Which NFL Quarterback Gets the Most out of His Talent?

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers throws passes before a game against the New York Giants on October 14, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The Giants won 26-3. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

An NFL quarterback that can get the absolute most out of his talent is quite an impressive feat in the NFL these days. 

While high-profile players such as the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez have crashed and burned, there are some quarterbacks in the NFL that have flown under the radar and managed to utilize every ounce of their talent to be a successful NFL quarterback to this point. 

When we say getting the most out of talent, we mean a player that is close to his maximum ability but has played well. Someone like Tom Brady is impressive at the top of his talent, but it's more impressive from a player who is mediocre at best, but continues to play at a high level and keep a job. 

Let's examine three candidates that fit the bill of the NFL quarterback that gets the most out of his talent. 


Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Josh Freeman has been at the helm of the Tampa Bay offense for four years and has done an outstanding job of utilizing his talent to the fullest in what, at times, has been a horrible environment to work with. 

Freeman led the Buccaneers to a 10-6 record in 2010 while throwing 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Bucs would fizzle out and miss the playoffs, but Freeman's play was a major reason the team was even close to the postseason. 

In the 2012-13 season, Freeman has played great thus far with 14 touchdowns to only five interceptions for a 93.3 rating on the season. 

Freeman has done enough to keep his job as the starting quarterback in Tampa Bay and has repeatedly played at a high level given the skill set he has to work with. 


Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

Alex Smith is eight years deep into what has been a tumultuous NFL season at best, but 2011 was finally a breakout year for the underrated quarterback.

Smith led the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship game last season while tossing for 3,144 yards and 17 touchdowns while managing games perfectly. He's off to more of the same this season with a 93.9 rating after throwing nine touchdowns to five interceptions.

For a No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Smith didn't exactly live up to expectations for the first part of his career. He's come into his own and turned out to be the perfect quarterback for the 49ers offense. 


Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals 

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is only in his sophomore year in the NFL, but what a career it has been so far. 

Dalton led the Bengals to a postseason appearance last season by being an effective game manager in the same vein as Smith, but doing so as a rookie. He threw for 3,398 yards and 20 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. 

While being the only quarterback taken after the first round of an NFL draft to start all 16 games of his rookie year, Dalton managed to lead a team to the playoffs, a very impressive feat given his rookie status. 

Dalton has not been amazing by any means, and appears to have regressed so far in 2012. His struggles with progressions and arm strength have limited his effectiveness, but given what he has to work with, he has done a great job getting the most out of his talent so far in his young career. 


Verdict—Alex Smith 

Alex Smith has had a rough go of it in what was a chaotic organization for the first five years of his career, but he has turned things around and made the most of his talent. 

Smith isn't the type of quarterback that will out-duel players like Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, but his balanced, methodical approach to the game has allowed the 49ers to be a viable threat the past two years. 

With an uncanny ability to read defenses at the line of scrimmage before the snap and great progression and anticipation, Smith has been able to pick his way through NFL defenses despite the lack of elite talent. 

Smith will never put up elite numbers, but he's a franchise quarterback. Smith gets the most out of his talent, and that's a great thing.