Without question, quarterback is the most important position in football. Actually, it might be the most important position in all of sports when you really think about it. With that simple concept in mind, if you wamt to win in the NFL, you need to have an elite quarterback, unless you're the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and have the best defense of all-time (yeah, they were better than the 1985 Bears, but that's an argument for another time).
Here's the good news NFL fans. Despite guys like Colin Kaepernick and Brandon Weeden stinking up the joint, 2015 has seen a lot of talented young QBs take the next step in their progression to elite status. A lot of beleaguered franchises have been stuck with terrible quarterback play for a long time and it looks like they might be finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. While it's way too early to christen any of the guys on this list as the next coming of Joe Montana, it's definitely appropriate to say they're much better than JaMarcus Russell ever was...though we guess that's not really saying much.
Just to be clear, with this list, we're looking at QBs who are making strides in 2015 and who might be able to burst into the top 5 QBs in the league in short order. So, don't expect to find Aaron Rodgers of Tom Brady gracing our list. If you don't already know they're good, perhaps football isn't the sport for you. Instead, let's take a look at 12 QBs who could lead their team to the promise land in the near future.
12 Blaine Gabbert
Wait a second! Please hear us out before you immediately leave our site and never come back. We did see Blaine Gabbert play with Jacksonville. We know he threw more INTs than TDs in his time there and lost 22 games. We know he was a bust for the Jags as the 10th overall pick in 2011 (though it's not his fault they reached for him).
However, despite all that, Gabbert has looked pretty damn good for the 49ers in his four starts this year. Playing behind a shoddy o-line with a lackluster running game and average options at WR, Gabbert has managed five touchdowns (and one impressive rushing TD) compared to three interceptions and has managed to win two games, with one coming in overtime on the road against the Bears (who were in playoff contention at the time). No one at TheSportster is claiming Gabbert is Pro Bowl bound right now, but he's definitely shown enough that he should be considered for the starting role in San Fran next year.
11 Jay Cutler
Who said an old dog can't learn new tricks? Even though he's already 32-years-old, we definitely believe that Cutler should be considered promising going into 2016. Be honest with yourself for a second and imagine what you thought about Cutler going into this season. You, like everyone else, thought he was done in the league and that the Bears would cut him after another terrible season. Well, Adam Gase has reinvigorated Cutler and has him playing intelligent football for the first time in years. He has 14 TDs in 11 games and only seven interceptions, which is substantially less than the 18 picks he had last year.
Will Cutler revert to his old ways next year? It's entirely possible, especially if Adam Gase leaves to become a head coach. However, if the Bears can get some pieces on defense and Cutler can continue in this vein, he still has the tools to lead the Bears to the playoffs.
10 Teddy Bridgewater
Let's be honest. Teddy Bridgewater has an advantage over every QB on this list and it's that he gets to play with Adrian Peterson every week. He hasn't exactly been terrific this year, but his team is 8-3 and in a playoff spot, so he hasn't been terrible either. More of a game manager this year, he's matched his 8 TD throws with 8 INTs and need to work on his decision making a little more. However, with some more grooming and better pass catchers (Stefon Diggs is a good start), Bridgewater can still become a solid QB in the NFL.
9 Johnny Manziel
Again, give us a second to explain! While we can't protect his actions off the field, the game film on Johnny Manziel definitely demonstrates some growth in his game. He's making good reads, not running out of the pocket every other play and has limited his interceptions. Though he needs to work on his fumbling issues, Manziel has grown as a quarterback and, when he's allowed on the field, has shown that he can be a dynamic playmaker for the Browns. If they get Josh Gordon back next season and if Manziel keeps his nose clean this summer, the Browns can be dynamic on offense, especially with Duke Johnson Jr. in the backfield.
Let's hope the Browns don't do the typical Browns thing and give up on Manziel a year early...
8 Jimmy Garoppolo
Remember when Tom Brady was supposed to be suspended? Well, there's a reason the Patriots didn't seem too stressed and his name is Jimmy Garoppolo. The Pats are capable of developing studs at any position and they might've struck gold again with their backup QB. During the pre-season, when we assumed he'd be starting real games in September, Garoppolo was solid, throwing for 554 yards with two touchdowns. He also demonstrated a skill that Brady lacks and that's the ability to pick up yards with his legs.
While we won't assume that he's going to push Brady out of a job, Garoppolo is shaping up to be a good option for New England when Tom Terrific retires.. or if another team comes calling with some draft picks.
7 Kirk Cousins
You like that? Sorry, we couldn't resist.
Amazing post-game rants aside, Kirk Cousins has been steady for the Redskins this season and offered them stability that RGIII simply cannot. Guess who's the most accurate passer in the league, as of the posting of this piece? Well, it's Mr. Kirk Cousins at a sterling 68.6%. While he still turns over the ball a little too much with 10 INTs on the year, he has 17 TDs in 12 games and is a perfect fit for Jay Gruden's offense. He's also surrounded by some solid talent in DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed and Matt Jones.
If the Redskins stay the course and Cousins continues to develop, there's no reason he can't take the next step and help the Redskins have a potent offense.
6 Brock Osweiler
It's pretty simply in our eyes. If you can out-duel Tom Brady on Sunday Night Football, you have chance to become a quality starting QB in the NFL. In week 12, under the bright lights, Brock Osweiler led his team to an overtime victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots. Now, can we comfortably say that he's the new John Elway? Not at all, but he's 3-0 thus far as a starter and has been pretty close to perfect in those three games. While he has the benefit of an elite defense, he's still out-dueled Jay Cutler, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. That's not a bad way to begin your career as a starting quarterback and with top WRs in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanual Sanders, Osweler has a bright future ahead of him, that might end with him getting a Super Bowl win.
5 Tyrod Taylor
Many casual fans assume that Tyrod Taylor can only run and isn't a particularly solid pocket passer. Well, those casual fans would terribly wrong. Well Taylor can certainly look like Michael Vick in his prime with his electric, game-breakings runs, he's also proven to be a terrific passer. Let's take a quick look at this stats so far. In ten games, he has 17 passing touchdowns and only four interceptions. On top of that, he has three more rushing TDS. He's completed 64.9% of his passes, which has him tied for 8th in the league with Matthew Stafford and has him ahead of passers like Alex Smith, Carson Palmer and even Tom Brady. If Taylor, McCoy and Watkins are healthy, we'd be extremely nervous to meet these guys in the playoffs and the future looks incredibly bright beyond that. The Bills found themselves a gem.
4 Blake Bortles
We know that it's hard for Jaguars fans to have optimism, but it might be time to get excited about the future. For the first time since David Garrard, the Jags have a quarterback who is capable of bringing them to the playoffs. Guess who has more passing TDs, at this point of the season, than Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Drew Brees? You guessed it, it's Blake Bortles with 27 TDs. With a talented young RB in TJ Yeldon and two exciting talents at WR in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, Jacksonville has an exciting future ahead of them. While Bortles needs to work on his turnovers (he has 17 INTs on the year), we've seen plenty of progression from Bortles this year and it should be enough for Jaguars fans to be optimistic.
3 Marcus Mariota
Though he hasn't got the wins yet, with a 3-7 record on the season, Marcus Mariota has looked solid for the Titans so far. Though he has 19 TDs and 9 INTs for the season, his most impressive statistic is his competition percentage, which stands at 63.4%. Rookie QBs typically struggle to have a completion percentage higher than 60% but Mariota is well over that mark and has demonstrated the ability to make good decisions on the field. On top of that, he's also showcased his game-breaking ability, rushing for an 87-yard touchdown against the Jaguars in week 13. If the Titans get him some more weapons on top of Delanie Walker and Dorial Green-Beckham, there's no denying Mariota's potential as an elite QB in the league.
2 Jameis Winston
After a tough first four weeks in the NFL, many experts were already mocking the Buccaneers selection of Winston as the first overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft. However, since that point, he has 11 TDs and only 4 INTs, along with a solid 6-3 record, including wins over solid teams like the Falcons (twice), Eagles and Cowboys. Equipped with terrific weapons in Mike Evans, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Doug Martin, the future could be right now for Tampa, as they're only one game back of a wildcard spot in the NFC. With three games against teams with losing records, it's possible that Winston might be able to make the playoffs in his first year.
1 Derek Carr
Last week, NFL.com published an article where they re-drafted the 2014 NFL Draft class. Guess who they had the Texans take at number one? Derek Carr. Though it's unlikely they'd have selected Carr due to their experience with his older brother, there's no denying that the Raiders got an absolutely steal with Carr in the second round.
It's been a tough decade for Raiders fans, as they've watched QBs like JaMarcus Russell, Aaron Brooks and Kerry Collins stink up the joint. Well, they finally have their franchise QB in Derek Carr. With 26 TDs and 9 INTs on the year, Carr has brought the Raiders back into relevancy. Though they're likely not going to make the playoffs this year, the Raiders have been in a bunch of close games and could get over the hump as early as next year. Oh, and he'll get to throw the ball to Amari Cooper for a long time. Get excited Raidernation.
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