Quarterback is the most important position on the field. I thought it might be a fun idea to break the projected starting quarterbacks in the league into categories. The quarterbacks below are ranked in no particular order within their grouping.
Elite Franchise Quarterbacks
These guys are the cream of the crop. They will make any team competitive. Surround them with a decent supporting cast, and you are a Super Bowl contender. Down by 4 on the road with 4:00 left in a conference title game, you're extremely confident the quarterback is putting the ball in the end zone.
These are guys you can build a team around. They can carry a team to a Super Bowl. They just don't evoke as much confidence as the elite franchise guys. It might be due to a tendency to melt down in big games. It might be due to too much risk taking. It might be due to off field behavior taking these guys off the field and forcing questions about their leadership. You just don't feel quite as safe with them.
Potential Franchise Quarterbacks
These are young players with the potential to become franchise quarterbacks. They just have not shown enough for anybody to say whether or not they eventually will become one. Some are further along than others, but all have questions. When all is said and done, they could end up anywhere else on this list.
Matt Stafford, Lions
Matt Moore, Panthers
Matt Ryan, Falcons
These guys at one point had a franchise quarterback reputation, but their recent play does not justify it. These guys aren't carrying a team to a championship by themselves at this point in their careers.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
Game Manager Quarterbacks
You could do much worse than these guys, but you could also do much better. These guys won't necessarily lose many games on their own, but they cannot carry a team deep into the Playoffs consistently. You might be able to talk yourself into these guys. They might play over their heads for a year. They just are not franchise players, though. You need a complete team around them to have a chance at making a run. You're fine with them as a backup playing a game or two, but their warts show through over 16 games.
Matt Cassel, Chiefs
Alex Smith, 49ers
If these guys are your starter, you're probably looking forward to the Draft before the season even starts. Things are going to get ugly.
These rankings indicate about one-third of the league has a franchise quarterback. It's no accident most of the consistently successful franchise have a guy up there. The rest of the league is searching.
What are your thoughts on the list? Is anybody misplaced? Are there any levels you would create?