Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Jul 2007

FO Ranks All 32 Teams for 2007: Quarterbacks

Yes, it's time for that fun debate, ranking all 32 teams at every position. What, you say, some other website is doing this same thing? Ah, yes, but FOX has been doing this for years, and this is the second year that they've left Football Outsiders in charge. We have an "Inc." in our name, too, even if the only people who ever see it are our accountant and the IRS. Even better, this year's articles feature the always fun FOX reader comments. Mike Tanier kicks things off for 2007 with quarterbacks, led by you know who, followed by you know who.

The rest of the schedule for this week: WR/TE on Tuesday (Bill Barnwell), RB on Wednesday (Alex Carnevale), and OL on Thursday (Michael David Smith). Next week: DL on Monday (Ned Macey), LB on Tuesday (Doug Farrar), DB on Wednesday (Aaron Schatz), ST on Thursday (Ryan Wilson), and coaches on Friday (Mike Tanier again). Please note that while we discussed the rankings among the whole staff, the final ranking at each position is determined by the writer of each column, and doesn't represent groupthink. To keep things fresh, nobody is writing the same position as 2006.

This series also means the end of our slow summer. The content will start to rev up again over the next two weeks.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 15 Jul 2007

38 comments, Last at 29 Jul 2007, 10:42pm by Chris


by jebmak (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 4:34pm

Ugh, the homers took no time at all in misunderstanding the premise of the article and otherwise just acting stupid. Kinda funny as usual. OH, and not a bad article either.

by Brian (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 4:42pm

I like Leinart's month-by-month breakout of his completion percentage. Interesting.

Why are people so down on Green? He's a year older, and had an off-year in '06, but does that really mean he falls off a cliff in '07?

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 5:12pm

A.J. Feeley and Kevin Kolb represent the best QB depth in the league? Feeley had 1 good game last year in week 17 vs. ATL, yeah, but he didn't play at all in 05, and in 11 starts in 04 posted a -20.5% DVOA. Kolb might be good in the future, but he to spend time on things like taking snaps, dropping back, etc., as well as learning the offense. If he's forced into action I can't imagine him being productive, at least for this year.

Also, given how we've seen two QBs come back from ACL injuries last year with very different results (Culpepper and Palmer), I'm weary of assuming McNabb will be as effective in 07 as he was in 06. Not that it isn't possible, just that it isn't a sure bet.

Isn't Kerry Collins an odd backup for Vince Young? They are two QBs who play in completely opposite styles, I'd think you'd need two different playbooks.

by sam (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 5:24pm

Titans over Jaguars? Are you kidding me? Now that there is good tape of him out there, defenses are going to kill him. Look at how he played against decent defenses last year.

against JAX
23/51 for 248 yards, 1 TD to 3 INTs passing. 8 rushes for 18 yards, no TDs, 2 Fumbles.

as the game against Baltimore went on, they were able to contain VY quite nicely--yielding no points to him in the 2nd half.

New England had no problem containing this miracle of modern athleticism.

Let's see... 2 games against Houston's shoddy D, Buffalo's mediocre defense... Indy's horrid defense... Washington's league-worst defense... Dallas had a middle-of-the-pack unit and had no trouble, though that was early-on.

Yeah, he "beat" Philly... but the same way he "beat" Jacksonville. TEN had a punt-return-TD and a fumble-return-TD, as well as a 70-yard rushing TD. In fact, the only good game he had against a good defense was the New York Giants game. THAT'S IT! He'll never be a decent passer with that throwing motion and inability to read defenses.

So again, if you guys really do think so highly of Byron Leftwich, I don't see how you can put the Titans ahead of Jacksonville. Man, behind the Colts, the AFC South QBs aren't so great...

by langsty (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 5:28pm

Falcons behind the Bears... ooof. :( not that I can really argue with it at this point, but I'm still holding out hope for a newer, better MV to be on the field this year. great writeup tho, Tanier is probably my fav football writer at the moment.

by langsty (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 5:33pm

I like VY's chances of being a good QB a few years down the road, simply because he's known to have a really good work ethic. guys like Vick never fulfilled their potential because they always had to be pushed just to do the bare minimum to get by. i think that's usually the biggest difference between the succesful QBs and the busts, which is why I think Jamarcus will probably not turn out that well (dude is lazy as hell).

by morganja (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 6:25pm

Does DVOA take into account that the panthers average 3rd down was 55 yards to go, one receiver, and that their Offensive Coordinator had all the subtly of Paris Hilton?

I think Delhomme will have a top 10 year with this new offensive system. I mean was anyone asked to do more with so little than Delhomme last year? How did Weinke do in the same system?

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 6:45pm

I like Tanier's style but I think this list is going to look pretty silly by January. Losman, Smith and Campbell are especially too low.

This list does show the paucity of elite quarterbacks in the NFL at the moment. Manning, Brady, McNabb, Brees Bulger and a bunch of schmoes. (is that how you spell schmo?)

by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 6:53pm

#8: "This list does show the paucity of elite quarterbacks in the NFL at the moment. Manning, Brady, McNabb, Brees Bulger and a bunch of schmoes."

Well, you can only have 5 QBs in the top 5, you know.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 7:05pm

I liked the breakdown of completion percentage by month for Leinart showing his improvement. The same thing is true for his draft classmate, Vince Young.

Young's QB rating by month:
September 56.4
October 61.6
November 67.2
December 72.0

Leinart's QB rating by month:
October 66.9
November 73.2
December 85.2

Young's passing numbers lag behind Leinart's, primarily because he loves scrambling in the redzone (and he's good at it.) I'm willing to admit that these trends might not be as meaningful as they look - there could be scheduling involved, or plain dumb luck, but it seems like they're going to be good next year.

Even if Young falls off a little, I can't imagine his numbers being worse than his rookie year's numbers, because he won't have that awful September to weigh him down.

As for ranks: I think the Seahawks are a little high, the Redskins are low, the Chiefs are high, and I have no idea what to do with the Jaguars.

by Gonzo (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 7:58pm

All I can say is that the Vikings' quarterbacks will be better than where this article has them ranked.

Yes, I realize that, based on the article, it's impossible for them to be any WORSE than they're currently ranked, but I'm one of 5 people on the planet that thinks Tarvaris Jackson can make it in this league. Of course, with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor slamming the ball down the opposition's throat 35-40 times a game, the Vikings' QBs won't have to be great. They'll just have to not be. . .well. . .Brad Johnson.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 8:10pm

This list does show the paucity of elite quarterbacks in the NFL at the moment. Manning, Brady, McNabb, Brees Bulger and a bunch of schmoes. (is that how you spell schmo?)


by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 8:19pm

I last made these arguments in the NFC North Four Downs thread. I have nothing against Tarvaris Jackson, but I have a lot of reason to doubt he'll ever become a successful quarterback.

We don't have a pro career of any significance to look at, but we can look at his college career. He rode the bench his first year at Arkansas, but his second year he couldn’t beat Matt Jones (who was the same age) out for a starting job. Jones easily won the job because he was the far better quarterback. That’s not good, especially since Jones was clearly not an NFL-caliber passer.

Jackson transfered to a Division I-AA school where he could start. In Division I-AA, he started three years, which is pretty good, but he completed 54.7% of his passes, which is terrible.

David Lewin’s research found a strong correlation between completion percentage and NFL success in 1st and 2nd round quarterbacks. And Jackson has one of the worst completion percentages of this decade in that group. Here’s a list of all QBs since 1997 from rounds 1 or 2 who completed less than 57% of their passes:

Quincy Carter 56.6%
Akili Smith 56.6%
Michael Vick 56.5%
Cade McNown 55.5%
Shaun King 55.5%
Jake Plummer 55.4%
Joey Harrington 55.2%
Marques Tuisasopo 54.9%
Tarvaris Jackson 54.7%
Jim Druckenmiller 53.8%
Ryan Leaf 53.8%
Kyle Boller 47.8%

Jake Plummer is the best passer on the list. Who’s the second best? Michael Vick? Joey Harrington? That list looks pretty damning, especially since those other guys at least put up their poor completion percentages in Division I-A.

The best counterargument people offered in the NFC North thread was that Jackson was the last pick of the 2nd round, so he's only barely within the constraints of Lewin's study. But if you look at 3rd round quarterbacks, you find that they pretty much all suck.

Jonathan Quinn. Brian Griese. Brock Huard. Giovanni Carmazzi. Chris Redman. Josh McCown. Dave Ragone. Chris Simms. Matt Schaub. Charlie Frye. Andrew Walter. David Greene. Charlie Whitehurst. Brodie Croyle.

Most of those guys suck, and there are a few borderline guys who don't suck as much as the others. But even the borderline non-sucky guys had better completion percentages than Jackson did. Griese was a career 58% passer at Michigan. Schaub's completion percentage approached the 70s at Virginia.

Frankly, I don't think there has been a successful NFL QB in the modern era who posted a completion percentage as poor as Jackson's. I will be astonished if the Vikings aren't shopping for a new QB by 2008.

by TheDudeAbides (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 9:29pm

As a lifelong KC fan, I think Tanier has the Chiefs and Dolphins exactly backwards.
First, systems like KC, Minnesota, and Baltimore are not quarterback friendly. There may be low expectations for the QB, but that's not the same thing. Ask Kyle Boller what it's like to be the obvious weakness on an otherwise playoff caliber squad. This year that role will be played by Tarvaris Jackson and Brodie Croyle. Soon both teams will be looking for their caretaker QBs like McNair. The Chiefs have theirs (which I guess is the reason for their bloated ranking), which actually puts them in a worse position than Minnesota, because Chiefs fans are going to be begging for Huard all season. Then the Chiefs will yank Croyle just when he's starting to get the hang of things (like the Ravens did with Boller).

The Dolphins have a great QB situation because they have an elderly, elite QB in a system he already knows, and a young QB to play in a year or two. The Chiefs have a horrible situation because they have poorly defined roles. They're going about it backwards: a young guy who isn't ready backed up by a cult figure in Huard who isn't anything more than a backup but will look like a scorned Christ-figure after Croyle knocks KC out of the playoff race in the first month.

Or maybe he won't. After all, they start out with Schaub, Grossman, and Jackson, possibly the three worst QBs in the league (if you assume the Browns and Raiders actually belong to that new league Mark Cuban is starting). KC could start the season with three straight 0-0 ties.

Tanier talks about the Lewin projection system with other players, but he neglects it in connection with Croyle. While Tanier mentions that Croyle is an athletic, strong-armed QB with a head for the game, he ignores the fact that Croyle is short (which factors humorously in the Vikings bio) and Lewin projects him as an out-and-out bust.

I realize the ranking is based on all the QBs on your roster, but I think you should actually be downgraded if the backup is significantly better for the starter. And if the guy you traded for a conditional mid-round draft pick is better than both your starter and your backup, well, that should require a special ranking area, possibly subtitled "Team Probably GMed by Carl Peterson".

Here's hoping Tanier is right, because if the Chiefs legitimately have the QB ranking he gives them, they'll go 11-5 against their easy schedule.

by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Sun, 07/15/2007 - 9:38pm

I really, really don't understand how the Chiefs are ranked above the Broncos on this one. The Broncos have a better young QB prospect than the Chiefs, as well as a talented backup with NFL starting experience.

Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard are better than Jay Cutler and Patrick Ramsey?


by Andrew (A.B.) (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 12:31am

Kansas City seems about ten spots too high, especially when you look at what Mike Tanier has written about them.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 1:03am

Re: #9

Unless you are Peter King

by D (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 1:50am

Gotta love those reader comments below the article. What a scam these "outsider" clowns have going. If anyone "outside" of a family member actually paid money for this absurd drivel they should trade in their light saber.
Career forcast system...lol. Right up there with gutter maintenance programs for senior citizens. Shameless!
Great stuff.

by pharmboyrick (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 3:27am

I have read a few of these type of things and have seen Cutler(Denver) as high as 10 and on this as low as 21. Given that Cutler has yet to play a full season, I can understand some level of skeptisism but feel this ranking is way too low.

1. Cutler played well above average last year, throwing for about two TDs per game.

2. On the college projection system Cutler graded out comparably to Leinhert and Young. Don't forget he played for an over-matched Vandy team in the SEC and still graded well.

3. Shanahan has consistently got the most out of his QBs and usually puts them in a position to succeed given the talent and scheme that he has put together.

As far as KC goes, they are way too high. I do not think Croyle is near the prospect of Cutler AND KC has a back-up QB that has produced well, which has all the potential for a QB controversy. These situations often bring teams down, especially when the coach is annointing a player who has not yet earned the job.

I can not believe FO would fall for the Tony Romo hype, #11?

by pharmboyrick (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 3:47am

Looking at last year Plummer was #5 and Bulger was #17. Perhaps beyond the obvious: Manning, Brady, and McNabb(if healthy), all this stuff is a total CRAP-shoot.

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 7:54am

19 - Cutler is an acceptable prospect. However, your memory is wildly optimistic about him.

1. No, Cutler played significantly below average, at -7.4% DVOA. His passing performance was comparable to Vince Young (-8.1%), and might be called average for a rookie. Leinart (3.2%) blows them both out of the water. Yeah, I know, he has actual receivers.

2. Cutler only grades out comparably to Leinart and Young if you add in Lewin's belief he'll outperform his projection due to the statistics having been compiled at Vanderbilt. Cutler projects at 4.5 DPAR/G and Leinart at 6.41. Young predicts at 4.17, but that doesn't include rushing PAR.

by Eric P (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 9:57am

I like the post from the Fox comments that says you can't be a dynasty unless you win 3 in a row. The poster then goes on to say the last real dynasty was the 90s Cowboys.

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 10:22am

9,12: My point is that after the handful of very good quarterbacks, there doesn't seem to be a gradual progression down to the lesser players. Outside of the top six it seems that there is nothing but kids and journeyman-type veterans. Look at Tanier's list, Roethlisberger, McNair and Rivers in the top ten. Big Ben was toss last year, McNair doesn't look like he can throw more than 20 yards anymore and Rivers has barely played, was crap in december and has two of the best weapons in the game to help him out. Thre are so many young quarterbacks who the jury is still out on to make a valid qualitative analysis.

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 10:25am

"but I’m one of 5 people on the planet that thinks Tarvaris Jackson can make it in this league"

So that's you, Jackson, Jackson's mom, Childress and Jackson's sister (his Dad actually watches football and so doesn't think his son will make it).

Seriously, Jackson could be an average quarterback next year and it might not make a difference, his recievers are awful (as bad as Alex Smith's in his first year in SF)

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 11:35am

Well, the Phillies are a washout (10,000 losses?!!?!) so I'm glad to turn my attention again to a real sport.

Great article!

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 1:58pm

Good article. Glad to see football is coming soon.

I didn't even bother to read the comments there. I figured I'd just come back in a few days, take the dumbest post from this thread (from what I can tell, no one has even approached the Fox posters' quality yet), and dumb it down five or six times.

I guess that's the problem with posting an article on a mainstream site. You get mainstream comments. :)

Hey, I'm spoiled here. I know it ...

by PackerNation (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 2:24pm

I have to believe Green Bay's ranking of #16 is based more on Favre's career than on what he brings now. He's been near the bottom of the league in passer rating the last two years and these youngsters like Campbell, Leinart, Young, Losman, Smith are all improving.....Favre is not.

I actually would rate the Packers substantially lower at the QB position right now.....maybe more like 23rd or so.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 3:51pm

Favre was 13th in DPAR last year with pretty random guys like Ruvell Martin as his receivers. It's not like Favre sucks or anything.

by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 5:33pm

#27: "I have to believe Green Bay’s ranking of #16 is based more on Favre’s career than on what he brings now. He’s been near the bottom of the league in passer rating the last two years and these youngsters like Campbell, Leinart, Young, Losman, Smith are all improving…..Favre is not."

In the last 7 years, Favre has never posted a negative DVOA, and he's never had a DPAR below 16th in the league. He may not be as good next year, but his performance the last two years has been above average, in spite of age-related decline.

by PackerNation (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 6:25pm

#28 and #29.

I realize this is a footballoutsiders.com site, but I would point out that DPAR and DVOA, while good measures, are not the get-all and end-all of all measures. By YPA, AYPA, NFL passer rating, completion %, redzone efficiency, and 4th quarter and close rating he's been a well-below QB the past two years.

I like DPAR. I like DVOA. But I don't think they're the only two measures of quarterbacking that have any relevance.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 7:18pm

When you ask an average quarterback to throw 600 attempts in a year, it's going to get kind of ugly.

by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 8:30pm

#30: "I realize this is a footballoutsiders.com site, but I would point out that DPAR and DVOA, while good measures, are not the get-all and end-all of all measures."

No, but they are definitely a lot better than YPA, QB rating, or completion %.

Looking at his DVOA vs. VOA for the last two years, it becomes clear why conventional stats rate him as below average:

DVOA: 1.8%
VOA: -5.9%

DVOA: 4.0%
VOA: 2.4%

For both of the last two years, Favre has faced significantly above average pass defenses, so he should be expected to put up below average conventional stats if he performs at an average level.

Oh, and let's keep in mind that he's done this with Donald Driver as his one good receiver, an O-line breaking in two rookie guards, and running backs that have been, well, less than awe-inspiring, to say the least. I think if you take into account the defenses he's faced, and the personnel around him, he's easily been above average for the last two years.

by Moses (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 9:41pm

Repeating errors based on an incompetent writer's speculation (now become internet legend) doesn't lend credibility to an article. Nor does making wild statements about so-so-armed QBs having "great arms," when it's clear that "adequate" is closer to the mark.

And, please, Vince Young... If you're going to write nationally syndicated articles, please put down the crack pipe.

by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 9:46pm

Well, he's got to sneak Brett Favre into the top-5 somehow, so 6 top-5 QBs it is. ;)

by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2007 - 11:23pm

that is some serious hating on Jason Campbell.

Always fun to debate these things, but that doesn't really jibe with your own lewin ratings.

by asg (not verified) :: Tue, 07/17/2007 - 1:56pm

It's important to note that Lewin's system doesn't explain all of the variation between QB career progressions -- just 64%. If the other 36% of what determines how good a QB turns out is present in strength for Jay Cutler, and not so much for Leinart, then Cutler could have a better career regardless of his lower grade under the system.

by D (not verified) :: Tue, 07/17/2007 - 6:33pm

The new anti-spam word is "doofus". I like that.

by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 07/29/2007 - 10:42pm

13- Good call.

How is Alex Smith below Byron Leftwhich who shouldn't even be starting?