What happened to all the elite SEC quarterbacks?

Greg Ostendorf makes the case that there never were that many, that there aren’t really any right now and that the future doesn’t exactly look promising, either.

Some of his argument boils down to semantics.  If you want to define elite as quarterbacks who go on to a solid NFL career, then, yeah, you’ve got a pretty short list over the last decade.

But look back at the 2012 national leaders in passer rating.  There were three SEC quarterbacks in the top ten, which strikes me as a pretty good showing.  Aaron Murray set and still holds all kinds of conference records, AJ McCarron has himself back-to-back national titles and Connor Shaw was easily the best South Carolina quarterback of the Spurrier era.  None of that is too shabby.

But I’ll be the first one to admit we’re a long way from 2012 this season, and, perhaps, for the next couple of seasons.  Why?  Well, Ostendorf speculates it’s for several reasons, some of which I find more convincing than others.  You can read his points and decide for yourself.

One thing worth noting is that if he’s right about this…

The conference’s best hope might be in the form of two freshmen – Eason at Georgia and Shea Patterson at Ole Miss. Both were highly sought after coming out of high school, and both have shown abilities that could translate to the NFL. It’s still way too early to say for sure, but there’s potential there. And maybe that means there’s potential for the SEC.

… Georgia may have a little advantage for itself in a year or two.  Maybe.


Filed under SEC Football

35 responses to “What happened to all the elite SEC quarterbacks?

  1. Noonan

    PFT Commenter on Joe Flacco:

    “Joes what us Football Philosophers call “Baldingers Cat,” = hes both Elite and Not Elite at the same time. But eventually curiosities going to kill that cat and then Joe Flacco will throw it.”

    I wonder what he thinks about Lambert.

  2. Derek

    Eli and Peyton have done “ok.”

    Had the last two top-QB’s from the SEC footprint (Watson and Winston) gone to SEC schools, this would not be even be an article.

    As far as Alabama winning without a “star” at QB, the first time they won anything without a QB that did not get drafted was in 2014 when the defensive talent went through the roof. That trend continued in 2015.

    • He’s looking at the last ten years, so what the Mannings have done isn’t relevant.

      As for your second point… ah, c’mon, do I really need to point out the obvious?

      • Cojones

        Like Tenn’s and Aub’s QBs last year were anointed before the season, but they lost traction just to embarrass the pundits. They will be back this year and with that world-beater season they had last year, this must be the “breakout season” they meant last year.

      • Derek

        I read it that he’s going back in the draft five years and finds one: Johnny Football and then he goes back further to comment on Cam and Matt. I was just that saying that if you’re making the effort of going back further than five years you might note that 2 more former SEC QBs were holding down 2 of the 32 starting spots making it a total of 4 in 2015. We have 5 starting TB’s (I think) in the NFL this year so I’m just not so sure he has a point at least as it relates to the NFL.

        If he wants to say that the QB position in the SEC for the last two years has sucked, I’m totally on board and we at UGA are the poster child for that.

        I would say that the spread of the spread in HS ball will continue to undermine QB development. I watched a bit of the Corky Kell and its just everywhere and its terrible, unwatchable and most important, its not football. I’ll be happy when it goes away.

        • hailtogeorgia

          Jacob Eason was born in November of Peyton Manning’s senior year in college…I think it’s pretty clear why Peyton isn’t really relevant to the discussion anymore as far as the SEC’s ability to groom a quarterback who’s successful in the NFL. Also, how would SEC RBs in the NFL have any impact on this discussion? He’s not talking about the SEC not being able to produce NFL quality players, just that the conference as a whole hasn’t been very good at producing NFL quality QBs.

          Now, of course, the fact that the SEC has great RBs certainly may contribute to a lesser emphasis being placed on developing QBs, but it doesn’t change the fact that the league still isn’t producing NFL quality QBs.

          • Derek

            I’m saying that I don’t think you can say that the conference has struggled to produce running backs yet we have one more RB starter in 2016 than we had qb starters in 2015 hence the writer lacks much of a point.

            • hailtogeorgia

              Ah, gotcha. I mean, it’s hard to look at RBs in quite the same way. If QBs had the same shelf life as RBs in the NFL, neither Peyton or Eli would have been in the league last year. Beyond that, most NFL teams use a platoon for their backs now as opposed to one bellcow, so it doesn’t really translate.

  3. Hobnail_Boot

    So many words, and yet he misses the most obvious point: coaching.

    LSU: Imagine how frightening they’d be if just one of their long line of 4* dual threat QBs had lived up to the hype. With the exception of one transfer year of Mett, this has been the longest-running question mark in the SEC.

    Auburn: Johnson was supposed to be all-world but he looked horrible last year. This is in a QB-friendly system.

    aTm: Who can explain the mass exodus of elite QBs from Aggieland?

    Florida: Another school that has had bust after bust for several years now. They had it going with Grier before his suspension/transfer.

    It goes on.

    • I love mocking the Gus Bus as much as anyone, but one place I have to give Malzahn his due is that he’s an excellent quarterbacks coach… or at least he was until last season.

      May that develop into a trend.

      • Otto

        But has he gone Richt / Bobo by giving more authority to Rhett Lashlee?

      • Derek

        Lane is twice the qb coach that Gus is. Take away the Kick Six and the Miracle and Gus has won more than 9 regular season games with Cam and that’s it.

        By comparison Schotty got 9 regular season wins out of Lambert.

        • Since when is quarterback development about wins? I thought it was about better quarterback play.

          • Derek

            Well you can lose in spite of good qb play or you can lose because your qb doesn’t give you the opportunity to win. The observer has to decide which scenario is in play.

            Alabama has had a hell of a football team and questionable qb talent the last two seasons. Somehow they’ve gotten enough plays out of their qb to win most of the games on their schedule and the qb has gotten better over the course of the season.

            I call getting enough out of your qb to win good qb coaching.

            Auburn rises and falls on the talent at qb and it doesn’t seem to me that Gus adds much to the mix. If his qb is good, the team is good. If the qb is weak. The team is weak. If the defense is a liability, he can’t adjust the offense to protect it. If he’s some “QB whisperer”, why hasn’t anybody decent save a UGA CB cast off shown up to learn at the feet of the master since Newton? The guy is a mediocre coach and is about the shown the door IMO.


    Cam has turned out to be pretty good…but things like this really don’t yank my crank…more of a team guy myself.

  5. MGW

    I read the article, but he lost all credibility with his lede: “The SEC is perceived as the benchmark in college football.”

    “Perceived.” Ok there buddy. At that point I expected some quasi-logic acrobatics and he sure delivered.

    Its been a slow couple years, but other than that I’m not seeing much of a difference between the SEC and any of the other top conferences as far as QB play. Is there any other conference that is blowing the SEC out of the water in the QB category over the last 10 years? I must be missing something.

  6. All those QBs are still being evaluated with more reps. I would say those evaluations have been going on for a while now (years for some), but what do I know, I’m just a fan, haha.

  7. Debby Balcer

    When the benchmark of success for college football becomes NFL success you lose me. I hope Aaron Murray has NFL success but if he does not it does not mean he was not an excellent college QB.

    • PTC DAWG

      This, two different games…

      • dawgtired

        Agree. The only way I’m going to know how our QBs do at the NFL level is if someone tells me. I don’t watch NFL football. My passion lives and dies with college football and more specifically, SEC football.

  8. The defending Super Bowl champions might start Mark Sanchez. The NFL isn’t all it’s cracked up to be re: QB choices.

  9. Will Trane

    “never that many”. Sounds very inclusive re numbers and time. Would that be like.
    Bart Starr, Zeke Bratoskis [sp], Fran Tarkenton, the Mannings, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, hell even Spurrier, Johnny Manzel, McCarron, and etc.
    Did not read the article. Did not sound like worth reading.
    Going to measure them on their pass ratings, championship, personal accomplishment.
    Maybey I am just a little to damn bias about the SEC, but look dude the SEC has always had good QBs. Most of all they had very good coaches and teams. Good coaches and team have damn good QBs.

  10. JCDAWG83

    As much as I hate to admit it; Tebow was one of, if not the best, college qbs ever. The fact he didn’t make it in the NFL doesn’t mean anything with regards to the quality of SEC qbs. In my mind, the qbs in the SEC are great if they can win college championships, I don’t really care what they do after they leave college.

  11. Macallanlover

    Agree with Debby and PTC, I don’t measure QBs in my favorite sport by NFL success. Aaron Murray, Connor Shaw, Tebow, Stafford, Cam, etc., were excellent QBs even if only two of them are making the grade in the other sport. They did what their team, and coaches asked of them and produced at a high level. Unfortunately, rating services let NFL standards influence the star system, and then look at the NFL to see if they were really good…..they were good for that 4-5 year period that means football to me, and that is how I remember them. I am not worried about how Dobbs or Kelly do the next decade in the pros, I want to shut them down when the Red and Black are lining up against them this season.

  12. Walt

    Would you trade good SEC football for mediocre football and better QBs such as Perdue, for instance?

    • Why does there have to be a trade?

      • Walt

        You’re correct that there doesn’t have to be, but if we’re basing this argument on NFL success, it seems to me it’s usually that way. Who are the greatest NFL QBs from the SEC, home of the best college football? Namath? Stabler? The Manning family? Bart Starr? Fran Tarkenton? Cam Newton? Matt Stafford? It’s a pretty short list. I’d like to see the best NFL QBs coming out of the SEC, but I’m not optimistic that will happen with any regularity.