NFL Quarterbacks: From The Greats To The Ain'ts Of The NFL

William BlakeCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2008

Let's face it; you are not going to win a Super Bowl unless your team is exceptional. And the leader of the offense, the quarterback, is the most criticized yet honored position in football.

So just which quarterbacks are qualified as leaders on and off the field? This list not only ranks all 32 quarterbacks, but gives you some reasons to believe.


1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

I'm probably going to get a lot of "boos" on this one, but it's the honest truth. Brady broke the single season passing touchdown record with one name coming into the season: Randy Moss.

Brady obviously worked with Wes Welker, and made him into a catching machine. Jabar Gaffney, a receiver the Patriots picked up off of free agency, became a reliable threat in the redzone.

Donte Stallworth performed below expectations, but did enough to boost the Patriots to a 16-0 season. Brady not only was exceptional on the field, but was a leader, too. It takes a good leader to lead the team to a 16-0 record, and has never had major character issues. 

Grade: A


2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

Manning has always been a household name. Let's face it; he's a good person, and an even better quarterback.

Without his favorite receiver for most of last year in Marvin Harrison, and was still able to throw 31 touchdown passes. Reggie Wayne definitely emerged, and Anthony Gonzalez took leadership as well. Tight end Dallas Clark also was a redzone threat.

Peyton had developed all of these receivers into the stars they are today, and lead the Colts to the second-best record in the AFC. Its highly debatable over who is a better quarterback, but for good measure, will give Manning the same grade as Brady.

Grade: A


3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Okay, so Brady and Manning have been the top two for a few years now. So who is No. 3? In my opinion, it is Roethlisberger.

Any argument you make for Carson Palmer, Drew Brees, or Tony Romo, Big Ben has outdone them.

He is the only one of the four to win a Super Bowl. He threw the fewest interceptions of the four this season with just 11, and was second in touchdowns (Roethlisberger threw 32, but Romo threw 36).

He's done these things without a real go-to receiver. Brees has Marques Colston, Romo has Terrell Owens, and Palmer has T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson.

Hines Ward has faced injury issues, and Santonio Holmes was young last year. Ultimately, there is no way Big Ben is not the third-best quarterback in the NFL.

Grade: A-


4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Brees took a blow when he lost Joe Horn last offseason, but still did well enough to throw 28 touchdown passes.

Marques Colston stepped up and made plays, and Brees returned to normal form throughout the course of the season. He completed 67.5 percent of his passes and threw for 4,423 yards this season, more than even Peyton Manning managed.

But in the end, he threw 18 interceptions, which is far too many when you face the likes of Carolina and Atlanta twice a year on defense. Overall, Brees is a complete quarterback, and has potential to take Roethlisberger's spot by the end of the season.

Grade: A-


5. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

For someone who threw 36 touchdowns in one season, you would think Romo would be in the top three. However, he has arguably the game's second best receiver right now with Terrell Owens, as well as a top two tight end in Jason Witten.

Plus, he has a star running back in Marion Barber and a strong offensive line. So how is he not No. 3? Well, first of all, he has shown immaturity, by throwing five interceptions against a mediocre Buffalo Bills defense, and his off-field maneuvers have some questioning whether he is a real quarterback.

Also, he has failed to win a playoff game when his team has been favored. But, Romo is still young and learning, with the least experience of the top five. Expect Romo to grow, but for now, he has not proven that he is star caliber.

Grade: A-


6. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals

With T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson as your receivers, you think Palmer would do better than just 26 touchdowns and an abysmal 20 interceptions.

While these two numbers are probably the most important when determining a quarterback's worth, you also have to consider other conditions. Rudi Johnson did not do his job at running back.

The defense wasn't stopping many people. So, Palmer was expected to keep the possesion when he was throwing all the time. Palmer is only 28, so he is still tweaking his game.

Plus, Palmer threw for 4,131 yards, so he definitely exploited the use of his two star receivers. Palmer is potentially a top three quarterback with his receivers, he just needs to get over the hump and quit throwing interceptions.

Grade: B+


7. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks

Hasselbeck has never been a huge name quarterback, but he is exceptional in his play. He threw just 12 interceptions, fewer than all but two names ahead of him.

Hasselbeck was in a situation like Palmer, where the expected star running back didn't perform. Shaun Alexander just wasn't running the way he was supposed to, and Hasselbeck isn't surrounded with loads of talented receivers.

However, Hasselbeck did what he could, and threw 28 touchdowns and 3,966 yards. However, he is turning 33 this September, so his days of stardom could be numbered. 

Grade: B+


8. Derek Anderson, Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns were the biggest surprise of 2007, and Anderson led them the whole way. He threw 29 touchdowns with receivers like Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.

Both became even bigger names, and Jamal Lewis was a good enough running back to keep Anderson from become overwhelmed. However, he threw 19 interceptions and only had a QB rating of 100 or more in four of his contests.

In the last six games of the regular season, when the Browns were making a playoff push, Anderson threw seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. Anderson will have to prove one more time that he can be a top ten quarterback for me to be convinced.

Grade: B+


9. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Now tell me, did you see Eli Manning winning a Super Bowl? Maybe, but you didn't this season. But he did. Manning has the leadership skills and has proven he can get it done on the field.

Without Jeremy Shockey, considered to be a top ten tight end at times, for the postseason, Manning still managed to get four road wins together to win the Super Bowl.

Like Palmer, Manning threw 20 interceptions this year, but only 23 touchdowns. However, Manning's weapons were limited.

Plaxico Burress, the team's best receiver, was hurt for portions of the season, and Amani Toomer is becoming old quickly. However, Manning hooked up with both receivers and pulled together a Super Bowl win.

You have to expect good things from the second youngest quarterback in the Top Ten.

Grade: B


10. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles compete in the toughest divison of the NFC, and have two high-powered offensive players; Brian Westbrook, and Donovan McNabb. McNabb has shown throughout his whole career that he just cannot stay healthy, and has few receivers around him.

He threw 19 touchdown passes, but the fewest interceptions of all quarterbacks in the Top 10, with seven. McNabb is a leader, but needs to stay healthy so we actually have some stats to evaluate him.

McNabb could advance higher if he completes the season next year, makes the playoffs, and throws over 25 touchdowns.

Grade: B


Everyone else:

11. David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars. Grade: B

12. Marc Bulger, St Louis Rams. Grade: B-

13. Jay Cutler, Denver Broncos. Grade: B-

14. Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers. Grade: C+

15. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers. Grade: C+

16. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans. Grade: C+

17. Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay Buccanneers. Grade: C+

18. Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals. Grade: C+

19. Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins. Grade: C

20. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers. Grade: C

21. Jon Kitna, Detroit Lions. Grade: C

22. Vince Young, Tennessee Titans. Grade: C

23. Chad Pennington, New York Jets. Grade: C-

24. Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills. Grade: C-

25. JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders. Grade: C-

26. Josh McCown, Miami Dolphins. Grade: D+

27. Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota Vikings. Grade: D+

28. Troy Smith, Baltimore Ravens. Grade: D+

29. Rex Grossman, Chicago Bears. Grade: D+

30. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, Grade: D

31. Alex Smith, San Fransisco 49ers. Grade: D-

32. Brodie Croyle, Kansas City Chiefs. Grade: D-



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