B/R NFL 1000: Top 65 Quarterbacks
Who is the best quarterback in the NFL based on the 2012 season? Who's No. 10? No. 30? No. 60?
Our B/R NFL 1,000 series is back, taking a look at each position by scouting, charting, grading and finally ranking each player.
The B/R 1,000 metric is based heavily on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance for a possible best score of 100.
Potential is not taken into consideration. Nor are career accomplishments.
Quarterbacks are judged on accuracy (30 points), arm strength (20), decision making (30), mechanics (15) and mobility (5).
In the case of ties, I have asked myself, "Which player would I rather have on my team?" and set the rankings accordingly.
Subjective? Yes. But ties are no fun.
Each player was scouted by myself and a team of experienced evaluators, with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study from our team.
65. Ryan Lindley, Arizona Cardinals
Ryan Lindley (6'4", 230 pounds, one season) is fairly accurate if he releases the ball in rhythm, but move him off his spot and his accuracy starts to fall. He is more accurate on mid-range throws than he is on short passes.
Has good arm strength, but sometimes shows it off on the wrong plays. He needs to learn to take a little off on the short passes.
Understandably, he forces the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, and in turn, he gets bailed out by Fitz making a great play. He tends to stare down his first option, which leads to big plays for the other team.
Tries to make too many throws while stepping backward instead of forward.
Lacks the foot speed to be a factor moving outside the pocket. Can get bogged down by quick edge-rushers.
Lindley throws too many passes without setting his feet and rushes a lot of his throws. It appears the game is moving too fast for him.
Lindley was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
64. John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals
John Skelton (6'6", 244 pounds, three seasons) really needs to work on his accuracy. He completed less than 40 percent of his passes on throws 10-plus yards down the field. A lot of his throws end up behind his receivers or sailing over their heads.
One of the strongest arms in the league, which doesn’t mean anything if you can’t get the ball to your playmakers.
Makes too many poor decisions and doesn’t find the open receiver enough. He tries to rely on his strong arm too often and forces balls to guys who aren’t open.
When he stands tall, his over-the-top motion is good. His delivery can be inconsistent, though. Too often, he kicks his elbow out and moves to an almost sidearm delivery.
Definitely a pure pocket passer. He is big and strong but doesn’t move well.
Skelton has the physical tools to be a solid NFL quarterback, but lacks accuracy and makes too many poor decisions to be a consistent player in this league.
Skelton was No. 37 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
63. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Mark Sanchez (6'2", 225 pounds, four seasons) has average accuracy when not under pressure, but turn up the heat a little bit and he shows why he is near the bottom in pretty much every statistical category. Even in the games where he is playing well, he struggles with hitting his targets.
Middle of the road when it comes to arm strength. He can make most of the throws but could use a little more velocity on deeper out routes.
Seems to be regressing. He is making more mistakes now than he did as a rookie.
Has a smooth and consistent throwing motion, but suffers breakdowns when he feels the pressure.
He can move around and make plays with his feet, but he usually makes bad decisions while trying to make something happen, either by throwing a ball while falling down or not tucking the ball when trying to get extra yards.
There were a few games this year that showed Sanchez’s potential, but he always seems to find a way to let Jets fans down.
Sanchez was No. 29 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
62. Tim Tebow, New York Jets
Tim Tebow (6'3", 236 pounds, three seasons) is much more accurate on deep passes than those thrown underneath, where timing and placement are key. Lacks the underneath accuracy to be a viable NFL quarterback.
Has the arm to throw deep with good accuracy and plenty of distance, but he lacks velocity and spin on underneath passes. This causes throws under 20 yards to float and flutter.
Has struggled to make the transition to reading NFL defenses. Man coverage will hurt Tebow’s ability to find openings. Wasn’t trusted by Jets coaches to run the offense.
Undoubtedly the worst mechanics in the NFL. Tebow defies every rule of quarterbacking with an awkward sidearm delivery and a slow release. His throwing motion is slow, telegraphed and painful to watch.
A powerful runner who makes most of his plays on the ground. Was used some this year as a personal protector on punt coverage due to his size, strength and mobility.
Is Tebow still a quarterback? He is listed as such by the New York Jets, but watching film in 2012 didn’t show the team using or trusting him under center. He is more accurately an athlete now, at least as long as Rex Ryan is his head coach.
Tebow was No. 44 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
61. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert (6'4", 235 pounds, two seasons) is at his best when throwing underneath routes and quick hitters. He will connect with good placement on underneath routes, but his accuracy suffers any time he is pressured or asked to go down the field.
Lacks the arm strength to throw his wide receivers open. His passes come out with a good, tight spiral when he has time to set up and go through his delivery.
Showed improved decision making in 2012, but he still overlooked too many open wide receivers. Gabbert will only throw to the open receiver, ignoring a target who may need to be led.
Struggles with setting his feet and stepping into throws. Showed development early in 2012 but quickly regressed to fading away from the line of scrimmage when throwing.
Is a good athlete who can make plays outside the pocket. Doesn’t look to run as much as he could.
Gabbert regressed down the stretch in 2012 after a good start to the season. The speed of the NFL—especially the pass rush—has continued to confuse him, causing too many bad decisions and missed opportunities. His starting job should be on the line entering 2013.
Gabbert was No. 48 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
60. Tyler Thigpen, Buffalo Bills
Tyler Thigpen (6'1", 218 pounds, six seasons) is much more accurate throwing to his right. He struggles throwing down the middle and to his left. When he has time, he is able to deliver very catchable balls, but he is inconsistent under pressure.
Doesn’t have an elite arm but has sufficient arm strength. He shows good velocity on intermediate and short throws.
Doesn’t always find the open receiver and tries to force some balls into small windows. Can make plays when on the move.
Can be very erratic with his footwork. He doesn’t always take the time to set up and deliver the ball.
Has the ability to escape the pocket and make plays with his feet. Can pick up first-down yardage if the defense loses track of him.
Thigpen doesn’t possess the skills to be an everyday starter in this league. He lacks accuracy and decision making, which leaves him as an average backup at best.
Thigpen was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
59. Joe Webb, Minnesota Vikings
Joe Webb (6'4", 220 pounds, three seasons) has decent accuracy on short passes but struggles on intermediate and deep throws. Doesn’t put enough air under his deep ball and doesn’t give his receivers a chance to run under it.
Very strong arm, and he can make any throw on the field. Needs to learn to throw with more touch on all of his throws.
Holds on to the ball too long and tries to rely on his athletic ability too much. Often pulls the ball down and takes off without letting plays develop.
A thrower more than a passer. Force-throws footballs without a feel for touch or timing. Has great feet but must learn to set them and work through throws.
The best part of his game is making plays with his feet. Exciting and powerful runner with great agility.
Webb is very athletic but raw. He needs to work on his mechanics, which should help his accuracy. He also needs to learn that it is sometimes better to go down instead of trying to throw a ball while defenders are pulling him to the ground.
Webb was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
58. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Cassel (6'4", 230 pounds, eight seasons) saw his accuracy regress in 2012 coming off an injury-filled 2011 season. Missed the mark too often, leaving his receivers out to dry reaching for high or wide passes.
Has an average NFL arm that keeps him from making big plays. Doesn't always throw with ideal velocity, as passes can tend to flutter and shake when he has to throw with air.
Really struggled with interceptions and penalties in 2012. He didn’t seem to fully understand the new offensive system in Kansas City, leading to far too many bad decisions and questionable throws.
Has a clean delivery with an average release speed on his passes. Struggled to set his feet in 2012, which caused passes to float and miss their intended target.
Quick feet and above-average athletic ability allow Cassel to move around in the pocket. Can execute on roll-outs and waggles. Won’t hinder the team with a lack of agility.
Cassel was outside of his comfort zone in the Chiefs offense this season, and it showed in his lack of production and in the turnovers generated. His interceptions and fumbles crippled the Kansas City offense and will serve as a cautionary tale to anyone hoping to sign the quarterback.
Cassel was No. 30 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
57. Tyrod Taylor, Baltimore Ravens
Tyrod Taylor (6'1", 215 pounds, two seasons) is very inconsistent when it comes to throwing the ball. He is more accurate on the run than he is inside the pocket.
Has a very strong arm for his size. He can throw the ball with some zip all over the field but doesn’t have the accuracy to connect on a lot of his attempts.
Relies on his legs too often and tries to show off his arm at the wrong times. Taylor must work on readiness and reads before he can move from athlete to quarterback.
Is a powerful thrower with a quick delivery, but his agility is a detriment to his passing mechanics, as he often throws without setting his feet. Must learn to step and throw together.
Can be electrifying with the ball in his hands and would do really well on a team that runs the read-option.
Taylor might find his prospects are improved by the success of players like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. He would be an ideal backup for a team that runs the sort of offenses they do.
Taylor was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
56. David Carr, New York Giants
For David Carr (6'3", 212 pounds, 11 seasons), accuracy has never been a strength, dating back to Fresno State. The biggest issue comes from his tendency to rush through throws. Balls come out from odd release points or without his feet set, which causes the pass to miss. More like a 60 percent completion guy.
Has a big, strong arm with the velocity to drill the ball in to receivers on underneath routes. There’s not a throw that Carr can’t make, as he shows great zip on out routes and has the arm to take defenses deep down the sideline.
This is tough to judge with Carr, as he’s bounced around a lot in his career and never had time to get comfortable in a system. He’s good in a spot, but throughout his career Carr hasn’t shown the talent to run a multiple-read offense.
Carr has a big, strong frame. He looks like a quarterback. As has always been the case, Carr throws too often from a semi-sidearm motion. This creates a slower delivery and puts unneeded pressure on the shoulder and elbow.
Don’t expect Carr to pick up yards with his legs. While he can move some in the pocket to extend plays, running isn’t a strength for the former Fresno State quarterback.
David Carr took just 15 snaps for the Giants behind Eli Manning, but based on the preseason and those limited reps, we’re able to get a good picture of how Carr has developed. The truth is, he hasn’t. Carr is a big-armed quarterback who is gun-shy behind the line and looks to hurry through his reads. He’s a good backup, but nothing more.
Carr was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
55. Brady Quinn, Kansas City Chiefs
Brady Quinn (6'3", 235 pounds, six seasons) is fairly accurate on short and intermediate routes, but his accuracy takes a hit when trying to push the ball down the field, connecting on only 14 percent of his passes over 20 yards.
Can make all of the throws, but he doesn’t have the zip on the deep out routes. Has a big, strong arm but fails to deliver at times due to poor mechanics and setup.
Doesn’t always find the open man and is late on some throws. When he has time, he becomes much more consistent at finding and hitting his target.
Quinn has a habit of rushing through his setup, which often causes passes to sail and miss entirely. He has the strength to make up for some mechanical issues, but his footwork continues to be a problem.
A good enough athlete to make some plays outside of the pocket, and he's able to take off and pick up a few yards if he needs to. Can slide around inside the pocket but hangs on to the ball too long and takes a lot of sacks.
Quinn has bounced around plenty in his NFL career, with 2012 finally giving him time to showcase his abilities. What we saw wasn’t great. Quinn struggles to find the open man and doesn’t have the confidence to throw receivers open. He’s purely a backup at this point.
Quinn was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
54. Brian Hoyer, Arizona Cardinals
Brian Hoyer (6'2", 215 pounds, four seasons) throws a catchable ball with good underneath placement and positioning. Can struggle to make money throws to the outsides or down the field. Purely a crossing-route/short-area passer.
Doesn’t have the big arm to get down the field or throw into tight spaces. Needs time to set up to throw deep.
Played well in his first extended look. Didn’t force the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, which is the habit of most. Spread the ball around and made quick reads, but he still needs more reps and more time to learn the offense.
Has a crisp delivery that can be a little slow at times. The ball comes out without hitches or breaks in his rhythm.
Is quick enough to move around in the pocket but will get caught from behind as he struggles to feel backside pressure. Hoyer has to learn to hurry up his internal clock.
Hoyer was thrown into an almost unwinnable situation with the Cardinals as the starter behind a terrible offensive line with little prep time. He did well enough to earn a look as a spot starter in 2013, either with Arizona or elsewhere.
Hoyer was tied at No. 33 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
53. Thad Lewis, Cleveland Browns
Thad Lewis (6'2", 200 pounds, two seasons) is at his best when given time to stand back and operate. Throws well to open spaces and has the accuracy to attack soft zones. Struggles when asked to throw receivers open and fit tight windows.
Has the arm to throw the ball around and can get upfield. His velocity is average at this point and can be improved by more attention to footwork and also by adding confidence on where to go with the ball.
Lewis looked lost at times against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he also showed the ability to think quickly and read a defense. While one game doesn’t tell a full story, Lewis showed potential.
Lewis is much more comfortable throwing on the run and has shown the ability to square and throw. Not as great in the pocket, where his footwork will become erratic and too jittery.
Has the speed to make plays outside of the pocket and on designed runs. Would be a great fit for a zone read-based offense, where he can utilize his dual-threat ability.
Played in just one regular-season game (Week 17) but had an impressive training camp and spot duty in the preseason. Lewis is a good athlete who can improvise and make plays, but he must work on becoming more quarterback and less athlete.
Lewis was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
52. Dan Orlovsky, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dan Orlovsky (6'5", 230 pounds, eight seasons) is very accurate on intermediate routes and throws a pretty good deep ball. He does have some issues throwing underneath.
Above-average arm strength with the ability to make almost all of the throws. Has nice touch on his deep throws.
Sometimes can play a little too conservative. Needs to take more chances. He isn’t afraid to stand in the pocket until the very last second.
Has a bit of a sidearm delivery at times that can affect his placement on passes. Will get excited feet and dance in the pocket. Can be choppy in his steps.
Stays within himself and doesn’t try to scramble around. He makes plays from inside the pocket.
Orlovsky is tough, has good size and is an adequate backup, but he isn’t someone you want to be your starter week in and week out.
Orlovsky was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
51. Matt Leinart, Oakland Raiders
Matt Leinart (6'5", 225 pounds, seven seasons) struggles to locate receivers and throw with consistency when hands are in his face. Leinart can be very accurate when given time to set up and step into his throws.
Does a good job putting the ball in his receivers' hands no matter where they are on the field. Has the arm strength to push the ball vertically. Throws with good arc and correct shoulder placement.
Biggest weakness is his inability to read a defense and get through his progressions. Hasn’t shown the ability to quickly read a defense and make decisions.
Throws with a compact delivery and has good follow-through in his lower half and throwing arm. Very clean fundamentally.
Not athletic enough to be productive in a moving pocket. Lacks the strength to throw on the move.
Leinart saw more playing time in 2012 due to injuries, but what he showed was more of the same. While the talent is there, Leinart has cast his lot as a safe, conservative quarterback who won’t take chances down the field and too often makes the wrong call underneath.
Leinart was No. 41 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
50. Graham Harrell, Green Bay Packers
Graham Harrell (6'2", 215 pounds, one season) is very accurate on short and intermediate routes but will come up short on deeper throws.
Has below-average arm strength, which causes problems on throws outside the numbers. Lacks the power and velocity to make consistent throws down the field.
Knows his strengths and weaknesses. Doesn’t try to force the ball deep and will dump the ball off to the underneath routes.
Throws a clean, catchable ball. Needs to be more consistent with his footwork but has a nice, fluid delivery.
Doesn’t have the speed to make very many plays with his feet but can effectively slide around the pocket.
Harrell doesn’t have the arm strength to make big plays down the field on a regular basis, but he's smart and can meticulously work the ball down the field. He won’t ever be a franchise quarterback, but he can be an efficient and dependable backup.
49. Bruce Gradkowski, Cincinnati Bengals
Bruce Gradkowski’s accuracy usually depends on whether he is being pressured or not. While he can connect a high percentage of his throws if he has time, once he feels the rush, his accuracy starts to go downhill.
Gradkowski (6'1", 220 pounds, seven seasons) has ample arm strength. It might not always be the prettiest-looking ball, but it gets the job done.
Makes quick decisions, and not very many of them are bad. He isn’t going to make many spectacular plays, but he is going to manage the game and not make mistakes.
Doesn’t always set his feet and sometimes steps to the side when throwing.
Able to get outside the pocket and make the plays that keep drives alive. He is a little more comfortable out in space than he is sitting in the pocket.
Gradkowski is a very good backup, and if called upon, he'll give his team a chance to win the game. He doesn’t make many mistakes but won’t get you very many big plays.
Gradkowski was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
48. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Christian Ponder (6'2", 229 pounds, two seasons) shows a lot of touch on short routes and screens. His accuracy drops quite a bit on throws beyond 10 yards, connecting on only 40 percent of those passes.
The Vikings know Ponder doesn’t have a very strong arm, so they design a lot of screens and short passes to help protect him from having to throw the ball downfield.
Ponder did a great job early in the year making decisions and didn’t throw an interception until Week 5. However, he makes a lot of mistakes if he gets rattled and starts to feel the pressure.
Very clean and quick delivery. Can get caught off balance in the pocket and makes too many throws when standing on his back foot or in the air.
Has the quickness to make plays outside of the pocket. He also has enough speed to get to the second level when he decides to run.
Ponder regressed down the stretch in 2012, but he’s also played without many threats at wide receiver. In a scheme that favors quick passes and accuracy underneath, Ponder could develop into a quality starter.
Ponder was tied at No. 25 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
47. Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
Terrelle Pryor (6'4", 233 pounds, two seasons) struggled with accuracy due to not being prepared for the speed of the game in his first outing but also because of poor placement on passes. Pryor’s accuracy problems can be solved by having him slow down and go through reads while focusing on his mechanics. The rest is muscle memory.
Has a big, strong arm and isn’t afraid to test defenses deep. Is more comfortable throwing intermediate-to-deep as opposed to underneath. Has the arm to throw on the move without having to reset his base.
The biggest step for Pryor in 2013 will be learning to read an NFL defense and get his offense in the right play call. This is all new territory for the former Ohio State quarterback. The mental aspect of the game is still lacking for Pryor.
Cleaning up Pryor’s mechanics will be key in the offseason. He looks like a different player when throwing left or right. When throwing across his body (to the left), his mechanics slow down and his feet drag. Throwing right, he’s quick and efficient.
Pryor is a top-level athlete with the size and speed to be a force as a runner. Can pick up yards when the pocket breaks down or on designed runs.
Pryor played in just three games in 2012, starting one. In limited time, he showed an athletic skill set that’s worth developing under a good coaching staff. Pryor is an athlete, but he doesn’t force runs, and with a big arm, he could be explosive in the right scheme.
Pryor was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
46. Byron Leftwich, Pittsburgh Steelers
Byron Leftwich (6'5", 250 pounds, 10 seasons) is a rhythm passer who can get on hot streaks and thereafter can’t miss. For the most part, he throws with average accuracy; too many passes sail high and wide.
Has a stronger arm than it appears, as his motion takes so long to progress that the ball looks like it’s coming out slower. Can make every throw when he has time to set up and strike.
Was a bit rusty when asked to play in 2012 and then was playing hurt, but Leftwich showed he has the football IQ to run an offense and not hurt the team. Checked down more than the coaches would like but runs an efficient offense.
Has the slowest delivery in the NFL. Leftwich has a big, winding motion that encompasses a semi-circle when setting up to throw. His footwork is strong and solid, but that throwing motion is a worry.
Not a runner but has the size to be a factor in the pocket and even outside it a bit if he gets moving downhill. Leftwich lacks the speed to be a threat on the move outside of minimal gains.
A solid backup quarterback who was forced into action in 2012, Leftwich proved that he still has what it takes to move the ball down the field. His mechanics seem to be regressing, though, and as Leftwich ages, his value continues to decrease.
Leftwich was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
45. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Brandon Weeden (6'3", 220 pounds, one season) completed 57 percent of his passes in 2012, but 38 passes were dropped by his receivers. The numbers weren’t bad, but Weeden too often left receivers hanging out for high balls. He must work on placement and timing.
A lack of top-level arm strength hurt Weeden all year, as he struggled to connect on passes deeper than 20 yards. Doesn’t throw with great zip underneath. Sees a lot of movement in passes thrown upfield.
Weeden struggled with decision making and simple reads throughout the season. Wasn’t able to make checkdowns or audible out of bad calls. Would make one read and throw.
Throws with a clean delivery but has a tendency to stare down receivers, which results in too many passes being batted down. Can be sluggish with his feet and choppy in the pocket.
Is a good athlete but isn’t a dynamic runner or mover in the pocket. Will be caught from behind and can get overwhelmed when two or more pass-rushers converge on the pocket.
Weeden, at 29 years old, has room to grow as an NFL starter. There were times in 2012 when he threw the ball beautifully and showed remarkable upside, but there were more times when bad reads and missed throws plagued the rookie. Weeden has upside, but his clock is ticking.
44. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles' strength isn’t in his accuracy, but he did settle down this year and become more consistent as the season progressed. Foles (6'6", 243 pounds, one season) is a natural thrower with good ball control; he just needs to hone in on his mechanics.
You won’t see Foles breaking any fingers, but he can throw with good velocity when he steps into throws. He’s not a big-time playmaker down the field, but he does have enough of an arm to make throws to every level. Foles has an arm that could appear much stronger with proper mechanics.
For a first-year player thrust into the starting lineup, Foles played well. He does need to get better at finding his second read as well as whipping his head around after play-action. As a limited starter in college and now the NFL, there’s still quite a bit of room for Foles’ football IQ to grow.
Mechanics were a big problem for Foles, as he struggled to get comfortable in his steps and in his delivery. Part of the issue I saw on film was inconsistency in his drop steps and in his release point. Those are two areas that can be coached up in the offseason.
Foles is not a runner, but he doesn’t lack agility. There’s enough foot speed to move laterally, but when pressured from behind, he’ll not be able to run away from pressure.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a quarterback worth developing in Nick Foles. He has an underrated arm that can get stronger over time as he becomes more comfortable and more consistent. If Chip Kelly and Pat Shurmur can clean up his mechanics, Foles could be a quality starter in 2012.
43. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
Ryan Fitzpatrick (6'2", 225 pounds, eight seasons) is an accurate, smart quarterback who has a good feel for space but can lack awareness on timing and ball placement.
Lacks top-level arm strength and can be a limited passer due to his arm strength and velocity. Can spin the ball on underneath routes but will see passes shake and flutter when throws require air.
Can be a smart passer, but like so many conservative quarterbacks, Fitzpatrick errs on the side of checking down to backs instead of taking chances down the field with wide receivers in 50/50 situations.
A methodical, clean passer with a good delivery and setup. Will get ahead of his feet at times and deliver his passes off balance.
More mobile than most will notice. Fitzpatrick can tuck and run and has the speed to get to the edge and pick up plus yards on the ground. Does a good job moving inside the pocket but lacks great awareness.
A safe, conservative quarterback who won’t wow you with a big arm or brilliant decision making, but he's someone who can move the chains and be efficient. Fitzpatrick is a product of the talent around him, not someone who will elevate his teammates.
Fitzpatrick was No. 22 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
42. Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos
A bit raw out of the gate, Brock Osweiler (6'7", 240 pounds, one season) is still very much developing as a passer. Tends to throw the ball hard and low instead of looking for the most catchable target.
Has a huge arm and can make every throw in an NFL playbook. Downgraded slightly due to a lack of velocity on deep passes. Still, his arm won’t be an issue.
Didn’t show much in his opportunities, and it’s clear that Osweiler is still a project after being a limited starter in college and seeing only four attempts in the regular season.
It helps that Osweiler is 6’7” because he tends to throw with a very low release point. It improved over the course of the preseason, but this will be Osweiler’s biggest flaw heading into 2013.
A better athlete than most realize, Osweiler has the footwork to move around in the pocket. Can be a good runner when pressured.
A big, strong, shotgun-style passing prospect with good upside once he’s unleashed. Osweiler saw limited time behind Peyton Manning in 2012, but he has a high ceiling based on what little we did see.
41. T.J. Yates, Houston Texans
An accurate passer on underneath and crossing routes, T.J. Yates (6'4", 219 pounds, two seasons) throws a very catchable ball. Displays good touch and timing. Needs to work on ball placement, as there are times the ball comes in too low and dies out toward the end of the throw.
Doesn’t have great arm strength but can make downfield throws based on touch and timing over strength. When Yates misses on throws, they are generally underthrown and not overthrown.
Didn’t get a chance to show off his improvement here in 2012, but dating back to 2011 and the preseason, Yates preferred the checkdown over the downfield pass. Is a safe passer who will limit turnovers.
Has a clean and compact delivery. Has a strong setup and throws with his feet balanced. Yates’ motion is ideal, with a 90-degree angle from elbow to ball before throwing.
Has some moves and can pick up plus yards off the edge. Will step-and-slide in the pocket with fluid quickness.
After a stunning run at the end of the 2011 season, Yates only threw 10 passes in 2012. He’s a developmental quarterback with good experience but limited overall skills to be considered more than a game manager at the position.
Yates was No. 51 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
40. Drew Stanton, Indianapolis Colts
Drew Stanton (6'3", 243 pounds, six seasons) is very accurate on throws under 20 yards. He can fit the ball into small, but not tiny windows. Stanton becomes a little inconsistent on deep throws and some out routes.
Possesses middle-of-the-road arm strength. He lacks the power to make consistent throws down the field but has enough velocity on short and intermediate routes to be effective.
Doesn’t have the arm strength to push the ball down the field, so he relies on short routes and dump-offs. Can be a little too conservative at times.
Stanton is a prototypical thrower with no hitches or wasted moves in his delivery. Has quick feet but can be choppy in the pocket.
A pocket passer who doesn’t have the speed or quickness to break contain, but has a good feel for the pocket.
Stanton is a highly competent No. 2 quarterback who has the skill set to contribute as a spot starter, but he doesn’t have the accuracy or playmaking skill to be a No. 1 quarterback in today’s NFL.
Stanton was No. 53 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
39. Chase Daniel, New Orleans Saints
A very accurate passer with high-level field vision, Chase Daniel (6'0", 225 pounds, four seasons) delivers the football with timing and placement that few backup quarterbacks possess. Completes a high percentage of passes due to his vision and natural feel for where to put the ball.
Daniel is limited by his lack of arm strength, and when watching him on film this is the first thing you notice. Is held in check by defenses that force him to make deeper throws. Daniel is at his best when throwing under 20 yards and not to the sidelines.
A smart quarterback who, when given playing time, has limited mistakes and turnovers. Looked very good in the preseason, showing the football IQ to run the Saints offense without missing a step.
An athletic quarterback who floats in the pocket and uses his feet well to set up throws. As a player without great strength, Daniel has to use his hips and legs to power himself into throws. When he doesn’t have time to set up, the ball will float.
Can be a threat as a runner. Dating back to his days at Missouri, Daniel has shown the ability to tuck the ball and pick up yards on the ground.
One of the top No. 2 quarterbacks in the league, Daniel has a particular skill set for a wide-open offense like the one run in New Orleans. While he may not be a fit in every scheme, Daniel is a perfect fit behind Drew Brees.
Daniel was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
38. Jason Campbell, Chicago Bears
Jason Campbell (6'5", 230 pounds, eight seasons) throws a good, solid, catchable ball, but in his limited reps in 2012 those passes came on short and intermediate routes only. Campbell showed good placement on those passes thrown underneath, but when asked to extend his range, his accuracy fell off.
Has the arm strength to thread the ball into tight windows within 15 yards, but isn’t a threat to push the ball up field with much accuracy or velocity. A limited passer.
Has become overly conservative with the ball later in his career, doing everything he can to limit turnovers but along the way handicapping the offense with his checkdown mentality.
Campbell has a clean delivery and setup, but he falls into being too stiff at times and failing to use his hips and legs to power his throws.
Has decent quickness but isn’t a threat to run for plus yards unless the field is wide open. Moves better laterally than when asked to step up in the pocket.
Campbell played sparingly in 2012, but when he was on the field it was clear that his days as a starter are over. While there were good throws and smart decisions, Campbell wasn’t up to speed against a pass rush and looked otherwise outmatched from the get-go.
Campbell was No. 36 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
37. Charlie Batch, Pittsburgh Steelers
An experienced quarterback with a good knowledge of touch and timing, Charlie Batch (6'2", 216 pounds, 15 seasons) is at his best throwing over the middle on short-to-intermediate routes.
Batch doesn’t have the arm strength to push the ball deep to the middle or outs. Has the arm to make throws on the run but has seen his overall arm strength regress.
Is a smart quarterback with loads of experience. Will limit bad reads but at times gets caught trying to do too much. Would be better off as a system-style checkdown quarterback.
Has a compact delivery and a crisp motion. Will struggle to set his feet and often looks to throw on the move.
Has lost a step or two but is still mobile enough to make plays when pressured. Has the quickness to get outside the pocket. Won’t pick up many yards when running.
A stopgap solution for the Steelers in 2012 when both Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich were hurt, Batch showed that he’s still capable of playing well in limited duty.
Batch was not ranked in last year's B/R NFL 1,000.
36. Shaun Hill, Detroit Lions
Can be an accurate passer within a certain range, but Shaun Hill (6'3", 220 pounds, 11 seasons) is limited in his downfield vision and strength, which affects his accuracy. Throws a catchable touch pass but doesn’t have deep accuracy.
Hill has a good NFL arm, but he doesn’t grade out as being a top-tier arm—and on the flip side, he’s not on the bottom either. Hill throws with good zip when throwing under 15 yards but can really struggle to push the ball deep.
Does a good job making snap reads and getting the ball out quickly. Can be classified as a game manager at times but can also find ways to win individual battles by putting the ball up and letting his receivers make plays.
Doesn’t have the prettiest throwing motion in the NFL. Has a bit of a sidearm motion at times and will tend to turn the ball down when starting his release. The ball ends up sideways instead of pointed at the intended target.
An underrated quarterback in terms of mobility, Hill can pick up extra yards with his legs when given the chance. Does a good job moving within the pocket and throws well on the run.
A quality No. 2 quarterback, Hill has the skill set to be a plus player when thrown into a starting situation due to injury. With his accuracy and mobility, Hill could be viewed as a potential stopgap solution for a young quarterback if needed.
Hill was No. 52 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
35. Ryan Mallett, New England Patriots
The biggest issue with Ryan Mallett’s skill set is his lack of accuracy. While he has the arm strength to drill passes in, he’ll often overthrow passes—both in terms of length and velocity. Mallett (6'6", 245 pounds, two seasons) must learn to throw catchable passes to all levels.
Mallett doesn’t lack arm strength in any way. Ranked as one of the best arms in the 2011 NFL draft class. That’s carried over to the NFL, where he has the strength to make every throw in a complex passing playbook.
Hasn’t seen meaningful regular-season playing time, but based on preseason looks, Mallett hasn’t yet taken over the mental aspect of the team’s playbook. Has made strides in his two seasons but lacks experience.
Has a big, strong, over-the-top motion. From a mechanical standpoint, Mallett is prototypical in his setup, delivery and release.
Lacks any sort of mobility. Is a statue in the pocket and is someone you don’t want to ask to move around on roll-outs.
One of the more exciting developmental quarterbacks in the NFL, Mallett had the skills to be drafted in the first round if not for character questions and a lack of mobility. In a wide-open passing offense that doesn’t ask the quarterback to move, Mallett could be an option eventually as a starter.
Mallett was tied at No. 39 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
34. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick (6'0", 215 pounds, 11 seasons) will struggle to place the ball when rushed or pressured—basically anytime he can’t set up and throw with follow-through. When given time, you’ll see a quarterback who can make throws that few NFL passers can, but too often he makes bad decisions and makes throws that no NFL passer should attempt.
Has a cannon for an arm. There’s no area on the field where Vick can’t put the football. He throws with very good velocity to all levels but can throw too hard at times when going underneath.
Struggling to find the open man in 2012, Vick saw his interceptions rack up alongside his incompletions. Made many bad decisions when asked to throw on the run or when pressured. Needs to slow down and assess the defense more in the future.
Vick throws with a hard delivery, driving power more from the flick of his wrist than classic mechanics. Will leave his feet to throw too often, causing passes to miss their mark.
Is still one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. Has world-class speed and is able to threaten defenses with his feet in and outside the pocket. A skilled and dangerous runner.
Vick struggled with injury and poor play in 2012, highlighted by poor decision making and missed opportunities. While Vick may be a starter again in the NFL, his skills continue to regress.
Vick was No. 23 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
33. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins
Matt Moore (6'3", 216 pounds, six seasons) has good accuracy between the numbers but does have some issues throwing intermediate and deep out routes.
Has good velocity but doesn’t have the power to consistently place the deep ball. Will underthrow routes and very rarely overthrows a receiver.
Rushes to his checkdowns without letting the play fully develop. He will usually make good decisions and not try to force throws into tight windows.
Very clean delivery without any major mechanical issues. Tries to make too many throws off his back foot, which can lead to short-hopping some throws.
Not much of a threat to pull the ball down and run but slides well in the pocket to avoid rushers.
Moore doesn’t possess any elite skills, but he's a very serviceable quarterback. He is smart and accurate but lacks the high-end velocity to become a reliable starter. Could be looked at as a stopgap quarterback for a team drafting a signal-caller.
Moore was No. 20 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
32. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh Freeman (6'6", 240 pounds, four seasons) struggled in 2012 largely because of accuracy issues. If asked to deliver the ball downfield, Freeman is on target and efficient, but on underneath routes, his timing and placement are off.
Has the arm to make throws to every level of the field. Freeman shows off the strength to push the ball up the hashes and can easily execute throws to the deep outs from either side of the field.
Really struggles when pressured and doesn’t redirect well when asked to move from the pocket and keep his eyes downfield. Will rush through progressions and hurry to make a throw, which often results in an interception.
Has a big frame and a compact delivery, but his lower half isn’t always on point with his upper body. Freeman has a bad habit of not leading with his front foot on quick throws.
Has the quickness to be a factor on the move, and with his size, he’s very hard to bring down in the open field.
Freeman is a big, strong quarterback with the overall ability to be very good. What’s holding him back thus far is largely mental and mechanical. Freeman must become better at going through his progressions and not telegraphing passes while also taking the time to set up his shoulders and feet when throwing.
Freeman was tied at No. 27 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
31. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker (6'3", 234 pounds, two seasons) still misses the mark too often when asked to plant and throw. This was also the biggest issue with Locker at Washington, and so far it’s carrying over to the NFL. He is too inconsistent with his footwork and release point, causing the ball to miss more than what is acceptable.
Has a very strong arm, showing off top-level velocity when hitting receivers on underneath routes. Locker does a good job getting the ball upfield, but there are deep throws (to the sideline, notably) where the ball flutters.
Threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10) in 2012. Locker failed to convert passes when under pressure, too often folding under pressure and throwing the ball up for grabs.
On film, you see a clean, quick, crisp delivery, but too often Locker’s feet don’t match his upper body. Locker must do a better job driving the ball with his hips and stepping into the pass.
A very good runner, Locker hasn’t been asked to use his feet as much as he probably could. When pressured, he has the speed to not only move to create passing windows, but to run for positive yards as well.
The talent is here for Locker to excel, but he must become a better quarterback mechanically before anything else can be done to his game. Has the size and speed to dominate, but accuracy and poor decisions hold him back.
Locker was tied at No. 27 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
30. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Chad Henne (6'3", 230 pounds, five seasons) struggled with accuracy in 2012 after coming in to replace Blaine Gabbert. Early in the year, Henne’s timing and ball placement were clearly off, but as the season progressed, his unfamiliarity with the players led to missed opportunities and passes that sailed away from their intended targets. It’s worth noting that Henne’s throws were plagued by drops and wide receivers giving up on routes, making his accuracy numbers look worse than they were.
Has the strength to drive the ball up the field, showing the zip to get the football to any level of the field. Henne can struggle with deep outs, as he tends to put too much air under the ball, but his arm won’t be an issue.
You didn’t see great decision making from Henne in 2012—partially due to his coming in at midseason as a starter but otherwise because of bad reads. Henne, after he was given more time to get comfortable, started to settle in by the end of the year to where he was making the right reads and getting the ball out on time.
Henne has a big, strong frame with which he uses his upper and lower body to power his throws. We see him stepping into passes, leading with his front foot and throwing with an over-the-top delivery. The biggest complaint with Henne is that he’ll telegraph passes before throwing and can be victim to batted-down balls.
Lacks the quickness to be a factor as a runner and gets caught from behind too often in the pocket. Not a threat to run the ball. Can be a liability in the pocket.
Henne was an improvement over Blaine Gabbert in 2012, but he still leaves much to be desired from a franchise quarterback. Henne is big and strong, but his decision making and accuracy were issues surrounded by an offense that too often failed to support him.
Henne was No. 45 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
29. Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders
Carson Palmer (6'5", 235 pounds, 10 seasons) is extremely accurate on short passes. He completes over 75 percent of his throws under 10 yards. However, he did struggle throwing the deep ball this year.
His arm may not be as strong as it used to be, but Palmer still has the arm strength to make all of the throws.
For the most part, Palmer makes good decisions, but there always seem to be a few throws a game that he shouldn’t even try to make.
High release and a nice over-the-top motion. Very good footwork that rarely breaks down.
Palmer rarely looks to get outside of the pocket. He has a good feel for the inside of the pocket but will end up taking a lot of sacks due to his inability to escape.
There were times this year that it appeared Palmer was back to his old form, but he had some issues with turnovers, which keeps Raider fans asking if he was worth all of those draft picks.
Palmer was No. 18 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
28. Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns
Colt McCoy (6'1", 215 pounds, three seasons) is a high-percentage passer with the eyes to find openings and aim to thread the ball in. Will fall into habits of pushing the ball but still throws well to the outside under 20 yards. Throws a catchable pass.
Lacks the arm strength to really challenge defenses outside the box. Can struggle with velocity on passes both downfield and outside the hashes. Has been plagued by injuries, which limits his arm strength on film.
McCoy tends to be too conservative in his decision making—partially due to a lack of arm strength and partially because of the fear of turnovers. In Colt, you get a quarterback who can make reads, pre- and post-snap, but who is timid in pulling the trigger.
Has a great drop step and the quick feet we look for in quarterbacks. Throws with a fast release and a clean motion.
Can be a runner but lacks the size to withstand constant punishment from taking hits. Will get beat up in the pocket but has played only behind struggling offensive lines. Is a bit gun-shy from this.
A limited quarterback who hasn’t been given much of a shot, McCoy brings good tools to the table as a short-to-intermediate passer with high accuracy and low risks. Some NFL coaches will love that, while others want a bigger arm at the position. A worst-case scenario: McCoy is a solid No. 2 passer.
McCoy was No. 24 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
27. Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans
Hasselbeck (6'4", 225 pounds, 14 seasons) is a high-percentage passer with good touch on his passes. What you don’t get with him is a downfield thrower who will challenge defenses. Very good with placement inside the 10-30 yard range.
Has seen his arm strength diminish some over the years but still throws a clean and crisp ball.
Hasselbeck doesn’t throw a ton of incompletions or interceptions, but it’s because he’s very safe and conservative.
Has a classic delivery with good motion on his passes. Will too often get happy feet and throw off balance. Must work to drive through passes and not lose his feet.
Doesn’t have the speed to run away from defenders but has a good feel for pressure in the pocket and can evade the rush with quick feet and good agility to slide.
Hasselbeck didn’t see playing time after Week 10, but in his time filling in for Jake Locker, we saw that the old man can still get it done. With good decision making and the skills to still deliver accurate, on-time passes, Hasselbeck could be viewed as a one-year solution for teams in 2013.
Hasselbeck was tied at No. 16 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
26. Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks
A highly accurate quarterback when asked to throw between 5-20 yards, Matt Flynn (6'2", 225 pounds, five seasons) can put the ball on a line on short-to-intermediate throws but lacks the power to complete passes outside the hashes or downfield on longer attempts.
Flynn can throw with good velocity inside shorter ranges, but he lacks the power to spin the ball with zip on throws that travel more than 20 yards. Is a touch passer who lives on timing and throwing into space.
During the 2012 preseason, Flynn showed that he can be a mistake-free quarterback who will efficiently move the ball, but he is unlikely to take chances down the field or press the issue to throw open his receivers.
Fundamentally sound passer who can shot-put throws at times, but what you see from Flynn is a clean setup and the balance to use his lower body to power through his throwing motion.
Can be a factor when pressured and has room to run. Isn’t overly quick but has good vision and doesn’t waste steps when asked to slide in the pocket.
Was ultimately beaten out by Russell Wilson but showed enough in 2011 and the 2012 preseason to be given another shot at a starting job in the NFL. Is a low-risk quarterback who will move the ball in short chunks but won’t force turnovers.
Flynn was No. 21 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
25. Kyle Orton, Dallas Cowboys
Kyle Orton (6'4", 225 pounds, eight seasons) has the accuracy to be a high-completion passer who can execute quick hits and smart plays within the system. Orton has good command of the ball and is able to drop passes in tight windows.
Deep passes will lose their spiral, but underneath routes are thrown with ideal zip and rotation.
Has settled into a role as a checkdown artist, opting for safe reads over interceptions. Had a lot of passes tipped and batted in his past. Can telegraph his throws a bit.
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. Orton’s delivery and motion are clean.
Orton isn’t a threat to run for big yards, but he can move around some in the pocket to extend plays or roll out for passes.
Orton expected to see more playing time in Dallas in 2012, but instead he threw just 10 passes all season. Orton should be considered by teams who need a veteran quarterback to hold a job for a season or two, as he’s accurate, capable and competent under center.
Orton was tied at No. 31 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
24. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins (6'3", 209 pounds, one season) is an accurate passer who dominates the underneath routes. Throws with command on passes to the sidelines and over the middle when within a 20-yard range. Will struggle with placement on the deep ball at times. Can be inconsistent deep.
Shows a solid arm but nothing spectacular. Has the ability to drive passes in to targets but will also let balls float at times. The plus is that Cousins is mechanically sound, and consistent, which shows up when he does throw deep.
Cousins has a habit of forcing throws and letting his wide receiver fight for the ball. Will improve with better preparation and understanding of spacing and timing from targets.
Throws a very pretty pass with good mechanics and delivery. Can be thrown off when pressured from the backside, as he struggles to reset and throw.
Has the quickness to slide his feet in the pocket and find passing windows. Will get caught from behind. Doesn’t show great running ability but can scramble and slide for plus yards.
Cousins played well when asked to in 2012, showing patience, poise and a readiness that few rookies display when coming in off the bench. He is a smart quarterback who lacks some top-end qualities but is worth watching as a future starter.
23. Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals
Kevin Kolb (6'3", 218 pounds, six seasons) is very accurate between the numbers, completing over 67 percent of his pass attempts. He has some issues throwing out routes and the deep ball.
Doesn’t have the arm strength to drive the ball down the field. Kolb will show good velocity on underneath passes and is strong enough to thread the ball in to tight spots when throwing on the run.
Doesn’t try to force the ball into small windows very often. He throws a lot of underneath passes and tries to keep the chains moving.
When he has time to set his feet, Kolb throws with sound mechanics. The trouble is that he doesn’t always set up and go through his delivery. Will too often improvise, resulting in poor passes.
Can be a good runner but mostly inside the pocket. Will scramble to set up throws and extend the play. Doesn’t have world-class speed to outrun defenders.
The Cardinals' season may have been a lot different if Kolb could’ve stayed healthy. He started out strong this year before struggling a little in his last two games before being injured.
Kolb was No. 35 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
22. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill (6'4", 222 pounds, one season) showed major improvement in 2012 from his college film, most notably in terms of accuracy. He struggled to complete underneath passes that require touch and timing but showed a good ability to deliver the ball intermediately and deep.
Has the arm strength to drive the ball upfield. Tannehill throws a very nice deep ball that spins without losing velocity. Can thread the ball between defenders with strong underneath zip.
Threw more interceptions than touchdowns in 2012. Seemed to second-guess himself at times, which caused a lot of missed opportunities and plenty of turnovers. Must become more decisive.
Has the quick feet and balance to drive through throws with his legs. Shows a quick setup and release and can quickly get rid of the ball in a pressure situation. Throws with a clean delivery that sometimes hitches at the elbow.
A former college wide receiver, Tannehill has excellent short-area quickness and the strength to run away from defenders. Is still working to learn when it’s appropriate to run and when he should stay in the pocket.
Tannehill showed very good development early in the season, but by December he had hit a rookie wall and was struggling to complete passes and beat defenses. Still, the Dolphins have their quarterback in Tannehill, who needs time to develop and a few wide receivers to help along the way.
21. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford (6'4", 224 pounds, three seasons) is known for his accuracy, and it showed in 2012 with on-point passing and timing. While his completion percentage was hurt by 30 dropped passes, it was easy to see an improvement in ball placement, timing and touch this year.
Doesn’t have great or elite arm strength but does enough with the ball to pressure defenses. Can throw with good velocity underneath but will lose some zip on deep passes and when throwing to the 20- to 25-yard out route.
Can fall into a rut of being too conservative with the ball and looking for the checkdown or hot route over a big-play opportunity. Must learn to trust his line, his receivers and his arm.
Has a pretty throwing motion with a clean delivery. Will lose his feet at times and can get sloppy when stepping into passes. Has a tendency to fade away from his line of scrimmage too often.
While Bradford isn’t fleet of foot, he’s quick enough to pick up positive yards when the opening is there. Can move around in the pocket and slide to find passing windows.
Bradford made big improvements in 2012, showing off the accuracy that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft. While he still needs to work on pushing the ball upfield and taking more calculated risks, Bradford’s stock is on the rise.
Bradford was No. 19 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
20. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton (6'2", 220 pounds, two seasons) does a great job throwing a catchable ball, and his completion percentage would better reflect this if he didn’t force the ball into double coverage so often. Dalton’s accuracy is good; his decision making isn’t always.
The biggest knock on Dalton coming out of TCU was his arm strength, or lack thereof, but he’s quieted those doubts to some extent. You will still see Dalton hesitate to throw deep outs to the opposite boundary, but he’s improved here.
Dalton has yet to develop to a point where he’s confident making a second read. Too often his progressions read: “A.J. Green...tuck and run.” Dalton must learn to trust other receivers and trust his reads in 2013.
Everything about Dalton’s throwing motion is spot on. He has a clean delivery and a fluid release point. His legs are aligned with his shoulders, and his eyes are downfield.
A good runner, Dalton was at one point an option quarterback in college. That talent still shows up in the NFL, as he’s capable of putting the ball down and running for plus yards.
Dalton took a big step in his development in 2012, but the second-year quarterback still struggles when locking on to one receiver. The key to a better 2013 will be teaching Dalton to look off A.J. Green and rely less on his feet when pressured.
Dalton was tied at No. 16 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
19. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Matt Stafford (6'3", 232 pounds, four seasons) became inconsistent in 2012, largely due to poor mechanics and a bad offensive line. His ability to hit the open man became a toss-up, and because of that, his numbers decreased in spite of a year that saw him throw 700-plus passes.
Has one of the strongest arms in the NFL. Doesn’t hesitate to throw to any level of the field. Shows off remarkable velocity when stepping into throws over the middle. Might need to learn to take something off his passes.
Stafford fell into the trap of locking on to Calvin Johnson at times, which is understandable, but it's an easy tell for defenses. With 17 interceptions on the year, it’s easy to see where Stafford’s decision making went wrong.
Has created many bad habits in his mechanics. Stafford too often throws off balance, which leads to passes that miss their mark. He’s playing behind a bad offensive line, which makes it tougher to step into throws, but this is an area that has to be cleaned up before 2013.
Has some quickness and is an underrated runner. Does a good job creating time to throw the ball by moving in and out of the pocket. Has quick feet but can shuffle and hesitate too often.
Still one of the more talented quarterbacks in the NFL, Stafford saw a major regression in terms of mechanics in 2012, which in turn caused his overall skill and production to dip. Correcting his mechanics will fix most of Stafford’s problems, moving him back into the top 10.
Stafford was tied at No. 7 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
18. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Throws a pretty, catchable ball that is well timed and generally on the mark. Alex Smith (6'4", 217 pounds, eight seasons) is one of the NFL’s most accurate passers inside his comfort zone, but ask him to throw outside the hashes or down the field, and his accuracy suffers.
Smith lacks the arm strength to be a factor on outside throws or deep routes. While he has the strength to execute an underneath passing game, he’s a liability. Smith’s wheelhouse is on short timing routes and on streaks up the seam where he can drop the ball in the bucket.
A very efficient, smart quarterback who doesn’t take unnecessary risks with the ball. Smith won’t force passes, but at the same time, he won’t press the ball upfield. Too often he’s content with the checkdown over the big play.
Smith’s throwing motion is clean and fluid. He does a nice job setting up throws with his feet and stepping into passes to power the ball. Is able to square and throw on the run.
Can be a dangerous runner when he gets outside the pocket. Smith has the quick feet to step and slide in the pocket to create passing windows, but when he decides to run, he’s fast enough to be a threat.
Alex Smith isn’t a sexy pick at quarterback, but he’s efficient and has proven to be a winner over the last two seasons. With Smith you won’t get big plays down the field—other than after the catch—but you also won’t get turnovers or penalties from the veteran quarterback.
Smith was No. 14 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
17. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers (6'5", 228 pounds, nine seasons) ran hot and cold in 2012, showing great accuracy when there was no pressure in the pocket but falling apart when teams were able to get in his face and make plays.
Has a strong arm that allows him to deliver the ball effectively to all areas of the field. Is able to throw well on the move or when off balance due to high-level strength in his throwing motion.
Can be thrown off by a secondary that’s athletic enough to move around pre-snap (something the Atlanta Falcons did well against him this year). Rivers is still a top-level quarterback, but he’s no longer making the tight throws he used to. What used to be a good decision is now a bad throw.
Not much of what Rivers does is pretty. He has an awkward throwing motion, too often throws off balance and has a knack for fading away from the line of scrimmage when throwing. Rivers has been successful in spite of these issues, but his recent regression points to mechanics.
Has the quickness to move in and out of the pocket without issue. Can be a threat to tuck and run.
Rivers was once considered an elite quarterback, but as he ages, he’s becoming more and more reliant on the talent around him. While his individual skills aren't diminishing yet, his production has been. The talent you see from Rivers isn’t terrible, but he’s no longer considered a top-flight quarterback.
Rivers was No. 13 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
*Previous versions had errors in Rivers' scores. His overall number has not changed. We apologize for the error.*
16. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo’s accuracy can be tough to separate from the bad decisions he makes, but overall, this is an accurate quarterback. Romo (6'2", 230 pounds, 10 seasons) hit on over 65 percent of his passes in 2012 and showed improvement in delivering the ball to all areas.
Has enough arm strength to be a threat, but he doesn’t feature an elite arm when talking about velocity or downfield strength. Can put the ball on a line, but when asked to throw outside of 25 yards, the ball begins to float and flutter.
Romo can be maddeningly inconsistent, opting to throw passes into areas where there are more defenders than receivers. Often reverts to a “gunslinger” mentality and doesn’t make simple decisions like checkdowns or throwing the ball away.
Shows a compact, methodical delivery with no wasted movements. Romo does a good job at squaring his shoulders when throwing on the run. Steps into passes and leads with his front foot.
An underrated runner who has the quickness to get outside the pocket on bootlegs and waggles. Can pick up positive yards with his feet.
Tony Romo is a very talented quarterback, but his undoing lies in his trying to do too much on every play. His 19 interceptions this year—including three in Week 17—are indicative of a player trying to do too much and not making smart decisions.
Romo was tied at No. 9 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
15. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton (6'5", 245 pounds, two seasons) is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL who is more accurate throwing deep than underneath. That can be chalked up to throwing too hard underneath but also to mechanics that prevent the ball from hitting the target with room to catch and run.
Has a top-five arm in the NFL today. Newton is able to spray the ball all over the field, executing with velocity and zip on deep outs. When it comes to the deep ball, Newton’s at his best, throwing with touch and enough arc to get the ball in the bucket.
Newton will go through hot streaks where he’s invincible, but he also had too many interceptions in 2012. The issue with Newton is learning when passes aren’t there; he’s not yet to the point where a throw-away is a realistic option. That should come in 2013.
Newton is still learning how to properly use his feet and mobility to power his throws, but his arm is live and clean. Throws with a tomahawk delivery that lets the ball stay up at all times, preventing strip sacks and eliminating wasted motion in his throw.
A dangerous runner when he gets outside the pocket, Cam has the size to run over defenders and the speed to make people pay on the outside. The key is keeping himself healthy while still being a threat to run.
Newton has the potential to be the best quarterback in the NFL, but he has to continue to develop as a passer. That means cleaning up his mechanics and working on his pre- and post-snap reads of the secondary. The potential is here.
Newton was tied at No. 9 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
14. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
One of the best attributes of Matt Schaub’s game is his accuracy. Schaub (6'5", 239 pounds, nine seasons) is an efficient, technical passer when asked to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball. He’s a high-completion passer who looks for openings and throws the ball with command to the opening.
You won’t see amazing arm strength from Matt Schaub, but he is strong enough to push the ball upfield when throwing to the deep middle. His velocity on underneath passes is good enough, if not great, but he throws a very catchable ball and understands timing and how to lead his receivers.
Schaub struggled in 2012 against defenses that could penetrate and move the offensive line back off the ball. While he is efficient and accurate, the one thing Schaub lacks consistently is a quick decision-making ability to attack the defense. He falls into being too conservative at times.
High-level mechanics are a big part of what makes Schaub so good. He’s very clean in the pocket and throws the ball with a clean, over-the-top delivery that wastes no motion or time.
Shows limited mobility when asked to move from the pocket and get depth on roll-outs and play-action plays. Schaub won’t outrun defenders to the corner, but he will be able to use his feet to extend the play or move from the pocket.
Schaub is a high-level game manager type of quarterback who can win games thanks to the talent level around him. What you don’t see from Schaub is an ability to take over games and win on his own. He’s highly efficient and accurate, but more often than not the Texans wins because of the run game or defense, not Schaub.
Schaub was No. 6 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
13. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
When given time to set up and throw, Jay Cutler (6'3", 220 pounds, seven seasons) is a very accurate passer. Fans may be critical of his completion percentage, but actually, charting Cutler’s throws gives you a different perspective—one that shows the quarterback isn’t that far off the mark.
With one of the strongest arms in the NFL, Cutler continues to be a template of arm strength for NFL prospects. Cutler throws with some of the hardest velocity in the NFL, which can be a good or bad thing for receivers. There are times when the ball is delivered too hot and receivers can’t bring it in. Learning when to take something off the ball has eluded Cutler.
The problem with Cutler’s game is that he knows how strong his arm is, and oftentimes he tries to throw into windows that he shouldn’t. His overconfidence in his arm puts him in as many bad situations as it does good ones.
From a mechanical standpoint, Cutler needs some work. A big issue is his tendency to throw off his back foot while fading away from the line of scrimmage. While Cutler is strong enough to pass without stepping into the throw, this leads to accuracy issues, as the ball can float when not thrown with the force of a step toward the receiver. Also, too often you see Cutler drop his elbow before throwing the ball. This hasn’t been as costly, but it’s still an issue that you don’t like to see.
It may surprise people, but Cutler can run, and run well. He’s much faster than given credit for, and this shows up in his roll-out packages and when he’s pressured and forced to run. Cutler won’t beat Robert Griffin III in a race, but he’ll keep up with the faster set of quarterbacks in the game.
A love-or-hate quarterback for most, Cutler is on the higher end of the spectrum in terms of pure talent. His body language and decision making can be terrible at times, but his arm strength, velocity, mobility and accuracy are all near the best in the league. If he could play behind a better offensive line, with less pressure, it would be exciting to see where Cutler could go as a quarterback.
Cutler was tied at No. 9 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
12. Colin Kaepernick, San Franciso 49ers
Colin Kaepernick (6'4", 230 pounds, two seasons) is still learning where he can and cannot fit the ball, but his accuracy has improved over the course of the season. We’re still looking at a quarterback who completes too few of his passes, though. Kaepernick must get better at keeping the ball down when throwing outside the hashes.
Famously dislocated Randy Moss’ finger with a pass this season. That should tell you all you need to know about how hard he can sling the ball. When grading arm strength, Kaepernick comes out very high on the list.
Is adept at seeing the open field and finding his read. Showed a good ability to make a simple read and find the weakness of the defense. Has a good football IQ and is a quick study.
While his throwing motion won’t win many awards, Kaepernick does a great job setting up his throws with his lower body. Steps into passes and does a good job finishing on his front foot.
One of the better running quarterbacks in the NFL, Kaepernick’s speed and agility in the open field have been an added threat to the 49ers offense. Is able to tuck and run past defenders.
A fast-developing, young quarterback with tons of potential, Kaepernick looks like a future star at the position. He needs to improve his decision making—we’d love to see him check down now and then—but overall, there is a lot to like about No. 7.
Kaepernick was No. 43 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
11. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
For a rookie, Andrew Luck (6'4", 234 pounds, one season) was well ahead of the curve in terms of accuracy in 2012. While there were times when Luck missed the mark, those mostly happened when pressured and/or asked to throw the ball to the right hash up the field. Overall, it’s tough to be upset with Luck’s ball placement.
An area where Luck received some criticism before the draft, he answered critics this year by showing off the arm strength needed to make every NFL throw in the playbook. Luck doesn’t have a rocket of an arm, but he’s strong enough to throw to every bucket of the field.
Critics will point to Luck’s high number of interceptions, but his decision making encompasses more than just interceptions—which don’t take into account dropped or tipped passes. Luck’s ability to make pre- and post-snap reads in his first season was incredible, and the Colts coaches asked him to execute the offense on his own. Luck didn’t disappoint, showing off the football IQ that made him a once-in-a-generation talent pre-draft.
This is how quarterbacks should look. Whether it’s his three- and five-step drops from center or in the way he actually sets up and throws the ball, Luck is a technician with beautiful balance, strength and ability to throw the ball.
You don’t think of Luck as a fast runner, but he is. He showed that at the NFL combine and backed it up on the field this season. When pressured, Luck was able to tuck and run for big gains, but he was also very effective when asked to roll out and throw on the run.
It’s tough to separate fact from hyperbole at times, and Luck certainly came into the league with plenty of hype. What we saw in year one was a smart, young quarterback who tried too hard at times, but he also delivered in crunch time with big performances and a ton of moxie.
10. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Eli Manning’s accuracy seems to be affected by the situation of the game more than any other quarterback scouted. Unlike what you might expect, Manning (6'4", 218 pounds, nine seasons) gets better in pressure situations. You won’t see gaudy completion percentages, but he does a good job threading the ball and is a high-level passer to intermediate and deep areas. Accuracy isn’t Manning’s strength; you will find him struggling to push the ball up the left sideline and on underneath routes to the outside.
Arm strength isn’t an issue for Manning. He’s able to deliver the ball to all areas of the field without issue. His deep passes don’t flutter, and when throwing to the edges, he’s able to throw the ball on a line without putting unnecessary air under it.
Manning’s decision making varies from great to poor. At times you’ll see Manning playing calm, collected football, and then other times he seems to wilt under pressure. His decision-making skills have yet to become a consistent strength.
Has very good mechanics and delivers the ball with a clean, concise delivery. Manning does a good job transferring his weight when setting up in the pocket and stepping through his throwing motion.
Not a mobile quarterback, but he’s not a statue either. Manning has good quickness and is aware enough in the pocket to pull the ball down and run when necessary.
A borderline elite quarterback based on Super Bowl wins, but based on attributes and traits, Manning doesn’t show up as well. His decision making is terrible at times, and even in 2012, there were too many instances of interceptions and bad decisions over the middle. Manning knows how to win, but his play is too inconsistent to receive a higher grade.
Manning was No. 5 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
9. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson’s ability to deliver the football on target was one of his strongest attributes in 2012. Wilson (5'11", 206 pounds, one season) hasn’t been flawless thus far in his young career, but when asked to thread the ball into tight spaces over the middle, he’s been one of the top passers in the game. Wilson can continue to get a better feel for deep and outside routes.
Arm strength is something Russell Wilson definitely doesn’t lack. He’s able to deliver the ball with very good velocity, can push passes up the field to attack deep areas and has the raw arm strength to throw on the move. Wilson has one of the strongest arms you’ll see in the NFL today.
Wilson impressed all year with his ability to make the right decision pre-snap. We knew that Wilson was capable of making plays after the ball was snapped, but he was well ahead of where a rookie third-rounder should be in evaluating the defense and making reads. Wilson has shown tremendous growth here over the course of the season.
When you think of compact deliveries and a fast release, Wilson comes to mind. He has a very solid, efficient setup and delivery, with no wasted motion or time. Russell throws like a spring, using his entire body to torque into the throw, transferring his weight from his back foot and stepping into the pass.
A high-level athlete who has shown to be a good runner, Wilson has been impressive not only in tucking and running, but also in using his agility to slide in the pocket and evade pressure.
Wilson has proved to be one of the better picks from the 2012 NFL draft, quickly beating out Matt Flynn at the position and driving the Seattle Seahawks to a very successful season. Wilson’s athletic ability and arm strength have been much more important than his height, which was a big reason why he fell to Round 3 in the draft.
8. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger (6'5", 241 pounds, nine seasons) can get a bit wild at times, but his accuracy doesn’t. Big Ben’s accuracy has been underrated for some time, but watching him throw this season, it was impressive to see his ball placement and the way he throws the ball where his receivers can catch and run—which is what makes the Steelers offense work the way it does.
No one has ever doubted the arm strength of Roethlisberger. He has a big, strong frame, and that’s represented in his arm strength. Throwing to all levels and all directions, Roethlisberger has the strength to make every throw in the book.
One area where we’d like to see improvement. Roethlisberger still gets frustrated at times and either takes a sack or throws an interception when a checkdown is there or a throw-away would suffice. He’s a gambler, which doesn’t bode well for decision-making points. Would like to see his internal clock in the pocket move faster too.
Roethlisberger has a tendency to deliver the ball from different angles depending on the pressure and whether or not he’s moving. He does a great job of using his body to generate power into his throws and is one of the more accurate passers on the move because of his lower body being squared up when throwing.
Roethlisberger isn’t exceptionally fast, but he’s very tough to bring down when on the move. With 240 pounds of momentum, he’s a force in the open field. An underrated aspect of his game is the ability to move laterally and deliver the pass on the move.
Some may want to discredit Roethlisberger for injuries, but when healthy, he was one of the game’s best and most consistent quarterbacks in 2012. From a mechanics and talent standpoint, he grades out very high in all categories.
Roethlisberger was No. 4 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
7. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
When we looked at accuracy this year, it was tough to not be impressed with Robert Griffin (6'2", 217 pounds, one season). When standing in the pocket, Griffin showed great touch and timing on passes to all areas of the field. He displayed all the tools to throw in every situation. However, no one was better than RGIII when throwing under pressure. When asked to improvise or throw on the move, Griffin’s accuracy shot up another level and became something unreal.
Griffin is known for having a powerful arm—even if that means he’s a little too hot at times when throwing underneath. There’s no doubting that Griffin can spin the ball with the best of them, but his development will actually entail learning when to take some heat off the ball at times.
For a rookie, you can’t complain about RGIII’s decision making. One thing we noticed in charting the games was that the Redskins aren’t asking him to throw a ton of passes downfield unless it’s off play-action or when a play breaks down and he’s forced out of the pocket. However, his low number of interceptions is as much a credit to smart play-calling as his decision making. That said, RGIII has done a great job of making smart reads in the team’s zone-read packages, and he’s able to make downfield reads that few rookies have in the past.
You can’t evaluate RGIII without making note of two things—his quick release and the way he keeps his eyes downfield, no matter the situation. These both factor into how good Griffin is under pressure and are a big reason for his overall success. Young quarterbacks have a habit of watching the pass rush, but Griffin keeps his eyes “up” and surveys the coverage. That’s why he’s able to be such a high-percentage passer under pressure.
A deadly runner who is used on various designed runs. Griffin can also be equally terrifying for defenses when his receivers are covered and he has to create on his own. Teams consistently attempted to spy RGIII with linebackers and safeties, but he was still able to pick up yardage on the ground. One of the best running quarterbacks in the NFL.
Griffin did some unprecedented things as a rookie starter. His athlete-passer combination makes for an exciting blend every Sunday. From a talent standpoint, he has the tools to be the best in the NFL. The key will be developing his decision making to further open up the offense and finding ways to protect him from injury. If the Redskins can do this, the road will be paved for Griffin to keep moving up the rankings.
6. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco (6'6", 245 pounds, five seasons) is unique in that he's most accurate on downfield throws. When asked to push the ball past the 20-yard range, he’s at his best. When throwing underneath, Flacco’s passes tend to sail high and wide, leaving receivers reaching for passes off their mark. I did see marked improvement over the course of the season in his ability to hit the seam route and deliver the ball with touch.
Has enough arm strength to hit on passes deep down the field but doesn’t always exhibit top-level velocity, especially on underneath throws. Flacco’s deep ball is a thing of beauty, though, and one of the best in the game.
Flacco had a low number of interceptions in 2012 due to more checkdowns and a safer approach to the offense—although that changed once Jim Caldwell took over as offensive coordinator. One of the rare quarterbacks who has better downfield vision than underneath.
Can tend to forget his feet and will throw without stepping into passes. When he does set up and throw, Flacco has pretty motion, with an over-the-top delivery and smooth release.
Isn’t a threat to run and can be a liability when pressured at times. Flacco did show better-than-expected ability to roll outside the pocket once Bryant McKinnie was inserted at left tackle.
Flacco was supposed to enter elite status this year, and after a solid playoff run, he’s probably close. The talent is there for Flacco to enter the next level. His ability to throw the deep ball is one of the best in the NFL, but he must work on becoming a better passer underneath and working to deliver a catchable ball to all areas of the field.
Flacco was No. 15 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees (6'0", 209 pounds, 12 seasons) has long been credited as having upper-level accuracy, but we saw a regression this year, especially when pressured. As the Saints' offensive tackles struggled, so did Brees. His accuracy tended to err on the side of passes going high, whereas before he was drilling receivers in the chest. The loss of protection on the outside limited Brees’ ability to step up in the pocket, which affected his accuracy.
Never his best asset, but Brees makes up for a less-than-elite arm with very good mechanics and great timing. Brees may lack arm strength, but he throws a beautiful deep ball because he knows to put air on the ball and let his receivers get under it. That knowledge separates him from players with physically stronger arms.
It’s tough to knock Brees for a decline in decision making, considering he was without Sean Payton all year, but it’s fair to note that Brees’ interceptions this year were an issue. Some of those can be attributed to tipped or dropped passes, but an elite quarterback shouldn’t have 19 interceptions.
Brees does a great job using his whole body when throwing, but what’s best about watching No. 9 throw the ball is his balance and agility. His feet are usually moving until the last second, but he still manages to get set and square his body with his feet, which sets him up to throw with power and accuracy.
The absolute best in the NFL at moving in the pocket to make throws and find passing windows. Brees is a very good athlete, and not only can he use that mobility to create passing windows, but he’s also a threat to get outside the pocket and pick up yards on the move.
Brees had one of his worst seasons in 2012, but he’s still performing at a high enough level to be considered an elite quarterback. His accuracy and mechanics are some of the best, as is his deep ball.
4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan (6'4", 217 pounds, five seasons) rarely misses the mark when he sets his feet and delivers the ball, but when he’s pressured, there are too many times when Ryan misses. That’s being very picky, as Ryan is one of the top passers in terms of completion percentage and ball placement. He’s one of the best, but cleaning up some issues under pressure could make him the best.
Has the arm strength to make every throw you’d ask of him. Does a great job pushing the ball deep and letting his receivers run under it. Can struggle a bit when asked to fire the ball deep and to his left—often a problem area for right-handed quarterbacks. Nearly flawless in this area.
Ryan has a habit of throwing the ball up late in the play and asking his receiver to make a play on the ball, which too often results in interceptions. He must become more decisive when pressured.
A classic, prototypical throwing motion gives Ryan high scores in mechanics. He looks like the statue of a quarterback in the pocket—shoulders squared to feet, ball shoulder level and weight balanced on each leg.
Not known as a scrambling quarterback, Ryan has average quickness for the position but better-than-average agility. He’s able to slide in and up in the pocket to find passing lanes and can pick up free yards when the defense backs off the line of scrimmage.
Ryan is close to that elite level of quarterback. There’s no doubting his raw talent, and mechanically he’s one of the best in the business, but there are still too many games where his interceptions hurt his team. That’s the biggest area of concern and the reason why Ryan isn’t scored higher.
Ryan was tied at No. 7 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning's ability to thread the ball between defenders is legendary. His overall accuracy in 2012 was high, with the only poor marks coming early in the season. Manning (6'5", 230 pounds, 15 seasons) can drive the ball on target—and make it catchable—like few others.
This was one area of Manning’s game that was slow to come back this season after missing all of 2011. As the year progressed, Manning’s strength came back, but where he used to be in the upper level of NFL velocity and strength, he’s now behind younger, stronger passers.
Manning was near-flawless in 2012, but the decision-making aspect of his game was slow to come back. The Atlanta Falcons confused and rattled him. So did the Cincinnati Bengals.
Manning’s greatness largely comes from his mechanics. No quarterback in the NFL sets his feet as well as Manning. His lower-body mechanics are textbook quality, with his legs driving the ball so he doesn't rely on just his arm strength to deliver the ball.
Manning lacks the speed to be a threat outside the pocket, and while he has good pocket presence, he is at his worst when teams bring heat against him. This is caused by a lack of foot speed and lower-body agility. Manning is an all-time great, but not when he's asked to move.
Manning’s 2012 season won’t go down as one of his best, but it should considering the odds he was playing against. It did take several weeks for Manning to get back to his normal self, but once he reached that level, the Denver offense became virtually unstoppable.
Manning was No. 12 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers’ accuracy grades out as almost the best in the NFL. Rodgers (6'2", 225 pounds, eight seasons) was a marksman in 2012, posting one of the highest completion percentages on both deep and intermediate passes. While Rodgers’ accuracy numbers may be lower than those of other quarterbacks, take away the dropped passes by his targets, and the numbers look much different.
Rodgers doesn’t have a big arm, but he does throw with high-level velocity. More of a touch passer than a quarterback who will rifle the ball through windows, but he can wind up and throw strikes when needed.
An expert at running the Green Bay offense, Rodgers does a great job getting his team in position to run the right plays. What Rodgers does under pressure and in the heat of the moment is unchallenged by most quarterbacks in the NFL.
Rodgers’ mechanics were reworked by the Packers early in his career, and it improved his throwing immensely. Those changes are still seen today, and his smooth mechanics, from top to bottom, are an example of what we want quarterbacks to look like. Rodgers is balanced, loose and throws with a smooth, over-the-top delivery.
An underrated runner who has the speed to make defenses pay if they leave running lanes. Rodgers doesn’t use his mobility as much to extend plays in the pocket, an area he needs to work on heading into 2013.
One of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Rodgers represents the new school of elite quarterbacks. He can run, he operates a wide-open offense that would rather throw a quick slant than hand the ball off and he’s deadly accurate.
Rodgers was No. 1 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
One of the most accurate passers to ever play the game, Tom Brady’s ability to thread the needle comes from his mechanics and his decision making. Put it all together, and you have a quarterback who rarely misses his mark.
Brady (6'4", 225 pounds, 13 seasons) has never been known to have a big arm, but he makes up for a lack of raw arm strength with great mechanics and timing. Watching Brady throw in the 10- to 20-yard range, you see ideal velocity on the football. His downfield passes aren’t rocket-launched, but he throws with good height, and his deep passes don’t lose velocity as they travel. That’s the mark of a strong arm, even if he doesn’t have Jay Cutler-like strength.
Close to perfect, but there are instances where Brady tries to force the ball too often. His eight interceptions in 2012 are a good indicator that he knows how to take care of the football, but there is room to improve. Too often we’ll see Brady fade from the line of scrimmage and toss the ball off his back foot—not a good decision, even if Wes Welker is there to bail him out most times. It’s picky, but if Brady could clean up this bad habit, he’d be ranked higher in this category.
Picture-perfect. From top to bottom, Brady’s mechanics are what you would teach every young quarterback. Brady has the ideal weight transfer in his throwing motion, using his hips to generate torque on the ball and stepping through throws with his back foot. You also see ideal ball placement before he releases the ball, as he keeps the football near shoulder height, cutting down on wasted motion and time in his delivery.
While Brady wouldn’t win a footrace against many NFL quarterbacks, he’s smooth in the pocket and able to use his feet to move up and around when pressured. He’s not fast, but he’s sneaky. Brady is able to extend the play well due to his quick feet, even if he’s not a threat to run outside the pocket.
Pound for pound, the best quarterback in the NFL when it comes to scouting traits. You can also look at production—whether that’s wins or just stats—and make a solid argument for Brady as the best in the game this season. When we talk about scouting young quarterbacks, Brady and Peyton Manning are the template by which all current and future quarterbacks will be graded. Brady gets the edge here due to better arm strength and slightly better mobility.
Brady was No. 2 in last year's B/R NFL 1,000 quarterback rankings.
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