The NFC North has some very good quarterbacks, including the best in the game and the best rookie. The Minnesota Vikings may have the deepest group, but, because of the starters, they may have the worst situation.
Beside the Vikings, the other three teams in the division are very top heavy. The other teams’ starters include one elite and two upper tier starters. The backups include two mediocre backups and a journeyman reserve.
Here is a ranking of the eight quarterbacks projected to be on the two-deep depth chart of the four NFC North teams.
No. 1 - Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers is the best all-around quarterback in the NFL. He may even be the best overall, if not he is one of the top three. Rodgers has all the qualities that you look for in a quarterback; strong and accurate arm, accurate throwing on the run, ability to avoid the rush, makes his teammates better and wins. The Packers found out just how much they need him when he was injured last season.
No. 2 - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Cutler has drawn the ire of many for various attitude issues. He has been called weak - both physically and mentally - as well as a locker room cancer. The most well-known incident involved Cutler yelling at one of his offensive linemen, former Viking J’Marcus Webb, on the sideline. Despite the character concerns, Cutler is a winner. The Denver Broncos, whom drafted Cutler in the first round, and Bears have been better with him at quarterback.
No. 3 - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Stafford has the passing skills to be an elite quarterback. He has a strong and accurate arm. However, the rest of his game leaves a little to be desired. He is one of the more stationary quarterbacks in the league. The intangibles are also in question. The Lions are 24-37 with Stafford as their starter. They had just one winning season and had the division ripe for their taking last season. They collapsed late in the year and were passed by both the Packers and Bears in the standings. He has come a long way to remove the injury prone label after playing just 13 games his first two seasons in the NFL. He hasn’t missed a game since.
No. 4 - Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
Cassel is the perfect bridge quarterback. He is a veteran that has won games and gets the respect of his teammates. He does not have elite skills or a talent level that screams franchise quarterback. He opted out of the final year of the contract he signed with the Vikings last offseason and re-signed with the team. He may not be the long term solution, but is the present for the Vikings.
No. 5 - Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers
Flynn is the most accomplished backup quarterback in the division. That, however, does not say much. He performed well as Rodgers’ backup before getting an opportunity to earn a starting job. He lasted one season in Seattle as a backup. The Seahawks traded him to Oakland 13 months after signing him. His time with the Raiders was less than half that time. After a three-week stint with the Buffalo Bills, he returned to Green Bay and re-claimed the backup job to Rodgers. His career has come full circle, but he is where he belongs - as a backup in Green Bay.
No. 6 - Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
Bridgewater was the best quarterback in the 2014 draft. He was considered one of the top picks, but saw his stock fall after his pro day. He has the intangibles, passing skills and enough mobility to be a franchise quarterback. The Vikings have been searching for a young quarterback to be their leader for more than a decade. Bridgewater will eventually become the Vikings starter. When he does, it will be for good.
No. 7 - Dan Orlovsky, Detroit Lions
Orlovksy has made a good career out of being a backup quarterback. He started seven games for the Lions in 2008 and did not exactly light it up. The Lions lost all seven games and he finished the season completing 56 percent of his passes and recording as many interceptions as touchdowns. After his time with the Lions he became a backup in Houston, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay before returning to Detroit this offseason. He is most known for running out of the back of the end zone at Mall of America Field while Jared Allen was in pursuit for a safety.
No. 8 - Jordan Palmer, Chicago Bears
Palmer hasn’t enjoyed the same professional career as his older brother, Arizona Cardinals starter Carson. The younger Palmer has managed to stay in the league for awhile, despite playing zero games in 2013 and four games total in his five-year career. Bears head coach Marc Trestman announced that Palmer was going to be Cutler’s backup. However, free agent signee Jimmy Clausen may overtake Palmer during the preseason.