Leading The Pack; The Top 10 NFL QuarterBacks

Matt ShervingtonCorrespondent IIJuly 17, 2009

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 9:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts moves to hand off the ball during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 9, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

His understanding of the game of football is unparalleled. I honestly believe it is his success as a quarterback that leads people to believe that Archie was a better quarterback than he actually was, and that Eli Manning is better than he actually is based on last name association. Yardage totals usually mean nothing when judging a QuarterBack in comparison to the completion percentage, touchdown-to-interception ratio and yards per attempt, but when your quarterback has never thrown for less than 3,700 Yards in an 11 year career that is something special. Throughout that career, Manning has a 2-to-1 touchdown:interception ratio. Manning has all that you need and is the franchise quarterback benchmark.


2.) Tom Brady, New England

Whether you like it or not, the stigma attached to a quarterback is win-loss record and Super Bowl appearances and/or won. Brady has high marks in all of those, and it's because he's just a natural born leader with a tendency to make his supporting cast look better than it actually is. He has helped make careers for Troy Brown, Deion Branch, and Wes Welker. While I don't agree with how he achieved his passing record in the year 2007, the fact remains that it is still there. His two Super Bowl MVP trophies and being at the helm of an undefeated regular season also add to his list of accomplishment as a leader and quarterback.


3.) Drew Brees, New Orleans

As previously stated, yardage totals are overrated. It doesn't matter if you throw for 4,000 yards if it takes 650 Attempts to do such a thing, and you cannot get the ball into the endzone. Luckily, however, for Brees he is pretty good at all things required of a quarterback. He averages 28 touchdown passes per season since his breakout year. Additionally, he and Brady are the only quarterbacks not named Manning to be be a First Team All-Pro since 2002. While I don't tend to use All-Pro merits as an argument due to the flaws of the previous five or six teams, the quarterback position is the one position they always get right. He too has a 2-to-1 touchdown:interception ratio.


4.) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh

Quarterback is the unquestioned leadership position in all 32 NFL lockerrooms. So, when teams draft a quarterback they're looking for a guy who will lead their team to victories in the pursuit of raising banners. Roethlisberger has helped the Steelers raise three AFC North Champion banners and two World Champion banners. Roethlisberger, however, has managed to put up some good stats as well during this span though. His career 7.9 yards per attempt is amongst the best of all time, and his 2007 season saw a 32-to-11 touchdown-to-interception comparison. But perhaps his most impressive number is 18 Fourth Quarter Comebacks since '04, four better than the next closest guy.


5.) Philip Rivers, San Diego

In his first two years as a starter, many were eager to somewhat write off his success due to the fact that he had a sure-fire future Hall of Famer in LaDainian Tomlinson in his backfield diminishing his duties. People even pointed to the fact that Rivers was second in yards after cather from receivers over a two, or even three year span. But last year he showed the world what he was capable of as a leader. He showed the world the ability to hit wide receivers in stride, to be a leader in the locker room, and most importantly, to not just fizzle out and then blame your teammates like his former rival. His 2008 season, statistically, has only been done four other times in NFL history, two of those times by the same quarterback!


6.) Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia

Living in Philadelphia, I've always loved McNabb, even more so than some of the players on my own team. I would love to place him higher on this list, but the fact that he can be argued as not being the most important piece to the Eagles offense hurts. That withstanding, one could still argue McNabb over Westbrook due to his 2000-2004 performances being accountable for 70 percent of the Eagles' offense, which is just ridiculous. Not to mention McNabb has a career 2.15-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio showing that it isn't him that costs his team games like some Eagles fans would like to pretend. His only downfall is accuracy.


7.) Kurt Warner, Arizona

I like Warner, but it is my strong belief that quarterbacks No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 6 would outproduce him given the luxury of having Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin as their split end and flanker respectively. I also believe Rivers and Roethlisberger could outproduce him as well, and even if they didn't, I'd wager the team would manage an additional win or two due to these guys willingness to gut out close games. However, I can't fully fault him for working with what he has. Warner is an excellent quarterback if you have the wide receivers to complement him, but one also has to remember his New York years in judging him as an overall player.


8.) Tony Romo, Dallas

I frequently visit dozens of football message boards, and the hate this guy gets is amazing. You would have thought that Romo was an known murderer the way people sit back and lay into him for things that other quarterbacks do, but don't get hated on for. Sure he hasn't won a post-season game, but neither have Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, or Aaron Rodgers, who some put above him for some odd reason. Of those guys only Rodgers has a season comparable to Romo's best. Romo is a gunslinger that makes his offensive line look much better than it is evidenced by the unwarranted Pro Bowl bids in 07.


9.) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

I normally don't place one-year guys at the top 10 at their respective position, especially for quarterbacks, but Rodgers waited three years on the bench and showed immense maturity during "Favre-Gate 08". What did he do after Favre left? Only throw for 4,000 Yards, over 25 touchdowns, and then run for a few more, mostly during critical times. That’s why he made it on here. But what Rodgers did that really sold me was shot grit and caring for his team that a lot of starters don't have. After being told he could very well have a separated shoulder, Rodgers re-entered a game and threaded a needle to Greg Jennings between a linebacker and safety. That aforementioned throw then went onto produce a touchdown.


10.) Carson Palmer, Cincinnati

Carson Palmer is the original Jay Cutler; A guy who had elite talent at every offensive position except for halfback and as a result put up some insanely good numbers. In fact, Palmer's numbers made Cutler's look like baby numbers. But what really sold me on Palmer is his understanding of the Xs and Os of football, which allow him to still produce despite no longer having elite talent at both wideout positions, and only one elite offensive lineman. In 2005 and 2006 Palmer looked like the third best quarterback in the NFL. Because of his statistics and his execution of the hurry up offense in Cincinnati. He took them to the post-season in '05 and would have in '06 if not for a Santonio Holmes overtime touchdown.


Honorable Mentions:

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle

~ How much time left?

~ Despite amazing '07, '08 was horrid when he did play.


Eli Manning, New York Giants

~ Need more consistency


Jay Cutler, Chicago

~ His best season has to outproduce the top 10 guys best seasons

~ Needs to show better decision making
~ Needs to post a winning season.


Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins

~ Needs to either fight of Chad Henne or become starter elsewhere in 2010.