Quarterback play is critical in the NFL. Football may be the ultimate team sport, but quarterback is clearly the most important position on the team. A quarterback not only has to be a great athlete, but also a leader of the team and as smart as a head coach. He must read defenses, even recognize when crafty defensive coordinators are trying to disguise coverages and blitzes.
In other words, quarterbacks have a lot on their plates. If a team has a starting quarterback who is deficient in any of these areas, they are really hamstrung as an offense. A quarterback who can’t recognize a blitz is a turnover waiting to happen. One who can’t recognize coverages is too. One who holds on to the ball too long is going to take a beating and at some point will be injured, leaving the offense to the backup quarterback.
Unfortunately, there are 32 NFL teams and there are not 32 starting quarterbacks who have all of these areas covered. So some teams are out there with a guy who really should be on the bench.
But, this is not to suggest there are only 17 good starting quarterbacks either. Obviously, we can eliminate Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton right off the bat. There is a reason those guys are usually in the playoffs.
That leaves us with 22 more starting quarterbacks and we must eliminate seven. So whom does that leave?
Keep in mind that a couple of years ago, Cam Newton would have made this list, so some of these guys could emerge as top of the league quarterbacks in a season or two.