Biggest improvement for young quarterbacks often comes in their second season under center. This year there are a number quarterbacks that fit the bill and should be major factors not just in garnering wins for their respective teams, but on the fantasy box score as well.
A few factors that go into the picking which second-year starting quarterbacks could see improvement in year two (besides talent of course) are the offensive system, offensive line, receiving corps and schedule. With these factors in mind, we talk a look at some of these quarterbacks fantasy owners should be looking at on draft day.
Barkley was as expected last season, a wide-eyed freshman that was prone to making mistakes. However, we saw a glimpse of Barkley's talent shine through in the Emerald Bowl. Did it finally click? It may be a bit premature to make that statement after one game, but being able to go through his second spring practice is sure to help his cause. Add in a favorable looking schedule, an offensive line that looks solid and a strong receiving core headlined by a healthy Ronald Johnson and we'd be shocked if Barkley isn't a strong QB2 play in 2010. Barkley also has another variable that is tough to predict and that is how the recent two-year bowl ban will effect the team's resolve.
Arguably the most talented quarterback on the list from an NFL talent level perspective. Gabbert suffered through the normal ups and downs of a first-year starting quarterback, but still managed to throw for over 3500 yards. On the flip side he loses two big receiving threats in Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. But there is talent waiting to step in. If Gabbert can increase his touchdown output to near 30, it will be a good year.
Jones had a rough redshirt freshman year. Sooner fans were hard on the youngster. But let's be honest, Jones went into the 2009 campaign thinking he would play the role of understudy to Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. Maybe get in some scrub against Baylor and get a trip to a bowl game where he could kick back and relax. After BYU tossed Bradford around like a rag doll, those plans quickly changed. To say Jones was thrust into the fire is an understatement. With a year of seasoning and spring & fall practice to prepare as the starter, he should be much better in 2010. Especially with Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray to throw to.
I'm cheating a bit with Collaros as he served as Tony Pike's understudy for most of the season. But he did start four contests last fall. And in those four games we got a glimpse of just how special he could be. Butch Jones comes over from Central Michigan where he coached dual-threat quarterback Dan LeFevour. The similarities between the two are striking. Both can run and both complete passes at a high rate. LeFevour completed over 65 percent of his passes during his career, Collaros an eye-popping 75 percent last season. You'd expect that number to come down a bit, but Jones will use Collaros in the same way he used LeFevour. Which means he should get plenty of redzone carries. And when he is not running it, he has Armon Binns and Vidal Hazelton to throw jump balls to. Two bye weeks in the first ten weeks stings a bit and playoff match ups against UConn and Pitt aren't ideal, but managable.
Cousins' 2009 numbers were hurt by sharing duties early on and a missed start due to injury in Week Six. Still in his first year he threw for over 2600 yards, a number that should eclipse 3000 in 2010. Touchdown production could be the issue as Michigan State still likes to run the football. Mid-twenties would be a fair assumption, but I would not be shocked if he hit the magical 30-TD mark. Michigan State was one of the best in the country at protecting the quarterback last, though they do have some holes to fill along the line this season. They also return just healthy amount of talent at running back, wide receiver and tight end, which should translate into one of the Big Ten's best offenses in 2010.
No questioning this kids talent. But can he improve his decision making and stand and deliver. All too ofter Daniels would rollout to avoid pressure and then tack off instead of looking downfield. When you can run like B.J., that is not necessarily a bad thing. But in order to take that next step, he's coming to have to become true dual-threat and become a better pocket passer. Something the new Bulls' coaching staff has put a priority on this offseason. If there is one reason for concern it would be the Bulls' receiving core, it's not exactly a who's who of college football and their top option, A.J. Love, is out with a torn ACL.
There is a reason Bo Levi Mitchell decided to transfer and that reason is Padron. He has an NFL arm and in a passing system, a pretty good combo for a fantasy quarterback. He completed 67.2 percent of his passes in seven games last season. And even though he'll lose his top target in Emmanuel Sanders, look for him continue to complete passes at a high rate, while increasing his touchdown output.
The Redhawks had one of the worst offenses in the country in 2008 and the start of 2009. It was black hole for fantasy owners. That is until Week Eight when Dysert hit the heart of the MAC schedule and things stated to click. The 2010 non-conference schedule is a bummer with games against Florida, Missouri and Cincinnati. But there are also playable games against Eastern Michigan, Colorado State and Kent State weaved into the the early part of the schedule. Dysert also has a pair of rising fantasy watchlisters in Armad Robinson and Jamal Rogers to throw to. Pick your spots and you could find yourself with a nice little backup in Dysert.
With no Ryan Mathews to hand off to, Colburn is going to have to become a more of a focal point of the offense and Bulldog fans have little worry about. Colburn completed 60.7 percent of his passes in 2009 and over 13.5 yards per completion. They also have a veteran offensive line returning which should keep him from having to pick himself up off the ground too often. Seyi Ajirotutu graduates, but Jamel Hamler returns, who is a sleeper in his own right.
Others to watch
Tate Forcier/Denard Robinson, Michigan
Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin
Tom Savage, Rutgers
Dave Shinskie, Boston College
Greg McElroy, Alabama
Bryant Moniz, Hawaii
Jordan Wynn, Utah
Austyn Carta-Samuels, Wyoming
Spencer Keith, Kent State