2014 NFL quarterback rankings: QB's 40-30

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By MATT BARBATO
College Contributor Network

The 2014-15 NFL season continued to prove the trend that the game of football is progressively evolving into a quarterback's league. This season, eight quarterbacks tossed over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. That number is twice the amount of quarterbacks to achieve the same feat last year.

This year concluded with Tom Brady adding to his already legendary legacy with a Super Bowl win over up-and-comer Russell Wilson, but was he the best quarterback in the league this season?

Over the next couple of weeks I will breakdown the quarterbacks in four separate segments starting with the season's worst quarterbacks and working all the way to the best gunslinger of the year. Before I begin with the bottom echelon, let me explain a couple of things.

The only criterion for inclusion is that the quarterback had to have played in at least half of his team's games. The exceptions are teams that used multiple quarterbacks extensively during the course of the season. Those teams are the Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins, who played three quarterbacks during the season.

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2014 NFL quarterback rankings: QB's 40-30
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40. Ryan Lindley

Lindley was thrown in an extremely difficult situation, but his play was a major hurdle for the Arizona Cardinals to get over. The Cardinals went 1-3 in Lindley's four starts and the lone victory came when Lindley subbed in for the injured Drew Stanton with eight minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Cardinals weren't an offensive juggernaut to begin with, but the unit was noticeably worse with Lindley playing. Arizona averaged fewer than 13 points per game with Lindley behind center. He threw three touchdowns and six interceptions in those games, the latter two came in Arizona's road playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Lindley looked like an overmatched quarterback for most of his tenure at the helm of the offense and it could have cost Arizona a better season. With Carson Palmer and Stanton getting healthy and rookie Logan Thomas developing into his second season, Lindley likely won't remain on Arizona's roster.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

39. Jake Locker

Locker's fourth season, and first under quarterback guru Ken Whisenhunt, had plenty of promise, but another injury-riddled season kept Locker out of nine games for the second consecutive year.

He wasn't spectacular when he played either. The Washington product completed only 58.9 percent of his throws with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Locker threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against Kansas City, but threw for only 727 yards and three touchdowns the rest of the year.

Tennessee has the second choice in this year's draft and could use it on Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. Zach Mettenberger is also on the roster and could provide stiff competition. Locker's contract expired this season and he could be let go by the team that drafted him eighth overall in the 2011 draft.

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

38. Charlie Whitehurst

Whitehurst replaced Locker after his injury in October then didn't play for two months before replacing rookie Zach Mettenberger in December. Whitehurst was unspectacular in his seven appearances, tossing 1,326 yards and seven touchdowns. He had an uninspiring 39.6 total QBR.

Whitehurst continues to be a serviceable backup, but isn't much more than that. He did manage to stay away from turnovers and threw only two interceptions.

There isn't much certainty surrounding Tennessee's quarterback situation. Whitehurst is under contract for another two seasons and could serve as a good veteran mentor to whomever the Titans choose to plug in at quarterback.

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

37. Shaun Hill

Hill started the 2014 season in replacement of Sam Bradford, who suffered a torn ACL in the preseason. Hill was unspectacular and was injured in a 34-6 loss to Minnesota in the season opener. Hill eventually returned two months later in a curious replacement of Austin Davis.

Hill threw for 1,657 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Rams were 3-5 with Hill at the helm, but lost their final three games of the season and put up only 39 points in those three defeats.

Hill becomes a free agent this year, but the Rams may consider bringing him back as a cheap veteran backup. The Rams could completely start over at the position if they release Bradford, which means Hill may serve as a bridge quarterback while the Rams try to restock the position.

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

36. Zach Mettenberger

The rookie quarterback made his first appearance on Sept. 28 against Indianapolis then sat out a month before making six consecutive starts and missing the rest of his season with a shoulder injury.

Mettenberger often looked over-matched as a rookie and it showed with his seven interceptions in seven games. He showed signs of being a respectable quarterback in games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, during which he threw for 608 yards and four touchdowns, but only had a 30.1 total QBR on the season.

Whisenhunt may have taken an interest in developing Mettenberger, but after such a bad season where the quarterback position was a turnstile, the Titans may elect to try and mold another rookie. It doesn't help that the Titans were winless in each of Mettenberger's appearances.

(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

35. Colt McCoy

McCoy replaced Kirk Cousins against the Tennessee Titans in Week 7 and actually won the first two games he appeared in. One of those victories was a road upset of the Dallas Cowboys in a homecoming game on Monday Night Football.

McCoy had QBRs of 82.3 and 80.8 in his first two games, but didn't have another game with an above-average QBR the rest of the season. McCoy's last appearance came in Week 15 against the Giants. He ended the season with 1,057 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.

McCoy will be a free agent this offseason and his status in Washington is unknown. His value didn't exactly move in any direction, but he should land a backup gig somewhere.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

34. Kirk Cousins

Cousins' stock might have had the fastest free fall of all quarterbacks in the league. The second-year pro was a hot commodity for much of the offseason and got another opportunity to play when Robert Griffin III went down with an injury.

Cousins was phenomenal in his first two outings, throwing for 677 yards, four touchdowns and only one pick. The bottom fell out the next several weeks, starting with a four interception performance against the New York Giants.

Cousins was eventually relieved by McCoy against Tennessee on Oct. 19 and never saw the field again. He finished the season with 1,710 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a 46.8 total QBR.

The quarterback narrative in Washington was an intriguing storyline throughout the season. Cousins will need to hope he can redeem some of his value in his fourth season.

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

33. Josh McCown

After playing tremendously as Jay Cutler's backup in Chicago, the Buccaneers signed the 35-year-old to a two-year, $10 million contract and made him the seventh-highest paid player on the team.

McCown wasn't worth the investment. He threw for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 11 games for the Bucs. Tampa Bay was 1-10 in his 11 starts and scored more than 20 points just twice.

Tampa Bay made a mistake in buying into McCown's very small sample size. It also hampered the development of Mike Glennon. McCown's struggles are a big reason why Tampa Bay is picking first in the draft and, like Tennessee, could use its pick on a quarterback. McCown may be the highest-paid backup quarterback in the league next season.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

32. Drew Stanton

Stanton was thrown into action on a couple of occasions this season. He played three games in the early part of the season when Carson Palmer had a nerve injury, then returned to action in early November after Palmer tore his ACL.

His numbers were nothing special, but Stanton's absence due to a knee injury in the final weeks of the season was noticeable. Stanton completed 55 percent of his passes with 1,711 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. He did finish with an above-average QBR of 58. He made some timely throws and the Cardinals were 6-3 in games he played in.

Stanton will return to a backup role as long as Palmer gets healthy. Given Palmer's injury history, he may be called upon next season in a similar situation and could improve his stock in a contract year.

(Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

31. Austin Davis

Davis was ultimately benched and replaced by Hill at the end of the season, but for a while it seemed Davis might have been able to serve as a nice bridge quarterback. Davis threw only four interceptions in his first six professional starts. The Rams went 2-4 in those six games, but Davis kept them in it for the most part.

The mistakes started piling up in his final three starts following St. Louis' upset victory over Seattle on Monday Night Football. Davis threw five picks and his highest QBR was just 13.7 in those three games.

Davis actually exceeded 2,000 yards in 2014 with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Davis certainly had more upside than Hill, which made head coach Jeff Fisher's decision to bench the second-year pro a curious one.

There may be something for the Rams to tap into with Davis, but if Bradford is healthy he will likely be the starter. Davis still could develop into a decent quarterback after showing some positive signs in limited action.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

30. Robert Griffin III

Three years ago, Griffin came in as the 10th-ranked quarterback after an incredible rookie season. After another disappointing year filled with injury and even more drama, Griffin comes in as the third-lowest quarterback to start in Week 1 (behind Locker and McCown).

RGIII dislocated is ankle in Week 2 and didn't return to action until November. He made seven starts afterward and the Redskins went 1-6 in those games. Griffin completed 68.7 percent of his passes, but threw for 1,694 yards, four touchdowns and six picks.

Griffin's mobility has been seriously limited in his second and third seasons. He has rushed for 665 yards and one touchdown the past two seasons after running for 815 yards and seven touchdowns during his rookie campaign.

Griffin still possesses a lot of physical talent, but his injury history and discord with head coach Jay Gruden is alarming. One of the most prolific players in the league just three seasons ago could be on a downward spiral to irrelevancy if a similar season ensues. Griffin enters a crucial contract season in 2015 where his cap number exceeds over $6 million.

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

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Matt Barbato is a senior at Marquette University. His favorite sport is football and is an avid New York Jets fan, for better or worse. You can follow him on Twitter @RealMattBarbato
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