Posted July 23, 2013

Ranking the NFL’s 12 best backup quarterbacks

Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins
With Robert Griffin III coming an ACL injury, Kirk Cousins could start the season for the Redskins. ( Al Tielemans/SI)

With Robert Griffin III coming off an ACL injury, Kirk Cousins could start the season for the Redskins. ( Al Tielemans/SI)

Finding a reliable backup quarterback has proven to be a daunting task for a lot of NFL teams. It’s not easy to track down a quarterback who will be a team player in spite of sporadic playing time, can get loose in a heartbeat and fits the offensive scheme implemented for the starter.

Some teams are in much better shape that others when it comes to the No. 2 QB. So, which backups provide the most secure safety net?

For our purposes here the 2013 rookie QB class has been separated — in an earlier Audibles post, in which we delved further into their individual situations. Sans guys like Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel, Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley and Tyler Wilson, here are the top 12 backup quarterbacks in football, entering the 2013 season:

12. Colt McCoy, San Francisco 49ers: That notion of fitting the offensive scheme mentioned above? McCoy landed in just such a situation when he signed with the 49ers this offseason. Replacing Alex Smith as Colin Kaepernick’s backup, the athletic McCoy could buy San Francisco a little time if Kaepernick’s banged up at any point in 2013. There’s also still potential here — McCoy is 25 and in only his fourth NFL season.

Oh, and for the record: No. 13 on the list of best backups was Philadelphia’s Nick Foles, just outside the official “rankings” here.

11. T.J. Yates, Houston Texans: Yates proved his mettle when pressed into duty late in the 2011 season, as a rookie. Of course, he fired three interceptions in a playoff loss at Baltimore that year, but his 61-percent completion rate in five starts and a relief appearance was impressive. The Texans could win some ballgames if Yates had to fill in for Matt Schaub, at least in a short stretch.

10. Ryan Mallett, New England Patriots/Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos: Grouping these two together, because they’re both tall (Mallett’s 6-foot-6, Osweiler 6-7), strong-armed QBs stuck behind legends — Tom Brady in New England and Peyton Manning in Denver. Some people are really high on Mallett, despite the fact that he’s never thrown a regular-season pass. Maybe he should be higher, but any attempt to assess either of these guys is speculative.

10 comments
rskins09
rskins09

Matt Hasselbeck is good until end of November,first part of December until his back troubles flair up ... Becomes too stiff ..Still deserves to be in the top ten though ..

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

Well every team and fan base wants a season where they don't find out how good or bad their back up is.  If he does play it is bad news no matter where he is on this list. 

6marK6
6marK6

Colt McCoy? Uhh, he is lousy.

donhusky007
donhusky007

not listing tavaris jackson makes this article irrelevant.  a starter in Seattle two years ago makes him a pefect fit to back up wilson, a top 5 nfl quarterback.  maybe you should write about cooking shows and rate them instead.

mystafugee
mystafugee

But what about the 12 best 3rd string QBs?  

DrJoeMcK
DrJoeMcK

Really?  You think that even Yates,  McCoy and an untested Mallett are better than Tavaris Jackson?  He should probably land at #5 on your list.  But I know most people, including NFL reporters examining backup quarterbacks, did not pay much attention to how well T-Jack played in Seattle ... and with a torn pectoral muscle.  

SteveMehlman
SteveMehlman

I saw Cousins in college.  He reminded me of a young Ben Roethlisberger  Indeed, before the Redskins traded up to get RGIII, I had suggested that they might want to trade down and get Cousins at QB and some other picks.  I predict he will be an NFL starter during his career.

rskins09
rskins09

@SteveMehlman ... Your right.. All the pundits criticised  the Redskins when they drafted Cousins .. He played great when RGIII  went down ..PFW had a good article about Cousins last year...