Backup QB Rankings (cont.)
21. Vince Young, Tennessee -- Young has made some decent strides this preseason, but the fact that he's trying to hold off veteran Patrick Ramsey at No. 2 rather than battling Kerry Collins for the No. 1 job is all you need to know about where his stock resides in Tennessee as his make-or-break fourth NFL season dawns.
22. Matt Leinart, Arizona -- It didn't seem fair not to have Young and Leinart together again in an altogether different kind of quarterback ranking than the one they shared in those heady days of draft season 2006. Leinart might still make an NFL career for himself, but at this point what has he showed us other than inconsistency?
23. Alex Smith, San Francisco -- This would appear to be the neighborhood where highly disappointing former first-round picks reside. Smith, who went first overall in 2005, missed all of last season and is running a close second behind incumbent Shaun Hill in their preseason battle for the 49ers starting job. Smith still has time to overtake Hill, but he hasn't created any separation yet.
24. Luke McCown, Tampa Bay -- No team's quarterback depth chart appears as fluid as the Bucs' right now, but we're operating on the belief that Byron Leftwich will eventually beat out McCown for the starting job. The tricky part is, with youngsters Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson thought safe, McCown could go from No. 1 to gone if Tampa Bay doesn't opt to carry four quarterbacks.
25. Andrew Walter, New England -- The Patriots snapped up Walter when Oakland let him go -- what is it about all those ex-Raiders in Foxboro? -- so you know Bill Belichick sees some skills there. One longtime league observer told me Belichick always likes those tall quarterbacks, even if they turn out to play like Todd Philcox.
26. Josh McCown, Carolina -- I was once rather high on McCown, but he looked dreadful the other night against the Giants in backing up Jake Delhomme. I'm not sure how Matt Moore hasn't secured the No. 2 spot by now in Carolina, but I guess McCown's 46 games of NFL experience is counting for something.
27. David Carr, New York Giants -- Speaking of less than scintillating play in that Panthers-Giants preseason opener the other night, I watched Carr take three sacks in his four series of work. Almost a sack a series is not what New York is looking for. The Giants better hope Eli Manning has yet another 16-start season in him.
28. Mark Brunell, New Orleans -- Maybe Joey Harrington will wind up easing Brunell out of his backup slot this preseason, but Saints coach Sean Payton still seems to like the 17-year NFL vet, who turns 39 next month. If need be, there's no way Brunell could make it through more than one regular-season game without breaking down physically. He's that brittle.
29. Kyle Boller, St. Louis -- With Marc Bulger as their starter, the Rams are almost guaranteed of needing to rely on their backup at some point this season. Boller and reliability haven't been synonymous since he entered the league as a first-round pick in 2003.
30. J.T. O'Sullivan, Cincinnati -- Playing in a Mike Martz offense, O'Sullivan got a long-awaited shot to start in San Francisco at the beginning of last season, and quickly convinced most observers that he was definitely backup material.
31. Todd Bouman, Jacksonville -- Bouman's been around so long I actually covered him when he broke in with the Vikings in 1997. He's always had a strong arm, but he's been with six NFL teams, and that, by definition, is journeyman status. This is his third stint with the Jaguars, who once upon a time always had a promising backup or two.
32. Caleb Hanie, Chicago -- With no veterans like Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman or Brian Griese around to fall back on, Bears fans everywhere will hold their breath this season and wish nothing but perfect health to Jay Cutler.
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