Kickoff Countdown: Four Days
Editor's Note: This is a companion piece to the most comprehensive FBS QB ranking on the internet. The following represents the dialog between Football.com staff as we debated the initial ranking provided by columnist Joe Jenkins, with minor edits for style.
GO HERE for the full FBS QB rankings.
Christopher Smith (Senior FBS Editor): All,
Please review the rankings. Take a moment to look over them, let them sink in and evaluate them. Editors and writers, focus on the QBs in your conference. Are they too high? Too low? Any pertinent analysis about their 2013 season? Criticisms? Think they're spot on?
Dantzler Smith (SEC Writer): First of all, great job making this list. Here are a couple things that jump out at me.
I love that you give proper respect to Aaron Murray. He's far too often underrated, but he's a Top 5 guy for certain.
Connor Shaw, however, is way too low. He's at 47 while Jeff Driskel is 25 and Zach Mettenberger is 28. Yes, those guys are juniors with a lot of upside, but Shaw is 17-3 over his career. He's accurate, makes smart plays with the ball and is a strong runner.
Meanwhile, Florida's passing offense was absolutely awful last season and Mettenberger's poor decision-making undermines his cannon arm.
With the game on the line, I'd rather have Shaw than either of those two. I'd put Shaw just behind Bo Wallace of Ole Miss ... Although Wallace through 17 pics last year, so you could possibly argue that Shaw is ahead of him too.
Chris Stephens (SEC): I have to agree on the Connor Shaw assessment. He's way too low. Guys like Driskel and Mettenberger get way too much credit. Defenses reign supreme in Baton Rouge and Gainesville. I equate Driskel and Mettenberger to that of Trent Dilfer when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Shaw is a dual threat, but because he doesn't put up 30+ points a game under Steve Spurrier, he doesn't get the respect he deserves. I'm not so sure Bo Wallace deserves to be in the Top 20 as well.
Dan Harralson (Columnist): Driskel may have won 11 games a season ago, but 2013 may be a bigger task. He really did not excel in the passing game, throwing for just 1,600 yards and 12 TDs. The loss of one of his top receivers, Andre Debose, will hurt, but the one thing Driskel has going for him is his leadership. Road wins at Texas A&M, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida State last year were a great feat for an improving quarterback. Remember, Florida went 1-3 on the road in 2011. Football is all about improvement, leadership and Ws, and he has all of that so far.
Dantzler Smith: Also, Mississippi State's Tyler Russell is ranked 23, making him the fifth SEC QB to appear on the list. While he started the year well, in the last six games of the season (including the bowl game) he threw 9 interceptions and 9 touchdowns. Take away the blowout of Arkansas where Russell had 4 TDs and no picks, and he finished the year against top teams with 5 TDs and 9 INTs.
He's not a bad QB, but against quality opponents he's decidedly average. I'd have him ranked somewhere in the 30s, maybe 40s, and certainly behind Connor Shaw (who I'd have no lower than 20).
Harralson: If you like offense played at a high pace and that is effective, then Marshall football is for you to watch. Doc Holliday told me he usually does not like to spread it out like this, but when he has the personnel to go up-tempo with Cato, then he maximizes his talents. Cato threw for 4,201 yards along with 37 TDs. The only problem is Marshall needs to improve on its 5-7 record. The guy is definitely a Top-15 QB this year.
If you're looking at stats and glamor, then Shane Carden and ECU are Top-25 respectively — easily.
Ruffin McNeill likes Carden and Carden likes McNeill. Ruffin wants more than 100 plays per game, which makes Mike Leach look conservative. Carden put up 3,116 passing yards and 23 TDs last season. Having a running game that produces a 1,000-yard back also helps out the passing game and decision-making within the ECU hurry-up. It's hard to believe this offense gets overlooked nationally, but it may make some noise when they can overtake Virginia Tech early in the season.
Veair Green (C-USA Editor): Dan's analysis is spot on about Rakeem Cato. Cato's total of 4,201 passing yards was more than 1,000 yards better than the next quarterback in C-USA. Those stats haven't been seen in Marshall since Chad Pennington. Because his defense was so horrible, they could only squeeze out five wins and suffered four losses by seven points or less — not a fault of Cato's. He has two things working in his favor: a great offensive line and a total understanding of the offense. Stud receiver Aaron Dobson is catching passes from Tom Brady. If Cato can find a go-to receiver or spread the ball around, he can repeat those numbers.
Cato and Shane Carden are the epitome of Conference USA. Great talent and skills, but no publicity because they play in a "non-BCS" conference. ECU was picked to win the East thanks in part to Carden and his weapons. The junior quarterback came out of nowhere and threw for 3,116 yards and 23 touchdowns. Unlike Cato, he won't have to completely carry the load for the Pirates because they have two great running backs, Justin Hardy and Vintavious Cooper. Carden will not catch any defenses by surprise in 2013, but should repeat his great performance.
Cato and Carden are two of the most underrated quarterbacks in the nation and if we do this same ranking after the season, these guys will be higher.
Harralson: Well said, Veair. Spot on.
Christopher Smith: At the risk of turning this into an SEC frat party, AJ McCarron certainly is a valid choice for No. 1 (how many QBs have a chance at three national titles as a starter?).
In typical Bama fashion, he's one of the nation's most efficient QBs. Atypical, though, is his legitimate arm (for the norm, see McElroy, Greg).
My grandfather had a college class with Joe Namath at U of A. My parents attended school when Bear Bryant coached — my dad as a member of the Million Dollar Band and my mom as a flag girl. I grew up going to Alabama games.
But I don't believe McCarron is the best in the nation. Top 5, maybe. He's a better Heisman candidate than he is for this crown. My Top 5 vote goes to B&M: Bridgewater, Boyd, Manziel, Murray and Miller.
Chris Stephens: I think Bridgewater is an underrated guy, but he's also only done it for one year in a conference that's not that great. If you look at their schedule, it looks like cake. Bridgewater won't face a Top-50 defense this year.
Christopher Smith: Usain Bolt is better than Justin Gatlin even if Gatlin had won the World Championship while Bolt skipped it to beat a field of Jamaican grandmas (probably still fast).
Makes the evaluation tougher and his performances less impressive, but it has no bearing on his ability.
Having said that, Murray vs. Boyd: Can anyone remember a better QB matchup so early in a season?
Harralson: Well said, Christopher.
I think Bridgewater is a great role model, a high-character individual. However, we all know Bridgewater's story. He is up for the Heisman and he beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl was much like Alabama's Sugar Bowl loss to Utah — it was a meaningless game for Florida. The stats are there for Teddy, but two losses are also there for Teddy's 2012 campaign. On top of a blowout loss to an 8-5 Syracuse squad and a triple-overtime loss to a 5-7 UConn team, Louisville recorded six wins by only one possession inside a very weak schedule. I really think he is an unproven QB that is just highlighted for a few meaningless games. He still has a shot to be a Braxton Miller type and run the table. We will see if he can live up to it.
Can't wait for Murray vs. Boyd. Heavyweight bout.
Craig Stephens (SEC): Hey guys. Very good list. I have a few nitpicks.
I agree with moving Shaw up and moving Driskel down. Driskel is more mobile and was hurt by receivers dropping some deep passes, but overall he is a very frustrating player to watch. He makes way too many awareness mistakes and has not been extremely productive. He will get better, but right now I'd rather have Shaw.
I would put Johnny Football over AJ McCarron. Manziel has the stats, the Heisman and the head-to-head win. Also, I think McCarron is the best of Saban's Tide QBs, but the overall talent of the team makes him look better. Manziel has less talent to work with, and I feel like Manziel could make many of the same big plays if he was throwing to Amari Cooper and the defense respected A&M's play-action as much as they respect Alabama's.
I'm not familiar with most of the QBs on the bottom of the list, but there have to be a few more that are better than Tennessee's Worley. Everything I've read from camp has been negative.
In the few Rice games I've watched, Taylor McHargue has looked efficient passing and running the football. He also showed a lot of improvisation. Maybe he deserves a little more love?
Eric Russell (ACC): I know Winston is talented, but I'm not sold on him at 24. He has to prove some things. Also I would argue Stephen Morris should be above Logan Thomas. Morris is a better decision-maker and at times it seems Thomas crumbles under big-game pressure.
One random thought: I wonder where Golson would've been if Rees is 32?
Dantzler Smith: Bridgewater is like the U.S. soccer team. The wins are impressive, but the quality of competition is not. As a myopic Southerner, can I ask if Hundley is that good? Or is that a reflection of UCLA playing weak Pac-12 defenses?
Maybe this is just me being a Duke fan, but I think Anthony Boone is a little better than 79. He's a little bit like former Blue Devils QB Thad Lewis, who got some preseason game action the other day as he tries to make the Cincinnati Bengals. If Boone is at all akin to Lewis, he'd be better than whomever plays QB at Georgia Tech.
Sticking in the ACC, I agree with Eric about Logan Thomas. Morris is the better QB of the two. Essentially, Logan Thomas is the ACC version of Bo Wallace.
John Baker (Pac-12): There's no way Hundley should be that high. Switch him with Mariota, then switch him with Stanford's Hogan and you'd be closer. Mariota is just a dynamic offensive player with tons of weapons at his disposal and the Ducks will win 11 games again. Hundley was a feel-good find for the Bruins, but he's not in Mariota's class. And based on Hogan's play of late, I'd put Hundley behind the Stanford QB.
The guy to watch and something of a Hundley clone is Washington's Keith Price. The offensive line has been a disaster the last two seasons, but if they solidify this year, Price is as dangerous as any Pac-12 quarterback.
Ryan Lacey (ACC): I know it has been touched on already, but the biggest inaccuracy is with Logan Thomas. Not only should Stephen Morris be ranked above him, but Thomas shouldn't be ranked in the Top 30. All of the guys below him between 15-30 are better. The list also appears kind to non-BCS powers, with five quarterbacks in the Top 15.
Casey Pachall should also be ranked higher. If he is ranked at No. 60 because of his off-the-field nonsense then that is fine, but he has shown his quality throughout his career and there is no reason to believe it won't happen this year.
Green: I agree with most of the rankings. Braxton Miller is my Heisman Trophy favorite and should be higher. He is the perfect quarterback in that system, will have the stats and wins. Miller is AT LEAST Top 3. Kind of low for Pachall at TCU. The time away from football will be a wake-up call for this kid. Just ignore his first game vs. LSU if he struggles. Plus, it took a lot to rank Cato that high, so much props to Joe J. for that great pick!
Joe Jenkins (columnist): Great discussion so far.
First, thanks everyone for being kind. I had to put this together on a short turnaround, so I knew there would be guys that slipped through the cracks.
I'll say I agree with most everything here. I felt Driskel and Mettenberger were both a bit too high, but never got back to do my final round of tinkering. No debate that they should be lower.
As for the number of mid-majors in the Top 15, I'm more than open to moving guys around, but having 50 percent of the conferences in the FBS only make up 33 percent of the Top 15 doesn't seem too outlandish. Again, I'm certainly not opposed to tinkering here. Nobody's set in stone. I know there are guys (Connor Shaw and others) that probably deserve a better seat at the table.
As for the McCarron/Manziel debate, you'll never have me yelling and screaming about having the reigning Heisman winner in the top spot, but here was my logic.
When it comes own to athletic ability, Manziel wins, hands down. But just because AJ didn't throw for 3,500+ yards last year doesn't mean he couldn't. Bama's AVERAGE margin of victory last year was 30.8 points, meaning his team wasn't in throwing mode for large portions of the game. It's also worth noting that Saban will never be compared with Don Coryell.
I also felt it would be remiss to not factor in the fact that there's a question of how much football Johnny Football will actually play this year. Didn't want to really bang the "character flaws" drum, but if a player has to serve a suspension because he doesn't know how to follow the rule (no matter how dumb that rule may be), it should have an impact on his stock.
Donovan Tennimon (SEC): It's interesting to see that three of the Top 5 quarterbacks come from the SEC. The conference is always thought of as a defensive league with little offensive star power, unless you're talking about running backs.
I'm not sure Manziel can produce the kind of numbers that he put up last season. The Aggies lost some key contributors on offense and I think SEC defenses will be better-coached to handle Johnny Football on his second tour through the league.
I agree with the general assessment from several of the writers about Zach Mettenberger and Jeff Driskel. To this point, they haven't proved to be consistently effective against quality teams. Although Mettenberger did play well against Alabama last season despite ultimately losing the game. Between Mettenberger and Driskel, I think Mettenberger could be a surprise this season if new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Cam Cameron can get the Zack Attack to play up to his potential. As pointed out earlier in this discussion, he does have a cannon for an arm. He also has a much better cast around him than Driskel.
Joe Coughlin (columnist): Sorry I have not weight in yet, but I do have some thoughts.
*Joe, great job. Thanks for putting this together. All together, it's solid.
*Initial thought — and one that hasn't been mentioned — Marcus Mariota is a Top-10 and maybe a Top-5 guy. He'll be a Heisman Trophy candidate. Even if we're just talking about pure passers, he threw at 68 percent with a 32/6 ratio. Similar story with Braxton Miller. I also think he's a Heisman favorite. Top 3.
*As for the top spot, I like Manziel, Miller, Mariota, Murray and Bridgewater better than McCarron. I'd say Bama's titles have more to do with dynamic run games and tight defenses than QB play. I think McCarron's success is a result of the aforementioned. The other QBs have a more direct affect on their team's results, in my opinion.
*I have a problem with Cody Fajardo in the 30s and (as mentioned) Connor Shaw in the 40s. Fajardo at Nevada has the fourth-most rushing yards on this list, but still completed 67 percent of his passes. Rees is not a better QB than him (says the Notre Dame fan). Shaw is one of the best-kept secrets in FBS (as I said in my last column). He is legit.
*Casey Pachall is my last point. Should be much, much higher.
*Oh, and Nathan Scheelhaase at Illinois stinks. He should be last. What a waste. I'd start the freshman Aaron Bailey because ... why not? (Sorry, passionate loyalty shining through!)
Jenkins: Thanks again, all.
Here's the logic behind Braxton Miller at No. 7 (which, we need to remember, still puts him in the 94th percentile).
Miller's stat line from 2012: 2,039 passing yards, 58 percent completion rate, 15 TDs, 6 INTs, 1,271 rushing yards, 13 rushing TDs. Impressive, I agree.
Denard Robinson's stat line from 2010: 2,570 passing yards, 62.5 percent completion rate, 18 TDs, 11 INTs, 1,702 rushing yards, 14 rushing TDs.
These seasons aren't at all far off from each other. Outside of INTs, if Shoelace was at the Heisman ceremony that year, he bought a ticket for it (finished sixth). Do I think Miller is a bit more "quarterbacky" than Denard was? Of course. (And yes, in email chains you're allowed to make up words like quarterbacky.) I can potentially see Miller getting a bump. Perhaps to No. 5, but I don't see him as a Top 3 guy ... and again, that's hardly a putdown.
Will Vance (C-USA): After watching Cato's whole college career, I think putting him in the Top 15 is dead on. After coming to Marshall a skinny 147-pound freshman, Cato is up to 191 pounds and throws with more confidence every day, though it seems that as he gets stronger he loses a bit of touch on his passes. He has also benefited from practicing against the revamped Herd defense, which has visibly frustrated Cato all summer when he used to carve them up on a daily basis.
That said, I do not think he will repeat 4,200 yards and 37 touchdowns this season. He has a solid receiver corps, especially with Tommy Shuler and transfer Devon Smith in the slot, but the Herd will be a lot more balanced this season. Head coach Doc Holliday has said that this is the first offensive line unit he has been happy with at this point in summer camp, and with a trio of sophomore running backs, particularly reigning C-USA Offensive Freshman of the Year Kevin Grooms, the Herd will try to take some of the load off of Cato and run the ball more.
And on the topic of Herd quarterbacks, redshirt sophomore backup quarterback Blake Frohnapfel is a Top 5 quarterback within C-USA. Not many people have seen him play and his only real game action came last season against East Carolina, highlighted by a 51-yard TD run on a read option keeper. Frohnapfel is tall, has a very good deep ball and is a skilled enough runner to be a factor in the ground game. With the exception of East Carolina, Rice and of course Marshall, Frohnapfel could start for any team in C-USA.
Chris Wuensch (Pac-12 Editor): Hi guys. Ready for some West Coast bias?
As far as the Pac-12 guys, I had a few thoughts:
I like seeing Hundley at No. 4, but I'd honestly take him anywhere inside the Top 10.
His picks were a little high, but he was a freshman. I got to believe that, with a full year under his belt, he's going to improve vastly. Which could be fun to watch considering he tossed 29 touchdowns and 3,740 yards. Combine Hundley with senior WR Shaquelle Evans and I think the Bruins have a formidable passing tandem that rivals anyone in the conference.
One thing I like is he's durable. Only Jordan Lynch and Cato saw more total plays. Maybe that'll come back to bite him, but until it does, I like his ability to throw and run (nine rushing scores).
A downside I can see is that he gets sacked a lot: 52 times, or 13 more than the next-closest Pac-12 QB. Hopefully the Bruins can figure out their line.
Perhaps it's just the Pac-12 homer in me, but I'd like to see Mariota higher. Oregon loaded up with freshmen talent again and are still as fast and dynamic as ever.
*Is accurate (Pac-12 high 68.5 percent completion rate, seventh overall in the nation).
*Throws TDs (32, more TD tosses than half of the QBs listed ahead of him, including McCarron and Bridgewater).
*Rarely gets picked (intercepted about once every 56 throws; Matt Barkley, by contrast, threw a pick every 25 passes and he had a darn good career).
The downside to Mariota, I suppose, is that he doesn't/didn't throw for a ton of yards in respect to the national leaders.
I agree with John and think Keith Price is going to have a solid year, but only if Washington can extinguish the dumpster fires that were its offensive line last season, and the continuing drama that dogs Austin Seferian-Jenkins. ASJ is likely going to miss some games (DUI), but should rebound nicely.
As a sophomore, Price threw for more than 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns. Thanks to injuries last year, the Huskies started six different OL combinations. All reports this spring and summer suggest the line has been stabilized with an experienced set of five guys.
I like the upside to Price, especially because he'll be a senior.
By the way, if you Google "Washington Huskies Offensive Line," the first result is an article from 2004. That should tell you everything you need to know about the UDub O-Line.
I'm not as high on USC's Max Wittek. He's only a sophomore, not the incumbent starter and seems to be struggling to put away Cody Kessler in camp for the starting job. His ace in the hole is that all he has to do is get the ball to Marqise Lee, but even Lee (bone bruise in shoulder) has been dinged up a bit this summer.
This well make my Pac-12 guys roll their eyes (because I've been pushing Paul Richardson on them as a breakout star this year), but I think the duo of Richardson and Connor Wood will be better than expected. But until I see it with my own eyes, I can't justify moving a Buffs QB up the list.
As far as the rest of the Pac-12 QBs, I have no problem with their ranking. Arizona's B.J. Denker at 74 might be a little generous. He hasn't exactly torn up Tuscon this summer and is fighting for his job.
Impressive list, Joe. I shudder to think how long it took you to compile. Great note on Tyler Arndt.
I'm not as up to speed with the rest of the nation as I am the Pac-12; let me do a little reading and I'll weigh back in later. Thanks for your time, guys. I'm enjoying the banter. Thanks for allowing me to blather on.
David Seigerman (NFL Draft Senior Editor): I'm coming at this list from a bit of a different angle. I tend to look at quarterbacks more for their potential NFL prospects than the promise of college production. Which is why I think guys like Manziel and Mariota are Top-10 talents on this list. They look, right now, like they'll be far better college quarterbacks than pros. Same with some of the other dual threats, like Jordan Lynch (who is as deserving of his Top-10 ranking here as with any comparison anyone wants to make with Manziel) and Cody Fajardo (who is too low at No. 32).
There are five other guys I think are too low, as well:
*Bryn Renner: Back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons, two straight years of setting the school record for touchdown passes. I simply can't see Renner taking a step back in his second season in Larry Fedora's spread system. This guy is a Top-10 quarterback, better than Fales and Carr and Cato.
*Stephen Morris: This guy has the best arm in the country. He throws the prettiest long ball in the game and isn't shy about going downfield. He holds onto the ball a bit long (long enough to let plays develop downfield, but also long enough for the pressure to get a shot at him), and he doesn't seem to have the interest in tucking and running. But he's the best pocket passer in college football and absolutely belongs in the Top 10 (I have him as my fourth QB off the board, behind Bridgewater, Murray and Boyd).
*Zach Mettenberger: I am really curious to see how working with Cam Cameron will pay off. It's possible he has the biggest bounce in the country this season (maybe second to Tommy Rees) and should emerge as a top-four QB in the SEC (behind Murray, Manziel and McCarron).
*Kevin Hogan: How dangerous will this guy be with the extra year's worth of learning Stanford's pro-style offense? All he did in a half a season is close out the schedule by winning four straight against ranked opponents, then the conference championship game and then the Rose Bowl.
*Casey Pachall: As I write this on Sunday morning, I don't think Gary Patterson has officially named a starter. I think we'd all be surprised if it weren't Pachall, who easily is a Top-20 quarterback if he plays. It'll be easy to see the impact of his off-field problems. If he's on the field, it's because he's earned that chance; if he's not, perhaps questions remain about his maturity. If (when) Patterson pegs Pachall as his starter, he's got to leapfrog about 40 guys to get where he belongs on this list.
Also, one guy I will be interested in watching is Austyn Carta-Samuels. Is there anybody anywhere in the country better set up to succeed than Carta-Samuels, who has the best receiving tandem in the country (Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd) and a veteran, stable offensive line?
Henry McKenna (Pac-12): Great discussion. Awesome to hear so many different perspectives.
I'll do my best to shed some light on these Pac-12 guys.
Hundley is more of a proven Top 10 than a Top 5. Maybe at 7 between Bridgewater and Miller. Nitpicky, yes, but we're allowed to be in the Top 10, right?
If Braxton Miller is at 8, then Mariota should be ranked a few spots higher. I think that Miller and Mariota run a very similar offense and both excel in it, except that Mariota's talents transfer more to the pro game, which may even make him the better quarterback. He excelled against stronger opponents than Miller's as well.
I think that Stanford's Hogan and Taylor Kelly should switch places. Kelly plays in an offense that inflated his stats. Hogan played in one that had Stephan Taylor and therefore deflated is. On top of that, Hogan started for the more challenging half of Stanford's schedule. Yet he managed to complete 71.7 percent of his passes and went 3:1 on TDs to INTs as a true sophomore.
I was surprised to see Max Wittek, a guy who was battling for his job, at 35. However, quarterback competitions at USC are a bit more challenging than the one going on at Oregon State. I think it's a fine ranking, but he's liable to have a meteoric rise, or a long fall out of these rankings entirely.
If Wittek makes this list, then so too should Keith Price, who is a much more proven player. He may not be living up to his hype, but he deserves to make it into the Top 40 (at least ... I'd say Top 30). In 2012, he and Golston were the only quarterbacks to beat Stanford. In 2011, he had a 3,000-yard, 33-TD season. He's no scrub.
Thanks for making the list. It looks really solid. Just thought I'd add some (Pac1)2 cents.
Mike Casazza (Big 12 Editor): If I can step out of my league (the Big 12) for a moment...
I don't know what to think about No. 1. I probably echo what everyone has said for and against McCarron. It's a hard pick and it's not really his fault that he hasn't had to do it on his own. Personally, I'd go with Boyd, but probably because it's hard to trust Manziel this season.
Also up top, the bowl game had me selling my Jordan Lynch stock. It's just hard for me to shake that ineptitude. I'd say Fales and Cato are in for better seasons, and Cato and Marshall are going to do crazy things on offense.
I'm also not sure Taylor Martinez's coach would put him that high. I like Jameis Winston, but I think we're all buying into the hype there, and by now, after six or so years of hearing "FLORIDA STATE IS BACK!" you'd think that we'd know better and tap the breaks. It just looked odd to me that he was ahead of Driskel.
As for others, I think Browning at Louisiana Monroe and Broadway at Louisiana Lafayette ought to be a few spots higher. That league's going to be really fun to watch this year and they're two big reasons why.
Within the Big 12, it's so hard to predict because a few of the quarterbacks here are either not guaranteed or not likely to be the starters. It won't affect their ranking very much, if at all, but it's that kind of year.
I'd certainly put Pachall much higher. I'd have him above Ash, who I don't think deserves to be that high, and safely inside the Top 25. He's been considered an NFL prospect for a long time and he's 15-2 as a starter with really, really good stats to go with it. TCU has plenty of offensive weapons to help him out, too. That's the only reach in the Big 12.
I'm not an Ash guy. They're asking him to run an up-tempo offense this year and he's really the starter by default. There are some people who wonder if Ash would be so firmly established as the guy if Tyrone Swoopes weren't a true freshman.
Chelf should beat out Anderson at Oklahoma State, but they're very similar, though Anderson is a better runner. Apart from Pachall, Petty was the most interesting one to me. Baylor's becoming the classic plug-and-play example and Petty has a ton of toys around him. I could see him being much higher if we did this at the end of the year. He can play.
Richardson at Iowa State is probably too high. He only started two games last season and he wasn't good in either of them, though his first game against Kansas was solid ... against Kansas. He has the worst set of receivers to work with in the Big 12 and they're going to use the Pistol this season. Just a lot to worry about there.
Brewer might not win the job at Texas Tech because he's been hurt. I'd sink the starter there if it's the true freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield. I think Jake Waters will get the Kansas State job, which should push him up. He was a stud in JUCO last season. I don't think Millard will be the guy at WVU, either. If it's Clint Trickett, that's worth a few spots upward.
Seigerman: I didn't weigh in on the debate over whether McCarron should be No. 1. It's not a matter of stats or rings. It's the classic head-to-head consideration. If you were choosing up sides, who would you take as your quarterback?
I don't think I'd take McCarron head-to-head over Manziel, Murray, Boyd or Bridgewater. I'm not suggesting that anyone could step into the Alabama situation (handing the ball to NFL running backs behind NFL blockers, never having to come from behind thanks to a defense loaded with NFL talent) and win championships. But I'm not sure McCarron would put up the numbers he has without the advantages he's enjoyed.
Baker: From my vantage point, if you're asking about the most talented quarterback, then McCarron isn't in the Top 7. If the question is most productive? McCarron again isn't even in the Top 15. If it's about the best quarterback in the system that makes both the team and quarterback successful, then your Top 5 in some order is Miller, Mariota, McCarron, Hogan and Manziel. Expected team success with individual player success. I don't think they are all Top 5 based solely on talent or numbers, but based on early-season team and QB expectations, those are your guys.
Dantzler Smith: Putting McCarron at the top makes sense to me if you're taking the long view. He's not the most talented, nor will he finish with the best stats, but he's got a better shot to win the Heisman than anyone else on the QB list.
Alabama returns McCarron's three favorite receiving targets in Kevin Norwood, Christion Jones and Amari Cooper. Then he's got Yeldon at running back. Meanwhile, Manziel lost his best offensive lineman and his top receivers. Plus he's going to play the whole season with a huge target on his back and tons of media scrutiny.
As for Miller, I think he's way overrated. He's the only QB with a completion percentage under 60 percent until you get to Logan Thomas, who we all seem to think should move down.
Also, think about this: Tim Tebow in his four years at Florida in the same system with the same coach that Miller has never completed less than 64.4 percent in his career. So Miller, again in the same system, is a worse passer than a guy who an NFL team put on the punt team.
Russell: I don't know about McCarron having a better shot to win the Heisman than any QB on the list. However, I have no problem with him being at the top right now. I feel Boyd, Murray, Bridgewater and Mariota (who should be in the Top 10) will have the better Heisman arguments by season's end.
Ken Pomponio (MWC Editor): First off, kudos and commendations to Joe for undertaking this endeavor, putting in the work and coming up with some real solid rankings. Also have enjoyed everyone else's input so far. Some thoughtful analysis is being put into this.
Anyway, just a few thoughts/nits to pick with the Mountain West.
*First off, I like four MWC QBs in the Top 21 and six in the Top 36. Very deserving for a strong QB class in a conference that, apart from Boise State, doesn't get a lot of national pub.
*San Jose State's David Fales is ranked ninth, two spots ahead of Fresno State's Derek Carr. I would flip-flop those two simply on the basis that Carr has proven he can get it done (MWC OPOY and conference-record 4,104 passing yards) vs. MWC competition, while Fales' one season of (very impressive) work came against mainly-inferior WAC foes. These two are, though, thatclose.
*Wyoming's Brett Smith comes in at 21, while Nevada's Cody Fajardo is 33rd. Again, I would do a flip-flop here, giving the edge to Fajardo's superior numbers (2,786 passing and 1,121 rushing) playing for a bowl team. Smith should continue his underrated success as a third-year starter, but may be held back somewhat by what looks to be a shaky offensive line in front of him and also must show he can stay healthy after missing almost a fourth of the season with concussion issues a year ago.
*Finally, I think Hawaii first-year starter Taylor Graham is way too low at 116, bringing up the rear in the MWC. I know it's tough because we don't have as much as a single collegiate start to go on, but the strong-armed Graham has the pedigree (son of 10-year NFL QB Kent Graham), two years as a reserve at Ohio State, a Top-15 high school recruiting ranking, the right system (UH's spread attack) with the right coach (Norm Chow, now doubling full-time as the OC) to set the table for what I feel will be a surprisingly strong debut. If I was ranking him, he'd be up in the 60s, ahead of UNLV's Nick Sherry and San Diego State's Adam Dingwell.
Steve Barnes (ACC Editor): Take a closer look at Troy's Corey Robinson. He enters his senior season as the NCAA's active leader in pass attempts, completions and yards. He already holds the Troy career records in those categories.
You would hear more about him if Troy's defense had been able to stop anyone last year. Wayne Bolt is the new defensive coordinator and they will be better. That and Troy's fast-break offense should allow Robinson to put up big numbers. He will also get a chance against Mississippi State, Duke and Ole Miss, and don't be shocked if the Trojans beat State and Duke.
Last year, against Mississippi State, Tennessee and Navy, Robinson was 87-of-119 for 1,057 yards. He only had two touchdowns and two picks. The Trojans lost to State by six, UT by seven and beat Navy by 10.
I am not saying he is going to get drafted (but he will be in an NFL camp), but I do think his arm strength and his quick decision-making could give the kid a long career in the Arena League. He will put up arena-like numbers. As a freshman he set the New Orleans Bowl record for passing yards. He did it midway through the second quarter.
My Top 5 ACC quarterbacks:
1. Tajh Boyd, Clemson. Do I even need to make a comment?
2. Bryn Renner, North Carolina. I think he will be the first ACC QB drafted.
3. Stephen Morris, Miami. He will benefit from having Duke Johnson in his backfield as a running threat.
4. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech. I have him fourth because I think he will take a beating in the opener against Bama and not sure how he'll recover.
5. Jameis Winston, Florida State. A lot of talent with a two-headed monster at tailback and talented receivers. FSU also returns four linemen.
A couple of others to watch:
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss. He has the best deep threat in the SEC with Dontae Montcrief.
Corey Robinson, Troy. NCAA active leader in attempts, completions and yards. In Troy's offense, he will throw it between 40 and 50 times a game.
Bill Gelman (American Athletic Editor): Based on his 2012 performance, I think UCF's Blake Bortles is definitely deserving of the Top-20 position on this list. 25 touchdowns against seven interceptions and 33 touchdowns overall with more than 3,000 yards are eye-catching numbers. Let's not forget another important number: 10, as in the 10 wins he led his team to last season. Plus he had 10 games of two touchdowns or more. He is the first passer in UCF history to earn a first- or second-team C-USA honor. He just hasn't been in the national spotlight as much as many of the others ahead of him on this list.
I think Cincinnati is going to be the team to beat in the American this season. Brendon Kay's arm is going to play a bi part in this storyline in his first full season as a starter. I like his touchdown-to-interception radio (10/2) and 63-percent completion ratio, but he didn't make his first start until Nov. 10 of last season against Temple. Don't get me wrong, he had a very nice game: 13-of-21 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. But I think I would have put him in the 50-to-60 range only because of the limited starts he has had to this point in his career.
On the other hand, I think Houston's David Piland is deserving of a spot in the Top 50 as we are talking about a passer who put together five games of 300 passing yards or more and had just under 3,000 yards for the season. He had the impressive 580-yard performance against LTU, but needed 77 attempts to get it. I think if his touchdown-to-interception ratio was better than 16/12, then his name would be much higher on this list. I say he is Top-50 worthy.