When the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl it was significant in that we saw a running quarterback lead his team to the title. While Russell Wilson isn’t perhaps your traditional “running quarterback” he certainly makes a number of plays with his legs. Wilson’s ascension along with the emergence of other dynamic quarterbacks in the modern day NFL is reversing the traditional mindset that you have to have a pocket passer to win in the NFL. These guys are of course carrying the torch passed onto them by the likes of Fran Tarkenton, Archie Manning, Randall Cunningham and more recently Michael Vick. But the league is seeing more and more of these types of players in college and by virtue of that the best prospects are starting to showcase a more athletic skillset than just an arm consistently. As always durability remains the biggest question mark, as these smaller athletic bodies aren’t designed to take the pounding bigger defensive players can give them in the open field. While these quarterbacks are starting to find success early the shelf life could be a good bit shorter, so are they worth the investment? If you want to win now, absolutely. Here is the best the game currently has to offer:
10. Terrelle Pryor, Seattle Seahawks: Interesting pickup for the Seahawks and there is no question he can make plays with his feet. If something happens to Russell Wilson he could lean on the Seahawks’ run game, defense and just make plays with his feet. His passing struggles are real, though, and it remains to be seen if he can get that to even an average level.
9. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans: If he even a running quarterback anymore with all the injuries he’s suffered? One has to question despite his talent if he can continue to take the beating.
8. Geno Smith, New York Jets: He had 6 rushing touchdowns last year and he’s a nice prospect, but inconsistent play begs the question of if he can put it all together.
7. Michael Vick, New York Jets: At this point in his career he’s not the player he used to be. He’s still extremely dangerous in open space but he lacks the consistent passing accuracy due to technique and that’s what separates the younger crop from him below.
6. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs: He’s sneaky quick, knows his limitations, and is a great game manager.
5. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins: Before the knee injury I would have put him at the top of this list. But will he ever be able to go back to the style that made him so successful?
4. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: He has 28 rushing touchdowns in 3 seasons and his body is built to take hits a bit more than some of these guys ahead of him. This is a big offseason for Newton after his team having the most success of his career. A new set of receivers and an offseason of rehab may hamper his development to the next level, but there’s no question he is a freakish talent.
3. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers: He’s as dangerous and scary as they came in terms of ability. He’s got speed, strength and a monster arm. He’s already had a tremendous amount of success and a huge contract this offseason to reward him for it. The only thing holding him back from moving ahead of the couple ahead of him is a tendency to take risks at critical times. That has bitten him on occasion. But he arguably has the highest ceiling of all running quarterbacks in the league at this point. He’s rushed for 9 touchdowns in the last 2 seasons.
2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: He’s clearly in an elite level in terms of intelligence already. The reality is, with that defense, that making no mistakes and taking what is given to you only taking calculated risks is a surefire way to be successful. Wilson has learned to manage games flawlessly, leaning on an elite defense and running game without getting in the way. It seems Wilson could do a lot more with his abilities if asked to, but he doesn’t need to put the team on his back to win given the talent on the Seattle roster. Instead, he just needs to be consistent, not take too many risks, and use his feet to keep a defense honest. He’s had just under 200 carries in two seasons and scrambling in particular has been a big asset for his game.
1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: I hesitate to call him a running quarterback because is so much more than that, and clearly a prolific passer. But with 9 rushing touchdowns in 2 seasons he’s clearly not afraid to pull the ball down, and his rare blend of speed and size allows him to be successful around the goal line and in the open field. He’s the prototype in my opinion for what will be the benchmark in the future, the perfect blend of speed, size, and football IQ while still possessing the necessary cannon arm.