Today we begin a series in which ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, ranks the AFC South position by position.
We’ll start where it all starts: quarterback.
Williamson’s AFC South quarterback rankings:
1) Colts (Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck)
2) Texans (Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates)
3) Titans (Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick)
4) Jaguars (Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne)
It’s the same order I’d choose, and I think it would be difficult for anyone to rank them any differently.
My questions for Williamson based off of his list:
How big a gap is there at this point between Luck and Schaub?
“I like Luck today more than I like Schaub, but on July 1, I can't say that there is a gigantic gap. Schaub is clearly much more refined -- for now. But even so, you can argue that more was asked of Luck than Schaub in 2012. In fact, I think that is true.”
How different are the Titans and Jaguars at quarterback?
“I have more hope for Jake Locker [especially with his new supporting cast] than Blaine Gabbert, and I will say that Locker has outplayed him since both joined the league.”
Can you please rank the backups? How much did they factor into your overall rankings?
“Backups: 1. Chad Henne; 2. Ryan Fitzpatrick; 3. Matt Hasselbeck; 4. T.J. Yates. I did take that into consideration and I consider Fitzpatrick and especially Henne as two of the top No. 2 QBs in the NFL.
Why do you like Henne so much?
“He runs hot and cold, but he can make the throws and understands the game. He’s not dynamic enough and I wouldn't say I am high on him, but I am very low on the No. 2 QBs around the NFL in a big way. It’s a terrible group collectively.”
Question I get constantly: Can the Texans win a Super Bowl with Schaub?
“Can they win it with Schaub? It is possible, but unlikely. I don't think he is a franchise QB and won't ever be. If the D was awesome and the running game was awesome, Schaub could be able to manage a playoff run where Houston beats teams with superior QBs. But that is a very tough formula and has a lot of room for error."
As for me ...
I'd say the gap between Luck and Schaub is bigger. I might prefer the Texans to the Colts in a big game, but the starting quarterback who's got far more upside is Luck.
I agree with Williamson's assessment of the state of No. 2 quarterbacks around the league, and I also like Henne's understanding of the game. But that he's likely behind Gabbert, again, says a lot about that lack of dynamic capabilities. I admit to having a slant to Hasselbeck because he was as good a player at dealing with the media as I've ever worked with, but I'm not certain he's not as good or better than Fitzpatrick in potential production. And I'd rank them both ahead of Henne.
Stay tuned for similar posts on every unit.