Ranking the NFC West quarterbacks

Scouts Inc.'s ratings for NFL quarterbacks, available to Insider subscribers, raise a few questions:

  • Why is Sam Bradford so low? The St. Louis Rams' second-year quarterback can do little wrong in these parts. Fans from other NFC West teams occasionally point to Bradford's weak rookie passer rating as evidence he's overrated. Others point to the Rams' dire situation at wide receiver last season and a six-game improvement in the standings as evidence Bradford is the real deal. The bottom line is that Bradford has shown the right mental makeup and physical skills to improve. He should move into the top 10 to 15 spots this season.

  • Kevin Kolb is below Chad Henne? Yep. Henne is ranked No. 23, two spots higher than Kolb. The Scouts Inc. analysis for Henne stresses arm strength -- specifically, the ability to drive the ball into "tight windows" -- as a leading characteristic for him. Kolb's profile suggests he can make the necessary throws, but cannot fit the ball into said windows as easily. Henne has never thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in a season. Kolb has more picks than touchdowns for his career. It's a huge, huge disappointment in Arizona and a surprise to me if Kolb throws more picks than scoring passes this season.

  • What more can we say about Alex Smith? Not much. We've heard it all before. New system, new opportunities, renewed efforts at leadership, all-around good-guyness. Niners fans care only about results as Smith enters his seventh season with the team. I get it, but this is all new for coach Jim Harbaugh. Smith's baggage means much less to him. One big difference this season is that Smith's contract lines up with his value. The organization isn't betting on him as its long-term starter. He's a stopgap until he proves otherwise. Smith is getting paid good money for a backup, not-so-good money for a starter.

  • Tarvaris Jackson over Charlie Whitehurst? Yes, and it's not even close in these rankings, which were put together before the preseason games. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. has subsequently called Jackson the worst starting quarterback in the league, and a player he wouldn't want even as a backup. Jackson, like the 49ers' Smith, has suffered behind shaky pass protection this summer. In quickly naming Jackson their starter, the Seahawks have gone out of their way as an organization to give him the support he needs. He's getting the opposite treatment on the field, which cannot be good for his confidence.

And now, on to the chart. Rookies and recently released players are not ranked.

2011 NFC West QB Rankings: Scouts Inc.