The label “Franchise Quarterback” is thrown around too often these days. Just because a player is a starter for his team and they might make the playoffs occasionally does not mean he’s a “Franchise Quarterback.” The purpose of this countdown is to pick the quarterback with the best chance to turn a team into a Team of the Decade (i.e. win as many Super Bowls as possible in a 10-year stretch).
Why use a decade? Because we’re using ages 25-35 as a quarterback’s prime. I’m also using 38 as the end of a career. I realize a QB could win a Super Bowl after 38, but for the purposes of this exercise, that’s the oldest a player could win one. Coincidentally, the oldest to win one is John Elway – at 38 – in Super Bowl XXXIII.
Why did I say “turn a team into a Team of the Decade” instead of “turn HIS team into one?” Because I’m doing my best to remove a player’s surrounding factors from his evaluation. Stats only tell part of the story – as do the players surrounding a QB.
Here are the factors I will consider:
– Age (at the beginning of the 2012 NFL season)
– Years Experience (including the current 2011 season)
– Attributes (size, speed, overall skill – again, trying to keep this independent of surrounding players)
– “Intangibles” (which I don’t know how to explain because, by definition, they’re not tangible)
This will be a multi-part series that includes 40 quarterbacks – 33 from the NFL and 7 from college football. Not every team is included as some QBs simply weren’t considered skilled enough or were too old to turn their careers around and win multiple titles in a short window.
John Beck (age: 35 / years: 5)
Jason Campbell (30/6)
Matt Cassel (30/7)
Rex Grossman (32/9)
Shaun Hill (32/7)
Tarvaris Jackson (29/7)
Matt Moore (28/5)
Curtis Painter (27/3)
Alex Smith (28/6)
Charlie Whitehurst (30/6)
The “master” list originally began at 50. All ten players who didn’t make the cut are currently on NFL rosters. The college players included in future posts are all young enough to be given a chance. In no particular order (except alphabetical), these were the ten I immediately eliminated by laughing at the prospect of them ever sniffing a Super Bowl – let alone multiple rings.
You’ll Have a Job as Long as There are 32 Teams
40. Peyton Manning (age: 36 / years: 14)
39. Chad Henne (27/4)
38. Vince Young (29/6)
37. Kellen Moore* (23/0)
36. Jake Locker (24/1)
35. Kevin Kolb (28/5)
34. Brandon Weeden* (28/0)
*Current College Player
Let’s just get that guy out of the way quickly. For the record, I don’t believe Peyton ever returns even close to what he used to be – if at all. Even if he does, we’re looking at two years based on the parameters of this exercise. It was purely out of respect for his career that he wasn’t in the previous list – even though the purpose of this exercise is to look forward.
We also see our first college players in this section. Both are fantastic college QBs and are on this list for different reasons. Moore simply lacks the arm strength of an NFL QB capable of making every throw. Weeden’s draft stock is basically a real-life case study of the purpose of this article. He has first round gifts, but he’s already three years into his “prime” with no NFL bumps and bruises from which to learn. Teams don’t like taking 28 year-old players because they’re not going to get a full career out of guys that age.
An Exciting Year Does Not a Career Make
33. Ryan Fitzpatrick (age: 29 / years: 7)
32. Kirk Cousins* (24/0)
31. Robert Griffin III* (22/0)
30. Colt McCoy (25/2)
29. Blaine Gabbert (22/1)
28. Tim Tebow (25/2)
27. Ryan Tannehill* (24/0)
This grouping is where a level I’d describe as mild, inconsistent, semi-excitement begins to rear its mediocre head. All of these guys can bring some positives to the table, but I don’t see any of them being a championship QB. They could make nearly $60M in one seemingly-too-large contract though if they lead a team that’s been miserable for a decade to 4 early-season wins.
The college guys not in the top 15 of overall prospects are the toughest to rate here. Cousins has NFL tools but has never been consistent. Griffin’s upside is crazy, but he wasn’t being considered a true NFL talent until this year, and while he’s being ranked as a potential first-rounder, it remains to be seen how he’ll play in Baylor’s bowl game and rate at the pro day’s and NFL Combine. Tannehill is perhaps the most under-the-radar. He has only played QB for just over a year after converting from wide receiver. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was a top-20 (or better) guy if I were to re-visit this list in 4-6 months after watching more of him.
Colt McCoy simply doesn’t have the NFL size or arm strength to be elite. I love his winner’s mentality, but if he and Tebow were houses, they wouldn’t exactly have cathedral ceilings. Ironically enough, McCoy may be the only QB short enough that he wouldn’t have to duck to walk under his low “ceiling.”
Part II – where some legitimate arguments will start – is coming soon.