Ranking the QB Candidates

Before head coach Tony Sparano said he had no timetable for picking a starting quarterback, offensive coordinator Dan Henning and quarterbacks coach David Lee both said that it was too early to rank the three candidates -- Josh McCown, John Beck and Chad Henne. That, obviously, is not going to stop us from doing just that.

We'll first start by breaking down the three quarterbacks, examining their pros and cons.


NFL Experience: Seventh year

Ht: 6-4 Wt: 215

Pros: McCown has an above-average arm, he's got great size, he's got toughness and he's got experience.

Cons: Partly because of questionable decision-making, McCown has been terribly inconsistent throughout his NFL career. He's thrown more interceptions than touchdowns for his career.

Coach's comment: "Well, he definitely has the edge of experience, that's in his favor for sure. He's been knocked around, but he's had some good games. He's had several games where he threw for over 300 yards. He's got about 35-40 starts. That's invaluable also. But the No. 1 thing about him is he's got great leadership qualities. I mean, he's a wonderful leader, just a natural leader. I mean he'll get in the huddle, get two high fives, two low fives and call the huddle. You like that about him. I'm glad he's here. I really am."

-- QB coach David Lee


NFL Experience: Second season

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 216

Pros: A great leader with tremendous intangibles. Will work harder than anybody. Has accuracy and a strong enough arm.

Cons: Really struggled when he was in the lineup as a rookie in 2007. Showed a lot of hesitation. Also has a lower-than-ideal release point on his passes, although coaches have worked with him on that.

Coach's comment: "You talk about a warrior. As a worker, this John Beck … fellas, he was over there in that (practice) bubble from Jan. 15 on. It was five days a week for a long time, then it was four days a week. He accumulated over 7,500 throws before we hit a camp out here of (just working on) some footwork things, some release point things that I had convinced him needed correcting. He agreed and he never looked back. I'm really pleased with his work ethic and what he did in his offseason. But yes, we did evaluate those four games and we tried to flush what happened last year and start this thing again."

-- David Lee


NFL Experience: Rookie

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 228

Pros: Perhaps the most physically gifted of the three quarterbacks. Has a big arm and good size. Tough. Great resume, having started all four years at Michigan. Can make all the throws.

Cons: Is a rookie. A bit inconsistent at Michigan and didn't quite reach the high expectations that were placed on him. Tends to try to do too much.

Coach's comment: "Chad came in here at rookie camp and we hit that third-day install and he had a few mental errors. I said, ‘Uh-oh, we've got overload.' He's come back since and he has done a great job mentally of absorbing this. He has not gotten lost. I knew he was going to and he hasn't, which is a great credit to his study habits and how hard he has prepared for each and every practice. But I think if there's one thing that strikes me about this kid, if there's one word … he's just unflappable. Right now, you chew him out, (he wants to know what's the) next play. He takes criticism. There's no sense of throwing anybody else under the bus. There are no excuses with him. He's tough."

-- David Lee


So, how would we handicap this race? McCown and Beck have been splitting time with the first-team offense so far in the spring, which would seem to indicate they have the edge on Henne at this time, but that's also a function of Henne having joined the team at a later date.

The truth is that on ability and potential alone, Henne probably would have to rank No. 1. But the truth is rookie quarterbacks rarely succeed in the NFL, and one would think the Dolphins would rather have Henne on the bench.

Of the other two, McCown clearly has the edge in terms of experience, but he's also not done enough in his NFL career to fully trust without him proving himself in the preseason.

Finally, there's Beck, who was really bad last season but also wasn't helped by the fact he operated within a banged-up and under-staffed offense.

The strides a quarterback makes between the first and second year can be significant, and Beck's work ethic would lead one to believe he'll get a lot closer to his potential in the upcoming season. The question now is whether the Dolphins were right in making a second-round pick in the first place.

So ... in terms of a ranking -- and we remind you, this is our ranking right now, subject to change -- Henne clearly would have to rank at No. 3 because of the inexperience factor.

Between the other two, we'd go with Beck over McCown simply because McCown has had a lot more chances to prove himself and really hasn't done so, whereas we've only seen a little of Beck.

Sure, what we saw wasn't pleasant, but it's not like Beck suddenly went from a promising draft prospect to a lousy quarterback overnight. Obviously, the first significant test will come in the preseason games, but we like what we've seen of Beck in the spring.

Keep in mind, it's a long way before the start of the regular season and it's a long way before Sparano makes a final decision, so a lot can and will change before now and September.

But for now, the feeling here is that Beck would rank as the top candidate to start.

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