NFL 2008: Five Most Underrated Quarterbacks

Sean O'BrienCorrespondent INovember 21, 2008

In a league of Donovan McNabbs and Tony Romos, star power reigns supreme while leadership and skill seem to go mostly unnoticed. Teams that haven't made the postseason or lost in the first few rounds hardly gain the recognition they deserve, especially their quarterbacks.

Let's look at some of the top five most underrated quarterbacks in the league today.


5. Chad Pennington - Miami Dolphins

Criticized for having a weak arm and being "past his prime," Pennington was released by the New York Jets (the only team he has played for) in favor of Brett Favre. He was picked up by the lowly Miami Dolphins to try and give them some stability behind center.

Now, the Dolphins finally have a leader, a veteran they can turn to and a general on the battlefield.  Along with new coach Tony Sparano, Pennington has fueled Miami's resurgence, leading them to a 6-4 record.

Pennington has thrown eight touchdowns and five interceptions up to date and has completed 67 percent of his passes. 

First, nearly getting benched in favor of Kellen Clemens, and then getting released by NY definitely warrants his tag as underrated.


4. Shaun Hill - San Francisco 49ers

There is absolutely no reason J.T. O'Sullivan should have been started over Hill.  No reason at all. Hill started three games in 2007 and ended it with five TDs and a single interception. Thus far in '08 he has put up nearly identical numbers.

Hill has shown great poise in the pocket, despite the porous play of his offensive line, and doesn't try and force the ball nearly as much as O'Sullivan did. He also has a quicker release and better mobility.

I truly believe the 'Niners have a keeper in Shaun Hill and that if they can build off of him and Patrick Willis, they could sneak into the playoffs next year.


3. Matt Hasselbeck - Seattle Seahawks

After being Favre's understudy for two years in Green Bay, Hasselbeck became the starter for the Seattle Seahawks. Since then, he has been the undisputed leader of that offense and even carried the whole team to the playoffs in the 2007 season.

Hasselbeck has displayed great arm strength, patience and mobility in the pocket.  He has been to the Super Bowl once, but is yet to get a ring.

This year he and his team have been hampered by injuries and as a result they have played poorly.

Throughout his entire career, this quarterback hasn't been given enough credit for the things he has done.


2. Carson Palmer - Cincinnati Bengals

Could you imagine how good this guy would be if he were on a good team? I mean seriously, he has played exceptionally even though he's behind center for the Bungles.

The USC star rode his college success and brought it with him into the pros. 

Without him, the Bengals would be 10X worse.  He leads that team and is the shining star amongst a group of overpaid criminals. It's too bad injuries have kept him sidelined this year or Cincinnati would have beaten the Eagles, instead of forcing a tie.

One thing's for sure, he would have at least known a tie was a possibility, unlike Donovan McNabb.


1. Jeff Garcia - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Five years of playing solid football in San Francisco got him replaced. Short stints in Cleveland and Detroit looked to be his final days. 

Enter the year 2006.

Donovan McNabb goes down with yet another injury, and suddenly the playoff hopes of the Eagles look grim. Until second string quarterback Jeff Garcia walks on to the field.

In the eight games Garcia started for the Philadelphia Eagles, he threw 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He compiled a QB rating of 95.8 and completed over 60 percent of his passes, even leading his team to a playoff win.

What does he get for such great play? He gets shafted.

Instead of Philly keeping him around to backup McNabb, they traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In 2007, he had a great year as the Bucs starter. Once again, he led his team to the playoffs (though he would lose to the eventual Super Bowl champs in the first round).

Garcia has the mobility of a college quarterback, despite his age, and on multiple occasions will scramble for a first down instead of forcing a throw. He plays at a frantic pace and leads his team by example.

What does Jon Gruden do with his playoff quarterback? Benches him in favor of Chicago reject Brian Griese. Thats the worst decision I've ever seen Gruden make in his tenure as an NFL head coach, and that, my friends, is why he is the No. 1 most underrated quarterback in the league.