One of the next elite quarterbacks: Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers
Right now in the NFL, there seems to be select groups of quarterbacks, these three groups are elite, semi-elite and young quarterbacks. The group of elite quarterbacks consists of Tom Brady (Patriots), the hopefully returning Peyton Manning (Colts), Drew Brees (Saints), Eli Manning (Giants), Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers), Matt Schaub (Texans) and Philip Rivers (Chargers). These eight are the top premier quarterbacks because of their great accuracy and precision, throwing strength and the great supporting casts they have behind them. These quarterbacks will probably also are the first eight quarterbacks to be drafted in a fantasy league with your buddies. Then there is a middle group that consists of the semi-elite quarterbacks.
This group which includes, in my opinion, Michael Vick (Eagles), Tony Romo (Cowboys), Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bills), Carson Palmer (Raiders), Kyle Orton and Matt Cassell (Chiefs), Joe Flacco (Ravens), Jay Culter (Bears), Matt Hassellbeck (Titans) and Rex Grossman (Redskins). These are quarterbacks that can do their job but have fallen into some inconsistent slumps as of the last few years or have just starting catching fire. Some have even had their time with great playoff runs and a good amount of fourth quarter comebacks. It seems to me they do not have the same consistent nature as the elite quarterbacks listed above however it should be acknowledged if these quarterbacks had a great supporting cast, they could join the elite ranks if they put the effort in. Another thing to notice about these two above groups is the age of these quarterbacks. A lot of them have already hit the 30 year mark or are about to with very few exceptions like Aaron Rodgers (Packers) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bills). This does not mean they cannot be elite quarterbacks in their 30’s because most of them are but I see a new trend forming in the NFL.
The new direction of NFL quarterbacks seems to be leaning towards the young quarterbacks who have either one to four years of real experience or just came out of college. And what I mean by real experience is taking the starting role and being the main quarterback of the team. The younger quarterbacks are getting these chances because of the injuries, contract disagreements, moving of quarterbacks, poor performance and retiring of older quarterbacks. Young quarterbacks who have taken advantage of the radical changes of the last few years are Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars), Tarvaris Jackson (Seahawks), John Skelton (Cardinals), Josh Freeman (Buccaneers), Matt Ryan (Falcons), Andy Dalton (Bengals), Matt Moore (Dolphins), Tim Tebow (Broncos), Alex Smith (49er’s), Christian Ponder (Vikings), Mark Sanchez (Jets), Matthew Stafford (Lions), Cam Newton (Panthers), Sam Bradford (Rams), Colt McCoy (Browns) with some quarterbacks like Jack Locker (Titans), T.J Yates (Texans) and Ryan Mallett (Patriots) who are waiting on the bench for the primary quarterbacks to step down. Even though all these quarterbacks are young and improving at the moment, it shows a good point about quarterback development and the future of the NFL.
When the great elites of today retire the league will be composed of these great quarterbacks who will likely become quarterback elites on their own merit. Since I have seen all of these quarterbacks play in college I can contest to them being proficient quarterbacks if they are in the right environment, have a great cast and have enough practice. This is an important fact to remember because not every quarterback can be like Cam Newton and have an outstanding statistical year even if the team he is on does not get a winning record. Quarterbacks like Gabbert (Jaguars) and Ponder (Vikings) came out of college as outstanding quarterbacks. They rocked Missouri and Florida State University respectively and won many games in their respective divisions and conferences but the NFL is a whole new game. Therefore once they get used to this new system, they will find a way to prosper again because these two were good enough to be first round draft picks of the 2011 NFL draft. The credibility of rookie quarterbacks brings up the point that a team needs more than an amazing quarterback to succeed.
They need an all-around outstanding team to go to the playoffs and win super bowls and this is a case we can definitely see with the 0-11 Indianapolis Colts this year. So once quarterbacks like Gabbert (Jaguars) and Ponder (Vikings) get their time and practice in, the NFL will be a whole new animal. And if the unusual injuries and all the factors that cause older quarterbacks to leave a NFL team the last few years occur, this spread between young and old will sway even more towards the young side. This spread of young and old will cause a situation where there could very easily be close to 20 elite quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. The great amount of future elite quarterbacks would cause a great situation for NFL fans but a hard job on NFL quarterbacks and their teams. It would make it so there is virtually no week in the NFL season were a NFL team could experience an “easy” victory. I wrote easy in quotes because no NFL team is easy to beat but some are perceived to be easier to beat than others. However this will be a great venue of entertainment for the NFL fans because the elite quarterbacks of the future like Dalton (Bengals) and McCoy (Browns) may make it their habit to throw through ridiculous windows like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning on a weekly basis. All I say to the people reading this is that I predict when the great elite quarterbacks above retire; we will see a fantastic group of quarterbacks that are too efficient and skilled when it comes to throwing pigskin for their own good.