This marks the second annual Jaws’ Quarterback Countdown List. ESPN NFL analysts Ron Jaworski assess the presumable starting quarterbacks from every NFL team ranking them from no. 32, all the way until he reaches the top of the leaderboard at no. 1.
Jaws breakdowns every single element that a capable QB should possess, such as mechanics, pocket awareness, accuracy, arm strength, leadership quality, win-and-loss record, mental make up, pre-snap reads, the whole nine yards. He even accounts for injuries and the misfortunes of franchises like poor draft history and ill-advised free agent pickups that could stunt the growth of a quarterback.
Here is the list of Jaws’ QB list thus far:
32. Matt Flynn/OAK (Might get beaten out by rookie QB Tyler Wilson)
31. Jake Locker/TEN
30. Kevin Kolb/BUF (First-round pick and 16th overall selection E.J. Manuel will get the nod)
29. Chad Henne/JAC (Not much of an upgrade over incumbent Blaine Gabbert, but indeed an upgrade)
28. Mark Sanchez/NYJ (HC Rex Ryan is hellbent on being right about Sanchez, but Geno Smith will see the field)
27. Christian Ponder/MIN
26. Brandon Weeden/CLE
25. Michael Vick/PHI
24. Ryan Tannehill/MIA
23. Carson Palmer/ARI
22. Sam Bradford/STL
21. Josh Freeman/TB
20. Alex Smith/KC
19. Andy Dalton/CIN
18. Cam Newton/CAR
As you can see, Jaworski has Bradford ranked in the lower portion of the probable starting NFL quarterbacks, falling two spots down from no. 20 in his 2012 rankings. Here is what Jaws said of Bradford’s ranking:
A lack of efficiency in the red zone. Too many interceptions. And it’s a red zone game. You can’t be a high level quarterback if you can’t execute there. Bradford at times still struggles with basic blitz concepts that a player with his experience level should understand.
While I understand the argument against the blitz concepts to an extent, Jaws’ evaluations tell half of the story. Part of the “lack of efficiency in the redzone” came from defenses loading up the box to stop former Rams’ running back Steven Jackson. Though the Rams’ former bruiser only accounted for four touchdowns, they all came within 7 yards from the end zone. The running game of St. Louis has produced the fewest amount of touchdowns the last three seasons.
Another reason that correlates to Bradford redzone efficiency is the targeting of Brian Quick. St. Louis threw seven interceptions within the opponents 30 yard line, Bradford tossed 6 and Kellen Clemens threw one of his own in garbage time against the Patriots. Three of the seven interceptions came when targeting Quick. This could be because of his developing route-running and his area-of-the-field placement.
From a talent stand point, Bradford could easily become at top-10 quarterback this season with his newly acquired weapons at his disposal. Bradford should be rated above all the quarterbacks on this current list. The only QB that is difficult to argue against is Newton. Other than Freeman’s highly praised sophomore season when he threw 25 TDs to only 6 INTs, he has thrown for a total of 57 interceptions in three of four seasons, before Smith reclamation project with Jim Harbaugh, the bust label was waltzing around the former no. 1 overall pick, while Dalton has enjoyed reaching the playoffs in the last two seasons, he doesn’t possess the pure arm talent that like Bradford. Dalton’s arm strength is often questioned and challenged, but when you have A.J. Green, throwing it near his vicinity is all that is needed. In Dalton’s defense, winning cures all.
Bradford’s best receiving options in his career were Danny Amendola and Brandon Lloyd. Would you pick either of them over Green?
The former Heisman Trophy winner and 2010 Rookie of the Year will continue to have his naysayers and supporters, but even at this stage of his career, the jury is still out on Bradford. He now has weapons in Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens, Quick and Stedman Bailey. We’ve known about these fresh acquisitions for some time now. It’s as plain as day that Bradford has the total package to become an elite quarterback, but now he has to show what he can do with elevated talent around him.