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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
On Clayton's QB rankings

By Paul Kuharsky

John Clayton’s annual preseason quarterback rankings always stir up good debate.

He puts both Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub among his elite 13. He spells out what's elite in his eyes and it is sensible.

I think that’s an awfully big group, however. Tier two is called the “Chad Pennington Division.” There is a lot of room between elite and Chad Pennington at his best. So I wish these guys were divided into four categories instead of just three.

Here are Clayton's thoughts on the quarterbacks of the AFC South who could play on opening day, with comment from me too.

THE ELITE

3. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

Clayton: The signing of Kerry Collins with the Colts is a little unnerving because it means Manning might miss regular-season time after 208 consecutive starts while waiting for nerves in his neck to heal from offseason surgery. The Colts gave him a five-year, $90 million contract -- they know Manning will play. They just don't know when.

Arrow is pointing: flat

Kuharsky: Way too many people writing him off. Even if he missed a bunch of games, once he’s back why would we presume he won’t be great again.

12. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

Clayton: I don't know if Schaub can do more. He's thrown for 9,140 yards and 53 touchdowns the past two seasons, but that hasn't been good enough to get the Texans to the playoffs. In fact, they ended up 6-10 last season. He needs some help from his defensive friends.

Arrow is pointing: flat

Kuharsky: Agree with that assessment. He could stand a bit taller at crucial moments. Last season he had some lousy luck, but also some lousy clutch play.

CHAD PENNINGTON DIVISION

22. David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars

Clayton: Garrard never has really received credit for how well he has played at times in Jacksonville. He has a respectable 57.3 QBR, but after this season, he's DFA, designated for assignment. Blaine Gabbert will either get a chance to start this year or will be the starting quarterback next year.

Arrow is pointing: down

Kuharsky: If Garrard starts slowly, he will accelerate his ending in Jacksonville. The pressure is big and I am not certain it will bring out his best.

24. Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans

Clayton: Despite last year's playoff victory over the Saints, the Seahawks decided to cut ties with Hasselbeck and let him move on to Tennessee, where he's the bridge to Jake Locker. Hasselbeck's been banged up in recent years in Seattle, but he goes to a team with a good offensive line and a nice running game.

Arrow is pointing: up

Kuharsky: A significant upgrade. That may say more about who he’s replacing, but the leadership, reliability and accountability are major ingredients for a team that lacked both with Vince Young.

HIT OR MISS DIVISION

29. Kerry Collins, Indianapolis Colts

Clayton: Am I missing something? Wasn't Collins offered the chance to be the Titans' quarterback and take the Matt Hasselbeck job of grooming Jake Locker? Now, he's in Indianapolis filling in for Peyton Manning. All of the sudden the AFC South has become the care-takers division for quarterbacks.

Arrow is pointing: flat

Kuharsky: No, Collins retired during the lockout and the Titans always preferred Hasselbeck. Collins is an upgrade backing up Manning, but the offensive line and running game better produce for him if and when he plays, or there will be problems.

Rank them all yourself, here.