We had a shakeup amongst AFC West quarterbacks this weekend. Oakland traded for new starter Jason Campbell and Denver drafted Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who the Broncos hope becomes a starter soon.
Because of the action, it is time to rank the quarterbacks, in my opinion, in the division. I’m only ranking the players who I project to be the starting quarterback when the season starts.
1. Philip Rivers, San Diego: OK, it’s not even close. Rivers is a top-five NFL quarterback who is getting better. He is 28 and in the prime of his career. He has premier skills, a smart player and he is a terrific leader. He is the full package. He’s the best player in this division and the primary reason why San Diego is head-and-shoulders above the competition in the division.
2. Jason Campbell, Oakland: After Rivers, the quarterback class tightens quickly. I think Campbell is slightly better than Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel. It’s very close. All three of the quarterbacks are in the same range. But I give Campbell the edge over Orton and Cassel because he is good fit and his big arm fits what Oakland wants to do. I think Campbell is a player who could be entering his prime.
3. Kyle Orton, Denver: Orton had a solid year for the Broncos last season. But he seems like a player who has reached his ceiling. The Broncos clearly must feel that way since they drafted Tebow to be the quarterback of the future. Orton is a bridge player in Denver. He is not bad, and he played better last year than I thought. Teams can do worse than with Orton behind center.
4. Matt Cassel, Kansas City: Look, this isn’t a major indictment on Cassel. I could easily see him move up to No. 2 on this list next year. He is a decent player. But I think he needs to have a strong season in 2010 to show he is better than Orton. He’ll get the opportunity. He has a better supporting cast than he did last year and he’ll have better protection. Cassel can get some things done. Now, he has to show it.
This is now a fairly respectable quarterback division when you trade out JaMarcus Russell for Campbell.