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Alex Smith rated as NFL’s 20th-best starting QB by ESPN

In case you missed it,

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski recently finished his annual rankings of the NFL’s starting


Alex Smith is ranked 20th, immediately behind Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton and ahead of Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman. Smith is third among AFC West quarterbacks, behind Denver’s Peyton Manning (second) and San Diego’s Philip Rivers (17th) and ahead of Oakland’s Matt Flynn (32nd and last).

Such lists are somewhat subjective, but Jaworski is a former NFL quarterback who watches enough tape that his opinion is one to be listened to. And 20th sounds about right for Smith. Smith held his own over the past couple of seasons with the three quarterbacks listed ahead of him (Dalton, Carolina’s Cam Newton at 18 and Rivers). Smith two years ago guided the 49ers to the brink of a Super Bowl appearance and last season was leading the league in passer rating when he was benched.

But, still, wouldn’t you rather have Newton or Rivers quarterbacking the Chiefs this season?

For what it’s worth, having the 20th-ranked starting quarterback is a two-spot jump for the Chiefs over last year, when Matt Cassel was the 22nd-ranked passer in Jaworski’s preseason rankings.

Cassel has moved on to the Minnesota Vikings, where he opens camp as the backup for Christian Ponder. Ponder, by the way, is ranked 27th by Jaworski.