Whether you are a fan of ESPN or not, you undoubtedly head to their website at least once or twice a day as part of your daily football fix. I know I do, and sometimes I agree with what they say, some times I don't. What I try and do over here at the MHR is to avoid regurgitating their stories, choosing instead to take the info and come to my own conclusions.
If I have lost you I apologize but I'll try and get you back with me now. Scouts, Inc., ESPN.com's scouting crew, is breaking down every team position-by-position. During the breakdown they are ranking each team, 1-32. Now, I could look at each ranking and try to argue where the Broncos are, but I am going to take a different stance. Based on their rankings for each position, I am going to take the average to come up with a final "ranking", 1-32, for each team in the NFL. I start today with the AFC West, since Scouts, Inc has not completed ever position yet.
Let's get started, starting first with a position near and dear to our heart, the QUARTERBACK. I'll list each team in the AFC West in order of their rank on the list.
6. San Diego Chargers
Young Philip Rivers exceeded everyone's expectations a year ago with his poise and maturity and now the Chargers are ready for him to take the next step. He has excellent physical skills and fits perfectly into the Chargers' offense, which requires a lot of timing routes, quick decisions and tight throws. He is a student of the game, prepares well and will only get better. His backup is ex-Titan Billy Volek, who could start for a lot of NFL teams. He has good skills and intangibles and could step up immediately if Rivers was hurt. Charlie Whitehurst will be the No. 3 QB. He's young, has a strong arm and is an excellent prospect.
My Take - Sure, the Chargers went 14-2, but I just am not that high on Rivers. The Chargers do have one of the better backups in Billy Volek, who proved in Tennessee to be a solid backup. I have a feeling defenses are NOT going to let L.T. beat them, and with a subpar receiving corp(see below), Rivers is going to be relied upon to make big play after big play.
20. Denver Broncos
Denver is now in the Jay Cutler era, and based on his five starts in 2006, the Broncos have a lot of good things on the horizon at the QB position. He has John Elway-type skills with a big arm, a lot of confidence and an uncanny ability to handle pressure. He still has to learn to be a little more patient, to take what the defense gives him and not go for it all on every play, but that will come in time. The Broncos made an excellent offseason move when they signed Patrick Ramsey. He not only has solid athletic skills and a strong arm, but he also has 24 NFL starts under his belt and is an excellent No. 2 QB. There isn't really a clear-cut No. 3 QB, but with Cutler and Ramsey, the Broncos are in good shape.
My Take - We have been saying for a while now, both on the site and on MHR Radio that if this team has a real concern it is at Quarterback. It's not that I'm not excited about Cutler, far from it, but he is an unknown commodity. Though I wasn't high on the Ramsey signing at the time, it has grown on me, with Ramsey being a good soldier so far in the off-season. This ranking is definitely a conservative look, but still gets the Broncos a second place finish within the division. This could easily look like a gross under-estimate at the end of the season, but now it is probably pretty accurate.
24. Oakland Raiders
The complexion of the QB position in Oakland dramatically changed on draft weekend. The Raiders not only selected JaMarcus Russell first in the draft, but also obtained veteran Josh McCown from Detroit. As talented as Russell is, he is new and has a lot to learn. It is likely McCown will be the starter in 2007 until Russell is ready, which could be at any point during the season. McCown is smart, efficient and won't make a lot of mistakes, but Russell's physical skills and arm strength are so superior, he could be brought along quicker than expected. Andrew Walter started several games in 2006 with marginal results, but he does have great experience for a No. 3 QB.
My Take - The Raider also have a young quarterback, taking JaMarcus Russell first overall. Though he is talented it is going to take time for Russell meaning 2007 will probably start with journeyman Josh McCown as the starter. I have always thought McCown had the skills to be a starter in the NFL but in stops with the Cardinals and Lions has not been able to show enough consistency. It won't get any easier in Oakland where fans will be clamoring for Russell every chance they get. With Champ Bailey and Dre Bly in the Broncos defensive backfield I look forward to whomever the Raiders put behind center!
32. Kansas City Chiefs
With Trent Green now in Miami, it's time for the Damon Huard era in Kansas City. Filling in for Green a year ago, Huard posted a 5-3 record and looked like a competent guy who could run this offense effectively. Brodie Croyle is probably the future for the Chiefs and has better skills than Huard. While he's probably a year away from being ready, this could turn out to be a more intense training camp battle than most realize. The Chiefs will have to decide whether they can live with Croyle's growing pains or if they'll go with a less talented, but more consistent guy in Huard. Former CFL QB Casey Printers has a ton of skills, but little NFL experience. Still, he's a quality No. 3 QB.
My Take - OUCH! Kick one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the League to the curb for what? A dead last place finish in the Quarterback rankings. Sure, Damon Huard had some success in 2006 but come on, he's a backup, nothing more. Give NFL defensive coordinators time to game plan for Damon Huard and he'll struggle. Behind Huard is loyal Dillard's shopper Brodie Croyle. Untested doesn't begin to describe Croyle as an NFL quarterback. The Chiefs have one of the best running backs in the League but without any type of threat through the air Johnson is sure to see 8 and 9 man fronts. I have said the entire off-season that the Chiefs are in full rebuilding mode and one needs to only take a look at the Quarterback position to see why....
Here is the tally after Scouts, Inc's Quarterback rankings -
San Diego -- 6
Denver -- 20
Oakland -- 24
Kansas City -- 32
Remember, the lower the number the better!
Next up, Running Back!