We all know who the stud QBs of the NFL are right now.
Brady, Brees, Rogers and Manning (both of them).
After them, there is a second tier of QBs who are on the cusp of joining the aforementioned list of stud QBs. This tier is composed of guys who have established themselves as legitimate starters in the NFL.
In the eyes of some, however, they have not quite reached elite status yet. For some reason, such as a lack of playoff wins or a low sample of work to use for comparison's sake, they remain second to the NFL's star arms.
Here I will present to you four QBs from that second tier of QBs that you should take seriously moving forward throughout the NFL season.
Joe Flacco's lack of a Super Bowl ring coupled with a blunt and straightforward attitude about his own abilities has kept him out of the top-tier of QBs in the NFL.
In his fifth year as starting QB for the Baltimore Ravens, Flacco seems to be putting it all together.
Through Week 4, he has thrown for 1,269 yards, seven touchdowns and has completed 63.5 percent of his passes (via ESPN).
More importantly, Flacco has been the leader of the offense for the Ravens. He has led them to tough wins over division rival Cincinnati and the Patriots and a 3-1 record.
The Ravens have always had a tough, dominating defense that would carry them to wins despite the offense's struggles.
Now, they have an offense that is just as good, if not better, than their already great defense.
The main reason behind that success is Joe Flacco, and that should be reason enough to take him seriously moving forward.
Although he just a second-year player, Andy Dalton is another QB that you should take seriously from here on out.
The Bengals found that coveted QB/WR combination in Dalton and AJ Green in last year's NFL draft. It paid enormous dividends last year with a playoff birth after a 4-12 record the season before.
This year, Dalton has the Bengals offense rolling and out to a 2-1 record, which includes a win over RGIII and the Redskins. The offense is averaging 291 passing yards per game and 28.3 points per game, both of which are up from 208.8 yards per game and 21.5 points per game last year (via ESPN).
Dalton himself has already thrown for 1111 yards and eight touchdowns this season with a completion percentage over 65 percent (via ESPN).
Above all else, Dalton has the Bengals sitting at 4-1 right now and poised to be a serious playoff contender this season.
Even though he is only in his second NFL season, Dalton has shown that he has the capability to be a big-time QB at the highest level.
Like Joe Flacco, it's time that Matt Ryan gets taken seriously for being an elite QB in the NFL.
In his first four years, he has taken the Falcons to the postseason three times and has brought them back to prosperity after the post-Michael Vick down years.
As of right now, Ryan has passed for 793 yards, eight touchdowns, has completed 72 percent of his passes and has thrown only one interception (via ESPN). He also leads the league in passer rating at 114.0 (via ESPN)
Most importantly, he and the Falcons are 4-0.
Yes, he has not won a game in the playoffs to date. However, consider that, in two of those three postseason games, the Falcons lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion. The other year, they lost to the Cardinals, who went on to play in the Super Bowl.
My point here is this: Matt Ryan's playoff troubles came against some great teams, and despite their regular season record, the Falcons did not field a Super Bowl-worthy team. So the losses shouldn't fall completely on his shoulders.
All signs point to Ryan continuing this success, especially with receivers like Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Watch out for Matt Ryan going forward.
It's time to start talking about Alex Smith as an elite NFL QB.
Since Jim Harbaugh has taken over the 49ers, Smith has flourished as a signal caller, shedding the view of him as a draft bust.
Everyone remembers the Niners run to the NFC Championship game last year with a 13-3 regular season record. The biggest questions for them going into this year was could they repeat and how would Smith play in his second year under Harbaugh?
The answer is so far, so good.
Smith has thrown for 784 yards and five touchdowns while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. He has also continued to not turn the ball over, throwing only one interception through four games (via ESPN).
And like the other QBs on this list, he is making his team win.
The Niners are 3-1 and beat the Packers in a Week 1 thriller, but dropped an uncharacteristic game at Minnesota last week. In that game, Smith played quite well, throwing for 204 yards, a touchdown and a 68.6 completion percentage (via ESPN).
Look for the 49ers to continue their winning ways and start to take Alex Smith seriously as an elite NFL QB.