Power Ranking Confidence Level in Every Under-25 Starting Quarterback in the NFL
There's no doubt that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a supremely confident young man, but is he the most confident under-25 starting quarterback in the NFL?
After all, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are all in the same category, and all three of them have a high level of confidence in their ability to make plays on the field and win games for their respective teams.
There are 12 under-25 starting quarterbacks to begin the 2012 NFL season, and I'm going to rank them from worst to first as it pertains to their level of confidence. Please feel free to let me know if you disagree with my findings in the comments section below.
12. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Josh Freeman had a terrible season in 2011. He made bad decisions with the ball that led to 22 interceptions, while throwing for only 16 touchdowns. It was a significant regression from his brilliant sophomore campaign, and it seems things are only getting worse for the young man.
Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Bay Tribune recently posted this:
There is growing concern within the Bucs organization about Josh Freeman's spotty accuracy heading into the Sept. 9 opener against Carolina.— Ira Kaufman (@IKaufmanTrib) August 27, 2012
Furthermore, Freeman has had trouble picking up the playbook of new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who runs a more complex offense than what he's used to, according to Steven Holder of the Tampa Bay Tribune.
Freeman's confidence is running at an all-time low right now, and he'd better start showing some improvement soon, or it's only going to get worse.
11. John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals
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Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt will have John Skelton on an extremely short leash to start the season.
It's no secret that Whisenhunt practically had to draw a name out of a hat between Skelton and Kevin Kolb this summer to determine which one of them would start the season behind center. Neither one was impressive, though it was hard to tell if it was because of poor quarterback play or simply because the team's offensive line may as well be made out of ectoplasm.
Skelton will have his work cut out for him if he's going to remain the starting quarterback for more than a few weeks. I'm predicting that he'll lose his job at some point, but then he'll get it back again before the season is through.
10. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
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Ryan Tannehill isn't quite sure what he's seeing out there on the field at this time in his fledgling NFL career. From what we've seen so far from him during the preseason, he's going to struggle mightily this season with turnovers.
Tannehill doesn't have any receivers to speak of, and the ones he does have are all dealing with various stages of the dreaded "butterfingers" disease.
Matt Moore is going to see some action this year, and it won't be because Tannehill gets hurt.
9. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
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Andy Dalton hasn't looked good at all this preseason, completing less than 50 percent of his passes, and his woes aren't going to stop any time soon.
There's no way he's feeling too confident about his offensive line right now, as Kyle Cook and Travelle Wharton have been lost to injury. Dalton threw the ball 44 times and was sacked three times during the preseason, and it's only going to get tougher once the regular season begins.
Dalton's first opponent is the Baltimore Ravens—in Baltimore. He'll be running for his life half the night, and I don't expect him to gain any much-needed confidence in this contest.
8. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
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Jake Locker doesn't have the starting job sewn up with the Tennessee Titans. Yes, he's their starting quarterback, but if he starts to fold under the pressure of the job, Matt Hasselbeck will be asked to step back in.
Head coach Mike Munchak talked to NFL Network's Steve Wyche recently and was asked if Hasselbeck would be brought in for any other reason than an injury, to which he responded:
"Probably not. Unless there’s a reason to make a change. We feel he’s won the position and he’s ready to go. So, no, we definitely would hang with him unless there was, like you said, probably an injury situation (h/t Pro Football Talk)."
Locker knows he's a few missteps away from riding the pine, which can be disconcerting for a young quarterback.
7. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
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The Minnesota Vikings need to get Christian Ponder some help at the wide receiver position. If he had some reliable receivers not named Percy Harvin, Ponder would shock some folks.
As it is, he's stuck with the hand he's been dealt. Ponder doesn't lack confidence in himself, but he can't be too confident about his receivers.
Thankfully, Matt Kalil is covering Ponder's blind side this year, and though he's struggled at times during the preseason, he'll be a good one for years to come.
6. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
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After suffering through a brutal rookie season, Blaine Gabbert has shown some surprising pluck this summer and is looking really confident.
Whether it be in the huddle, on the sidelines, in the pocket or in the media, Gabbert is standing tall.
Yahoo! Sports' Michael Silver talked to Gabbert in the middle of August, and Gabbert's response to the criticism that he was scared last year was impressive:
"But for people to say [I'm scared], I just don't understand it. They've never played in the NFL. They really don't know what goes on, or what happens...I don't want to necessarily want to say jealous— but, they couldn't do my job. And that's the truth. They can't do my job."
His play on the field this preseason is much improved, too, and I'm looking forward to watching him and the Jacksonville Jaguars improve this season.
5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
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From this point forward, there isn't much separating the top guys in terms of confidence.
Russell Wilson is completely confident in his ability to lead any team he's playing for to victory. That said, he isn't quite in the same league as the last few men on this list in terms of pure quarterbacking ability.
Also, there is still a chance that Wilson slips up after his brilliant preseason, in which case I'm 100 percent positive that Pete Carroll won't hesitate to bring in Matt Flynn.
4. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
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Robert Griffin III is one of the most confident young men I've seen coming out of college in a long, long time. Of course, if I possessed his physical abilities, I'd be pretty confident, too.
The two things that keep me from putting RG3 higher up on this list are that he's never before had to learn a playbook and he's still green when it comes to making a full sweep through his progressions.
That said, RG3 isn't lacking much, and his confidence is sky high heading into the 2012 season.
3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
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Andrew Luck is unreal.
There isn't a situation he isn't prepared for on the football field, and it shows up on tape. Luck's ability to read through his progressions under duress shows poise and knowledge that most five-year veterans wish they had.
He plays behind a crappy offensive line, yet I didn't see one instance of panic or distress this preseason from the rookie when things broke down.
He'll never be as vocal about himself as we've seen from Robert Griffin III, but there's no doubt that Luck has more confidence than any other rookie in the NFL.
2. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
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As much as Matthew Stafford has dealt with injuries, I'm stunned at how he still stands so damn tall in the pocket, even under heavy pressure.
Having Calvin Johnson as a teammate surely helps.
Still, he's not quite the king of the hill when it comes to confidence. No matter how tall he stands in the pocket, there's always going to be this little voice in the back of his head that wonders when he might get banged up again.
Plus, the next guy on this list doesn't know what it's like to not have 100 percent confidence in himself.
1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
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Cam Newton hasn't met a challenge he couldn't overcome, and as a result, he's the most confident young quarterback in the NFL.
He took his JUCO team, Blinn College, to the NJCAA National Championships in 2009, and won, took Auburn to the NCAA Championship in 2010, and won and then became the most prolific rookie quarterback in NFL history last season.
His expectations for himself and his team are as high as it gets, and Newton's never been afraid to speak his mind on the subject. He's a winner, and he expects to win.
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