Ranking the AFC South Starting Quarterbacks
By Guest Writer Matt Gonzales:
5. Chad Henne
Given that there is an open competition at the quarterback position in Jacksonville, I will include both potential starters in this list – first up, Chad Henne. Henne has been in the league long enough to be considered a legitimate veteran. He failed to be a franchise quarterback in Miami and was given a shot at a backup role in Jacksonville. Given Gabbert’s injury last year, Henne came in and performed – just as well (or bad). Unlike last year, this year Henne will have a legitimate opportunity to win the starting position in training camp.
4. Blaine Gabbert
The other “potential starter” in Jacksonville. When people think of Blaine Gabbert, the first word that typically comes to mind is “bust.” However, the “bust” talk seems a bit premature considering he was thrown into a terrible situation as a rookie (he was one of the youngest starting QB’s in NFL history as a rookie) and his second season was marred by a shoulder injury that ended his season. He did show marginal improvement as a sophomore in the league, though not as much improved as people would have liked. This year is a make-or-break year for Gabbert, and he knows it. Let’s see how he responds.
3. Jake Locker
Jake Locker has enormous potential and is arguably the most athletic quarterback in the division. The 2011 first round pick excels in scrambling in the pocket and making a throw on the run. Like Gabbert, he must improve his pocket awareness and mechanics. His progression was haltered last year due to a severe shoulder injury, so the jury is still out on whether he can be a franchise quarterback. He’s got the potential to be a real weapon, especially if used in an option formation. We shall see how much he has improved after another offseason of work.
2. Matt Schaub
The savvy Schaub has been making his mark in the league for close to a decade now. Drafted to be Michael Vick’s backup in Atlanta, Schaub was eventually signed by Houston and there has been no looking back since then. He has put up above-average numbers for most of his tenure with the Texans and has led them to a couple of playoff victories. While he is starting to get older, and his skills are bound to diminish a bit with time, there is no doubting Schaub’s ability in the regular season. If he can get some of his post-season problems under control, he could be the guy that leads the Texans to the promise land.
1. Andrew Luck
The undisputed best quarterback in the division at the tender age of 23. Luck, who was arguably the most hyped quarterback prospect of the last decade coming out of college, will be entering his second season as a professional for the Indianapolis Colts. Luck came off a season in which he was a finalist for Offensive Rookie of the Year, while throwing 23 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. His combination of size (6’4), intelligence, and mobility make him one of the most valuable (maybe the most valuable) young quarterbacks in the league. Do not be surprised if people are talking about Luck as the best quarterback in the league here in a few seasons. Kid’s got game.