Josh Freeman Among Top Quarterbacks Under 25
One of the most scrutinized positions in all of sports has to be the quarterback position. We dissect, analyze until we are blind, and then analyze once again. I don't know about you, but this past draft season, these draft pundits drove me crazy with all of their banal analysis of these young kids.
Over the years we have seen quarterbacks who were projected to be the next Johnny Unitas turn into Johnny Nobody. Then we've seen "Who?" turn into Tom Brady.
Brady gave hope to quarterbacks drafted in the sixth round. Even crazier is the notion that some general managers out there believe the guy they waited on for five rounds could be someone who is going to win three Super Bowls before 30. Or, I should say ex-general managers.
Okay, so let's get to this latest analysis. Josh Freeman was pick 17 in the 2009 draft and has blossomed into one of the NFL's top quarterbacks under 25. Here is a look at him and five others that are/could be on their way to successful NFL careers.
The order of slides is based on three QB's from the class of 2009, and then three from the class of 2010.
Each class is in no particular order.
The Buc Stops Here
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What is there not to say about Josh Freeman. He has been a godsend for the Bucs, and honestly, to most outsiders, a gamble that has thus far paid off.
If the Bucs failed on Freeman or vice versa, depending on how you want to look at it, the franchise would have been set back several years, but due to the emergence of this dynamic young man, the Bucs are in the thick of the NFC South, and we ain’t talkin’ the humid south.
Offensively, there is a very good nucleus with Freeman, Williams, Winslow, and the surprise emergence of Blount at RB; although I was curious as to the Locker (TE) and Hardy (TE/WR?) selections. I understand Locker, but taking hardy seems like a wasted pick in a way. He either needs to drop 10-15 pounds and becomes a big, strong receiver, or he gains another 10 and becomes that blocking TE.
Freeman’s numbers have been impressive so far: last year, he had completed 62% of his passes, 25 TD’s to 6 INT’s, and more than 3,400 yards. He had a QB rating of 95.9, which was 6th in the NFL. That was better than Matt Schaub and Peyton Manning, both of whom went to the Pro Bowl also.
The only real issue at this point is Freeman had the second lowest among the top ten in Yards Per Game, so that would seem to indicate short pass completions.
The sky is the limit for Freeman and he has a chance to implant himself in pewter for years to come.
MMMMMMarky and the Jets
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Sorry, couldn't resist the reference to "Benny and the Jets" song by Sir Elton John.
Mark Sanchez: It’s hard to argue with a kid who has led his team to two consecutive AFC championship games.
Sanchez’ numbers don’t overwhelm you. His 70.2 QB rating is not enough to send shockwaves through the news wires, but his overall numbers are solid, and he provides a steady leadership for an offense that is overshadowed by its defense.
His sophomore campaign was a step up, with all categories and stats improving. His YPG average, completion percentage, TD-INT ratio was better and his rating rocketed 12.3 points.
I think it’s tough to say if Sanchez is the next Brady, Manning, or Brees for that matter, but what the Jets have is a solid leader, who as he matures, will improve not only himself, but the offense as well. The key for the Jets is to keep the weapons on offense for Sanchez to have an opportunity to succeed.
My only concern about Sanchez is that I would like to see his completion percentage go up. Right now, he hovers in that 54% range. I would like to see him get closer to 60%. That is what keeps the chains moving, and that is what makes for a long NFL career.
A Lion of a QB
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Matt Stafford: This is a tough one. Stafford certainly possesses all the tools tangible and intangible that an organization would want in a QB.
In two years, Stafford has only played in 13 games, and so far has not been able to accumulate any “real” stats that extend an entire season. So far here are the numbers:
2,800 yards, 55% completion rate, 19 TD’s and 21 INT’s with a 67.1 rating.
Stafford’s most memorable game was Week 11 in 2009 versus Cleveland where he threw for 422 yards and led his team to a last minute victory, the now infamous shoulder game.
The team and fans realized what they had in Stafford, and hopefully the young man can stay healthy so he can show why he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2009 draft.
One would have to wonder what his stats and where the Lions would be if he had stayed healthy up to this point.
Soon to Be "Ram"ming It Down Opposing Defenses Throats
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Sam Bradford: Rookie Bradford quickly laid to rest skeptics who questioned his durability or arm strength.
Bradford will be 24 in November, and is going to be a very solid quarterback for years to come. In his rookie campaign he did the following:
3,500 yards passing, 60% completion rate, 18 TD’s and 15 INT’s, and a 76.5 rating.
Given the youth of the Rams and lack of weapons Bradford’s numbers don’t overwhelm you, but suffice to say, it was good enough to earn Rookie of the Year honors.
Bradford showed the ability to bring his team back in several games, and they nearly won the division, albeit the weakest in the NFL.
With the addition of three WR’s and a TE via the draft, the Rams look to be moving in the right direction, and they have a solid signal caller in the former Sooner.
I believe that it is only a matter of time before we start adding Bradford's name to the list of top NFL QB's.
It's "Tebow" Time
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Tim Tebow: There is no doubt that Tim Tebow is kind of like religion, no pun intended, you either believe or you don’t.
I don’t think anyone questions Tebow’s heart, passion, or commitment to and for the game, now whether that translates into being a quality NFL quarterback is the $64,000 question.
Last year people got a brief glimpse of the good and bad Tebow.
This year the Broncos face an enormous dilemma. Do they trade Orton and say it’s time for Turboman to come out and announce, “it’s Tebow Time”? Get it, Turboman from Jingle All the Way. Eh, forget about it.
Two scenarios here, if the Broncos keep Orton then start the guy and design certain packages for Tebow, and none of that “wildcat” crap. This will allow the continued grooming of Tebow.
Or two, trade Orton and be done with any controversies and say, we’re committed to Tebow and that’s that.
My gut feeling is in 2013 we will be talking about Tebow Time, but the meaning then will be about his leading his team to late game victories, and possibly a playoff berth.
This Ain't No Pickle You're Talking About
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Jimmy Clausen: Okay, before you start hitting the reply button remember the title. I only have so many choices, but I will make the case for Jimmy.
Clausen was/is in a poor to worse situation in Carolina. His running backs were in and out of the lineup more than Lawrence Taylor was in and out of hotels with hookers. Plus, they have one receiver in Carolina worth anything and he’s as volatile as dynamite with a fire nearby.
Put Clausen in a better situation and I guarantee you he will be a quality QB; maybe not great, but solid.
I am not going to post his numbers here because they are too few to compare to anything. Suffice to say, Jimmy Clausen will most likely get traded, and hopefully to a decent team where he will have a chance to fight for the starting job.
By the way, if I am Jimmy I am pissed off. If I stay a Panther, I will do everything in my power to give fans and coaches a reason for me to start, and if I am traded then good riddance and kiss my twin cheeks.
The Sky Is the Limit
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Final Analysis: These six QB’s all offer a different dynamic to the team they play for. Some are big, fast, strong, runner types, while others are pretty slick pocket passers. One thing the NFL has shown is that there is no one recipe for success at that position.
I have a lot of confidence in all of these young men, and they are great representatives of the greatest sport on earth. I wish them all continued success until they play my team, at least for that week, or two weeks per year.
When I was putting this together, I had no idea that I picked three QB’s from both the 2009 (Stafford, Sanchez, Freeman) and 2010 (Bradford, Tebow, Clausen) drafts. So, that gets me to thinking, 2011 had five QB’s go in the first and second rounds: Newton, Gabbert, Locker, Ponder, Dalton, and Kaepernick. I wonder which of these I will be talking about next year, or will any even crack the list of top QB’s under 25?