Ranking all 32 backup quarterbacks


NFL Media's Judy Battista has penned a thought-provoking piece this week on backup quarterbacks, a position former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs has termed the second-most important on a football team.

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The Packers discovered the wisdom of Gibbs' assessment when Aaron Rodgers was lost for a seven-game stretch that nearly sabotaged Green Bay's 2013 season. With that scenario in mind, let's examine which teams might be left in a similar bind this year.

Below is our ranking of the NFL's primary backup quarterbacks from 1 to 32. The guiding principle is which quarterback we would choose as premium insurance for the 2014 season alone.

Reliable veterans and future starters

1. Michael Vick, New York Jets
2. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
3. Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
5. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
6. Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles
7. Shaun Hill, St. Louis Rams
8. Ryan Mallett, New England Patriots
9. Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks
10. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
11. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
12. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins
13. Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos
14. Ryan Griffin, New Orleans Saints
15. Chase Daniel, Kansas City Chiefs
16. Jason Campbell, Cincinnati Bengals
17. Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals
18. Matt Hasselbeck, Indianapolis Colts

If Vick and Geno Smith had opened training camp on equal footing, there's a good chance the veteran would be under center in Week 1. ... Bortles made more NFL throws in the preseason opener than the rest of the early-round rookies combined. ... Glennon's struggles down the stretch obscured his Offensive Rookie of the Month award for November. He became the first rookie in NFL history to throw at least one touchdown pass in his first eight games. ... Bridgewater's long-term prospects are bright even if he was overwhelmed against the Raiders in his preseason debut.

Cousins certainly has his supporters around the league, but Football Outsiders graded him as the least effective quarterback to attempt at least 100 passes in 2013. ... Sanchez sports a 94.3 passer rating in six postseason games. If Nick Foles washes out as a one-year wonder in a worst-case scenario, it shouldn't be a surprise if Chip Kelly extricates a good season or two out of a decent quarterback who was doomed in New York following the infamous "butt-fumble."... I'm not convinced that Sam Bradford gives the Rams a better chance to win than Hill would.

Scouts and analysts swoon over Mallett's golden arm. His 13 career preseason games have resulted in a less-than-stellar 53.2 completion rate and 5.3 yards per attempt. ... Gregg Rosenthal would take T-Jax over at least five NFL starters. ... Hoyer is what we thought he was: a very good backup with little upside as a starter. I still believe Manziel will be the Browns' opening-day quarterback. ... Carr is my pick for the first quarterback on this list to start a game this season. ... Griffin was impressive in the Saints' preseason opener, hanging tough in the pocket and showing excellent accuracy on short- to medium-range throws.

Daniel moves the offense with aplomb every preseason, but quarterback-needy teams passed him over in free agency two years ago. ... I can't get past Campbell's performance against the Bengals last season, when he broke the unofficial single-game record for checkdowns. He won't pull the trigger unless his target is already open. ... Hasselbeck averaged less than 10 yards per completion the last time he saw significant action -- back in 2012 with the Titans. Now 38 years old, he's more mentor than passer.

Island of Misfit Toys

19. Scott Tolzien, Green Bay Packers
20. Case Keenum, Houston Texans
21. Tyrod Taylor, Baltimore Ravens
22. Jimmy Clausen, Chicago Bears
23. Brandon Weeden, Dallas Cowboys
24. Bruce Gradkowski, Pittsburgh Steelers
25. T.J. Yates, Atlanta Falcons
26. Kellen Clemens, San Diego Chargers
27. Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers
28. Charlie Whitehurst, Tennessee Titans
29. Dan Orlovsky, Detroit Lions
30. Ryan Nassib, New York Giants
31. Jeff Tuel, Buffalo Bills
32. Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers

The Packers were forced to turn to Matt Flynn last season because Tolzien didn't have a handle on the playbook. Eight months later, it's clear to me that Tolzien is the superior option. Flynn refuses to throw the ball beyond 10-15 yards, even checking down on play-action passes. ... Keenum attacked defenses downfield last season until it became obvious that he would melt in the face of blitzes. ... Taylor consistently moves the offense in preseason action but relies too heavily upon his own legs. The Ravens have been searching for an upgrade. ... Clausen has the Quarterback Whisperer in his corner.

Weeden fared well in his preseason debut with the Cowboys, which is hardly a surprise after tossing up passer ratings of 127.7 and 137.8 in his first two preseason games, respectively, under Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski last August. Once the games count in the standings, he holds the ball too long, doesn't move well in the pocket and struggles with field vision, touch and ball placement.

If you have Preseason Live, here's some free advice: avoid Orlovsky's somnambulant performance against the Browns. ... Nassib has generated a string of negative reports out of Giants practices since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. ... Tuel's two rookie-year appearances were nightmarish. His arm isn't NFL-caliber. ... The Gabbert Zone reached new lows in the 49ers' preseason opener, as the former Jaguars quarterback managed a paltry 1.8 yards per attempt -- down from his career average of 5.6.

The latest Around The League Podcast highlights the winners and losers from the first week of preseason action.