Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Point Plank: Is Josh Freeman a Top 30 NFL Quarterback?

In this edition of Point Plank, I, Leo Howell, will take aim at the opinion of Matt Miller, who is the lead NFL Draft writer over at Bleacher Report. As a part of their NFL 1000 initiative, he was responsible for ranking NFL quarterbacks from 1 to 65. There were some interesting rankings on the list, and you can check the article out by clicking here, on Josh Freeman’s entry. That’s right, Leo Howell, the Josh Freeman doubter, is about to stand up for the Buccaneers starting quarterback.

Miller has Freeman ranked as the 32nd best quarterback in the NFL. That would mean the Buccaneers have the worst starting calibre quarterback in the NFL, and that other team’s backups are better than our starting signal caller. For reference, Chad Henne and Jake Locker occupy the spots right ahead of Freeman, and Colt McCoy is a shocking 4 spots ahead of our offensive leader. So how does it come to pass that Freeman could possibly be ranked so low? Matt Miller uses a grading scale that breaks down a quarterback’s talents into segments. He grades accuracy, arm strength, decision making, mechanics, and mobility. So where does Josh fall short? I’m sure you could have guessed.

Colt McCoy? Really? Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay quarterback receives a huge deduction in accuracy, and it’s hard to disagree. Miller has Freeman’s accuracy as being on par with Thad Lewis, Tyler Thigpen, Joe Webb, and Terrelle Pryor. While I would certainly argue that Freeman has better accuracy than Lewis, Webb, and Pryor, the comparison to Thigpen might not be far off. Either way, I would think it to be more fair to grade out Freeman’s accuracy as more closely resembling that of Carson Palmer or Kyle Orton, which would put Freeman in the low 20′s for accuracy score, rather than the high teens. I will give my own thoughts on score later on, and tell you where I think Freeman should rank.

The other major shortcoming for Freeman is in decision making. This is another area that I agree with Miller’s assessment, and unlike with accuracy, I feel he has graded Josh appropriately. To quote from the article, the author describes Josh Freeman’s decision making as follows:

“Really struggles when pressured and doesn’t redirect well when asked to move from the pocket and keep his eyes downfield. Will rush through progressions and hurry to make a throw, which often results in an interception.”

I struggle to find any holes in his thoughts, and he still grades him fairly based on these limitations.

Our starting quarterback gets high marks for his arm strength and his mobility, which are the reasons the Buccaneers selected him in the first round. Freeman has always been a bit of a project, but it’s good to see his raw talent does not go unnoticed.

So what’s my final verdict? I’m going to take a stab at grading Freeman based on the same scale that the Bleacher Report article did, and let you know where I believe he falls.

Accuracy: 21/30

He might not be Peyton Manning, but he’s not Joe Webb, either. I believe he has similar accuracy to Carson Palmer at this stage in the veteran QB’s career, and Freeman can certainly improve with a focus on better decision making.

Arm Strength: 19/20

Almost perfect, but again, Josh’s decision making and mechanics can limit his arm strength at times. Throwing off the back foot is the main issue here.

Decision Making: 22/30

This is a fair grade, as he’s among the bottom half of starting NFL quarterbacks as it relates to making the right reads and avoiding costly mistakes.

Mechanics: 12/15

When he doesn’t make a bad decision, he shows excellent mechanics. He needs to focus on using proper footwork, and when he does, you can see it in his throws.

Mobility: 4/5

Josh could be a much more prolific runner if he wanted to. He limits himself for what I assume to be injury prevention reasons. I don’t blame him at all.

Overall: 78/100

This would place Josh Freeman in the 19-22 range, which is much closer to his actual standing amongst NFL quarterbacks. He would be alongside players like Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford, and Ryan Tannehill, and that’s quite fair in my opinion. That grouping signifies a cluster of signal callers who are on the verge of taking a step forward and joining the best of the best, or remaining stagnant and being a viable option with frustrating pitfalls and shortcomings.

So what do you think, Bucs Nation? Do you agree with my assessment of Josh Freeman, Matt Miller’s assessment, or do you have your own ideas? Let us know in the comment section below!

Tags: Josh Freeman Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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  • RussMillerWY

    Isolating a particular player from the rest of his unit is problematic. I’m much closer to your evaluation than the SBNation’s guy’s. The thing is, Freeman’s performance is strongly correlated to the cast around him. When Freeman had Kellen Winslow as a go to guy, Winslow made him look good. As Winslow’s health declined, Freeman also looked worse. When Cadillac Williams departed, Freeman lost his excellent 3rd down blocker and safety valve out of the backfield, and he had a bad year. When Mike Williams was a rising star, so was Freeman. With Vincent Jackson stepping up to fill K2′s shoes and the starting roster was healthy, Feeman looked his best ever. When both Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks went on IR, Freeman had less time to throw, so he “regressed.” Will Freeman have a breakout year or not next year? It all depends on whether he gets a new tight end and how healthy the offense stays. If Freeman goes down to injury, then we’ll really find out how good he was when we have to try to evaluate his backup in the same scheme.

    • Leo

      For sure, the team only does as well as Freeman does, but Freeman only does as well as the players around him do. It’s a vicious cycle.

  • Zachary Quiram

    A quarterback is much better when he has talent around him. If Tom Brady did not have the weapons he has, where would he be today. I’m not done and out on Freeman just yet. The only flaw I see in Freeman is his decision making, but I know as a fan that he strives to be the reason why the Bucs win. I think he just needs to remain calm and throw, then he will have it.

    • Leo

      I agree that it’s a lot of decision making that holds Josh back. He’s got all the arm talent and physical gifts that a quarterback needs.

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