about jumping on the next big, unproven talent. In this class, though, he has less downside than anyone else.
Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks - Trade
Flynn costs too much to be a backup in Seattle, so there is a good chance he’ll be made available soon, too. The excitement over him has dulled somewhat since he couldn’t earn the starting job in Seattle. Still, there is that big six-touchdown game on his record, and he has lots of seasoning in good systems. If he were younger he’d be as attractive as Foles.
Geno Smith, West Virginia - Draft
I’m not sold on Smith at all, but there is enough good that he is probably worth a risk in the right spot — though I am certain he will be drafted too high. His athleticism is excellent, and his mechanics are good. I have two big concerns, though. First, I think he is a long way away from being a viable starter. He makes bad decisions too often, doesn’t seem to read defenses effectively, and doesn’t seem to shake off a poor play as quickly as I would like. Second, I really wish that he hadn’t crumbled last season after such an incredible start. I’d feel much better about his mental game if he had started slow before getting comfortable. Teams started to see what he was doing, and he struggled to adjust. Teams will be much more effective at anticipating what he is doing and getting to him in the NFL. That’s a major concern.
Brian Hoyer, Arizona Cardinals - Free agent
It’s a sign of how little I like this class that Hoyer is this high. I was surprised that the Patriots gave up on him as a backup. They obviously didn’t feel that a change was imminent, though, and Ryan Mallett is a strong backup as well. Hoyer wasn’t that impressive in Arizona, but he had little chance and the Cards were a QB graveyard this year. He’s just a solid guy with strong fundamentals. He won’t start a dozen Pro Bowls or anything, but as a low-risk option at a low cost he is attractive. He’s a restricted free agent, so the Cardinals have the edge. It would be more of a mistake to get rid of him than any other QB on their roster right now.
Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans - Trade
Hasselbeck isn’t a long-term option. For a team needing a stop-gap until something more attractive than what is available this year comes along, though, Hasselbeck could be the answer. He could start for a lot of teams and be a solid backup option for any team. They won’t have to spend a lot for him or give him a long contract, so he offers flexibility and reliability.
Matt Barkley, USC - Draft
I’ve never been a big Barkley guy — as is obvious given how low he is on this list. I’m not overwhelmed by his arm, and I wish he showed more poise under intense game pressure — especially this season when things went so badly for USC. Still, he’s a four-year starter for an elite program, and his leadership skills are unquestioned. I like him more than former USC QBs Mark Sanchez or Matt Leinart — though that is hardly a ringing endorsement.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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