NFC West Position Rankings, Quarterbacks: Alex Smith Remains A Mystery

Although the rumors seem to indicate the NFL Lockout might hopefully, maybe, possibly be ending in enough time to get football going on its regular schedule, there is still plenty of dead time until then. I've been chatting with the rest of the NFC West team blogs and we thought it would be fun to put together some rankings of various positions for the division. We did some positional grading a year or two ago, but this is more just about coming up with a basic 1-4 ranking.

We started things off at the quarterback position and you'll be shocked to note that Sam Bradford is ranked the top quarterback by everybody. I realize how stunning that is. In putting together these rankings we didn't make too many significant assumptions, such as a potential Kevin Kolb trade. Rather, the only major assumptions were that Matt Hasselbeck and Alex Smith would re-sign with their respective teams. Here are my rankings, with each blogger after the jump.

1. Sam Bradford
2. Matt Hasselbeck
3. Alex Smith
4. Charlie Whitehurst
5. Derek Anderson/John Skelton

After the jump I've got a quick write-up, along with some snippets of the other guys' comments. Each site is posting these at the same time so we'll have plenty of discussion going around the NFC West.

Sam Bradford is a clear notch ahead of the rest of the division even after only one season in the league. He is officially the most talented QB in the league and was an integral reason the Rams bounced back to almost win the 2010 NFC West. While Matt Hasselbeck might have the greater experience and the playoff victories, the torch has passed among QBs in the NFC West.

On the other hand, Hasselbeck remains the clear number two in the otherwise soft NFC West. While Alex Smith does still have upside, Smith has yet to prove he can consistently perform on the field and win football games for the 49ers. He's shown flashes of brilliance, but they've only been flashes. Until he proves otherwise he remains below even a geriatric Hasselbeck. I am one of the group that thinks Smith could become a serviceable QB under Jim Harbaugh, but until he proves it the assumption will remain against him. In the meantime, Matt Hasselbeck may struggle at times, but he continues to deliver enough to remain in this spot.

As for the Arizona Cardinals? Well, they are consistently mentioned in the Kevin Kolb discussions in part because Derek Anderson and John Skelton are not long term solutions. Anderson has had a few moments of brilliance but not enough to justify much of anything. As for Skelton, he remains a project with questionable upside. Of the three teams in the NFC West, the Cardinals are as likely as any to add a QB whenever free agency/trades pick back up.    

Jess Root, Revenge of the Birds:

1. Sam Bradford
2. Matt Hasselbeck
3. Alex Smith
4. John Skelton/Max Hall/Derek Anderson

"... On the back end, it was Alex Smith that ranked ahead of the Derek Anderson/John Skelton tandem of the Arizona Cardinals. Sure, Smith has been disappointing, but he does show flashes of what he could have been. Anderson is what he is. He will make a couple of "wow" throws and then miss the guy that is wide open in the flat and standing still. Skelton never was supposed to see the field and is, even still, a project. There will likely be improvement from the Cardinals quarterback situation just due to a year of the offensive system under their belts. 

VanRam, Turf Show Times:

1. Sam Bradford
2. Charlie Whitehurst
3. Matt Hasselbeck
4. Alex Smith
5. Arizona's mess

"Sure, laugh at the Charlie Whitehurst pick, but he beat the Rams in week 17, with the division title on the line. Obviously, the guy's a joke, but it seems like his immediate future holds more potential than Matt Hasselbeck's. It's too bad the Seahawks didn't fix their offensive sooner, while Hasselbeck still had some tread left on his tires. It sounds like he's leaving the division. 

Alex Smith? Potential? I want to live in this utopia, a place where Horatio Alger still exists even after six years of dismal to mediocre results. Rams fans used to think the same thing about Marc Bulger. His best bet is to find a new home, a fresh start, but even Peter King seems to think that Smith won't find work anywhere beyond San Francisco. The guy just lacks talent. If he had a history of better decision making, he might have a future as a transitional, game-manager type, but it's too late for him."

Danny Kelly, Field Gulls:

1. Sam Bradford
2. Matt Hasselbeck
3. Alex Smith
4. Charlie Whitehurst
4.5 John Skelton/Max Hall/Derek Anderson

"Hasselbeck has been and still is a great leader for the Seahawks, demonstrated his mettle with a solid performance in the playoffs last season, and is a savvy veteran. His playoff performance and experience makes him still a very dangerous player and he's got enough in the tank to nip at Sam Bradford's heels for the unofficial title of best QB in the NFC West (if he is indeed a part of the NFC West in 2011). 

But to do this he simply has to take better care of the football. He's had 34 TDs to 44 Interceptions in the last 3 seasons and his untimely turnovers have often spelled disaster for the Hawks. He's effective when he's calm and lets the game come to him but when he tries to force the ball or carry the team on his back he gets into trouble. If he can limit his turnovers and stay healthy, Matt Hasselbeck can still be very effective.

Alex Smith has the potential to be a good NFL QB, but has yet to prove it. He showed some leadership abilities in certain situations last season, but was unable to provide any consistency for the 49ers and he had to share some playing time with backup Troy Smith. He has probably the best offensive talent around him compared to other teams in NFC West, but failed to capitalize on that and thus comes in as the 3rd best QB in the division."

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