The most controversial of positions in the NFL is the quarterback position. If a team is set at the position, then they have a chance at competing. If a team is struggling at the position, chances are they're in line for a top 10 draft pick. Buddy Nix, former general manager of the Buffalo Bills, seems to agree with me. I still can't believe those prank callers made that happen -- was awesome.
To this point, we've looked at all positions on offense within the NFC West, save for two: quarterback and wide receiver. Rather than put it off any longer, we'll go ahead and tackle the quarterback position. Unlike some other rankings of late, I am not going to rate something a "push" but let me say that the top two are basically just a toss-up.
Let's get to it.
1. San Francisco 49ers with Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien, B.J. Daniels
Surprise, surprise. With things incredibly close, I went ahead and put the 49ers in first place. It's not by a wide margin or anything like that, but I do think that Colin Kaepernick is the best quarterback in the division. I think that he has the most potential for putting up yards and touchdowns, and I think he has the most upside.
Of course, I didn't always think this. I loved the pick of Kaepernick, but once Alex Smith started putting up solid numbers and started winning games, I was prepared to let Kaepernick sit. When Jim Harbaugh made the decision to go from Smith to Kaepernick, I thought he was making a mistake. You don't switch quarterbacks when you're winning.
Maybe I wasn't wrong and maybe Smith would have done even better, and maybe the 49ers would have their sixth Super Bowl. Or, perhaps the more likely scenario, I was simply wrong again and all is right in the world!
Kaepernick has the honest potential to rush for 1,000 yards and if he does that while maintaining his stellar passing numbers, then the 49ers are just set at the position going forward. Colt McCoy should be a fine backup, and really, inspires more confidence than any other backup in the division, at this point. Scott Tolzien is a player I like, but he probably doesn't have a roster spot next year.
2. Seattle Seahawks with Russell Wilson, Brady Quinn, Jerrod Johnson
So yeah .. Russell Wilson is pretty good. I laughed at the Seahawks, I made fun of their fans and I generally made a fool of myself when they took Wilson. I didn't see what was so great, but in my defense, neither did a lot of Seattle fans at the time.
Of course, Wilson came out and looked fantastic. I think he'll have a productive NFL career and he'll keep the Seahawks in games, especially with all the new weapons they're giving him. I hope he hits a wall and experiences the biggest sophomore slump of all time, but that's probably not likely.
Wilson can make all the throws, he can run (though not as well as Kaepernick) and his only real issue is that he's fun-size. But hey, you can have an issue on paper all day but it won't matter a little bit if the player finds a way to succeed in spite of that.
Brady Quinn is an interesting choice for a backup. He's like Colt McCoy, but has already failed at being a good backup. So if we're being honest, he's like Colt McCoy, just a year later. Quinn can probably come in and handle a game or two, and that's what every team hopes is the worst case scenario for their backups.
3. St. Louis Rams with Sam "Mr. 4,000 yards" Bradford, Kellen Clemens, Austin Davis
I fully support the Rams in their decision to stick with Sam Bradford. I think, when it's all said and done, he'll be regarded pretty well by fans. But the hype surrounding him this offseason due to him "finally" having wide receivers to throw to is silly.
Our Rams blog voted him the best quarterback in the division because he was most likely to throw for 4,000 yards. I would be shocked if Bradford threw for 4,000 yards at this point. He's a decent quarterback with a good arm, will probably keep the Rams at about 8-8 though he could do a bit better if the rookie receivers pan out.
In my mind, he's nothing more and nothing less. He's not on the same level as either Kaepernick or Wilson. This year is probably crucial for his development, though. Behind Bradford, there's not much ... Kellen Clemens might be on par with the rest of the backups, that's about it.
4. Arizona Cardinals with Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley
When Carson Palmer went to the Oakland Raiders, I thought he might be able to do some good things. Then the Raiders employed an offense that didn't fit their personnel, purged all of their bad contracts and therefore all of their good players and generally made a mess of things.
A couple years later, and it's hard to still be on the "Palmer has something left," train. He was an above-average quarterback in his day, and I think he's pretty underrated. But he's definitely getting up there in years. In terms of pure skill, he can probably make all the throws the rest of the QBs in the division can make, but I don't know that he can do them reliably anymore.
Coupled with the fact that the Cardinals have the worst offensive line in football, and Palmer, a stationary quarterback, is in trouble. I just don't see any way he has success in 2013-14. That said, good on the Cardinals for getting something that actually resembles a quarterback. I gotta say, the rest of the league was laughing at them when they suggested that Drew Stanton would be the unchallenged starter prior to acquiring Palmer.
Stanton and Ryan Lindley shouldn't see snaps next season, but it's hard to really definitively say that they're much worse than McCoy, Quinn and Clemens.