According to various league sources, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in hot pursuit of a young backup quarterback. It's been reported by multiple sources that the Jaguars have contacted the Kansas City Chiefs in regards to backup quarterback and last year's starter Tyler Thigpen. It's also been rumored that Jacksonville has shown interest in Tampa Bay Buccaneer's quarterbacks Luke McCown and Josh Johnson. Byron Leftwich is also rumored to be available via trade, but with the history between Leftwich and Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, there's no reason to even touch on it.
How do these three quarterbacks stack up and who would be the best option for the Jacksonville Jaguars? Let's break them down.
Luke McCown - 28 years old, 6'3," 212 pounds, five years of experience, seven career starts
Luke McCown was a former fourth-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns. He played his college football at Louisiana Tech. McCown went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005, traded during the draft, and has been waiting in the wings ever since. He's been regarded by the Bucs as a potential long term starter, but he never seems to get the chance to fully embrace it. His first start in the NFL came in 2007 in place of an injured Jeff Garcia, and McCown led the Bucs to a win over the New Orleans Saints throwing for over 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns. McCown has very good athleticism for a quarterback and can make a lot of plays on the move and with his legs. His arm is adequate enough to make all of the throws required in the NFL and is usually a preseason All-Star. While McCown is a touch older than Josh Johnson and Tyler Thigpen, he still offers the possibility of a potential future starter in the NFL.
Josh Johnson - 23 years old, 6'3" 213 pounds, one year of experience, no career starts
Josh Johnson is the youngest of the three potential backup quarterbacks and naturally the most raw. Johnson was a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft and played his college football at the University of San Diego. Johnson broke numerous school passing records at San Diego and was invited to play in the East-West Shrine game prior to the 2008 draft and was named MVP of the game going 5 for 11 with 73 passing yards and a touchdown with 103 rushing yards on 3 runs. As you can see, Josh Johnson is very athletic and a threat with his legs. While he offers the most upside of the three, he is also the biggest risk. He has some mechanical and footwork issues that need to be ironed out, and is still probably a good two to three seasons away from being starter material. At this point, he may not even be good back up material because of how unpolished he is.
Tyler Thigpen - 25 years old, 6'1," 225 pounds, three years of experience, 11 career starts
Tyler Thigpen has the most game experience out of any of the three quarterbacks. He played his college football at Coastal Carolina and was a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2007. Tyler Thigpen was the first ever quarterback to play for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, leading them to a 30-8 record as a starter. Thigpen became the starter in Kansas City in the 2008 season due to season ending injuries to Damon Huard and back up Brodie Croyle. The Chiefs altered their offense quite a bit for Thigpen, who played in a spread offense in college, to run a version of the "pistol offense." Surprisingly, Thigpen was very successful. While he only led the Chiefs to a single victory, statistically Thigpen was very effective posting 54.8% completion percentage, 2,608 yards, 22 total touchdowns (18 passing) and only 12 interceptions. Thigpen also rushed for 386 yards, leading the NFL in quarterback rushing. Thigpen, like McCown, is ready to make an impact immediately should starter David Garrard go down during the season. He is very athletic and has a good arm with the ability to make all of the NFL throws. A big knock on him was he tended to get happy feet and run quickly rather than rolling out to pass the ball, but these are issues than can be worked out in time. Mark Brunell, who I believe Thigpen compares favorably to, had those issues early on in his career.
All three of these quarterbacks are available and the Jaguars have interest. The Jaguars have reportedly offered a fifth-round pick for Tyler Thigpen, with the Kansas City Chiefs asking for a third-round pick. Luke McCown and Josh Johnson are both also likely available for a fifth-round pick. Depending on who the Jaguars like more and what the compensation for each looks like, the Jaguars may have a new quarterback by the beginning of next week or sooner.