Ranking the Top 32 NFL Quarterbacks Entering 2015
Follow Kaelen Jones on Twitter – @kaelenjones – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
July 8, 2015
We’re in the dog days of the NFL offseason. With training camp just a few weeks away and the first kickoff of 2015 nearly two months away, let’s rank the projected starting quarterbacks in the league entering the new season.
32. Matt Cassel, Buffalo Bills – Cassel has regressed to the point where he shouldn’t be a starting quarterback in the NFL. His teammate, E.J. Manuel hasn’t done much to prove he deserves to be ranked here either, but to think Cassel can recapture his 2010 Pro Bowl form is simply outlandish.
31. Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns – McCown won’t do anything to elevate his teammates, but when he avoids mistakes, he’s serviceable.
30. Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans – Hoyer is a backup quarterback being asked to serve as a bridge for whoever is brought in to start in the future. With that said, he could be serviceable under Bill O’Brien, but it’s certainly not expected.
29. Robert Griffin III, Washington – Griffin is very limited as a passer due to his inexperience against standard defenses that quarterbacks who don’t typically operate in an option offense face on a regular basis. Not to make any excuses, but that’s really what it comes down to. Jay Gruden said it himself when he first arrived. Now, it’s on Griffin to adjust this year, or his career as a starting quarterback in the NFL may be over.
28. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis, the quarterback, is in a favorable situation as far as weapons are concerned. The offensive line is still a concern, and will remain one throughout the course of his rookie year, so growing pains are expected.
27. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars – Bortles is young. As a rookie, his decision-making and awareness still need to adjust to the speed of the pro level, but it’s not too great of an indictment on his game. He needs to show significant growth in the short and deep passing game this season.
26. Nic Foles, St. Louis Rams – Foles is sort of an enigma, when you really think about it. During his first year as the full-time starter in Chip Kelly’s system he reached a Pro Bowl and didn’t turn the ball over. Last year, he looked rather pedestrian, despite going 6-2. It’s hard to project how he’ll perform on a team that’s been so streaky itself, but to believe he’ll replicate his 2013 form is a bit of a stretch.
25. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – Strong arm and subpar decision-making ability results in turnovers. Cutler is only responsible for 10 wins over two seasons—five in each. Quarterback Wins aren’t everything, but in this case most would argue that it’s more than telling.
24. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans – Early reports suggest Mariota is looking like the real deal in Tennessee, so I’m on pace to eat every word prior to the draft saying how he wouldn’t fit there. Ken Whisenhunt is adjusting to Mariota and it seems to be working. He’s smart, accurate and a playmaker out of the backfield with an arsenal of weapons already in place. There will be growing pains, but Mariota should have a strong rookie campaign.
23. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders – It’s easy for Raiders fans to get carried away with Carr’s rookie season and the potential he flashed. Carr’s sophomore year will be very telling. He’ll need to demonstrate more consistency from the pocket and, more importantly, lead Oakland to more wins in 2015.
22. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles – Bradford was certainly serviceable when he was healthy. We’ve seen Nic Foles and Mark Sanchez have success in Chip Kelly’s system, so it’s smarter to bet on Bradford finding success in it as well. It’s just a matter of staying healthy, and until he proves he can play a full 16-game season, he’s relegated to the lower half of the ranks.
21. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers – Teams sacked Kaepernick 52 times last season; that stat accumulated to being nearly 10 percent of his pass attempts. Timidity wasn’t necessarily a flaw with him until last season, but it’s something he’ll have to grow out of this season to get back on track with his development.
20. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs – There is such a thing as being too conservative, and the fact no Chiefs receiver caught a touchdown in 2014 is as exemplary of that as it gets. Smith doesn’t gamble; but doesn’t to the point where he holds the offense back from reaching its full potential.
19. Geno Smith, New York Jets – There is good Geno, and there is bad Geno. Last season, towards the end we saw the former begin to show a bit more. It may seem a bit high, but a year without dysfunction will certainly benefit Geno moving forward.
18. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals – Dalton earned has earned his money almost solely for his strong regular season play, despite his well-documented postseason struggles. In fact, it’s the reason he’s not higher up on this list. Last year wasn’t his best, especially after the deal he signed.
17. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings – Bridgewater has clearly, undoubtedly shown he’s ready to assume the franchise quarterback role in Minnesota. He showed great poise and promise in his rookie season, and should he be able to limit his mistakes, he’ll continue to rise up in rank.
16. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers – Newton makes the hard things look easy, but hasn’t consistently made the easy things appear as such. It’s no secret he hasn’t gotten much help from his supporting cast, but he’ll have to rebound and perform at an elite level in 2015 to be considered in higher company.
15. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals – When healthy, Palmer has established he can still sling it. He still has one of the bigger arms in the game and he’s still very serviceable under center.
14. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins – Benefitting from scheme is one thing, but thriving in it with limited weapons is another. Tannehill has already proven to be one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the league, and does much more to help his team than hurt it, while still holding the presence of a capable gunslinger.
13. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions – Feels like we’ve been talking about Stafford’s arm talent since the day he was selected first overall in 2009. He’s certainly shown he’s capable of being great, now the next step is fully elevating his team to the next level.
12. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – Rivers hasn’t been surrounded with the best talent imaginable, but he’s still an upper tier quarterback. Inconsistent play will prevent him from ever breaking into the next level, but he’s still one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league.
11. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos – His mind and his body are operating in two separate realms, with the latter proving to be the more influential. Manning’s intelligence leaves him second to none on this list, however his arm, leg, neck, etc. continue to keep Manning from ever being the player he once was. This rank may even be a little high, however he’s still one of the better quarterbacks in the game today—even with such a noticeable restraint physically.
10. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – If this list was based on what was done in the playoffs, Flacco would be higher. Regardless, he’s a proven winner with the confidence you want in a franchise quarterback. Couple that with his consistent play last season, and Flacco could continue to build his case as one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons – Injuries and poor showings plagued any chance of the Falcons making the playoffs. Regardless, Ryan still had a solid season, and his play is encouraging enough to suggest that with a healthy and improved offensive unit he will be able to navigate Atlanta back to the playoffs.
8. Tom Brady, New England Patriots – Brady is nearing the end, but his physical limitations haven’t completely forced him away from being aggressive. He remains gun-ho, with the same pinpoint accuracy, and there’s something to be said for his leadership, which arguably served as a key component to the Patriots’ run last year.
7. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints – Brees still had a productive year despite being unable to guide the Saints back to the playoffs. The loss of tight end Jimmy Graham certainly hurts, but with the addition of C.J. Spiller, re-addition of receiver Brandin Cooks, and Brees’ known ability to spread the wealth among his targets, it’s not hard to see Brees performing well once again.
6. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks – Two Super Bowl appearances and one ring later, it still feels as though Wilson tightropes the line between elite and on the cusp. With that said, he is still very much deserving of being labeled a top ten quarterback. He does everything that’s asked of him and only takes matters into his own hands when he needs to. Although he’s played in a very favorable situation thus far, there’s something to be said for his ability to consistently and efficiently find success of the highest order.
5. Eli Manning, New York Giants – While his rookie target received plenty of recognition for his outstanding play, Manning quietly enjoyed a strong amount of success in offensive coordinator Bob McAdoo’s newly implemented West Coast system. Manning looked as comfortable as ever, and his budding relationship with Odell Beckham, Jr. should only help sustain that ease.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – Roethlisberger found rejuvenated form in 2014. His play not only seemed to elevate over the course of the season, but it elevated the play of his teammates as well, and may result in the team having established one of the most feared passing offenses in the league.
3. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys – He’s proven himself year after year, and as his surrounding situation improves, it seems he does, too. Romo has played very well at a consistent pace over recent years, and last season he performed at an even higher level than before. Expect the trend to continue.
2. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts – In terms of talent and intangibles, Luck has more than earned his place within consideration of the elite signal-callers in the NFL. While he admittedly tries to force his will on a game too often, last season showed more promise and ease for a player who will vie for the top spot by the end of the year.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – This is the best quarterback in the league, hands down. Arm talent, accuracy, mobility; you name it. Rodgers remains the class of the league entering 2015.