Each of the five major quarterback battles currently being waged in NFL training camps involve starting candidates that come packaged with both pros and cons.
Ahead of Week 1, the primary goal for the five coaching staffs is to find out which of their respective quarterbacks provides the best combination of short- and long-term pros and limited cons. It's arguably the biggest decision the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles will make before the 2013 season.
In the following slides, we'll address the pros and cons of each quarterback involved in a position battle this summer after studying each player last season (whether it was in the NFL or college).
The Buffalo Bills made two additions at quarterback this offseason after dumping former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Free agent Kevin Kolb was signed to a $6.1 million deal, and E.J. Manuel was drafted with the team's first-round pick. There doesn't appear to be a sizable edge for either quarterback at this point.
Pros: A young, moldable talent with ideal size (6'5", 237 pounds) and an NFL-ready arm, in both strength and accuracy. He's also a terrific athlete who could provide looks in the read-option early on. Long-term potential is through the roof.
Cons: His inconsistencies stem from still-developing mechanics and footwork. While accurate in the short-to-intermediate areas, his decision-making can be suspect on deeper throws. Raw. He could have a bumpy ride to start his career as he works through the kinks in his game.
Pros: A veteran with six years of NFL experience. He helped lead the Arizona Cardinals to an unexpected 4-0 start in 2012 but was later lost to an injury. His experience in up-tempo offenses could be a positive for Doug Marrone's style.
Cons: Injury prone, having missed 26 games over the last three seasons. Takes far too many sacks, even if he's played beyond some awful offensive lines. Limited arm strength. At 28-years-old, he may be nothing more than a season-to-season stop gap in the NFL.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cleaned house in the front office following the 2012 season, but the two quarterbacks that manned a two-win team last year remain. Jacksonville now hopes one of the two will step forward and claim the position long-term.
Pros: Possesses ideal quarterback size at 6'5" and 233 pounds. He can make all the big throws, regardless of whether it needs strength or touch. When given time in the pocket, he can flash starter-level skills, including downfield playmaking. Still young; he won't turn 24 until October.
Cons: Crumples in the face of pressure, as his decision-making without a clean pocket is questionable at best. Accuracy to all levels varies far too greatly (career 53.8 percent passer). Lacks ball security in traffic, as evidenced by his 19 fumbles in two seasons. Early on, flipping the field with big plays has been a struggle. Injury issues are starting to mount.
Pros: Built like Ben Roethlisberger and can be difficult to bring down inside the pocket because of his size. He gave the Jaguars a much needed spark last November with back-to-back games with a passer rating over 100.0. His 37 NFL starts has provided him ample experience in the lead role.
Cons: Despite several opportunities to hold down a starting job, he's been unable to stick. Consistency is his biggest issue (74.9 career passer rating). While able to hit on the big play, he's still more of a dink-and-dunker at this stage (6.8 yards per attempt in 2012). Being 28 years old doesn't limit him in anyway, but it's worth wondering if the rest of his NFL career will be spent backing up true No. 1 quarterbacks.
The New York Jets dumped the media circus that is Tim Tebow, which cleared the way for the arrival of second-round pick Geno Smith. Rex Ryan and Co. will now have to decide whether the polarizing veteran or raw rookie is the best answer to start at quarterback for 2013.
Pros: Experience as a starter isn't an issue, as he possesses 62 career starts since 2009. Also has playoff experience, going 4-2 in six postseason games. In the right situation (strong defense, special teams), he can be an effective game manager who doesn't win or lose games.
Cons: Turnover prone (26 in 2012; 18 interceptions, eight lost fumbles) and inaccurate (zero seasons over 60.0 completion percentage), while also lacking a go-to quarterbacking skill. His arm is only average and he isn't overly mobile in or out of the pocket. While a veteran of 62 career starts, he still makes rookie decisions.
Pros: His arm is NFL ready, especially in terms of strength, and his touch can be very good, too. His athleticism is a strength, and it should allow him to be a mobile and accurate passer on the run at the NFL level. While operating a spread offense in college, he does arrive with three years of starting experience at a major program. In the absolute best case scenario, he's a poor man's Aaron Rodgers.
Cons: He's making the adjustment from a wide open college attack to a pro-style offense. Like most young quarterbacks, his footwork and internal clock need re-adjusting early on. He was prone to fumbles in college (32 in his career) and can struggle against pressure.
The Oakland Raiders are currently in a transition period, as general manager Reggie McKenzie attempts to clean up the mess he originally inherited last offseason. With a fluctuating roster, many positions are up for grabs. At the quarterback, however, Oakland is likely to feature either Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryor as the starter. Rookie Tyler Wilson is falling down the depth chart and is not expected to factor into the race to start in Week 1.
Pros: He has made the most of his limited starting time, which includes a near upset of the New England Patriots in 2010 and a record-breaking performance to end the 2011 season against the Detroit Lions. With weapons around him, he can be an accurate and reliable distributor of the football. While he doesn't have the strongest arm in the business, all the throws are still within his capabilities. His football smarts will allow a quick digestion of the playbook.
Cons: His limited arm strength might become an issue, especially on throws down the field. Was he a product of superior weapons in Green Bay or progressing quarterback talent? It's a question worth asking, especially after he failed to beat out Russell Wilson last August. He'll need a creative passing game to stay consistently productive.
Pros: One of the game's superior athletes at the quarterback position, especially for his size (6'6", 233 pounds). In an era featuring the read-option offense, he could thrive. He is understandably hard to bring down in and out the pocket. Down-the-field arm strength is a real positive.
Cons: His inaccuracy with the football has stuck with him as a legitimate question mark. For a quarterback that likes to move around, his ability to place passes on the run is below average. In Year 3, he's still mastering the fundamentals of the quarterback position, like consistent mechanics and footwork.
The first year in the Chip Kelly era will begin with either Michael Vick, a 12th-year veteran, or Nick Foles, a third-round pick from the 2012 NFL draft, taking snaps at quarterback. Rookie Matt Barkley is the third quarterback in the mix but isn't likely to be taking the snaps in Week 1.
Pros: He all but reinvented the position early in his career with speed, acceleration and a rocket left arm. Much of those athletic abilities still remain. When a play breaks down, few can find space and fling a football quite like he can. His running ability could be very appealing for a run-based, read-option offense like Chip Kelly's.
Cons: Decision-making and accuracy have become serious issues that need be fixed for the Eagles to have a chance. Far too often, his mistakes have been the difference between wins and losses. Injuries are also another red flag, especially for a quarterback who runs around and gets hit as much as he does. His ball security could improve greatly.
Pros: He stands tall in the pocket at 6'5" and 243 pounds. His accuracy in Year 1 finished at nearly 61 percent, which is a solid number for a first-year starter. Flashed the ability to make quick, sound decisions. He certainly could survive in a more up-tempo offense, but it's worth wondering how his athleticism would translate in Kelly's offense. In 2012, he looked more poised and confident at the position than his chief rival this summer.
Cons: His arm is good enough for the NFL, but it's not a defining characteristic for him. Neither is his mobility, or lack there of. There won't be any significant package of read-option plays with him at quarterback.