Fall Football Preview: NFL Quarterback Rankings
by Trevor Whenham - 7/23/2009
We're in the calm before the storm of the NFL season. That means we have time to do things now that we probably wouldn't in November. Here's one of those things - let's rank the 32 likely starting quarterbacks to start the NFL season this year. In the tradition of the most entertaining rankings, the criteria will be vague and based on my preferences - I'll consider their kindness to bettors, their likely level of performance this year, and the team around them, but that will all be weighed against who I like and who I don't, and how I feel about the school they went to. Without further ado:
1. Tom Brady, New England - He played for Michigan, so he has a big edge up on the crowd. I'm nervous about how his knee will hold up, but he doesn't have to be totally at his best to be better than almost everyone. I expect the year off to have fuel his hunger in a big way.
2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis - I can't stand Manning, but I have to admit he was hilarious on SNL, and some of his commercials are pretty good, too. He'll be as solid as always, bu I question whether he has the talent around him he needs.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh - Big Ben's not flashy, and he's more fragile than is ideal, but his record of accomplishments speaks for itself.
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans - Brees is thrilling to watch, and he'll put up huge numbers yet again. Now if only he could win something.
5. Philip Rivers, San Diego - I'd be more impressed with Rivers if he was bigger in the bigger games, but you can't argue with his numbers.
6. Kurt Warner, Arizona - I'm not going to count the old guy out yet. He's a fierce competitor, and he still has plenty of talent around him. He'll take his boys back to the playoffs again based on will alone.
7. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia - I like McNabb when he is healthy, but I question his durability and his toughness. I'm not as optimistic about him and the Eagles this year as some.
8. Tony Romo, Dallas - Romo needs to get out of the tabloids and show us that he is committed to becoming as good as he should be before I move him up this list. He has the game to be near the top.
9. Jake Delhomme, Carolina - Delhomme isn't flashy, but he wins. That's really what the game is all about, and that's why he's higher than some might expect.
10. Matt Ryan, Atlanta - I didn't think Ryan was going to be much of a pro. I'm man enough to admit I was likely wrong. He'll experience some road bumps in his second year, but I still expect big things.
11. Trent Edwards, Buffalo - Add the other T.O. to an already impressive receiving corps and Edwards can't help but put up some numbers. I expect this already solid QB to take a big step forward this year.
12. David Garrard, Jacksonville - I'm more bullish on Garrard and the Jags than most people seem to be. I look at last year's setback as the exception rather than the rule.
13. Jay Cutler, Chicago - He's going to find that he didn't know how good he had it in Denver. His receivers aren't as good, the division is tougher, and Soldier Field can be ugly at times. I don't expect him to shine.
14. Brett Favre, Minnesota - I expect Favre to wind up in purple. I expect hm to be better than last year given the talent around him, but not what he once was.
15. Eli Manning, New York Giants - I hate absolutely everything about Manning, and I have little respect for his talent. He's not the player the media says he is.
16. Kyle Orton, Denver - I think that Orton was better than he got credit for in Chicago, so I definitely don't think that this experiment is doomed. He has far better receivers to toss to this year.
17. Chad Pennington, Miami - Pennington was the feel good story of the season last year. I'm a fan, but I'm not confident he'll be as impressive this year now that everyone knows his tricks.
18. Matt Cassel, Kansas City - Cassel will be okay, but he's destined for a step back. The team around him is worse than the one he had last year, and teams now know what to expect. I'd buy his stock for long-term profits, but I expect the road to success to be rocky.
19. Jason Campbell, Washington - This year will be a good test for Campbell. It was a tumultuous offseason that saw his job threatened. Will his pride kick in and fuel a big year, or will he pout and disappear? You can tell my opinion based on where he is on this list.
20. Joe Flacco, Baltimore - I like Flacco, and I think he'll have a nice career. I expect the almost inevitable step back in his second year, though, now that teams have lots of tape and know what to expect.
21. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati - Palmer has talent, but I find it so hard to care about this hopeless franchise and their pathetic coach. Palmer should be way higher on this list, but his play doesn't warrant it.
22. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay - Like the other players entering their second year as a starter I expect Rodgers to take a step back this year. His maturity and time in the league should minimize this setback, though.
23. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle - Hasselbeck's time is in the rear-view mirror, I think. I'm not a believer in this team, and I don't have high expectations for Hasselbeck. He has the potential to prove me wrong, but I don't think he will.
24. Luke McCown, Tampa Bay - It's hard to know just who will win the QB battle in Tampa Bay. It won't be a guy the coaching staff loves, though, and things will be rough. Why did they let Jeff Garcia go?
25. Shaun Hill, San Francisco - Based on their actions this offseason, the team doesn't believe in their quarterbacks, so why should we? I'm not even convinced that Hill is the best choice of the QBs they have.
26. Marc Bulger, St. Louis - I feel bad for Bulger. He's way too talented to be stuck on such a lousy team.
27. Kerry Collins, Tennessee - I thought that Collins would be too old to perform at a high level last year. I was wrong. I'm not changing my opinion this year, and I feel good about it.
28. Matt Schaub, Houston - I've never really understood the hype around Schaub. He's a competent journeyman, but he's far from special, and he gets hurt far too much. Compared to backup Dan Orlovsky, though, he is Joe Montana.
29. Kellen Clemens, New York Jets - Mark Sanchez is obviously the future here, but I expect Clemens to be the place-filler for at least a few weeks. I don't have high expectations.
30. Brady Quinn, Cleveland - I'm guessing Quinn will get the nod here. I'm also guessing he'll struggle. He'll be better eventually than he is now, but this could be a long year.
31. Matthew Stafford, Detroit - I'm not sure if it will be Stafford right away, or if Culpepper will start early on. It won't matter - this is still the Lions, after all. I'm not convinced about Stafford in the long run, and I'm really not convinced now.
32. JaMarcus Russell, Oakland - A wasted top pick on a hopeless franchise. Russell is never going to be an elite quarterback. I actually doubt he'll ever be even decent.
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