An in-depth look at NFL Starting Quarterbacks

For those who do not yet know me, or who aren’t yet veterans of the Joboo comments section, you might not know that I have a history of making some pretty wild predictions. Some call these predictions “outside the box”. Others call them plain crazy. I like to call them going out on a limb to support teams and players that I think are worthy of it. Once in a while they come true (perhaps the Tigers winning the Al Central this year). More often then not, they don’t come to full fruition but come close (Jason Marquis winning 20 games this year- he won’t but only 1 pitcher in the NL has more wins so that’s still pretty cool.)

Click read more for some not so bold predictions, but some analysis of the NFL QBs…

Anyways, the reason I bring this up is because, starting tomorrow, I will be writing a weekly Thursday Joboo column featuring my 5 “outside the box” predictions for the week. You can look forward to tuning in every Thursday to start pounding on them and telling me how ridiculous of a pick I just made. Then, 6 months later, you can look back and see just how good the Champ really is. In the meantime, I present one last “regular” column in regards to NFL Starting QBs, and which conferences produce the most. You’ll basically see a lot of data, but I think its pretty interesting. Doug’s relentless bashing of the MAC prompted me to make the bold claim that “no conference has more NFL starting QBs than the MAC does”. I said this on a hunch, and then decided to jump into the research. For purposes of my research, I went with the conference that the school was in when the QB was in college. For example, I did not count Daunte Culpepper as a MAC QB because UCF joined the MAC two years after he left. Michael Vick counts as Big East because VA Tech left after he left. You get the idea. So, as you will see, there really are no other conferences in college football who have more starting NFL QBs than the MAC (although two are tied). I’ll present to you the data, and then make few more brief comments afterward. Here we go:


Conference # of starting NFL QBs QBs

MAC 4 (Chad Pennington, Ben Rothlisberger, Byron Leftwich, and Charlie Frye)

PAC Ten 4 (Drew Bledsoe, Mark Brunell, Carson Palmer, and Jake Plummer)

Big East 4 (Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselback, Marc Bulger, and Mike Vick)

Big Ten 3 (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Trent Green)

SEC 3 (Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, and Rex Grossman)

ACC 3 (Phillip Rivers, Brad Johnson, and Aaron Brooks)

WAC 2 (David Carr and Billy Volek)

Conference USA 2 (Brett Favre and JP Lossman)

Mountain West 1 (Alex Smith)

Atlantic Sun 1 (Daunte Culpepper)

Big 12 1 (Chris Simms)

Gateway Conference 1 (Kurt Warner)

Sunbelt 1 (Jake Delhomme)

North Central Conference 1 (Jon Kitna)


Well, that’s all 31 of them. I have a few quick observations to make, and then I’ll leave it up to readers if they want to make anymore. I think its pretty astonishing that the Big 12 has only 1 NFL starting QB. Its also pretty cool that the MAC has 4. Before anybody freaks out and says that Rothlisberger is hurt and not a starting QB, his backup Charlie Batch is also a MAC QB, so they still have 4 starting on opening day. I believe the Big Ten has a good shot of jumping up from 3 to 5 at some point during the season because they have two very capable backups in Kerry Collins and Brian Griese. These guys have to be starting at some point. Anyways, I am not saying that the MAC is a powerhouse conference or anything like that. But I am saying that they player better football then a lot of the national media gives them credit for, and rank with the best of them in terms of consistently producing NFL-quality starting quarterbacks. That’s all for now, but tune in tomorrow for the debut of my crazy predictions.

  1. Quick question, with how much the conference landscape is changing it looks like you put them down in the conference they played in rather than where the school plays now if i’m reading that right? If that’s the case, how does Marshall leaving the MAC effect the quality of football and quarterbacks given that they produced 50% of the quarterbacks you’ve listed?

  2. Yeah, I thought it was most fair to put them down in the conference that they were while they played-the conference that truly “produced” them. I didn’t think it would make any sense to go by the conference the school joined years after they left.

    The Marshall thing is a concern (as you mentioned, Pennington and Leftwich came from Marshall), but not a major concern.
    Had the only MAC NFL QBs been from Marshall, it would be devastating for them to leave. However, I really think the MAC has become a spread-out consistent QB breeding league. Rothlisberger came from Miami-Ohio. Frye from Akron. Both of them entered the league after the two from Marshall. I think the new trend has been other teams stepping up. Marshall hasn’t produced an NFL QB since Leftwich or Pennington, and they don’t have any promising guys in there to indicate they will anytime in the near future. Conversely, some other MAC teams do. The MAC will do fine with its NFL-QB reputation in the post-Marshall era.

  3. Shawn Glasser said:

    Well champ, Kerry Collins is the expected starter for the titans so then the Big Ten has another QB because he went to Penn State.

    With Rex Grossman, it is likely that his time as the starter will be limited and Brian Griese will take over and he went to Michigan.

    All that aside, the old cliche of quality over quantity comes into play. Simply making the argument that a significant amount of players in a starting role come from one conference, the MAC, does not make your rebuttal to Doug any stronger.

    I can make a similar argument that the WHL has put out the largest number of NHL starters over the past decade but I have yet to see any of those WHL players winning the big hardware in the NHL (With the Exception of Cam Ward winning the Conn Smyth).

    Anywho, I enjoyed the column champ, but you will have to try harder to convince anyone that MAC games have the “importance” of some of the other conferences.

  4. As far as the Kerry Collins/Brian Griese thing goes, I must ask whether or not you read my column in its entirety. I mentioned both of those players, and the chance that they might have of starting in the near future. For the record, Kerry Collins is not the expected Opening Day Starter in Tennesse. But if you take a second to review my column in its entirety, I did address both of those Big Ten QBs.

    As far as bringing home the hardware goes, I believe Mr. Rothlisberger did that last year. I don’t really see this as a quantity/quality sort of a thing. By your own opinion, Leftwich is a solid Fantasy QB. Pennington and Frye have a lot to prove, but are by no means in the cellar of NFL QBs.

  5. Shawn Glasser said:

    Champ, i was concurring on your point that the big ten will probably jump the MAC. I was merely saying that Collins is going to be the starter so you could change the Big Ten’s number. But who really cares about depth charts with teams that will challenge for the April trophy.

    I also forgot to add that McNair went to Alcorn State, you forgot to include him on the list, there are 32 teams in the NFL champ.

    Onto your point about bringing home the hardware … where was Ben’s MVP trophy? Sure he held the Lombardi trophy but it was not because he played so amazing, even Poli will tell you the defense was a big reason for them even making it to the Superbowl.

    I did say that Leftwich was a solid fantasy QB and i will stick to that, he is a good quarterback. Pennington on the other hand has never amounted to what was expected of him at all. He might not be a cellar qb but he is definitely down in the pack. As far as Frye is concerned, are we going to see a Kyle Boller performance outta Frye in the AFC north or will he compare to Ben (which is a solid qb as well).

    I’ll leave my point with this champ: If you could pick any 10 quarterbacks outta the 32 to either form a franchise around or whatnot, are you going to pick any MAC conference qb’s? I’m betting no because on my depth chart, i would rank the qb’s in this order:

    1. Brady (NE)
    2. P. Manning (IND)
    3. Palmer (CIN)
    4. Hasselback (SEA)
    5. Delhomme (CAR)
    6. McNabb (PHI)
    7. E Manning (NYG)
    8. Warner (ARI)
    9. Bulger (STL)
    10. Vick (ATL)
    11. Culpepper (MIA)
    12. Green (KC)
    13. Bledsoe (DAL)
    14. Brees (NO)
    15. Plummer (DEN)
    16. Leftwich (JAX)
    17. Roethlisberger (PIT)
    18. McNair (BAL)
    19. Rivers (SD)
    20. Brunell (WAS)
    21. Johnson (MIN)
    22. Favre (GB)
    23. Simms (TB)
    24. Frye (CLE)
    25. Kitna (DET)
    26. Brooks (OAK)
    27. Smith (SF)
    28. Pennington (NYJ)
    29. Carr (HOU)
    30. Volek (TEN)
    31. Grossman (CHI)
    32. Lossman (BUF)

    I’d put Collins around the 23-24 mark if he is the starter and Griese just behind Kitna (depending upon Collins being starter).

    So i hope you get my point about my quantity over quality argument coming from the MAC.

  6. Very solid point Shawn, I agree I don’t think Big Ben is anything special at quarterback, but some can argue that is because of Pittsburgh’s system. By all accounts they plan on opening it up a little more this year so Ben will get his chance to either crack the top ten or prove that he’s middle of the pack (where I think he’ll most likely end up).

    I also noticed you talked about Leftwich’s fantasy value, and while its probably not the most important thing I realize that he’s statistically a good quarterback. You know who’s a better fantasy QB? Peyton Manning, but quite frankly I wouldn’t want to be putting my hopes of starting a successful franchise with that drooler behind center.

    Anyway thanks for the in depth comment and keep them coming.

  7. I apologize for the mis-print of leaving Steve McNair out. He was on my list as a member of the Southwest Athletic Conference, and I must have looked it over when typing the column. Again, apologies go out to all the Ravens and Steve McNair fans for that slip.

    Your list seems fair enough. I mean I would consider Rothlisberger a top 10 QB already, but certainly not top 5 or anything.

    I realize the MAC QBS aren’t all top 10 QBs or anything, but my argument is that no conference has QBs rated that high, and that the MAC is just as good or better in terms of overall average quality of their QBs than any other conference.

    According to your rankings, the Big East would earn that honor, but in my opinion, there is no way that Vick is a top 10 QB. I also think you have McNabb rated way too high. However, its all opinions and I respect where you are coming from.

  8. So yeah Grossman 31? Obviously this is hindsight but his lack of production was always injury caused. He’s always had the arm and that mentality that all the top quarterbacks share. So if his paper mache legs hold up I’m thinking he’s probably deserving of a top-15 spot by the end of this year.

  9. steve brumfield said:

    Am I right in looking at this that Marshall is the only school that has more than one alumni starting as a QB in the NFL??

  10. I need to update the list for changes that have been made in the past few weeks. Stay Tuned.

  11. Arizona State was showcased during the Sunday Night Game: Jake Plummer and Andrew Walter both attended that fine institution of higher learning.

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