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Sizing Up the Quarterbacks
by David M. Dorey
July 22, 2003
 

2002 Top 10 Quarterbacks

Rank Team Player Ht Wt Age Exp Style
1 MIN Culpepper, Daunte 6-4 260 26 4 R&P
2 OAK Gannon, Rich 6-3 210 38 15 P
3 ATL Vick, Michael 6-0 215 23 2 R&P
4 IND Manning, Peyton 6-5 230 27 5 P
5 BUF Bledsoe, Drew 6-5 240 31 10 P
6 NO Brooks, Aaron 6-4 205 27 4 R&P
7 TEN McNair, Steve 6-2 229 30 8 R&P
8 NE Brady, Tom 6-4 225 26 3 P
9 SF Garcia, Jeff 6-1 195 33 4 R&P
10 KC Green, Trent 6-3 217 33 9 P
11 PHI McNabb, Donovan 6-2 226 27 4 R&P
12 GB Favre, Brett 6-2 225 34 12 P

An interesting trend develops here. I have highlighted those quarterbacks that are the more productive rushers in addition to passing versus the "pure passers". There are two distinct kinds of quarterbacks that are doing well and they are rather different from each other. For a pure passer, the taller the better as none in the top ten were less than 6'3" and the more experienced that they were, the more likely they did better. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady break the mold some, but Manning has always been a cut above and Brady was not able to sustain good numbers all season long.
NFL Player Ht Wt Age Exp Style
ARZ Blake, Jeff 6-0 210 32 11 R&P
BUF Bledsoe, Drew 6-5 240 31 10 P
BAL Boller, Kyle 6-3 234 22 R P
NE Brady, Tom 6-4 225 25 3 P
SD Brees, Drew 6-0 221 24 2 P
NO Brooks, Aaron 6-4 205 27 4 R&P
JAX Brunell, Mark 6-1 217 32 10 P
HOU Carr, David 6-3 223 23 1 P
DAL Carter, Quincy 6-2 213 25 2 R&P
NYG Collins, Kerry 6-5 248 30 8 P
CLE Couch, Tim 6-4 227 25 4 P
MIN Culpepper, Daunte 6-4 260 26 4 R&P
CAR Delhomme, Jake 6-2 205 28 4 P
GB Favre, Brett 6-2 225 33 12 P
MIA Fiedler, Jay 6-2 225 31 7 P
OAK Gannon, Rich 6-3 210 37 15 R&P
SF Garcia, Jeff 6-1 195 33 4 R&P
KC Green, Trent 6-3 217 32 9 P
DET Harrington, Joey 6-4 220 24 1 P
SEA Hasselbeck, Matt 6-4 223 27 4 P
CLE Holcomb, Kelly 6-2 212 29 6 P
DAL Hutchinson, Chad 6-5 237 26 1 P
TB Johnson, Brad 6-5 226 34 11 P
CIN Kitna, Jon 6-2 220 30 6 P
JAX Leftwich, Byron 6-5 231 23 R P
PIT Maddox, Tommy 6-4 220 31 6 P
IND Manning, Peyton 6-5 230 27 5 P
PHI McNabb, Donovan 6-2 226 26 4 R&P
TEN McNair, Steve 6-2 229 30 8 R&P
CAR Peete, Rodney 6-0 230 37 14 P
NYJ Pennington, Chad 6-3 225 26 3 P
DEN Plummer, Jake 6-2 212 28 6 P
WAS Ramsey, Patrick 6-2 217 24 1 P
BAL Redman, Chris 6-3 223 25 3 P
CHI Stewart, Kordell 6-1 217 30 8 R&P
ATL Vick, Michael 6-0 215 22 2 R&P
STL Warner, Kurt 6-2 220 31 5 P

The running quarterbacks were all distinctly younger than the pure passers. Jeff Garcia at 33 is the lone wolf in a crowd that does not otherwise exceed 27 years of age. There are a couple of reasons for this - the quarterbacks coming out of college have been much better runners than in the past in many cases. Teams are using their running skills to make them double threats. The quarterback rich class of 1999 provided four of the top eleven quarterbacks and all of the were runners as well as passers.

The other first round quarterbacks in the 1999 draft were Tim Couch (first overall, pass only), Akili Smith (bust but could run in college) and Cade McNown (pass only). This is relevant to the size issue because the only QB's that are not prototypically tall are the rushing QB's that have done pretty well for themselves. You cannot consider size until you recognize what sort of quarterback you are evaluating.

If there is anything to take away from this, it is that size matters for a pure passing quarterback but less so for a quarterback who often runs. If a quarterback runs, he is more likely to be under the age of 30 which is practical considering the physical requirements of being a good runner and the more punishment that these players receive.

For pure passing quarterbacks, normally the older the better they are. This too makes sense as complex offenses require time and in spite of the hurry-up world of the NFL, it takes time to develop a great passer (not named Peyton). These passing quarterbacks that are most successful are almost always 6'3" tall and weigh more than 210. Their weight is always in proportion to their height as "skinny" quarterbacks like some coming out of college are not succeeding. The increase of running quarterbacks that perform well each season will begin to slant the position away from the traditional veteran pocket passers in some cases. The greater the need for young, fresh legs, the less likely a quarterback will have the lengthy career as we have seen in the past.