If there is one thing that most fans love to hate and hate to love, it is the Power Rankings that get churned out on a weekly basis throughout the NFL regular season. Unless your team is consistently ranked in the Top 10, the writer of that particular article is typically deemed “an idiot” by those team’s fans. Hierarchically rating players is a fairly subjective measure, in general. Is it based purely off statistics, explosiveness, potential, or X, Y, or Z… ? I guess that is the fun of it!
So, in the spirit of the offseason, we at Ramblin’ Fan are going to make the first Power Ranking of positions within the NFC West. First, we will start with the most important position in football; the quarterback. So, without further ado, lets get started… I can already hear the outrage from fans.
1. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
252 for 393 passing, 64.1% completion%, 3118 yards, 26 TD, 10 INT, 33 sacks, 24 drops
Russell Wilson is not a better overall quarterback than Sam Bradford, but he has a system in Seattle that is formatted specifically for his style of play, and it shows on the field. With only 252 completions, Wilson managed over 3,000 passing yards, which is fairly impressive, and still led the NFC West with 26 passing touchdowns, tying the rookie record. Having a Marshawn Lynch running the football helps, but Wilson made it work offensively with mediocre talent on the outside. In fact, much like the Rams’ receiving corps, there wasn’t a single receiver in the Top 40, in terms of receiving yards. Assuming Percy Harvin can somehow manage to stay on the field, Wilson should put up significantly better passing numbers in his sophomore campaign.
2. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
328 for 551 passing, 59.5 completion%, 3702 yards, 21 TD, 13 INT, 36 sacks, 30 drops
Bradford is the best pure throwing quarterback in the division, and the race isn’t even close. Colin Kaepernick is a one-speed, gun-slinger and Wilson does not have the finesse or accuracy of Bradford, especially in the intermediate passing game. Bradford set a career high with 3,702 pass yards in 2012, on top of ending the season with a +8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. In fact, he led the division (among players throwing 250+ passes) with the lowest interception percentage, based off of attempts, with only 2.3% of this throws being picked off by the opposing defense. Between having actual weapons this season and being in the same offensive system for the first time in his career, Bradford is a dark-horse candidate to move into the upper tier of signal callers in the NFL in 2013.
Here is a fun number… outside of Rodger Saffold, who was taken 32 picks after Sam Bradford in the 2010 season, there are ZERO players on the offensive roster remaining from Bradford’s rookie season.
3. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
136 for 218 passing, 62.4 completion%, 1814 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT, 16 sacks, 19 drops
If a young quarterback could write a script for the start of their career, it would be getting handed the keys halfway through a season to a 6-2 team with, arguably, the best overall roster in the NFL; one that includes three first rounders on the offensive line, two first round skill players, in Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, and a Pro Bowl, potentially Hall-of-Fame running back, Frank Gore. How did he ever manage?
Outside of the threat of running with the football, Kaepernick proved to be a middle-tier passer in 2012. Much like the marks against Ryan Nassib in this year’s draft, Kaep showed difficulty in changing the “speed” of the ball, leading to a high number of “drops” and overthrows, especially on intermediate throws to the outside and on the deep ball. The 9ers’ replacement quarterback would end the season with only 10 passing touchdowns and 3 interceptions, with the second-highest rush percentage of any signal caller in the league (running on 9.2% of dropbacks). He also single-handedly gave St. Louis a win in Week 13, with a mind-boggling safety and an overthrown toss that led to a Janoris Jenkins touchdown. He played even worse in his one shot at Seattle, managing a mere 52.7% completion percentage, one touchdown, and one interception in the 42-13 rout. Going 1-2-1 in the division will not cut it next season…
Going to the Super Bowl does not make him an “elite” quarterback, it makes the San Francisco 49ers a great team… don’t get those twisted. He may have “rallied” the 49ers to a near-comeback against Baltimore, but he also led an offense that managed only 189 yard in the first half, including two punts, an interception, and only two field goals to put his team down 21-6 at halftime.
4. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
345 for 565 passing, 61.1 completion%, 4018 yards, 22 TD, 14 INT, 26 sacks, 39 drops
While Palmer arguably has the best stats from 2012, he is coming from Oakland in a pathetic AFC West, outside of the Denver Broncos. Palmer is going to have to AFC North flashbacks, or should I say nightmares, playing in an NFC West filled with at least three defenses that should be ranked in the Top 10 in 2013. Palmer is a few years over the hill, and even with Larry Fitzgerald on the roster, will likely not duplicate his +8 TD-to-INT mark from last season. Welcome to the NFC West Palmer… try not to end up like Alex Smith.