Position Power Rankings  

 

Matthew Stafford leads list of top 10 strongest arms

Print

Every week, Chris Wesseling will roll out the power rankings for one specific NFL position. So far, we have covered running backs and safeties and red-zone threats. This week, we turn our attention to the league's strongest throwing arms.

On to the rankings:

1. Matthew Stafford, Lions: The best illustration of Stafford's rare arm strength is the six-play, 80-yard game-winning drive -- described by NFL Media's Steve Mariucci as a "work of art" -- for a last-second, comeback victory over the Cowboys in October of 2013. How many quarterbacks can pull off the 40-yard sideline laser in the video to the right?

The ball explodes out of Stafford's hand, allowing him to fit throws into windows that other quarterbacks don't even see. It also hurts his production at times, as his rocket shots can be too hot to handle. Lions receivers have finished first or second in dropped passes in each of the past three years.

2. Jay Cutler, Bears: Early in his career, Cutler riled up Broncos fans by claiming that he had a much stronger arm than Hall of Famer John Elway, who ranks at the top of many all-time lists for arm strength. Elway's response: "His arm is pretty special, might even be as good as mine when I was his age. Certainly, it's better than mine was at the end." Cutler has Gregg Rosenthal's vote for the best fastball in the league.

3. Joe Flacco, Ravens: Although Flacco has been inconsistent with his accuracy over the years, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski has often said the Ravens quarterback boasts the league's best arm. In fact, Jaws believes no other quarterback he has ever seen could make the deep throw over safety Rahim Moore that Flacco pulled off to knock the Broncos out of the AFC playoffs in January of 2013.

"You've always got to make sure you have your hands at the right angles," former Ravens tight end Ed Dickson once said. "If you don't, you're definitely going to break your fingers dealing with Joe. And Joe is going to show no remorse."

4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers: The ball just comes out of Rodgers' hand differently, giving him instant velocity. What's most impressive about Rodgers is his ability to command his fastball from all angles, whether in the pocket or on the run. He has mastered the art of the back-shoulder throw better than any quarterback in history.

5. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: Selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 43rd round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft as a right-handed pitcher, Kaepernick flirted with 92 mph on the mound a few years earlier. He was clocked at 87 mph when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch in a 2013 San Francisco Giants game. Anyone who has seen Kaepernick's pre-game warm-up "tosses" can understand why his head coach has compared him to Superman.

6. Cam Newton, Panthers: It's amazing that Newton generates so much heat without consistently getting his lower body into his throws. At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, Newton can make all of the NFL throws even with bodies around him in the pocket. His next step is graduate from being a one-speed passer.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: More than any player of the past two decades, Big Ben calls to mind Elway in his prime. He can shrug off multiple defenders to uncork 60-yard bombs, thread a needle with players hanging on his legs or even pull off a delicate touch pass down the sideline with the best of today's passers.

8. Andrew Luck, Colts: Prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell concluded that Robert Griffin III was a "superior arm talent and natural passer" to Luck. Luck swayed that opinion after one season, leading Cosell to conclude that the Colts star is "arguably the most physically gifted quarterback in the league."

Luck's series of deep balls under pressure to LaVon Brazill and T.Y. Hilton in the AFC divisional round loss to the New England Patriots bear witness to that bold statement.

9. Robert Griffin III, Redskins: Much like Rodgers, RGIII has what baseball pitchers call "easy gas." As a rookie, he led the league in yards per attempt with an adjusted net yards per attempt that was one of best figures in NFL history for a debut season. The question is whether Redskins fans will ever have the good fortune to see that version of Griffin again.

10. Blake Bortles, Jaguars: The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft gained 20 yards or more on one-third of his preseason passes versus less than 10 percent for Chad Henne. According to Pro Football Focus' metrics, Bortles had the NFL's highest accuracy percentage on preseason deep throws. Bortles also made a series of impressive stick throws from the pocket and was accurate on the move.

NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah believes Bortles has already improved his velocity from college by incorporating more of his lower body into throws. With the rookie taking the reins in Week 4, Jaguars fans finally have reasonable expectations for exciting football.

Honorable mention: Derek Carr, Jake Locker, Sam Bradford, Tom Brady

Best of the backup arms: Michael Vick, Ryan Mallett, Mike Glennon, Logan Thomas, Tom Savage, Zach Mettenberger, Brandon Weeden, Derek Anderson

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps all of the Week 3 action and picks the top team in the AFC.

Print