Scouting the AFC West: Quarterbacks

A position breakdown of the AFC West quarterbacks. Who is the best player? Has the most to overcome? Is the true unsung hero? Who has the most to prove? Who will improve the most? Where do the San Diego Chargers quarterbacks fit on the list? SDBoltReport.com tackles these questions and many more.

Mr. Overrated: Matt Mauck (QB) Denver Broncos

It might be heartless assigning this title to a player who has yet to play a down in the NFL, but why Denver decided to draft him in the first place is the bigger mystery than whether Mauck will make the team or not. There has been players who are bigger, faster, stronger, and with more intangibles to not make it than he. Sure, Mauck led his team to a title, but LSU won its title more from their running game and amazing defense than quarterback play. The one positive for Mauck is he did not lose LSU any games, but generally more is required from college quarterback making a jump to the pros. What does Denver know that everyone else does not?

Mr. Underrated: Jake Plummer (QB) Denver Broncos

Denver was a different team with Plummer at their helm. Many sports writers are making big deals over the loss of Clinton Portis and Shannon Sharpe. The bigger question regarding Denver's success is whether Plummer can stay healthy all year. Plummer has the rare ability of making something out of nothing. Denver was the new start Plummer desperately needed, and with them, he can finally live up to the hype that surrounded him coming out of college. Under Plummer last season Denver was 9-2. Without him they were 1-4.

Old faces, new places: Kerry Collins (QB) Oakland Raiders

It is still not certain whether Collins will be a long term fix or just provide Oakland with an interim solution until they find a quarterback of the future. Many feel Collins was mistreated in New York. He did after all lead the Giants to a Super Bowl. Collins still has plenty left in the tank, but he is going to find himself in yet another rebuilding project. If Rich Gannon can squeeze another year out of his wearing body, Collins will be relegated to a back up role. After next season, Collins's role on the team is uncertain.

Is he Yoda or a waste of Space?: Doug Flutie (QB) San Diego Chargers

When most speculated Flutie would be cut, he signed a fresh new three year contract. Obviously, this contract will be salary cap friendly, but it is clear that the Chargers still look upon Flutie as an asset to their team. When Flutie was brought in with Drew Brees, too many assumed he was positioning himself to be a mentor. Flutie is too competitive for that. Now, though, he would have to accept a role such as this if he hopes to make it through training camp. Flutie has talked about wanting to pursue his post football career with the Chargers, so maybe he is positioning himself for doing just that.

Put up or shut up time: Drew Brees (QB) San Diego Chargers

This is a very touchy subject for Charger fans. Many feel that Brees is too small and is not capable of leading this team to a respectable level. With that said, Brees does have an adamant following that would rather place the blame on the Charger administration than he. The reality is Brees has not been in an ideal situation in San Diego, but other quarterbacks in the league have done more with worse. Everyone associated in this administration has been successful in the past. So when does the time come for the majority of the blame to be put on Brees' shoulders?

Same name, new player: Kerry Collins (QB) Oakland Raiders

Even though Collins finds himself in a similar situation, his role in this league has drastically changed. Collins's second chance reign is over, and he has now officially been labeled a "journeyman quarterback". Maybe he needs to start taking financial advice from the likes of Kordell Stewart, John Kitna, and Jeff Blake. No matter how good one of these quarterbacks performs in a given year, they will not receive a long term commitment and will always have the cloud of a new franchise quarterback looming over their head. Collins might be too good for this role, but that will not stop the "gurus" from labeling quarterback as a "position of need" for Oakland come this off-season.

Not quite there yet: Marques Tuiasosopo (QB) Oakland Raiders

The Raiders drafted Tuiasosopo the same year the Chargers drafted Drew Brees. Apparently it was a bad year for second round quarterbacks. The Raiders where hoping that Tuiasosopo would evolve and one day take over the offense once Rich Gannon steps down. Last season was a good opportunity to see how much Tuiasosopo had learned, but unfortunately, he was injured. Consequently, Tuiasosopo has a gigantic question mark looming over his head. Now, his back is against the wall and Tuiasosopo still has a mountain to climb.

Newest addition with the biggest impact potential: Philip Rivers (QB) San Diego Chargers

Teams that start a rookie quarterback usually become worse before they get better. There is a dilemma for the Charger staff in this decision, though. If San Diego has another double digit loss season, a house cleaning could be coming – again. Obviously, the Chargers do not have faith in Brees or they would not have drafted a quarterback. If Rivers does start, San Diego will desperately try to scratch together seven or eight wins. The future is bright for Rivers because next season the Chargers have a lot of salary cap room and two first round picks to play with. If the administration gets past this initial hurdle, then expect a long honeymoon with Rivers and the current administration.

On the hottest seat: Rich Gannon (QB) Oakland Raiders

Gannon is very much like the energizer bunny. He is currently one of the oldest players in the game, but up until last season did not show it. He is smart, accurate, and experienced and believes he is still capable. Gannon brings new meaning to the term "late bloomer". But no matter how late of a bloomer he is, age will eventually become a factor as it did last season. Now, Gannon has to prove he can still produce, but the odds are against him. On the bright side, if anyone ever defies the reality of age, historically it has been with Oakland. It should be interesting to see if he defies it again.

El numero uno: Trent Green (QB) Kansas City Chiefs

Up until last season many wondered whether Green's success in St. Louis was a fluke. Fans should have none better since one of the first decisions of Dick Vermeil was to bring him to Kansas City. Green is a smart player who has escalated himself to one of premiere quarterbacks in the league. Green is the type of player that makes those around him better. Even though he has a great tight end, he has managed to put up excellent numbers with a mediocre receiving core. Some might contribute this to the system Vermeil runs. Others think that it has been Green who makes Vermeil's offensive the dynamic power that it is. It is probably a little bit of both.

RANKING THE SKILLS

Most accurate: Rich Gannon (QB) Oakland Raiders

Yes he is old, but his arm is still good. Gannon has the ideal arm strength and pinpoint accuracy that the west coast offense needs in order to function. If the offensive line could protect him better, then Gannon might have another good year or two left in him.

Most mobile: Jake Plummer (QB) Denver Broncos

Plummer is more dangerous when he rolls out of the pocket than when he stays in. Not only could Plummer be effective as a scrambler, he can throw well on the run also. The play is never over until it is over with Plummer as quarterback.

Best technician: Trent Green (QB) Kansas City Chiefs

Green is the best because he throws for a lot of yards; has a high touchdown to interception ratio; and completes over 63 percent of his passes. Green knows where everyone on the field is at all times, which is how he is able to put up the gaudy numbers that he does. Green also does a better job spreading the wealth around than just about anyone in the league.

Most clutch: Jake Plummer (QB) Denver Broncos

No, he is not the next comeback king in Denver. But, Plummer is electrifying and has a knack for turning up big in big games. In the eleven games that Plummer played, his quarterback rating was over 105 in six of them.

RANKING THE CONFERENCE

1. Kansas City Chiefs: As long as Trent Green is behind the helm, the Chiefs will have the most consistency from the quarterback position in the AFC West. Green is always on target and has one of the best offenses in football.

2. Denver Broncos: While Trent Green might be the most consistent, Plummer is the most exciting. Often times the team that prevails is the team that makes the biggest plays when one least expects it. This is what Plummer brings to the table.

3. Oakland Raiders: Oakland has an experienced group leading their team. The problem is that they might be too experienced. If Gannon stays healthy, and with the addition of Collins, Oakland is in solid position. But it will not take a lot for the wheels to come off.

4. San Diego Chargers: The Chargers will arguably have a tougher time with this position than anyone in the NFL. Philip Rivers, on the other hand, has succeeded initially at every level in which he played. If Rivers has a solid rookie year, he might be catapulted to the top.

All AFC West team:

QB - Trent Green- Kansas City Chiefs
QB - Jake Plummer - Denver Broncos

Almost there, special teams next in line.

Byran Martin can be reached at Byran@sandiegosports.net

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