The future in Denver is now, with Jay Cutler quickly becoming the stud Quarterback we all envisioned when he was drafted in the 2006 draft. Now, we aren't alone in our bright outlook on Denver's young signal-caller. ESPN followed up their ranking of the Top-64 quarterbacks in the NFL with a stock report of all the young QB's. After finishing #11 overall, the anonymous team scouts, general managers and pro personnel people that ESPN surveyed all agreed -- Jay Cutler has more potential than anyone.
"I would jump on that boat," an NFC personnel director said. "He isn't quite there, but you see those flashes of a guy who, once he has the whole playbook in his mind and he's made all the mistakes he needs to make in learning it, man, he's going to be a special player."
ESPN.com granted anonymity to two pro scouts, one personnel director, a defensive coordinator and a defensive backs coach in exchange for unvarnished evaluations.
The experts analyzed starting quarterbacks younger than 30 and with fewer than four seasons of starting experience. San Francisco's Alex Smith and Arizona's Matt Leinart fell from consideration because neither has established himself as a long-term starter.
That left 11 young quarterbacks standing: Roethlisberger, Romo, Palmer, Schaub, Garrard, Cleveland's Derek Anderson, San Diego's Philip Rivers, Tennessee's Vince Young, Washington's Jason Campbell, the New York Giants' Eli Manning and, of course, Cutler.
So, it wasn't just the talking heads at ESPN. These are guys who get paid to make these decisions, that are responsible for the success of actual NFL franchises. They feel Cutler is the future of the League.
The accolades kept coming --
"I love him," the AFC scout said. "He's athletic, poised, smart, accurate -- and there was just something about that kid coming out, the way he was wired."
The Broncos have had problems surrounding Cutler with a consistent supporting cast. Losing veteran center Tom Nalen was a significant setback. Top receiver Javon Walker has hardly played. Top running back Travis Henry has 34 carries over the last seven games.
Cutler's numbers have suffered as a result, but he's still averaging 7.9 yards per attempt, putting him up there with Brett Favre (7.96) and Peyton Manning (7.9).
"He has an unbelievable career ahead of him," the NFC personnel director said. "He is Romo [in terms of confidence] with the physical tools to match. He's fun to watch because he's kind of like the kid who plays quarterback down at the playground. 'Let's just go play.'"
Cutler, 24, has less experience than the other quarterbacks on our list, leaving more for the imagination. But his poise and physical ability are obvious already.
"He has a cannon of an arm, obviously, and when he's in the pocket, he has the arm strength to make all the throws," an NFC pro scout said. "Throw in the fact that he can move around and buy additional time, and he's got a pretty impressive arsenal in terms of ability and arm strength and feet."
Has anyone done less than Cutler? Well, the Dolphins maybe, but the Broncos have had to play without half their starting offensive line, along with their #1 receiver and #1 running back for large chunks of the season. Then there's that defense, of course.
Perhaps most impressive is where Cutler ranks in yards per attempt this year --
- Tom Brady - 8.60
- Tony Romo - 8.58
- Brett Favre - 7.96
- Jay Cutler - 7.92
- Peyton Manning - 7.90