Of all the young quarterbacks in football, who will be thebest five years from now?Its an important question. Which young QB would you want tobuild your team around? By young, Im talking incoming rookies and soon-to-besecond year players. Im talking Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck and Cam Newton,that bunch.Whos your favorite for the future, and why?Heres my top-five list.1. Cam Newton (6-5, 248 lbs., 22 years old) He is, and willcontinue to be, better than Andrew Luck. He has a stronger arm, for starters.He flicks bullets around the field like Aaron Rodgers. Hes a betterscramblerrunneroverall athlete than Luck. Hes so big and quick, hes thebest goal-line running back in the NFL. Theres never been a quarterback like Newton. Hes the LeBronJames or the Kevin Durant of the NFL -- a unique phenomenon in the history ofthe sport who will win multiple MVPs.
2. Andrew Luck (6-4, 234 lbs., 22) A rich mans Alex Smith,and heres what I mean. Smith does everything at about a B level. The way heruns, throws, reads the field, all of that -- hes B. Hes not A at anything(unless you count not turning the ball over a physical attribute), and hes notC at anything, either. Luck is the same as Smith, except hes A at everything,not B. But he doesnt have any A attributes like Cam Newton. Luck has an Aarm, not A. Hes an A athlete, not A. Hes even a bit methodical when heplays, like Smith. Dont get me wrong -- I think hell be a perennial ProBowler. But he may never be an MVP. 3. Robert Griffin III (6-2, 223 lbs., 22) He ran a 4.4140-yard dash at the Combine, the fastest time by a quarterback since MichaelVick in 2000. You could make the case that one day Griffin will be a bigger, smarter Vick, whichwould probably make him a Hall of Famer. Heres why hes third on my list. Eventhough hes bigger than Vick, hes not big. Hes Steve Youngs size. So, hesmuch smaller than the linebackers, unlike Newtonand Luck. When he tries to take advantage of his top-notch speed and scramble,hes going to get hit and hes going to get hurt. Thats what happened to Young-- he got concussed so many times he had to retire. Vick has had concussions,too. Pretty soon, the small, fast quarterbacks get hit so violently they haveto stop running, stay in the pocket, and then theyre not so special. Griffin could set theleague on fire in his rookie season -- hes that good -- but Id be nervousbuilding my team around such an injury-risk long-term.
4. Jake Locker (6-2, 234 lbs., 23) Locker is a lot like Griffin -- fast,scrambles, takes huge hits. While Griffinthrows one of the best, most accurate deep balls, Locker is one of the best atthrowing on-the-run. He can throw hard and accurately no matter how fast hesrunning. Ive never seen anything like it. He was very good the few times heplayed his rookie season for the Titans -- he even came one play away frombeating the Saints. If he can avoid injuries hell be a very good player in theNFL.5. Colin Kaepernick (6-4, 230 lbs., 24) Hes done nothingin the NFL to warrant this ranking. He was one of the worst QBs in thepreseason, recording a rating below 30. Andy Dalton, another rookie, led theBengals to the playoffs. Shouldnt he be No. 5? No. I bet Kaepernick turns outbetter than Dalton.Kaepernick is an extraordinary athlete. He ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at thecombine. He could be the Niners big, deep-threat wide receiver right now. ButHarbaugh wouldnt dream of that -- hes grooming Kaepernick to be hisquarterback of the future. Kaepernick can throw a football as hard as anyone,he just needs to improve his footwork and his accuracy, i.e. quarterbackskills. Hes way behind Daltonand all these other quarterbacks in that department. But hes got Harbaughteaching him -- a huge advantage.
Grant Cohn is a contributing writer for CSNBayArea.com