B/R NFL 1,000: Top 50 Quarterbacks

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterFebruary 19, 2012

B/R NFL 1,000: Top 50 Quarterbacks

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    Who is the best quarterback in the NFL? How many times have you debated that question? Arguing who is better between Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and even Drew Brees is enough to start a bar fight.

    So who is the best quarterback in the NFL? Where does Cam Newton rate? How about Tim Tebow? What about your team's quarterback?

    To answer these questions, we've determined what makes up a great quarterback and which players best represent those traits. The quest comes as part of the B/R NFL 1,000. The new series offers an in-depth look at every position in the NFL, breaking down players' skills in a way never before seen on the Internet.

    BR 1,000 rankings don't assess who had the best year or even who has the most potential. Rather players—in this case, quarterbacks—are judged on their current skills and mechanics, based on film study of the 2011 NFL preseason and regular season only. 

    After hours spent scouting every starter and every potential starter, the top 50 quarterbacks have been scored in 10 criteria (here's more on the criteria). In the slides that follow, we'll explain each player's strengths and weaknesses as the final ranking is revealed.

50. Curtis Painter, Indianapolis Colts

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    Accuracy Short

    4

    Painter's accuracy regressed dramatically this season—for the season, only 62 percent of his passes to receivers were catchable. His failure to set his feet and step into throws caused issues with passes missing both high and short. He has the talent, but his mechanics ruin his accuracy. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    3

    Is not a mobile quarterback and lacks the agility to throw on the move. Has some start-and-stop skills, but is not a player you want setting up on the go. 

    Accuracy Deep

    4

    Has marginal arm strength but lacks consistency when throwing deep. Too often leads receivers over the wrong shoulder. Lacks the accuracy to drop the deep ball in a bucket where only the receiver can make the catch. 

    Arm Strength

    6

    Painter has the arm strength to make every NFL throw, but lacks consistency. When his accuracy suffers he loses control of his strength, resulting in passes that hit the ground early or sail over the receiver. 

    Clutch

    1

    Painter got worse as the season wore on, showing less composure and less confidence as losses piled up. At this point, he cannot be considered a clutch quarterback. 

    Decision Making

    4

    Early in 2011, Painter was making solid choices, but that didn't last. Locks on to receivers too often, tipping his hand to defenders. Did a nice job reading defenses, but made no attempt to look off defenders. 

    Mechanics

    6

    Has a clean and compact delivery. Footwork needs to be refined, as his steps are inconsistent and throw off the timing of short throws. Could benefit from tighter grip on the ball. His loose grip causes the ball to sail. 

    Mobility

    2

    Not a threat to scramble to pick up yards. Lacks the agility to slide laterally or step up in the pocket. 

    Pocket Presence

    1

    Painter has struggled to hang in the pocket. Also doesn't settle into his drop steps and shows little confidence when setting up to throw. Learning patience—and trust—are key for his development. 

    Health

    9

    Battled through minor injuries but has no major health issues. 

    Overall

    40

    Painter's stock took a big hit in 2011—his third season—as did his skills. He lacks confidence and had to play behind an offensive line that allowed too many hits. As he was hurried by defenders, he lost his fundamentals. 

49. John Beck, Washington Redskins

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    Accuracy Short

    6

    Beck has impressive touch and throws a good crossing route when there is no coverage. He lacks the arm strength to thread the ball into tight windows, and will see many passes knocked down or away as the defense has time to react.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    5

    Not the type of player to create opportunities outside the pocket, but can get outside the tackle box and look to make plays downfield. Does a nice job completing comeback and fade routes when on the move. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6

    Lacks the arm strength to consistently place the ball where he wants it to be. Will underthrow receivers, failing to put the needed air under the ball to give the receiver a chance to bring it down. 

    Arm Strength

    5

    Has average arm strength. Beck's short passes are thrown with good velocity when he sets his feet, but deep passes are thrown with a loose spiral and without the needed zip. 

    Clutch

    3

    A smart player who won't take chances against the defense, which can limit his late-game ability. He will too often take the check-down instead of throwing a more difficult—but possible—throw. 

    Decision Making

    Locks onto his primary receiver from the snap and never finds another target. Too many passes are thrown into double coverage or telegraphed into the hands of a charging safety.

    Mechanics

    7

    Has a clean delivery and a quick release. His footwork can be suspect, as he fails to set his feet and will too often throw off-balance without the proper transfer of weight from his back foot to his front. 

    Mobility

    4

    An underrated athlete, but he does not have the quickness or agility to get outside the pocket and make plays. He can get to the edge and grab cheap yards, but is not a runner. 

    Pocket Presence

    4

    Sees the defense well pre-snap, but will fold under pressure. Holds the ball too long and is not athletic enough to make plays when pressured. 

    Health

    8

    Beck missed time to small injuries during the 2011 season.  

    Overall

    50

    Considered a potential starter in Washington, he played himself into and out of the job. The line on Beck is that he is a capable spot starter and a good backup, but limited in terms of throwing ability and decision making. 

48. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Accuracy Short

    5

    Gabbert is accurate on quick slants and option routes when given time. Will get happy feet, which causes passes to come out high.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Athletic enough to get outside the pocket, but runs into trouble trying to throw after he commits to running. At his best throwing while moving at this point.

    Accuracy Deep

    4

    Struggled in his rookie season of 2011 to set his feet and step into throws, causing big problems when throwing deep. Throws to the deep outs and up the seam are being tossed with too much air. Gabbert has to learn to step into his passes.

    Arm Strength

    8

    Has a strong arm that helps him complete passes to all areas of the field. Throws a quick, tight spiral on shorter routes but doesn’t try to laser the ball through his receiver.

    Clutch

    0

    On film, Gabbert looks afraid of being hit. He has yet to settle into the pro game and has a long way to go to establish himself as a leader and clutch player. 

    Decision Making

    1

    Struggled to adjust to the NFL after playing in a Missouri system where all pre-snap checks were made for him. Timing and decision making was a step behind other rookie starters. 

    Mechanics

    9

    His release can be as quick as any quarterback, and is perhaps his best asset. Has a compact, fluid motion.

    Mobility

    7

    Has the maneuverability to not only get around in the pocket, but pull the ball and run. Sometimes, though, he is too quick to bail on a play and try to make something happen with his feet.

    Pocket Presence

    0

    Looks weak at times and does not always step into throws if pressured. Gabbert's biggest obstacle will be learning to stand tall in the pocket and deliver the ball while taking a hit.

    Health

    10

    Injury-free during his rookie season.

    Overall

    51

    Gabbert was projected by many as the best quarterback in the 2011 draft class. To date, his play has been the least impressive. He has all the tools to succeed, but must overcome his fear of the big hit and settle into his position. Factor in potential and Gabbert would be much higher.

47. Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins

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    Accuracy Short

    6

    Grossman throws with good touch. He has a very catchable ball, but his passes too often miss the mark as he fails to set his feet. The easy throws become hard catches. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Can do some damage on the move if the offensive line moves with him to re-establish the pocket. Lacks the strength or athleticism to make consistently accurate reads and throws when still moving. 

    Accuracy Deep

    5

    Lacks the arm strength to attack the deepest outs or throw a 25-yard curl on a line. Grossman's deep ball philosophy is to put the ball up in the air and let his receiver come down with it. 

    Arm Strength

    7

    Arm strength is surprising for a player lacking elite quarterback size (he's 6'1", 225). Throws with good command and velocity, getting the ball to all levels without too much air or wobble. 

    Clutch

    2

    Plays worse under pressure—whether it's the pressure of a pass rush or a comeback.  

    Decision Making

    4

    Shows flashes of making excellent reads and getting into a solid rhythm with the ball. The reason for the low score is the number of chances Grossman will take and the resulting turnovers. 

    Mechanics

    7

    Has a solid delivery with good over-the-top mechanics. Grossman's footwork remains inconsistent, and the timing of his three- and five-step drops does not sync with his receivers. 

    Mobility

    4

    Can move to get outside the pocket and find openings, but is below average as an athlete and shouldn't be asked to do more than move the pocket behind the offensive line. 

    Pocket Presence

    4

    Grossman has a poor feel for the rush and will expose himself to sacks by hanging in the pocket too long when the ball should be thrown away. 

    Health

    7

    Has battled injuries throughout his career, missing small amounts of time in 2011 due to injury. 

    Overall

    52

    Grossman is among the worst starting quarterbacks, both in terms of production and ability. He takes too many chances, lacks the decision making of a starter and should be viewed as a backup going forward. 

46. Donovan McNabb

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    Accuracy Short

    6

    When McNabb takes time to set up and step into his throws, his accuracy is top-notch. The problem is, this rarely happens, as he looks uncomfortable in the pocket and hurries his passes.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Can throw well on the move and still has the arm strength—after 13 seasons—to thread the needle when rolling to his right. Does a good job adjusting his body to throw across his frame when running. Keeps his eyes up when on the move.

    Accuracy Deep

    7

    Can be hit or miss here, but often puts the deep ball in the right spot. He is more accurate throwing deep than short because deep passes require him to set up his feet and use his lower body to power the throw. 

    Arm Strength

    6

    Will short-arm some passes and has started to throw too many passes that end up in the dirt. McNabb's arm strength has declined dramatically over the last year. 

    Clutch

    4

    Too many interceptions and missed reads.

    Decision Making

    3

    Fails to check down and will lock onto his primary target and then never move his eyes again. Blame this on the overconfidence of a quarterback who's been in the league for 13 seasons. 

    Mechanics

    1

    McNabb throws off his back foot when off-balance and with no regard for follow through. While his throwing motion is solid, his footwork is well below expectations and indicates a lazy approach to the game. 

    Mobility

    6

    Is no longer a threat to run, but has the mobility to slide around in the pocket and position himself to find passing windows. Has good overall agility and can still pick up cheap yards on the run. 

    Pocket Presence

    5

    Relies too often on his scrambling ability and will put himself in line for big hits. The biggest issue is a tendency to fade away from the line of scrimmage and throw off his back foot. 

    Health

    9

    Was healthy during limited reps in 2011.

    Overall

    54

    No longer an elite quarterback, McNabb found himself unwanted by NFL teams once released by the Minnesota Vikings. His reputation of being stubborn and unwilling to improve his mechanics or conditioning will keep him from landing a job. 

45. Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins

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    Accuracy Short

    8

    Henne has the ability to throw with good touch and timing. Does an excellent job leading receivers across the field. This is an area where he was showing major improvement before injury.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Will struggle to throw deep on the move with accuracy, but can get outside the pocket and set up quickly to throw downfield. Has the strength to flip the ball to short and intermediate routes while moving. 

    Accuracy Deep

    7

    Strong enough to attack the secondary, but often fails to get the ball where his receiver has the best chance to catch it. Too many passes come up short or off to the side. 

    Arm Strength

    8

    Henne can make every throw a team could want. His short passes have good velocity and spin. 

    Clutch

    3

    Has struggled from a lack of talent around him at times. Has a cool, calm demeanor and the moxie to be a leader, but his late-game play has not been inspirational. 

    Decision Making

    5.5

    Too often I see him finding his primary target and then failing to look off defenders or check his secondary target. For Henne to be a starter again, his decision making must improve. 

    Mechanics

    7

    Has a crisp and fast delivery with no wasted motion or time. His upper-body mechanics are flawless. Would like to see more consistency in his depth on drop steps, and also in his balance when throwing.

    Mobility

    3

    Not a mobile quarterback. He does have some ability to slide and drop off the ball, but is not a player teams want moving around behind the line of scrimmage. 

    Pocket Presence

    7

    Throws well under pressure and has the size and strength to absorb hits. Is not afraid to stay in the pocket and deliver the ball. Henne has a good feel for the pass rush and throws with confidence, not worrying about the rush. 

    Health

    0

    Season-ending shoulder surgery in early October. 

    Overall

    54.5

    After four seasons, Henne has not developed into the franchise quarterback the Dolphins hoped he would be, but he is a player worth signing and developing under a different system. He will be an attractive option on the free-agent market as a QB2 or developmental player. 

44. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos

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    Accuracy Short

    5

    Tebow struggles to throw with the zip or control needed to lead receivers on short routes. He improved significantly in the 2011 season, but his passes are still too high and too wide. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Throws very well on the move and is more accurate when asked to throw on the run. His biggest issue here is that passes thrown across his body lack the zip needed to connect on time, causing his receivers to adjust their routes and make impressive catches. 

    Accuracy Deep

    5

    Can put the ball in a spot where the receiver can run under it. Deep accuracy grade would be much better if not for the high number of passes he throws too high or too wide. 

    Arm Strength

    6

    While he can throw the deep ball well, his short passes come out with the same velocity as the long balls do. This is a problem. NFL defenders are quick to jump routes when the ball is delivered without velocity. 

    Clutch

    10

    Plays his best when the game is on the line. Denver's offense limited what he was asked to do early in games, but it put the ball in his hands often in the fourth quarter, resulting in wins. 

    Decision Making

    1

    Does not show the ability to read an NFL defense or man coverage. Denver asks him to throw crossing routes and pick out the receiver who comes clean of the coverage. He's making one read and throwing. 

    Mechanics

    0

    Looking at Tebow's arm and legs during his drop step and the actual throwing process, there is nothing to like. His delivery is the slowest in the NFL, with an elongated motion and the ball far away from his body.  

    Mobility

    10

    A dangerous runner because of his size, speed and vision. Very tough to bring down and does not shy away from contact. 

    Pocket Presence

    1

    For being such a great runner, Tebow makes mistakes in the pocket. He will try to extend the play by fading away from the line of scrimmage, will spin and turn his back to the defense, and is among the most sacked and hit quarterbacks in the league. 

    Health

    10

    No injury issues. 

    Overall

    55

    A polarizing and popular figure, Tebow wins football games, but he does so without the true traits of a quarterback. Since this analysis breaks down his play as a quarterback, his score comes up short of other passers. His lack of accuracy, the lack of zip on his passes and his poor mechanics all keep him from ranking with the other starting quarterbacks in the game. 

43. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

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    Accuracy Short

    6

    Kaepernick shows good touch on underneath passes and is a good fit in a West Coast offense that doesn't ask him to push the ball up-field. Has great zip on short routes.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Moves well and has the arm strength to deliver the ball on time and to his target. If his mechanics are cleaned up, will show immediate improvement.

    Accuracy Deep

    5

    His accuracy is not good, but it’s workable. He is still learning to read a defense from under center.

    Arm Strength

    7

    A former baseball player with a 90-plus mph fastball, so the arm strength is there. He has excellent zip on all his passes to every level of the field.  

    Clutch

    1

    With only limited time in the regular and preseason, Kaepernick has yet to be tested in this area. 

    Decision Making

    5

    Looked strong in preseason play and in spot duty as a rookie. Can get in trouble in the middle of the field, where he doesn’t always find the safety or look him off.  

    Mechanics

    3

    Kaepernick's mechanics need a ton of work. Must learn to step into his throws and not just sling the ball from his shoulder.

    Mobility

    8

    A tremendous athlete. Has a very tall, thin frame (6'4", 230) and will be exposed to injury if he takes too many hits—more of a likelihood because he's so mobile.

    Pocket Presence

    5

    Has a great feel for the pocket and the athletic ability to escape the rush. Must learn when to run and when to stand in the pocket and wait for his receiver to break open. 

    Health

    10

    No injury issues.

    Overall

    56

    A promising quarterback who is viewed as a developmental prospect because of his mechanics and his lack of experience in a pro-style offense. 

42. Kyle Boller, Oakland Raiders

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    Accuracy Short

    4

    Throws the ball with too much force at times, bouncing it off the hands and chests of intermediate route-runners.  

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Boller has the arm to move outside the pocket and throw on the run. He has a quick release and is most accurate when sliding to his right. 

    Accuracy Deep

    5.5

    Has the arm to put the ball up and let his receiver run under it, but has poor control of the ball when throwing deep and too often overthrows the receiver or puts the ball out of bounds. 

    Arm Strength

    10

    One of the strongest arms in the NFL. He's able to easily throw to every level with elite velocity and spin on the ball. 

    Clutch

    4

    Has never played well down the stretch and will force throws when pressured. 

    Decision Making

    4

    Will lock on to primary targets and put too much faith in his arm strength, forcing the ball into coverage. This results in unnecessary incompletions and interceptions. 

    Mechanics

    7

    Has a quick delivery and solid footwork in the pocket. Gets in and out of his drop fast and can set up on the hurry. Boller's flaw is he will drop the ball down too far when moving around in the pocket, making it easier for defenders to swipe at the ball and harder for him to throw in a hurry. 

    Mobility

    4

    Is not a runner, but can slide left to right in the pocket to look for passing windows. Is more likely to rifle the ball into coverage than to look for easy run yards when all receivers are covered. 

    Pocket Presence

    4

    Hangs in the pocket far too long waiting for plays to develop. Boller's game would be improved greatly if he would learn to throw the ball away, or tuck and run for a small gain when the pocket collapses. 

    Health

    10

    Has no injury issues. 

    Overall

    58.5

    After eight seasons, Boller is a solid and safe backup. His days as a starter or potential starter are gone, with NFL teams learning he struggles to read a defense and relies on a strong arm to get out of tricky situations.

41. Matt Leinart, Houston Texans

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    Accuracy Short

    7

    Leinart can be very accurate when given time to set up and step into his throws. When he's pressured, his accuracy falls apart. Struggles to locate receivers and throw with consistency when hands are in his face. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Not athletic enough to be productive in a moving pocket. Not only is he not mobile enough, but he lacks the strength to throw on the move.

    Accuracy Deep

    7

    Has the arm strength to push the ball vertically. Throws with good arc and correct shoulder placement. When given time, Leinart throws as well as anyone. It's the considerable drop-off once he's pressured that causes problems.

    Arm Strength

    7

    Can spread the ball to different levels of the field. Has the zip and velocity to throw through tight windows. 

    Clutch

    1

    Has experience and won't be flustered by different defenses, but has not been a leader in the NFL. Leinart will take chances downfield, which results in turnovers just as often as brilliant plays. 

    Decision Making

    4

    Biggest weakness is his inability to read a defense and get through his progressions. The mental aspect of his game has never caught up to his passing ability.

    Mechanics

    9.5

    His being left-handed is considered a drawback by critics, but he throws with a compact delivery and has good follow-through in his lower-half and throwing arm. Very clean fundamentally. 

    Mobility

    5

    Not a player you want moving outside the pocket. Leinart can step up to re-establish the pocket, but that's about it. 

    Pocket Presence

    5

    Smart about getting rid of the football when pressured, but lacks a full complement of skills here. Too often he misses easy chances to step up or move outside the pocket to make throws. And he does a poor job of feeling the rush. 

    Health

    8

    Leinart broke his collarbone in his first regular-season action of 2011 and missed the rest of the season. 

    Overall

    59.5

    A good backup quarterback at this point in his career, Leinart seems to have settled into the role. He passed up potential starting competitions to stay in Houston behind an established veteran in Matt Schaub. Teams looking for a veteran quarterback to hold the reins for a rookie could see Leinart, going into his seventh season in 2012, as a spot starter. 

40. Ryan Mallett, New England Patriots

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    Accuracy Short

    6

    Few shortcomings here, thanks to strong mechanics. Mallett occasionally misses a receiver across the middle by throwing too high. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Despite not being a fast quarterback, he can assert himself while on the move. Has exceptional arm strength that allows him to power the ball and lean into passes. Too often his passes are overthrown as if he loses control of his strength.

    Accuracy Deep

    8

    Using his exceptional arm strength, he can place the ball into tight windows that not all NFL quarterbacks can find. Usually puts the ball where only the receiver can catch it. 

    Arm Strength

    10

    Whether it’s for a deep pass down the sideline or a rope 20 yards down the field, he has the arm to put the ball anywhere it needs to go.

    Clutch

    2.5

    Has not been tested at the NFL level, but has the confidence and calmness to be a very good late-game quarterback.

    Decision Making

    5

    A very confident passer who demonstrated great awareness as a rookie in 2011 preseason games. Too often decides his strength will allow him to connect on a pass, when really the chance of success is remote. When he has time to throw, he reads the defense and does a good job of checking down to his second and third options.  

    Mechanics

    8

    Has a very natural, over-the-top release that—matched with his 6'6" frame—allows him to deliver the ball cleanly and effectively. Stands tall and uses a quick, fluid motion. When he runs play-action, he does an outstanding job of selling the run and hiding the ball from the defense.

    Mobility

    0

    At 238 pounds, Mallett is a pure pocket passer. He doesn’t have the speed, athleticism or quickness to be a scrambling threat. Shows good movement in the pocket, but defenders shouldn’t be concerned with him picking up first downs with his feet on a consistent basis. 

    Pocket Presence

    5

    Had above average pocket presence and awareness for a rookie. He doesn’t get flustered by the pressure and can step into hits in order to make a good pass. 

    Health

    10

    No injury issues. 

    Overall

    60.5

    Mallett was a third-round pick out of Arkansas with the arm and production of a top draft pick. Character issues hurt his stock, but he's been a model citizen in New England and is a potential starting quarterback.

39. Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers

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    Accuracy Short

    6.5

    Throws with good touch and timing on crossing and intermediate routes. During the 2011 preseason, Clausen settled down and showed the arm to be an NFL quarterback. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    5.5

    Doesn't do as well on the move, but is able to move side-to-side and throw. His strong arm and flexibility make him a threat. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6.5

    Has the ability to hit on deep passes, putting the ball up and letting his receiver go get it.  

    Arm Strength

    6.5

    Has NFL-level arm strength. Throws with good zip and velocity in getting the ball to every level.

    Clutch

    3.5

    Was not ready for the NFL in his rookie season and wasn't asked to handle quarterbacking duties in his second season, 2011. No evidence yet that he can be a clutch quarterback, but reasonable to think he'll be adequate. 

    Decision Making

    5.5

    The speed of the NFL game—both mentally and physically—is the biggest problem for Clausen. He locks on to primary receivers and never looks off safeties, resulting in interceptions or big hits.  

    Mechanics

    7.5

    Clausen is technically and fundamentally sound. His short, compact release gets the ball out in a hurry. Throwing motion fluid and releases the ball high, preventing batted balls. Solid dropbacks. 

    Mobility

    4.5

    Is not a speedy player and struggles to get to the corner when he does scramble. Should be used in a system that lets him throw from the pocket. 

    Pocket Presence

    4.5

    Looks scared and erratic in the pocket. Does a poor job feeling the rush and comes apart when pressured. Needs to learn to stand in tall and absorb hits without losing his footing in the process.

    Health

    10

    Has no injury issues.

    Overall

    60.5

    Clausen might forever be judged for his bad play on a terrible Panthers team in 2010. He is one of the more talented young quarterbacks in the NFL and deserves a second chance to develop and start, but that chance may never come. Could be looking at a Brady Quinn-like career. 

38. Charlie Whitehurst, Seattle Seahawks

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    Accuracy Short

    7

    Whitehurst is effective throwing over the middle and on intermediate routes. Among his best traits, he can get into a rhythm early and stay hot on the short game.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    5

    Has the strength to throw on the move, but struggles to connect when throwing across his body. Those passes tend to float and are easily defended.  

    Accuracy Deep

    6

    Has a good feel for the long ball, puts zip on it and gives the receiver a good lead. But has limits on distance.

    Arm Strength

    7

    Has decent quickness in his release and adequate arm strength to make all of the throws. Spirals can get loose on attempts over 25 yards.

    Clutch

    4

    Evidence from scouting Whitehurst's preseason and early season games showed him getting worse the more reps he was given. This could be from a lack of practice time, but Whitehurst's production declined as the games wore on.

    Decision Making

    4

    Makes bad choices with the ball. Will watch his primary target too long and doesn't try to look off defenders. Forces passes into coverage.

    Mechanics

    8

    Is a clean, classic passer with good mechanics and fundamentals.  

    Mobility

    6

    Whitehurst steps up under pressure and isn't afraid to take a hit. Is not the type who will run at the first sign of pressure, but has some mobility and can get outside the pocket. 

    Pocket Presence

    4

    Gets overconfident and will fade back and throw off his back foot or slide outside the pocket before he should.  

    Health

    10

    Has no injury issues. 

    Overall

    61

    If you watch Whitehurst throw the football in shorts and a helmet, he's impressive. The major downfalls to his game come during live action. From a purely mechanical standpoint, he would be a very good quarterback due to his accuracy, strength and mobility. Trouble is, when the defenses start hitting for real, his game fades. 

37. John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals

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    Accuracy Short

    6

    Skelton is a good touch thrower whose passes to the outside come in too low. He must start stepping into "easy" throws to make sure they are completed with the same accuracy as more difficult passes. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Can move around in the pocket and is effective throwing on the move. His strong arm and quick release allow him to connect when being pushed to the boundary. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6

    Has the arm strength to throw deep, but is inconsistent in terms of arc and ball placement. More time and reps with his receivers would help. 

    Arm Strength

    9

    Skelton throws with impressive zip. With quick-strike throws he can push the ball up-field, as well as throw on a line to the edge. Combines excellent touch with his exceptional arm strength.

    Clutch

    4.5

    Demonstrates some toughness in the pocket and the willingness to stand in and deliver the ball. Makes too many mistakes at this point to be considered a clutch player with the game on the line.

    Decision Making

    5

    Still learning to read a defense. Survives more on instinct and relying on receiver Larry Fitzgerald

    Mechanics

    5.5

    Has a clean drop step with good balance, and he holds the ball chest-high when in the pocket. His delivery can be inconsistent—too often he kicks his elbow out and moves to an almost side-arm delivery. When Skelton stands tall, his over-the-top motion is good.

    Mobility

    4

    Merely average, but can escape and throw on the move. He's a big quarterback (6'6", 220) who can be hard to bring down, and his height is a major help to him when rolling out, as it allows him to see downfield to make throws. 

    Pocket Presence

    5.5

    Establishes a presence in the pocket and is not afraid to hang in and take a hit. Holds the ball far too long, and will fade away from the line of scrimmage and throw off his back foot. 

    Health

    10

    No injury issues. 

    Overall

    61.5

    Brings good developmental qualities to the position. He has been forced into action during both of his first two seasons, and played well. A team willing to grab a work in progress and let him battle a veteran for a starting job would look at Skelton.

36. Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders

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    Accuracy Short

    7.5

    Campbell has the experience, patience and fundamentals to be a very good short-area thrower. Delivers the ball with good touch and places it in an area where the receiver can make plays after the catch. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Fairly mobile, but not a great overall athlete who can throw on the move. Is better outside the pocket when he's able to re-establish his balance and set up to throw. 

    Accuracy Deep

    8

    Throws a very good deep ball. Passes with authority to each sideline and can put the needed arc on the ball for a receiver to run under it. 

    Arm Strength

    6

    Lacks elite arm strength, but makes up for it with sound mechanics and good touch. Campbell does not always throw with enough zip, which discounts his arm strength considerably. 

    Clutch

    5

    Has not been a great player down the stretch or when pressured. His experience helps limit mistakes, but he doesn't inspire the troops or take the chances needed to rally the team. 

    Decision Making

    6.5

    The consummate game manager. He doesn't take risks and is comfortable taking check downs when they are available. Looks afraid to challenge coverages and is hesitant to attack. 

    Mechanics

    8

    Has a classic over-the-top delivery with a smooth, crisp motion. Footwork is generally very sound, but he will get hurried and can shorten his drop steps, throwing off timing routes. Would like to see him balance his weight better on throws. 

    Mobility

    5.5

    Has enough mobility to pick up yards if there are big running lanes, but he is not a scrambler whom defenses will key on in game plans. 

    Pocket Presence

    6.5

    Campbell has shown he can step up in the pocket to deliver the ball, but he doesn't always pick the right time to throw the ball away or tuck it in and run. Takes too long to read the defense at times, causing greater stress on the offensive line.

    Health

    3

    Broke his collarbone and missed the last six weeks of the 2011 season. 

    Overall

    62

    Doesn't have the look of a long-term starter, but has the skill set of a very good backup quarterback and someone who can fill in the gap before a young quarterback is ready.  

35. Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals

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    Accuracy Short

    7

    Has improved his touch, especially on shorter routes. Puts too much faith in his arm at times and will throw with too much velocity, or overthrow crossing routes.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6.5

    Has the arm strength to throw on the move, and shows good accuracy here when working to his side of the field. He's inconsistent when he has to re-establish his footwork before throwing deep. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6

    Can put too much air on sideline throws and will miss high on receivers breaking away from the middle of the field. Too often overthrows on deep routes, but has improved. Given time, he could be much better here.

    Arm Strength

    7

    Has the big arm we look for in NFL quarterbacks. Kolb has the ability to hit receivers on the run and can attack all levels of the field.  

    Clutch

    5

    Limited experience and a lack of talent around him definitely hurt this area. Kolb, through five seasons, is still a raw quarterback learning the position and gaining confidence. 

    Decision Making

    3.5

    Will jump on a primary target and ride that receiver through his route. Doesn't attempt to look off the safety or get to secondary target. Makes too many mental errors: gun-slinger type throws, clock mismanagement and generally sloppy passing. 

    Mechanics

    8

    Has a quick dropback and looks smooth in his steps. Didn't look great under center in Arizona, but could be due to unfamiliarity with the center after the lockout ended. Kolb has a very quick, very compact release.  

    Mobility

    8.5

    Does really well out of the pocket. Kolb is quick and can get away from pass rushers to make throws or pick up yardage. Can be a threat as a runner and scrambler, both designed and not. 

    Pocket Presence

    5

    Will hurry through his reads—when he makes them—and is still too quick to leave the pocket and look for running room. Kolb has to learn to hang in the pocket and give his receivers a chance to get open. 

    Health

    7

    Injury issues cost Kolb time in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

    Overall

    63.5

    A talented quarterback with the skill set to do very well in the vertical passing game the Cardinals employed in 2011. Kolb is a work in progress—even after five seasons—who must be more consistent in his footwork and commit to learning the offense and improving his decision making. 

34. Stephen McGee, Dallas Cowboys

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    Accuracy Short

    8

    An area of great improvement over the course of McGee's career. He was much better in his third preseason than at Texas A&M, delivering strikes with zip. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7.5

    Is a strong, mobile quarterback who can get outside the pocket and make plays. Has the agility to throw on the run and the arm strength to push the ball to the target. 

    Accuracy Deep

    5

    Powerful enough to go deep, but lacks the mechanics to complete high-percentage throws down the field. 

    Arm Strength

    7.5

    McGee shows good zip but has to learn to ease up on some of his throws. He steps into his deep throws well, but with that windmill motion the ball comes out late.

    Clutch

    4

    Has little game experience in the NFL. Promising because he played very well in the preseason, but lacks game reps. 

    Decision Making

    5.5

    McGee needs to improve his patience in making adjustments. He shows good field vision but needs more experience picking up changes in the defense and making pre-snap reads.

    Mechanics

    5

    Can get caught carrying the ball a little too high and his windmill-style delivery sometimes takes velocity off his passes. Has a habit of kicking his elbow out, which causes accuracy problems when throwing deep.

    Mobility

    7.5

    McGee has good mobility for the position and is more quick than fast. Has shown good balance and footwork. Is able to slide out of the pocket and can pick up yards as a designed runner. 

    Pocket Presence

    4

    Has the ability to step up and avoid the pass rush, but he's inexperienced in this area and will take too many hits. 

    Health

    10

    No injury issues. 

    Overall

    64

    McGee is an intriguing young prospect. He has the tools and skills to develop into a starter, especially if his mechanics continue to improve.

33. Brian Hoyer, New England Patriots

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    Accuracy Short

    8

    Very good intermediate accuracy. Hoyer throws the ball with authority, and puts it in a catchable location. Is patient, setting his feet and following through on short throws. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    A good athlete, Hoyer can make plays outside the pocket. He's done well moving right, where he doesn't have to re-establish himself on the move. 

    Accuracy Deep

    7

    Has enough arm strength to attack vertically, and has good touch on deep passes. Has been impressive in limited action and opportunities. 

    Arm Strength

    8

    Has a strong arm that has improved since I last scouted Hoyer, before the 2009 draft. He's throwing with good pop on the ball and has the strength to reach every level. 

    Clutch

    1

    Has very little regular-season experience and has not been tested late in games or when the pressure is on.  

    Decision Making

    4

    Has done a nice job reading base defenses in preseason action. 

    Mechanics

    8

    Has a clean, compact delivery with no wasted motion. Has a quick release that needs no special attention.  

    Mobility

    6

    Is quick enough to pick up easy yards and get away from pass rushers. Is not a great threat to run, but does enough to survive. Is slightly above average in this area. 

    Pocket Presence

    6

    Can step up in the pocket to avoid the pass rush and does a great job keeping his eyes up. Will improve with experience. 

    Health

    10

    No injury issues. 

    Overall

    64

    As the backup to Tom Brady, Hoyer will receive plenty of attention once he hits the open market in free agency. He has shown in limited regular-season action and preseason play that the talent of a starter is there. If I had to start a team with a backup quarterback, he would be my guy.

32. Vince Young, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Accuracy Short

    5

    Is a rhythm passer who will go through streaks of hot and cold. When he gets comfortable, Young can be very accurate on short and intermediate routes. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Young is strong enough and athletic enough to throw on the move without having to set up and reload. His elongated delivery hurts his velocity, but he has the strength to push off his back or front foot and deliver the ball. 

    Accuracy Deep

    5

    Too often lets fly without proper control. Doesn't fully understand the consistency required to maintain accuracy on deep balls. 

    Arm Strength

    7

    Has the arm strength to air the ball out but often doesn't put much zip on the ball, making his passes very catchable, by one team or the other. 

    Clutch

    8

    Plays well when things break down and has earned the labels of a winner and clutch quarterback. 

    Decision Making

    5

    Young is more athlete than quarterback and is still learning how to read an NFL defense. Time spent under Andy Reid should help. 

    Mechanics

    2

    His awkward, side-arm delivery equals inconsistency. He has a slow motion that allows defenders to jump routes. Too often throws off balance. 

    Mobility

    10

    A big, strong runner with the speed to get away from defenders. Young will look to pick up easy yards, but can also be used on designed runs.  

    Pocket Presence

    6

    At 6'5", 232 lbs., Young is a load to bring down and will bounce off tacklers. Can show good patience in the pocket and isn't afraid of contact. Gets in habits of holding the ball too long, or over-extending the play, which results in sacks. 

    Health

    10

    Has no injury issues. 

    Overall

    65

    Drafted third overall in 2006, Young has been a winner as a starter, but his 2011 action showed more of the same—a talented athlete who makes too many bad decisions with the football. 

31. Kyle Orton, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Accuracy Short

    7.5

    When given time to set up, Orton has good command of the ball and is able to drop passes in tight windows. His decision making can be inconsistent in this area, which affects accuracy. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6.5

    Is not a great athlete, but does a good job moving and then setting up to make the throw. Isn't athletic enough to throw while on the run with high accuracy. 

    Accuracy Deep

    7.5

    An underrated downfield thrower, Orton routinely connects deep and places his passes well to either shoulder up the seam. 

    Arm Strength

    6.5

    Has an average NFL arm. Deep passes will lose their spiral, but underneath routes are thrown with ideal zip and rotation. 

    Clutch

    5.5

    Played poorly under pressure during the 2011 season. Orton struggled to hang in the pocket and deliver accurately, resulting in too many turnovers. 

    Decision Making

    7.5

    Does a good job making reads and getting the ball out in space. His interception numbers were inflated by drops and tipped passes too often in Denver. 

    Mechanics

    7.5

    Has a good, clean delivery. His footwork in the pocket could use work, as he'll throw off-balance and can get in a habit of short-arming his delivery when pressured. 

    Mobility

    4

    Not a threat to run outside the pocket, but has enough agility to pick up easy yards when rushing lanes appear. 

    Pocket Presence

    5.5

    Does have the ability to step up and slide in the pocket, but is guilty of holding the ball too long while looking for chances down the field. 

    Health

    7

    Healthy in Denver, Orton was immediately injured after being signed by the Kansas City Chiefs

    Overall

    65

    May not see another starting opportunity in the NFL after his 2011 season. Worst case scenario: he is a quality No. 2 quarterback or spot starter in a city with a rookie quarterback. 

30. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Accuracy Short

    8.5

    When Cassel takes time to set up, his accuracy on underneath and intermediate routes is very good. Throws with good touch and hits receivers, moving or stationary. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Has some athletic ability and can get outside the pocket to make plays. Doesn't have great arm strength, so there's not much zip on the ball when thrown on the run, but he can hit targets when moving left or right. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6

    Deep accuracy hurt by lack of elite arm. Cassel too often floats the ball and consistently leads the receiver over the wrong shoulder. 

    Arm Strength

    6.5

    Has an average NFL arm. Can push the ball up-field, but doesn't do so with great accuracy. Doesn't always throw with ideal velocity on underneath routes. 

    Clutch

    5.5

    Can be hot or cold. Cassel is an extension of the talent around him and is not a late-game quarterback who will make game-changing throws or decisions. 

    Decision Making

    5.5

    Is still an inexperienced quarterback and makes questionable decisions. Too often throws into double or triple coverage. Struggles to recognize soft spots in zones. Does not always sync with receivers on route changes. 

    Mechanics

    9

    Cassel throws with a classic motion and has a clean delivery. Can be skittish in the pocket, but generally does a nice job setting up and showing proper balance and weight distribution throughout his drop steps and throw. 

    Mobility

    7.5

    An above-average athlete, Cassel does a good job extending the play by getting out of the pocket. Has the quickness to pick up available yards and can be a threat on the move. 

    Pocket Presence

    6.5

    Is quick and light on his feet, making him harder to bring down, but holds the ball too long in the pocket and struggles to feel the rush around him. 

    Health

    5.5 

    Missed the second half of the 2011 season due to injury.

    Overall

    66.5 

    A solid quarterback who is still learning the position after seven seasons, Cassel has the tools to be a successful starter in the NFL once the talent and system around him improves. Looking at 2010 film, he was a better player than his 2011 film with key players missing from the lineup. 

29. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

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    Accuracy Short

    7

    Efficient on intermediate and underneath routes, Sanchez throws with good touch when putting the ball between the numbers. Can fall into stretches of throwing too low when his footwork breaks down. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Is at his best when on the move. Throws with authority when rolling out and does a great job keeping his eyes up to see the defense. Excels here because rolling out cuts the field in half, asking him to make fewer reads. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6

    Not outstanding, but able to throw with the arc needed to let his receivers run under the ball.  

    Arm Strength

    6

    Puts some zip on the ball but doesn't have the strength to reach the deepest routes. 

    Clutch

    3

    Can be hot and cold during late games and when under pressure. Can rise to the moment and play great, but will also throw too many fourth-quarter interceptions. 

    Decision Making

    4

    Struggles to read the entire field. Sanchez is smart, but his decision making is far below average. 

    Mechanics

    10

    Very good body control when taking the snap, dropping back and setting up to throw the ball. Very good balance and footwork. Plus a clean delivery with a classic release. 

    Mobility

    6.5

    Has good athletic ability and quickness for the position. He is able to slide out of the pocket and can be very dangerous throwing on the run. 

    Pocket Presence

    7.5

    Does a good job moving around in the pocket to create time and find passing windows. Is responsible for very few of the sacks the Jets allow. 

    Health

    10

    Has no injury issues. 

    Overall

    67

    Sanchez is a classic second- or third-tier quarterback who will always be as good as the talent around him. He may occasionally lead his team with late-game heroics, but he is not the type of quarterback to make those around him play better. 

28. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans

23 of 52

     

    Accuracy Short

    6

    Has improved markedly on underneath routes but still tends to strong-arm the ball on short throws. His accuracy is based more on arm strength than rhythm and touch. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Has the strength to fire the football on the run. Strong delivery allows him to put more on the ball than most passers. 

    Accuracy Deep

    5.5

    Has the arm to deliver the ball without issues, but is still improving as a passer and is not ready to hit on deep targets consistently. 

    Arm Strength

    8

    Has the arm to make every throw with a tight spiral. Passes with authority.

    Clutch

    6

    Played very well in relief of Matt Hasselbeck, stepping up when Hasselbeck went down to injury. He led the Titans' offense to remarkable results. 

    Decision Making

    5

    So far, so good. A quarterback who ran a lot in college, he was patient and let the play develop before deciding to run in his first pro season.  

    Mechanics

    7

    Tends to hold the ball low on his chest as he drops back. You’d like to see him hold it a little higher, but his next move is lightning quick. He cranks the ball back in an instant and fires it right over his ear. He doesn’t windup at any point and doesn’t waste motion. 

    Mobility

    10

    Among the more mobile quarterbacks. His feet are quick and he’s agile enough to elude defenders. Is fast enough to make plays in space and can be very dangerous as a runner.

    Pocket Presence

    5

    Has a tendency to move around a lot in the pocket, which can be problematic for offensive linemen. Improved here from the preseason through the end of the regular season in 2011. 

    Health

    10

    Battled through injuries when he was on the field. Locker's toughness was proven time and time again.

    Overall

    68.5

    Locker quickly proved doubters wrong this season, showing poise and production when filling in for Hasselbeck as the Tennessee quarterback. He has a very bright future. 

27. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

24 of 52

     

    Accuracy Short

    6

    Freeman is a rhythm passer, meaning he gets into streaks of hot and cold. When he's locked on, he looks great. In 2011, he wasn't locked on very often. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6.5

    Does a good job moving to get outside the pocket, but lets the ball fly too high when trying to throw on the move. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6

    His long passes would benefit greatly if he put more air under the ball. Is prone to leading receivers out of bounds on deep throws. 

    Arm Strength

    7

    Has the arm strength to attack deep routes, but his velocity dropped off in 2011. Throws balls that take far too long to get to the target. 

    Clutch

    7

    Prior to this season, Freeman was well-known as a great fourth-quarter player. He dropped off considerably in a disappointing 2011. 

    Decision Making

    5

    Started forcing too many throws as he seemed to become frustrated. Far too many turnovers.

    Mechanics

    7

    Footwork too often breaks down, which leads to incompletions and interceptions. He is forgetting to step into his throws and isn't always squaring his shoulders.

    Mobility

    7

    Is a well-built quarterback (6'6", 248) with the size and agility to be a threat on the move. Can get outside the pocket and pick up tough yards. Doesn't shy away from contact. 

    Pocket Presence

    7

    Not afraid to step up in the pocket or throw the ball away. Has a good feel for the rush and makes quick decisions. 

    Health

    10

    No injury issues in 2011. 

    Overall

    68.5

    Considered a bright star at the position before his third season, Freeman clearly regressed in 2011. His mechanics look worse than they did in his rookie season. A strong offseason could put him on the rebound in 2012. 

26. Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks

25 of 52

     

    Accuracy Short

    7

    When Jackson takes time to set up, his accuracy underneath is workable. Has good vision and is able to lead the receiver up-field with timely throws. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Is a very mobile quarterback who works well going to his left and right. Is strong enough to make throws across his body. Quick start-and-stop. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6.5

    Doesn't have a cannon for an arm, but is strong enough to push the ball upfield with some consistency. Struggles from poor footwork. 

    Arm Strength

    7

    Has a strong enough arm to make every NFL throw. Can struggle to hit deep outs. Better throwing straight up the seam. 

    Clutch

    5.5

    Improved over the course of the 2011 season, but will too often break down fundamentally under pressure. 

    Decision Making

    5.5

    Has advanced in this department. Is seeing the field and getting to his second and third reads. 

    Mechanics

    6

    His footwork can be sloppy and inconsistent. Too often relies on athleticism, and will throw off back foot and off-balance. 

    Mobility

    8

    A very agile quarterback who excels when challenged to make moves outside the pocket. Field vision is not elite. 

    Pocket Presence

    6.5

    Hangs in the pocket too long, incurring many self-induced sacks. 

    Health

    10

    Jackson has no injury issues. 

    Overall

    69

    A onetime punchline as a quarterback, Jackson's development has been impressive. He may never be a longtime starter, but he will always have a job as a quality backup. 

25. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings

26 of 52

     

    Accuracy Short

    8

    Ponder has very good zip on underneath routes. Is able to put the ball in catchable spots and lead the receiver into the route.  

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Has very good balance and body control on the move. He's able to quickly set up outside the pocket and has the athleticism to throw with good placement when on the move. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6

    Is impressive throwing deep outs, but will put too much air under go routes and can struggle to lead receivers up-field. 

    Arm Strength

    7

    Has above-average arm strength and can make every NFL throw, even though deep routes up the seam will flutter at times. Doesn't always throw a consistent spiral. 

    Clutch

    6

    A calm, cool player who quickly took control of the Vikings' offense as a rookie in 2011. Ponder has room to grow in this regard. 

    Decision Making

    5

    Is a very smart person who will quickly pick up the intricacies of the position, but Ponder still needs seasoning.  

    Mechanics

    10

    A very clean delivery with the prototypical, compact motion.  

    Mobility

    6

    An above-average runner with the vision to make plays outside the pocket or on the ground. Excellent at escaping the pocket. 

    Pocket Presence

    5

    Has the lateral agility and quickness to get out of the pocket when needed. Will hold the ball too long, but that's the case for most young quarterbacks. 

    Health

    9

    Banged up at times during the season, Ponder battled nagging injuries throughout his rookie season. 

    Overall

    69

    Among the more promising rookie quarterbacks to take over in midseason, Ponder is living up to his potential as a true franchise quarterback for the Vikings. As the talent around him improves, he should quickly move up the list. 

24. Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns

27 of 52

     

    Accuracy Short

    7.5

    McCoy is a high-accuracy thrower when targeting receivers under 15 yards. Has good zip on the ball and is able to put the ball where his receiver can make the play. Rarely high or outside when throwing underneath. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Does a great job with touch throws on the move, but doesn't throw with the zip to make throws deep or across the field when rolling out. 

    Accuracy Deep

    6.5

    Lacks the arm strength to be a great deep ball thrower, but demonstrated improved touch on deep passes when asked to do so in 2011. Very inconsistent spiral on long passes.

    Arm Strength

    6

    Arm strength is masked some in the West Coast offense. McCoy lacks the velocity or deep-ball ability of top NFL quarterbacks. 

    Clutch

    6.5

    With limited talent at skill positions, McCoy has not developed into a clutch quarterback. Comparable to the average young NFL quarterback in this regard. 

    Decision Making

    6

    Two offensive systems in two years has McCoy gun-shy at times. Will stare down targets. Very smart player, but he needs experience. 

    Mechanics

    8.5

    Has a clean delivery with a high release point. Quick feet make his drop from center very smooth and consistent. Can forget to follow through at times, a side affect of hurrying.

    Mobility

    7.5

    An above-average runner, McCoy doesn't have elite speed but is agile enough to pick up yards on the ground and move to position himself for throws. 

    Pocket Presence

    6.5

    Only 6'1", but he sets up tall and balanced in the pocket when given time. Shows good poise.  

    Health

    9

    Was banged up at times during the season and missed time with a concussion suffered in Week 14.  

    Overall

    70

    McCoy failed to build on a successful rookie season, leaving his status as the franchise quarterback in doubt among Cleveland fans and scouts. He has the tools to do well in the West Coast system, but needs more time to develop. 

23. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

28 of 52

     

    Accuracy Short

    7

    Vick has good touch and can drop the ball into tight buckets, but he will too often try and rifle the ball into a window that's not open.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7.5

    For as great as he is on the move, he makes too many mistakes when trying to throw on the run. Vick fails to look downfield, often leading to interceptions. 

    Accuracy Deep

    8

    Can air the ball out with the best passers in the game. Accuracy varies, depending on whether he takes time to set up and step into the ball.  

    Arm Strength

    9

    Has a very strong arm and can throw with authority to every level. Strong enough to throw off his back foot or on the move and deliver strikes. 

    Clutch

    5.5

    Did not play well in the fourth quarter in 2011. He lacked the fire and motivation of his 2010 season. Makes too many mistakes to be considered a good clutch quarterback. 

    Decision Making

    3.5

    Vick's failure to always try and read the defense results in many interceptions, botched pass attempts and poor audibles. His football IQ is well below standard. 

    Mechanics

    5.5

    Has a quick delivery, but the ball comes out more from his wrist than with proper follow-through. Vick does not always set his feet or step into throws. Has a hammer-like motion and delivery. 

    Mobility

    10

    Is a feared and dynamic runner. The most productive rushing quarterback in NFL history. 

    Pocket Presence

    7.5

    Due to his running ability, Vick will too often hang in the pocket waiting for a window to run or throw the ball. This results in unnecessary hits and sacks. 

    Health

    7

    Opens himself up to many hits in and out of the pocket as a runner and passer. Is among the smallest starting quarterbacks at 6'0" and 215 lbs. Was hurt on and off throughout the 2011 season. 

    Overall

    70.5

    Vick's regression in 2011 from a potential Top 5 quarterback to a questionable starter can be pinned on his lack of fundamentals as a passer. When he sets his feet and goes through his reads, he's on fire. When he hurries and plays backyard football, he's mediocre. 

22. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills

29 of 52

     

    Accuracy Short

    8

    Fitzpatrick stays on target inside 15 yards. Without great arm strength, he is at his best throwing to the outside and on crossing routes.  

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    8

    Does well outside the pocket. He's shifty in space and has the quick delivery to get rid of the ball while on the move. Great at keeping his eyes up when rolling out.  

    Accuracy Deep

    7

    The Buffalo offense doesn't ask Fitzpatrick to throw deep often, and for good reason: He completed just 32.2 percent of passes thrown more than 20 yards in the air in 2011. 

    Arm Strength

    7

    Decent strength, but not a player who will throw 50-yard bombs with any regularity. He struggles to push the ball to the deep corners, but is dependable on intermediate routes and puts good spin on any route inside 20 yards. 

    Clutch

    5.5

    Playing on some very bad teams, he has led the Bills on many game-winning drives. He's calm under pressure and has shown the ability to stand in the pocket and deliver in the face of a pass rush.  

    Decision Making

    5.5

    Still relatively new as a starter, but he throws far too many interceptions for a veteran player. He tries to force the ball into windows and makes throws that appear to be made out of frustration and not what the defense dictates.  

    Mechanics

    9.5

    There is no wasted motion in Fitzpatrick's motion. He has a clean delivery and a quick release. His footwork is solid, with great balance and smooth follow-through.  

    Mobility

    6

    Not known as a runner, but can get outside the pocket and pick up yards as needed. He's better at moving to find openings to throw the ball than tucking and running.  

    Pocket Presence

    6.5

    Responsible for a high number of sacks, even behind a bad offensive line. He holds the ball too long and will often drift outside his protection. This is an area where improvement is needed. 

    Health

    10

    There are no injury issues for Fitzpatrick. He's healthy and consistent.  

    Overall

    73

    A high-percentage quarterback who does a good job managing talent. Once running back Fred Jackson went down, Fitzpatrick's numbers dipped. He is a solid starter who needs a good system around him. He is not a franchise quarterback. 

21. Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers

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    Accuracy Short

    8

    A very good short-range passer, Flynn shows a good understanding of timing and can put the ball into tight windows as needed. His ball placement is very good for an inexperienced passer.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6

    Agile enough to move outside the pocket and square up his shoulders to throw the ball. He doesn't make the mistake of throwing across his body. Is a fundamentally sound passer on the move.

    Accuracy Deep

    7

    With limited experience in the regular season, Flynn hasn't been asked to throw downfield often, but he does show the ability to drop the ball into tight buckets. His lack of elite arm strength results in some movement on the ball when pushing it deep.

    Arm Strength

    7

    Doesn't have great arm strength but can make all NFL-level throws as needed. Can lack velocity when throwing underneath. 

    Clutch

    7

    Very little experience hurts Flynn's clutch score. This is a trait learned and displayed only under pressure. 

    Decision Making

    8

    Is a smart, safe quarterback who won't commit turnovers or penalties. Is a sound technician who can read a defense and pick his spots with the ball. 

    Mechanics

    9

    Delivery can get a bit long at times, but otherwise he has a clean motion and is able to step into his throws. Has very good balance and proper distribution of his weight when throwing.  

    Mobility

    6

    Not a great athlete, but is able to slide with protection to find openings in the defense. He's able to pick up easy yards on the ground but is not considered a threat to run. 

    Pocket Presence

    6

    Another area that will improve with time, Flynn's internal clock isn't as developed as other experienced quarterbacks. He has shown the ability to step up in the pocket or slide out to avoid pressure.  

    Health

    10

    No issues here. 

    Overall

    74

    As a backup to Aaron Rodgers, Flynn hasn't seen the field often in his career. Based on preseason play and other spot duty in 2011, he is highly regarded as a potential starter in a new location in 2012. The tools to be successful are there. 

20. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins

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    Accuracy Short

    7.5

    Inconsistent when throwing outside the hashes. When throwing between the numbers, Moore shows very good intermediate accuracy. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Has a nice setup on the move and can start-and-stop quickly to deliver passes on the move and outside the pocket.  

    Accuracy Deep

    6.5

    Will throw too often without following through or off his back foot, leading to interceptions deep.  

    Arm Strength

    7

    Good velocity to all levels. Can fail to put the deep outs on a line and will let too much air under the ball going outside the hashes. 

    Clutch

    8

    Was able to come in late during Dolphins' season and provide spark on offense. Has played well under the pressure of losing his job and as the backup to Chad Henne. 

    Decision Making

    8

    Will hurry through progressions, but Moore has a good overall football IQ and can make quick decisions and read a defense. 

    Mechanics

    8

    Has a fluid motion with a loose arm. Nice over-the-top delivery with no mechanical issues. Can get inconsistent and sloppy with footwork.  

    Mobility

    5.5

    Good mobility to step outside the pocket and make throws. Isn't a runner, but can slide laterally to find windows. 

    Pocket Presence

    7.5

    Tall (6'3") frame allows him to see over the line and see the outside pass rush coming in.  

    Health

    10

    No injury issues. 

    Overall

    75

    Moore will never be a franchise quarterback, but he has value as a bridge starter at quarterback and as a very good No. 2 quarterback in a situation where a young or fringe starter is in place. 

19. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

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    Accuracy Short

    9

    Bradford's experience in a spread offense helps him quickly identify openings underneath and deliver catchable passes. Does a great job leading receivers up-field and not throwing the ball to the wrong shoulder.  

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Isn't used much on the perimeter, but can set up and throw effectively outside the pocket. Is much better when he can get his feet set versus throwing while moving. 

    Accuracy Deep

    8

    Impressive in this regard, Bradford doesn't attempt many deep passes, but when he does he can connect with consistency. Throws a very nice back-shoulder fade route and rarely misses. 

    Arm Strength

    8

    Has a very quick delivery with great zip on the ball. Can make every NFL throw and has no trouble reaching deep outs and go routes.  

    Clutch

    7

    Is still a work in progress, but shows the toughness and moxie to hang in the pocket and take a hit. Is a cool-headed player who doesn't get rattled easily. 

    Decision Making

    7

    Is still learning how to read a defense and actually regressed in a new scheme in 2011. Is a quick decision maker who was impressive in his rookie season at analyzing pre-snap and making the right calls. Should improve here. 

    Mechanics

    10

    Bradford has ideal mechanics with no issues in his drop or his delivery. 

    Mobility

    5

    Good agility but not a runner and cannot get to the perimeter to make plays. Is at his best when setting up inside the pocket and delivering. 

    Pocket Presence

    8

    Bradford has a very quick setup in the pocket and has the foot speed to avoid the pass rush and get himself in position to throw the ball. Doesn't hang onto the ball unnecessarily.  

    Health

    6.5

    Injuries plagued Bradford's 2011 season, causing concerns about his ability to hold up. 

    Overall

    75.5

    Took a step back in 2011 under a new offensive coordinator and with injuries causing him to miss time. Ignore the statistics, which don't take into account sacks and dropped passes. Bradford had a down year, but he's better than raw numbers would indicate. 

18. Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders

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    Accuracy Short

    9

    Palmer's accuracy numbers were low (60.7 completion percentage) due to his unfamiliarity with the Raiders' offense and receivers, but he rarely missed on short passes. His ability to find windows and put the ball in a catchable position remains elite.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6.5

    Not a runner by any means, but can get outside the pocket and deliver accurately. Is at his best when rolling right and launching deep balls to breaking receivers.  

    Accuracy Deep

    8

    Accuracy downfield has been impressive. He completed 42 percent of his passes thrown over 20 yards and looked like the pre-injury Palmer of 2006. His placement of the ball and understanding of where to throw it are top-notch.  

    Arm Strength

    7.5

    Palmer's arm was questionable during the 2010 season, but rest in the summer and further rehab of his elbow and shoulder led to more strength in 2011. Managing his arm will be a key for the Oakland staff.

    Clutch

    8

    His experience is a big factor when things break down, but renewed confidence also helps. Can take over a game late. Has 17 game-winning drives in his career.

    Decision Making

    6

    Threw far too many interceptions (16 in 10 games), thanks to his inexperience with the Raiders and a tendency to force passes. Could improve in 2012, but his 2011 decision making was well below what I had seen previously in Cincinnati. 

    Mechanics

    9

    There's a lot to like here. Has a good, over-the-top motion coming from a high release point. He will get too light on his front foot at times, causing the ball to sail, but this is rare. 

    Mobility

    4

    Not a runner at all. Does have some ability to slide outside the pocket, but should not leave the tackle box.

    Pocket Presence

    8

    Great in the pocket, Palmer's big frame (6'5", 235) and experience make him tough to bring down.

    Health

    10

    Injured often during his time in Cincinnati, Palmer is healthy and showing no lingering issues.

    Overall

    76

    You could see the former No. 1 overall draft pick's talent as Palmer shook off the rust from sitting out all summer and for the first many games of the 2011 season. By the 2012 season, he could once again be at an All-Pro level.  

17. Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans

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    Accuracy Short

    8.5

    A smart veteran who knows where to put the football. Hasselbeck is at the point where he's delivering the ball anywhere he wants without hesitation. Excels at throwing the quick slant and putting the ball up-field for his receiver to go after without breaking stride.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    6.5

    Definitely not a runner, but is able to get outside the tackle box and make throws. He's smart enough to not make mistakes here, and is just as likely to throw the ball away as he is to force it into tight coverage. 

    Accuracy Deep

    7.5

    Not traditionally a deep-ball thrower. Throws with too much air and allows defenders to break on the ball. Lack of arm strength a killer. 

    Arm Strength

    7.5

    Hasselbeck's arm is a great fit for the West Coast offense, but long passes are a weakness. Strong enough to deliver strikes only on intermediate and short routes. 

    Clutch

    7

    Experience helps Hasselbeck when under pressure, but he is not a quarterback to take a team on his back and lead them from behind. Can manage a game and execute, but doesn't make the talent around him markedly better. 

    Decision Making

    8.5

    Is a smart quarterback who won't waste throws. Doesn't throw many interceptions (14 in 16 games in 2011). Played very well considering he learned a new system under lockout.  

    Mechanics

    10

    Long known as one of the best technicians in the game, Hasselbeck has a smooth, clean delivery that comes straight over the top with a perfect arm angle. 

    Mobility

    4

    Is not a threat to tuck and run, and will struggle to get outside the pocket and make plays. Seems to lose himself when pressured on the edge. Can step up in the pocket, but is not a guy you want scrambling.  

    Pocket Presence

    7

    Can be guilty of holding the ball too long while waiting for something to happen. Overconfidence leads him to hang in the pocket when others would throw the ball away.  

    Health

    10

    Has no injury issues. 

    Overall

    76.5

    A smart player with 13 years of experience, Hasselbeck has enjoyed a solid career. His 2011 season was much better than most expected, proving he could still spin the football and manage an offense. 

16. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Accuracy Short

    8

    Dalton puts the ball in catchable spots and shows a command not seen often in young quarterbacks. Completed 58 percent of his passes as a rookie.  

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7.5

    A better runner than many would think, he is able to move the pocket and deliver downfield with ease. He has great flexibility in his lower body and can twist to square up for the throw. Does a very good job setting up on the move.  

    Accuracy Deep

    7

    Has been most impressive throwing downfield. For a quarterback without elite arm strength, he does a very good job of delivering the ball on a line without putting too much air underneath and allowing defenders to run under the ball. 

    Arm Strength

    6.5

    Doesn't have the rocket strength scouts love, but puts adequate velocity into his passes. 

    Clutch

    8

    Impressive as a leader in his first season, leading Cincinnati back in many games with his passing and scrambling ability. Isn't fazed by pressure. As he becomes more comfortable with NFL tempo, he'll improve here.

    Decision Making

    8

    Was shaky when deciding where to go with the ball, and too often locked onto receiver A.J. Green in his progressions. As the season continued, he became more confident in second and third options while looking off safeties. 

    Mechanics

    8.5

    Dalton can get a little side-armed in his delivery, especially on the run, but his in-pocket mechanics are very good. He still needs work on taking snaps under center and timing his drop steps, but I was impressed with Dalton's quick transition. 

    Mobility

    6.5

    A better than average runner, Dalton can get outside the pocket and make plays with his feet. Doesn't run by design, but can extend the play and move to find openings in the defense. 

    Pocket Presence

    6.5

    Still learning and adjusting to the speed of the NFL, Dalton takes too many sacks and holds onto the ball too long.  

    Health

    10

    No injury issues. 

    Overall

    76.5

    Dalton's future is very bright. He showed marked improvement over the course of his rookie season. Has the talent to be a Top 5 quarterback, once he's had more experience working against pro defenses.  

15. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

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    Accuracy Short

    8

    Flacco's accuracy seemed off this season, perhaps due to having a new quarterbacks coach. His timing was off too. He too often threw behind crossing receivers and over the head of targets outside the hashes.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7

    Not asked to move much outside the pocket, Flacco can deliver strikes when pressured. He's much better at looking downfield and delivering—or throwing across the formation—than hitting check downs on the move.  

    Accuracy Deep

    8.5

    Rarely throws interceptions on passes deeper than 20 yards. Puts the ball where only his guys can go up and get it. 

    Arm Strength

    8.5

    Has the arm strength to push the ball vertical. He puts good rotation on deep passes and enough air under the ball to allow his receivers to get underneath it and make a play. When needed he can rifle the ball with zip. 

    Clutch

    6

    Not a quarterback who is asked to carry the team, and is not great under pressure. His completion percentage drops significantly when he's pressured. 

    Decision Making

    8

    Flacco is still learning after four seasons in the league. Will make unnecessary throws, and locks on to his receiver too often. Must learn to better deceive defenders. 

    Mechanics

    8.5

    As a taller (6'6") quarterback, he has a very high release point and is able to drop his arm to deliver on the move or through secondary windows. Footwork has improved since being drafted and is ideal. 

    Mobility

    6

    Doesn't scramble to pick up yards, but can make plays outside the pocket when asked. The Ravens want him to be an in-the-pocket passer, and that's where he excels. 

    Pocket Presence

    6.5

    Flacco takes very few sacks and is very good at getting rid of the ball when there are no outlets. Is physically dominating and can be very tough to bring down with arm tackles. 

    Health

    10

    Flacco has had no injury issues.  

    Overall

    77

    Expected to take the next step up the quarterback hierarchy in 2011, Flacco didn't progress as expected. Baltimore went to a passing-based offense more often, but the results haven't been ideal. There is talent here, but Flacco's decision making has to improve. 

14. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

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    Accuracy Short

    9

    Possesses upper-tier ability to thread the ball into tight spots on short routes. Smith throws one of the most catchable balls in the NFL and has a great feel for placement.  

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    8

    A very mobile quarterback, Smith is experienced and comfortable on the move. As an agile player, Smith spends time in designed plays where the pocket moves.

    Accuracy Deep

    7

    Smith lacks the arm strength to have pinpoint accuracy deep, but he did complete 46.5 percent of his passes over 20 yards in the air. Not quite great, but very good. 

    Arm Strength

    4

    Didn't have a strong arm when entering the NFL in 2005, and due to shoulder surgeries he hasn't seen his strength improve. There is enough velocity here, but Smith will never be able to routinely air it out.

    Clutch

    8

    Delivered in the postseason after a 2011 regular season that included four straight game-winning drives in Weeks 7-10. Wasn't known as a comeback-leading passer, but is naturally calm and confident under pressure.  

    Decision Making

    8

    A high-percentage passer who doesn't make unnecessary throws and is a strong game manager. Smith had the best interception-to-attempt ratio among regular starters in 2011: 1/89.  

    Mechanic

    8

    Will drop his arm at times—altering his delivery point—but he throws with good follow-through and without delays or hitches. Has a fast strike, and keeps his balance when throwing.  

    Mobility

    8

    An option quarterback at Utah, Smith brought his ability to escape the pocket to the NFL. Can get outside the pocket and pick up yards, or position himself for a better passing window. 

    Pocket Performance

    8

    Smith was the fourth most-pressured quarterback in 2011 but handled the rush well, standing in to make the throws and finishing fifth in percentage of passes completed when drops and throw-aways are set aside.   

    Health

    10

    Often injured previously, Smith was completely healthy in 2011.  

    Overall

    78

    Has shed the "bust" label that haunted him, showing he can be a game-winning quarterback on a roster with talent around him. Will never be in the first- or second-tier of quarterbacks, but he's a solid starter. 

13. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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    Accuracy Short

    9.5

    Rivers does a great job adjusting his release point to find throwing windows. Throws a catchable ball on short and intermediate routes. Great touch. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    8.5

    With his sidearm delivery, is able to easily release the ball on the run. His accuracy can be inconsistent when throwing across his body or when aiming for midfield while moving laterally. 

    Accuracy Deep

    9

    Runs hot and cold as a deep passer. Better when receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd were healthy.  

    Arm Strength

    10

    Can make every NFL throw. Top-tier velocity. Puts his entire body into throws. 

    Clutch

    7.5

    Has not been a player to lead late-game comebacks or stay calm under pressure. Has a very fiery, competitive attitude and is susceptible to showing frustration. 

    Decision Making

    7.5

    Runs hot and cold here. Rivers will get into zones where he's unstoppable, but in the same game he can go on a streak of throwing into coverage. 

    Mechanics

    7.5

    A very slow, sidearm delivery that somehow works. Rivers can lose the rhythm in his steps, throwing off the timing on intermediate and option routes.  

    Mobility

    5

    Not a runner, but has enough agility to slide out of the pocket and make plays on the run. Can pick up easy yards in open field. Is tough and not afraid to move with the ball. 

    Pocket Presence

    5.5

    Holds the ball too long waiting for receivers to break free. 

    Health

    10

    Had no injury issues in 2011. 

    Overall

    80

    Considered at one point an elite quarterback, Rivers' play in 2011 caused a dramatic slide in his rankings. After finishing four seasons above 100 in passer rating, he finished at 88.7 in 2011. There was conjecture that he played through an undisclosed injury. 

12. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

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    Accuracy Short

    10

    Manning's ability to throw the ball and lead the receiver are among the best ever. His ball placement is elite, as is his ability to put enough juice on the ball to make it uncatchable for the defender. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    8

    Not a very mobile quarterback, but Manning's intelligence and upper-body strength make him dangerous when he is forced out of the pocket on the rare occasion. The key to Manning's accuracy here is knowing what his receivers will do. No one is better at anticipating his receivers' moves. 

    Accuracy Deep

    9.5

    No longer a 10 here, Manning is still a top deep-route passer. He's able to put the ball on the correct side consistently and puts enough air under the ball to allow his receivers to run under it.  

    Arm Strength

    9

    Watching film from 2009 and 2010, you see Manning laboring more to get the ball off with the same velocity, but the movement on the ball is still very good. Manning was never a fastball quarterback, but his mechanics and strength combine for a top-notch arm.  

    Clutch

    10

    Few are as good with the game on the line. The demeanor and confidence he brings to the huddle are as good as any quarterback to ever play the game.  

    Decision Making

    10

    In essence an offensive coordinator on the field, there may never be another quarterback with the football IQ of Peyton Manning. His feel for the game and understanding of what the offense wants to do and what the defense is planning are legendary. 

    Mechanics

    10

    Picture perfect. Manning has a big, tall frame and delivers the ball at about chin-level. He has a quick, compact delivery and amazing hip motion and follow-through.  

    Mobility

    5

    Not a runner, Manning will never be known for his ability to make plays outside the pocket or past the line of scrimmage. What he can do well is slide up in the pocket to avoid the pass rush. 

    Pocket Presence

    10

    Does a great job feeling pressure and moving out of harm's way. He's also among the fastest decision makers in the league, which allows him to avoid big hits and the pressure other quarterbacks face while trying to decide where to throw the ball.  

    Health

    0

    Missed the entire 2011 season after neck surgeries. His future is questionable. 

    Overall

    81.5

    A healthy Peyton Manning is one of the best in the game, but no one knows if or when we will see him play again.  

11. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

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    Accuracy Short

    9

    Romo's short-range accuracy has improved dramatically in his nine years with the Cowboys. He's completing high percentage passes over the middle now, thanks in part to tight end Jason Witten and the timing of Jason Garrett's complex passing schemes. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    8.5

    A good athlete who can make plays outside the pocket. He's able to scramble, but also does a nice job delivering the ball from various angles and release points. 

    Accuracy Deep

    9

    A big area of improvement for Romo, who completed 54.8 percent of his passes traveling over 20 yards in the air—good for second best in the NFL.

    Arm Strength

    8

    Has more than enough arm strength to make every throw you want. He could do a better job putting zip on intermediate routes, but more than makes up for it with a deadly deep ball. 

    Clutch

    4

    Not known for his late-game heroics, Romo can suffer under pressure—both in the pocket and in the moment. His play when games are close has improved, but is still his weakest attribute.

    Decision Making

    8

    Romo throws few interceptions compared with other starting quarterbacks and is among the more accurate passers in the NFL. His decisions in reading a defense can be less than ideal, but he makes few mistakes that result in a turnover.

    Mechanics

    10

    There's nothing in his delivery, drop back or set up that cause concerns. 

    Mobility

    6

    Not a big threat to run with the football, but Romo can make plays with his legs if needed. He's hesitant to run, but is able to move in the pocket to avoid hits as well as anyone.

    Pocket Presence

    10

    As mentioned, Romo does a great job moving around in the pocket to avoid hits. He's among the best at getting rid of the football quickly and not creating opportunities for sacks.

    Health

    9.5

    Healthy in 2011, Romo missed 10 starts in 2010 and is always at risk for an injury. Having a good backup quarterback is a good plan in Dallas.

    Overall

    82

    Romo hasn't quite made the leap that fans hoped for, but he's still a top quarterback. He isn't the type of quarterback who will make those around him better, but he can win if surrounded by the right mix of talent. 

10. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

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    Accuracy Short

    9

    Cutler's accuracy within 15 yards was much improved in two years under Mike Martz, who retired after the season. With his ability to put the ball into tight windows with great velocity, Cutler delivers a catchable ball that gives a receiver room to run. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7.5

    More mobile than given credit for, Cutler is a threat to take the ball outside the pocket and throw on the run. His elite arm strength makes throwing while on the move an easy chore. 

    Accuracy Deep

    7

    Strength doesn't equal accuracy on long passes and Cutler hit on just 48.6 percent of passes over 20 yards in 2011.

    Arm Strength

    10

    Well-known for his ability to throw with force, Cutler might have the strongest arm of any quarterback in the NFL.

    Clutch

    8.5

    Heavily criticized for staying on the sideline with an injury in the 2010 playoffs, Cutler has been a winner when it counts, leading his teams to 12 fourth-quarter comebacks and 16 game-winning drives in his six-season career.

    Decision Making

    8

    Guilty of holding the ball too long in the pocket and will oftentimes throw into coverage and ask his receivers to make plays on the ball. Has improved here, but he's still well behind top quarterbacks.

    Mechanics

    8

    Cutler's delivery and motion will drop down to his side too often, but he does have a quick delivery and good footwork in the pocket. 

    Mobility

    7

    Doesn't run by design, but Cutler is able to move outside the pocket and either throw on the move or tuck the ball and run. A tough runner who will get outside the pocket as needed.

    Pocket Presence

    9

    Doesn't play behind a good offensive line, which inflates his sack numbers, but his awareness of the rush and his ability to get rid of the ball in a hurry are among the best. 

    Health

    8

    A tough player who took heat for his injury in the 2010 playoffs, Cutler did a great job keeping himself healthy behind a porous offensive line until he broke his thumb making a tackle in Week 11 of 2011. 

    Overall

    82

    A polarizing player who is loved by some and hated by others, Cutler is the picture of a strong-armed quarterback who struggled to fit in a timing-based offense. Cutler can lead a team deep into the playoffs—as proven in 2010—even if he's not a traditionally strong statistical passer.

9. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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    Accuracy Short

    7

    Newton struggles to connect on short passes outside the hashes, but inside the hashes he's deadly within 15 yards. He's still erratic at times when throwing short, but this is largely due to mechanical issues with his footwork and balance. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    8

    A valuable runner, Newton has been able to sneak away from pressure and make plays when moving outside the pocket. Much more dangerous when running right, he is still a work in progress at squaring his shoulders to make accurate throws every time. 

    Accuracy Deep

    9

    Was a big surprise in his first NFL season mostly because of how well he threw downfield. Newton-to-Steve Smith was a consistent and dangerous weapon in the Carolina offense. 

    Arm Strength

    9

    Has answered critics who questioned his arm strength, showing exceptional velocity when throwing short and deep.

    Clutch

    8

    Can be erratic under pressure, but made big plays in the face of the pass rush and came through on a roster that won just two game in 2010. Calm and confident no matter the situation.

    Decision Making

    6

    Newton's greatest weakness is knowing where to go with the football. Too often he will throw the ball up into double or triple coverage.  

    Mechanics

    8

    Tall (6'5") and confident in the pocket, Newton has a clean delivery and great footwork. He throws with true balance and follow-through, unlike many young quarterbacks who too often throw off the back foot.

    Mobility

    10

    Already one of the best runners at the position. He's big, strong and fast when outside the pocket.  

    Pocket Presence

    7

    Newton needs to get better in several areas, and this is one of them. As a running quarterback, he'll take sacks, but he will also hang onto the ball too long looking for options. 

    Health

    10

    Has avoided injuries that plague so many running quarterbacks.

    Overall

    82

    Newton impressed in his first season, showing the skills and athleticism to become a true franchise quarterback for Carolina.

8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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    Accuracy Short

    8.5

    Take away the drops by a young Falcons wide receiver corps and Matt Ryan completed 70 percent of his passes in 2011. He throws a very catchable ball and is underrated in terms of delivering strikes to targets within 15 yards. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    7.5

    He isn't asked to throw much outside the pocket, but has shown the ability to get outside the pocket and locate receivers breaking back toward the ball. Squares up nicely and connects on short attempts outside the pocket. 

    Accuracy Deep

    8.5

    The Atlanta offense goes deep a moderate amount, but Ryan's accuracy there hasn't been good. He completed 30 percent of his throws targeted 20 yards or more downfield. 

    Arm Strength

    8

    The velocity is great, but when going deep the ball starts to flutter and wobble. Ryan is excellent throwing with force inside 20 yards.

    Clutch

    8

    Known as "Matty Ice" for a reason, Ryan has led Atlanta to 10 fourth-quarter comebacks and 15 game-winning drives in four seasons. Like all great quarterbacks, he is calm under pressure and gets better with more on the line.  

    Decision Making

    8.5

    Has cleaned up his decision making, showing an improved knowledge of the offense. He's starting to feel the coverage better and is doing a much better job at looking off coverage. Ryan is nearing elite here. 

    Mechanics

    10

    Nothing to dislike. He stands tall in the pocket at 6'4", is light on his feet and throws with velocity in a clean, over the top delivery. 

    Mobility

    6

    While not a threat to run, he is able to move around in the pocket and get away from the pass rush. Ryan isn't necessarily fast, but he's agile and smart at finding openings. 

    Pocket Presence

    8.5

    While the sack numbers have gone up in Atlanta, Ryan's responsibility for taking sacks has gone down.   

    Health

    10

    Rarely injured during his time in the NFL, Ryan hasn't missed a start in two seasons and has only missed two games in four years.

    Overall

    83.5

    One of the best young quarterbacks in the game, once Ryan improves his accuracy when throwing deep he will quickly move up this list.

7. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

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    Accuracy Short

    8.5

    Stafford throws with good zip and is able to quickly locate receivers and deliver the ball. Hits receivers in stride. Once his timing improves, will be near perfect. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    8

    Moves well on the run for a non-running quarterback. Is able to square his shoulders and has the upper-body strength to torque into the throw. Good vision allows him to locate targets on the move. 

    Accuracy Deep

    7.5

    Stafford has the arm to make deep throws, but must work on his placement and timing on deep routes. Will too often throw the ball up and ask the receiver to make a play on the ball. 

    Arm Strength

    10

    Has a rocket of an arm and is able to cleanly make every throw with a tight spiral and clean mechanics.  

    Clutch

    9

    Stafford has that rare calm when the pressure mounts; now he needs more experience and more confidence in his offensive line and secondary targets. 

    Decision Making

    8.5

    Still learning the position and how to read a defense, Stafford improved in 2011 and looks to be on the upswing. 

    Mechanics

    10

    Does everything a quarterback should when setting up in his drop, timing his steps and delivering the football. Flawless. 

    Mobility

    6

    Isn't a runner, but has the agility to escape the pocket and get outside the tackle box to make plays with his arm or legs. Is tough and not afraid to run when needed. 

    Pocket Presence

    7

    Stafford can be guilty of holding onto the football for too long, and is responsible for a good number of sacks because of his indecisive nature. 

    Health

    9

    Healthier in 2011 than in previous seasons, but Stafford has played through a number of small injuries, with a broken finger affecting his midseason production. 

    Overall

    83.5

    One of the bright young quarterbacks in the NFL, Stafford is still only in his second full season in terms of number of starts. If he can stay healthy, Stafford has Top 5 potential. 

6. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

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    Accuracy Short

    10

    A very smart passer who wastes few throws underneath. Schaub has a quick delivery that allows him to throw the ball with ease on crossing routes and outs.  

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    9

    Not a scrambler, but can get outside the pocket and is able to make difficult throws on the move.  

    Accuracy Deep

    8.5

    Houston doesn't attempt many deep passes, but when they did in 2011 Schaub connected on an impressive 43.2 percent of passes deeper than 20 yards. Having a healthy Andre Johnson would have improved that number greatly.  

    Arm Strength

    8

    Not known as a big-arm guy, Schaub doesn't have elite strength but can get the job done. His short passes have good velocity even if they lack the zip of other quarterbacks.  

    Clutch

    9

    Able to handle pressure from defenses without getting frustrated. Has led Houston on 10 game-winning drives. 

    Decision Making

    10

    A very smart quarterback who will not lose games for his team. Limits turnovers and does a great job getting the ball to the open man. Excelled without Johnson for part of 2011, showing he needn't rely on one option. 

    Mechanics

    10

    Has great balance in his drop steps and sets up quickly. His understanding of how deep to drop and his ability to strike quickly are elite.  

    Mobility

    6

    Schaub lacks the speed to extend the play, but he's quick enough to step up and out of the pocket when pressured. Able to throw on the run as well.  

    Pocket Presence

    10

    Does a great job feeling the pass rush and getting out of the pocket as needed. Schaub steps up in the pocket to avoid the outside rush and is tall enough to get the ball out of his hands once the passing window opens. 

    Health

    4

    Known as injury-prone early in his eight-year career, he missed the final six games of 2011 season with a foot injury.   

    Overall

    84.5

    Schaub can be inconsistent, but during the 2011 season he started to put his talent to good use. If he can stay in the Gary Kubiak system for another year—and stay healthy—he could make a sizable move up the rankings. 

5. Eli Manning, New York Giants

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    Accuracy Short

    9

    A steady and consistent passer within 15 yards, Manning throws with zip on crossing routes and has cut down on throwing too high and outside over the middle. His yards per attempt in 2011 were up nearly a full yard per attempt over 2010, thanks to his improved accuracy.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    9

    Able to remain accurate outside the tackle box. Not a pure runner, but does a very good job adjusting his body to make throws when on the move, and looks downfield any time he's pressured to the outside.  

    Accuracy Deep

    10

    Manning's deep accuracy has improved as he has cleaned up his mechanics. He no longer throws a deep ball that flutters, instead throwing tight spirals with the zip and air needed to reach his receiver.

    Arm Strength

    9

    Never known for his arm strength, Manning is able to deliver with velocity on short routes and has the arm strength to push the ball vertically and to the outside. 

    Clutch

    9

    Manning is much improved, but he's thrown too many interceptions late for his grade to go up to a 10. See the Giants' regular-season game against the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 as evidence. He threw two key interceptions that eventually cost New York the game.

    Decision Making

    7

    Manning's completion percentage (61 percent in 2011) doesn't indicate bad decision making, but his interceptions (16) and their timing is most troubling. Continues to struggle in reading a defense and managing the play clock.

    Mechanics

    10

    There's nothing to argue about with Manning's mechanics. He's a textbook passer with good balance, form and follow-through. 

    Mobility

    5

    Does a good job getting outside the pocket but is never someone defensive players game-plan for as a runner.  

    Pocket Presence

    9

    Not elusive, but Manning's awareness of incoming pressure has improved dramatically over the years. 

    Health

    10

    Injury-free through his eight-season career. 

    Overall

    87

    Manning's 2011 regular season started much better than it ended, but there was marked improvement in his decision making and in cutting down his interception numbers from 2010. And you can't argue with his postseason performance.

     

4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Accuracy Short

    9

    With a big arm and increased vision, Roethsliberger is becoming one of the best passers in the league. He's finding windows in the coverage and delivering flawless strikes.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    9

    As a big man (6'5", 241 lbs.) who is hard to bring down, he is dangerous outside the pocket as a runner, but more so because of his ability to throw on the move and under pressure. He rarely misses when on the move.  

    Accuracy Deep

    9

    One of the areas where he first entered elite status—his ability to throw deep with accuracy—is still impressive. His passes never go into a loose spiral. 

    Arm Strength

    9

    Able to make throws to every area. 

    Clutch

    10

    A Super Bowl winner and proven player in big moments, he has earned his stripes as a clutch quarterback.

    Decision Making

    8

    Over the past few seasons, has started making smarter decisions as the Steelers moved to a passing-dominated offense. 

    Mechanics

    9

    A bit unconventional, but he is able to adjust his release point to deliver the ball as needed when in the pocket or on the move. 

    Mobility

    7

    Agile enough to escape the pocket, and once he gets moving, he's a bull to tackle. 

    Pocket Presence

    10

    Able to see the entire field and easily distribute the football to the open receiver. Feels the blitz well and is big enough to fight off pass rushers.

    Health

    9

    While not suffering a big injury in 2011, Roethlisberger is routinely banged up and was hampered in the playoffs by a bad ankle. He may always play through injury, but he is on the injury list often.

    Overall

    89

    As the Peyton Mannings of the league drop off, Roethlisberger is one of the quarterbacks ready to step into his place. A proven winner and productive passer, he is just starting to come into his own as a pure passer.

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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    Accuracy Short

    10

    Few quarterbacks can place the ball in a window like Brees when the route is fewer than 15 yards. Brees is in a rare class of those able to get the football exactly where he wants every time.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    10

    Always dangerous on the move, he does a great job squaring his shoulders to make throws on the run. He's able to move both left and right and is deadly accurate when outside the tackle box.

    Accuracy Deep

    10

    Can stretch it out without losing touch and aim. Among the best in the game here. 

    Arm Strength

    8

    Can put good zip on the ball, but can't throw super deep or super fast. If there's any weakness to Brees' game, it is his lack of arm strength.

    Clutch

    9

    His ability to deliver in big moments is elite. Great under pressure from a pass rush as well as when the game is on the line. 

    Decision Making

    9

    Brees' 2010 season was full of uncharacteristic interceptions (22 total), and we saw some of that again in 2011 (14). His decision making will always be affected by his lack of height (he's 6'0"), which makes seeing over taller linemen a chore. 

    Mechanics

    10

    Does a great job in his throwing motion and footwork from snap to follow-through. 

    Mobility

    8

    Not known as a speedster, Brees is a dangerous runner and passer outside the pocket. 

    Pocket Presence

    9

    Smart and steady, he will hold the ball when pressure comes and can take too many sacks, but for the most part he's able to feel the rush and make plays under pressure.

    Health

    10

    Since coming to New Orleans from San Diego in 2006, Brees has been healthy.

    Overall

    93

    Brees has never entered the Peyton Manning or Tom Brady levels of play, but he's close.

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    Accuracy Short

    10

    Was third in the league with a 65.5 percent completion percentage—even more impressive when you factor in the 17 dropped passes counting against him. The Patriots' offense is built around high-efficiency strikes to wide receivers and tight ends over the middle. This is where Brady excels.

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    9.5

    Not known as a runner, he is able to step up and out of the pocket and deliver strikes downfield. When Brady must move laterally, he's able to square his shoulders and throw accurately both across his body and downfield.

    Accuracy Deep

    9.5

    Not the same since Randy Moss left, but Brady's touch on long routes is still superb. Inexperience with wide receivers definitely hurt Brady in 2011. Too often Brady threw deep into coverage, where poor accuracy results in interceptions.

    Arm Strength

    9.5

    Never had a big arm, but still throws with excellent velocity inside 20 yards. There was some noticeable wiggle in his deep balls in 2011 that I had not seen before, but in mechanics and velocity, Brady is still elite.

    Clutch

    10

    Few quarterbacks in NFL history have been as good with the game on the line as Brady. Among non-injured quarterbacks in 2011, Brady leads all active passers with 27 game-winning drives.

    Decision Making

    9.5

    Too often forced the ball into windows that weren't there in 2011, a new problem. See his four-interception game against the Bills as evidence of Brady pressing.

    Mechanics

    10

    The gold standard for NFL and college quarterbacks. He stands tall, has a clean motion and wastes no time.

    Mobility

    6.5

    It is well-documented how slow Brady ran at the NFL Scouting Combine (5.23!). But he is smooth and deceptive. Does a nice job stepping out of the way of pressure and has great field vision to see openings.

    Pocket Presence

    10

    Watching Brady lightly bounce on his toes in the pocket, scanning the field and moving deftly away from pass rushers is a thing of beauty. His ability to “feel” the pass rush ranks not only among the best in the game today, but of all-time.

    Health

    10

    Has been healthy since recovering from 2008 ACL tear, despite constant mention on the Patriots' injury report.

    Overall

    94.5

    Brady may no longer be the best quarterback, but he's still deadly. In an offense built around No. 12, he continues to rise to the challenge. Now in the twilight of his career, after 12 seasons, Brady relies more on knowledge than raw ability. With the addition of a solid No. 1 wide receiver, Brady could challenge our No. 1 quarterback for supremacy in 2012.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    Accuracy Short

    10

    Completed 68.3 percent of his passes in the 2011 regular season, showing off his ability to thread the ball to receivers. Not only deadly accurate, but throws a catchable ball that receivers can convert into big plays after the catch. 

    Accuracy Outside the Pocket

    10

    One of Rodgers' more underrated attributes is his ability to make plays on the move. Not only mobile, he is accurate on the run. Ability to square up shoulders and deliver a strike is textbook. 

    Accuracy Deep

    10

    Completed 60.7 percent of his passes over 20 yards in the air—best in the league. 

    Arm Strength

    9.5

    Arm strength is a combination of velocity and being able to throw far—Rodgers has both. Whether on the move or in a classic dropback, his quick release delivers a tight spiral with ideal movement. While rarely throwing deep, has shown the ability to throw long when needed. 

    Clutch

    10

    The Packers don’t play from behind often, but Rodgers executes the two-minute drill as well as any quarterback in the league. He’s also great amid chaos, delivering on 61.8 percent of his passes when pressured in 2011. 

    Decision Making

    10

    Out of 502 pass attempts, threw six interceptions in 2011—a rate of one for every 83 attempts, second best in the NFL (to Alex Smith). Was second in touchdowns and completion percentage as well (to Drew Brees), showing he knows where to put the football. 

    Mechanics

    10

    A picture of perfect mechanics in college at Cal, Rodgers remains a poster boy for perfection. He has a clean, over-the-top delivery with a snap follow-through. His weight is balanced and he’s light on his feet.  

    Mobility

    9.5

    Underrated scrambler had the third most runs for a quarterback, behind Michael Vick and Cam Newton. Averaging 284 yards on the ground per season in four years as a starter. 

    Pocket Presence

    9.5

    If Rodgers has a weakness, it’s how long he holds the ball in the pocket. While much improved in 2011, Rodgers has a habit of waiting for his receivers to break open, and of taking sacks. Through 11 weeks, six of the 23 sacks on Rodgers were charted as his fault. 

    Health

    10

    Healthy in 2011, he missed time in 2010 due to a concussion but has been a healthy start for four years otherwise. 

    Overall

    98.5

    Rodgers grades out as the best quarterback going into the 2012 season. His decision making, mobility and accuracy separate him from the rest. Firmly entrenched in the discussion with Tom Brady and Drew Brees as the best quarterbacks in the league today and for the future. 

Honorable Mentions

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    A list of those players who were close to making the grade, but fell just short.

     

    T.J. Yates, Houston Texans

    Overall: 39


    Shaun Hill, Detroit Lions

    Overall: 38


    Drew Stanton, Indianapolis Colts

    Overall: 37


    Josh Johnson, San Francisco 49ers

    Overall: 35

More NFL Coverage on Bleacher Report

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    The B/R NFL 1,000 will continue Thursday with the release of our analysis and rankings of the top 32 Left Tackles. The series is just one part of Bleacher Report's comprehensive NFL offseason coverage, highlighted by in-depth draft and free-agency news and opinion.

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