NFC North QB Rankings

Scout.com NFL Expert Tom Marino draws upon his 34 years of pro scouting experience and shares his thoughts on the four starting quarterbacks in the NFC North as they prepare for the 2007 season. Check inside for his rankings and analysis...

The one thing that can be said about the four quarterbacks that make up the NFC North division is that they all come from distinctly different backgrounds and are at all different stages of their development.

Brett Favre, enters his 17 season of play (16th at the helm the Packers) and is quite frankly in the twilight of an unbelievable playing career. I got my first look at Brett when he was a freshmen at Southern Mississippi while down in New Orleans assisting the Saints in putting together a replacement team.  And even though at a glance he looked like he was only about 14 years old, one could see there was something special about this player when you watched him in action.

During his illustrious playing career, Favre has overcome personal tragedies, coaching changes, and endured extreme elements to become one of professional football all-time greats, but sadly like Joe Lewis, Willie Mays and Muhammad Ali, and the great John Unitas, in my opinion he appears to have stayed at the dance too long.

In the prime of his playing career, few had the competitive spirit, physical and mental toughness and the playing instincts of Brett Favre. He had an outstanding arm, could make all the necessary throws, was -- and still is -- durable beyond belief. And he's a tremendous team player. His throwing range and ability to throw the deep out from the far hash was a thing to behold.

On the other side of the ledger, one can easily say he sure was unorthodox (mechanics, footwork and throwing delivery), has had a tendency to attempt some crazy throws and surprisingly did not play effectively indoors on turf during his career.  But when the game was on the line, few could match him.

The Packers believe they have all the components in place to win in 2007, but I have very some serious doubts and wonder just what club they are better than within the division. Yes, the time has come for Green Bay to begin the process of finding the replacement to this aging warrior.

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Rex Grossman enters his fifth professional season for the defending NFC Champion Chicago Bears -- and the reviews on him are as varied as the number of flavors of ice cream at Baskins-Robbins.

Grossman, does have a live arm, foot quickness, a quick release, is an intelligent individual and was for the most part an accurate thrower. On the negative side, he is short (plays small), has limited mobility, can be careless with the football in the pocket, has had problems with blitzes, and overall was flat out too inconsistent.

A lot of things went right for the Bears in 2006, but my prediction is they will not repeat as division champions unless Grossman steps up in a big way. I have my doubts.

His name is Tarvaris Jackson, he played at D-II Alabama State, has appeared in only four professional games, threw just 81 balls on the season last year and had twice as many interceptions than touchdown passes (4-2) -- yet nobody in the Vikings football operation appears to be in a state of panic.

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I personally would not be too happy to compete in the competitive NFC North with a quarterback with just two professional starts, but after viewing and visiting Jackson as a college player and watching him briefly in 2006, I have a feeling that this player could well become something special.

He has excellent mechanics, a very strong arm, is highly intelligent, showed excellent body quickness and movement in the pocket and is a very tough-minded individual. Tarvaris is a legitimate drop-back passer, but when it wasn't there, he showed the ability to tuck the ball away and make yards with his feet. He also has the ability to make all the throws, and if in his second season he can assimilate into the Vikings offensive system, the sky is the limit for this player.

My only concern at this stage would be that the game is still too fast for the inexperienced second year player, but even if he stumbles out of the box, Vikings fans, don't give up on this player . He has all the skills necessary to get you to the big one.

Did I just hear someone refer to him as the next Steve McNair? Time will certainly tell.

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I might look pretty darn stupid in the next five to six months with this next statement, but I believe the Detroit Lions will win the NFC North and that quarterback Jon Kitna (if he can remain healthy) will rank among the top five quarterbacks in the NFL in 2007!

I've said it before, but I see a lot of the 1999 St. Louis Rams "Greatest Show On Turf" with this 2007 Detroit Lions squad, but just maybe…..better!!!

Kitna enters his 11th season having thrown for a career high 4,208 yards in his first season under the tutelage of NFL's best offensive coordinator, Mike Martz. I read a quote in 2006 where Kitna stated that he learned more about the QB position in 2006 then he had in the previous 9 years combined.  I have news for Kitna and the entire receiving corps ... "you ain't seen nothing yet!"  In my mind it is virtually impossible to grasp the Martz offense in just one season.

For the record, I've always liked Kitna's arm strength, throwing range, velocity, his ability to throw the ball vertically and stick it into a tight window. He shows solid game management skills. He is not a particularly adept runner, but when it's there, he can and will advance the ball upfield. I like his toughness and don't underestimate the experience factor with this player.

Kitna still throws too many interceptions to my way of thinking, and he took too many sacks in 2006, but that may not have been entirely all his fault.

Does the quarterback make the system or does the system make the quarterback? Well, that question might well be worth discussing at another time and place, but let me just say today that if one takes a solid QB, gives him some weapons and schools him in the most advanced system in pro football history, the sky's the limit!!!

NFC North QB Rankings:

1) Jon Kitna
2) Brett Favre
3) Tarvaris Jackson
4) Rex Grossman


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