The NFL is driven by Quarterbacks.
They are the face of the franchise, the player who can give hope to a fan base, but the one who can also take it away.
The skills required for quarterbacks are extensive-brains, accuracy, toughness, arm strength, mobility, nerves, experience, leadership, and the list goes on.
This directory was produced by using a combination of the necessary attributes today's NFL quarterback needs to succeed.
The list is not only based on past performances; it is an opinion of who can develop or has already become the great quarterback that all coaches crave, especially the ones in Buffalo, who has the lowest-ranked starting quarterback.
The Countdown initiates with one of the offseason's most questionable moves.
Pete Carroll sent a second-round pick to San Diego for Charlie Whitehurst, a quarterback who has yet to complete a pass in the NFL.
As of now, it's tough to project what type of success Whitehurt will see due to his lack of playing time.
Josh Johnson is one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL, but does not yet have the confidence or experience to succeed as a starter.
Johnson proved so in his last season, when he started four games.
He has the potential to become a solid backup or even a starter at the peak of his career, but as of now, he fits more into the role of a third-string quarterback.
Physically, Kellen Clemens is not lacking. He does struggle playing the mental game, though.
Clemens doesn't have the confidence to make the throws he needs to, and when he is forced to make a quick decision, he panics and cannot find the open receiver. He likely will keep his second-string role throughout the season.
Josh McCown finds himself jobless after nine years in the league.
This is not due to lack of talent; it is because of his talent. He can throw with the best, but his inability to make good throws on a consistent basis has become his downfall.
He also tends to trust his legs too much to get him out of a tight spot. I would be surprised if someone doesn't take a chance on McCown before the start of the season.
The drafting of Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2010 draft marked another questionable move to acquire a quarterback in this offseason.
He is one of the bigger projects among this year's batch of rookie QBs and is in the midst of completely revamping his throwing motion.
I don't question his arm power, but his accuracy raises questions, especially now that he has changed his arm motion.
Shaun Hill has prototypical accuracy for an NFL quarterback, but his weak arm limits him to a backup role.
His best attribute might be his ability to maintain a lead and not be the difference between a win and a loss.
He has good vision and gets rid of the ball quickly, but in Detroit, he will likely only step into a starting role if Matthew Stafford is injured, which is entirely possible.
Jamarcus Russell isn't just another quarterback who can't make it in the NFL. He is one of the most talented NFL quarterbacks, but he hasn't made a commitment to football or maintaining a healthy weight.
In order to succeed, he needs to be placed in an ideal situation for a QB where he won't be forced to make tough decisions and carry the expectations of an organization.
Byron Leftwich has returned to the Steelers this season after a failed experiment in Tampa Bay.
He succeeded in Pittsburgh two seasons ago because of his role as a backup. In Tampa Bay, opponents were forced to gameplan against him, which led to his quick departure.
He has great arm strength though and looks like an All-Pro on occasion.
Bruce Gradkowski is almost the opposite of former teammate Jamarcus Russell. He relies more on accuracy and mechanics than Russell. He also is a hard worker and has been improving since he has broken into the starting role.
He won't be the starter this year, though, as Oakland has handed over the keys to Jason Campbell.
Brady Quinn is trying to start over in Denver after failing to meet expectations in Cleveland.
He is smart, but not particularly skilled. He isn't accurate and he doesn't move smoothly.
He seems stiff and afraid to make mistakes. He is behind Kyle Orton right now and I don't feel that he is ready to unseat him.
Michael Vick might be one of the toughest quarterbacks to get a read on. Ever since returning from his prison term, he no longer scares defenses.
This could be because of lost athleticism or his bad mechanics could be catching up with him. Ultimately, it will be impossible to tell until he becomes a starter once again.
Daunte Culpepper was dumped by the Lions this past offseason and will likely move to a career outside of the NFL, possibly the UFL or CFL.
He is not nearly as effective as he had been a few years back, but he still can step into a backup role. Physically, he is not the 39th best quarterback, but he is one of the more experienced and smarter players on this list.
Tarvaris Jackson has had an up-and-down career to this point. He already has good experience for his age and is very athletic.
He will likely sit one more season behind Favre, but he is ready and capable of starting right now.
Within a few seasons, Tarvaris could end up on the top half of this list. He is confident in himself and ahead of Sage Rosenfels on the depth chart, so he could see some limited time this season.
Bulger suffered a drop-off last season, but will surely be picked up by some team in need of a backup this season.
He has no defined weakness, but doesn't have any skill that will blow you away. In the end, Bulger will only see success from here on out if he plays behind a great offensive line.
Kerry Collins is a game-managing quarterback.
He does his job well, but cannot go far outside of his box. He cannot scramble and his arm is weakening so his value has really dropped off from when he led the Titans to a 13-3 record.
If Vince Young has a rough start, Collins could step in and prevent a disastrous season for the Titans.
Anderson has one of the biggest arms in the league, but his accuracy is far behind.
He does not move well and doesn't have that extra sense that quarterbacks need while they're in the pocket.
Anderson could end up seeing some time this season if he shows the Cardinals that he's become a more accurate passer.
Trent Edwards is another quarterback who has the brains and the accuracy, but not the arm power to become a solid starter in today's NFL.
He took a step back last season, but with an extra year to sit back and absorb the situation, Edwards should steal his starting job back with ease in 2010 from Ryan Fitzpatrick (unranked).
Josh Freeman does have the tools needed to start for the Buccaneers for seasons to come. He does need to work on his accuracy, but his athleticism and arm strength are up to par and beyond.
He might struggle this season without his top receiver, Antonio Bryant, but as his chemistry with his new wideouts improve, he could see a jump from his 55 percent completion percentage from last year.
Jimmy Clausen slid further than any other big-name player in April's draft, but when the Carolina Panthers selected him in the middle of the second round, he fell into one of the best possible situations.
He only has a young, unproven starter ahead of him in Matt Moore, and he has great surrounding talent. Right now, Clausen is mentally ahead of Sam Bradford, but does not yet have Bradford's accuracy.
Sam Bradford finds himself in possibly the worst quarterback situation in the league. He almost assuredly will be thrown into the starting lineup from day one.
There are two directions that he can head in this season. He will either 1) fail to reach expectations because of a banged up O-line and young receiving core or 2) bring the Rams back to life and unleash the potential of the Ram's receivers. I'm leaning towards number one.
Mark Sanchez performed much better in the postseason last year because he became much more of a game manager than he was in the regular season. With some added weapons this season, Sanchez could possibly get ahead of himself and take too many risks. That's why I don't see him having a successful outcome to this season.
Matt Leinart has been in the league for four years, but the jury is still out on him. He has the tools, he just hasn't figured out how to use them to the best of his ability on a consistent basis.
He'll be forced to figure that out soon, because he is the starter, but Derek Anderson is prepared to unseat him if he fails to contribute in the Cards' pass-happy offense.
Chad Pennington is one of the best quarterbacks in the league at understanding his abilities and limitations. His arm strength is underwhelming, but he has the accuracy to make up for it.
Injury ended his past season early, but he already has a Comeback Player of the Year award under his belt, so don't count him out.
The downside is that Chad Henne performed very well last season and Pennington will not be the starter until Henne proves he can't handle the job.
Kevin Kolb impressed versus the Chiefs last season, but that's not saying a lot. What I am impressed with is his improvement made in such little playing time.
Once he develops chemistry with his receiving core, he could start putting up big numbers. He can handle the workload, the only question is: Can he lead the Eagles in the absence of McNabb?
Matt Cassel took a huge step backwards last year. He was acquired by the Chiefs and had a sub-par season. He needs more weapons and the recent struggles of Dwayne Bowe does not help his cause.
He can make the throws and he can make the right decisions. All he needs now is the receivers to make the throws to and the time to make the decisions.
Alex Smith might have turned his career around last season. He has sent a positive vibe out through the 49ers organization and has a talented team around him. He is not the quarterback they drafted him to be, but he is a solid starter and one more good year could bump him up to top 15 on this list.
Matthew Stafford had an up and down rookie season, but he did the best he could with the talent that was surrounding him.
Kevin Smith hit his sophomore slump and Calvin Johnson was Stafford's only serious target. He is not the problem in Detroit's offense right now.
The problem is the offensive line, the running backs and the receivers. Did I miss anything?
Vince Young did not return quietly last season. He led the Titans to an 8-2 record as a starter in a season where he posted his highest QB rating in his four-year career.
He didn't make the runs like he did as a rookie, but that could be a step in the right direction. He needs to recommit himself to the Titans and come into 2010 ready to start from day one.
Jake Delhomme needs to start over and the Browns will allow him to do that. After seven straight seasons with an 80+ QB rating, Delhomme was picked apart by the Cardinals in the 2009 playoffs. He lost loads of confidence and couldn't piece himself back together for the 2009-2010 regular season.
He is a strong leader and succeeds in a run-heavy/play-action system, something the Browns don't exactly have.
Matt Moore was on fire for the Panthers last season after stepping in as the starter, due to Jake Delhomme's injury.
He led the Panthers to a 4-1 record over the last five games and posted the highest QB rating in the league over his last 4 games, ending the season at 98.5.
He is still young and knows how to get the ball to Steve Smith, who averaged 95 YPG with Moore as the starter.
Chad Henne had a decent season for the Dolphins in 2009.
He didn't do much special and couldn't deliver down the stretch when it counted, but without Ronnie Brown, you would expect your quarterback to struggle.
He was relied on much more after Brown was placed on IR. He does have raw talent though and will likely perform better next season with a full season of experience already under his belt.
Jason Campbell has been brought in to save the franchise, even if Al Davis wants to deny that. I am not putting it out of his ability to do so, but I believe he is not the quarterback yet that he one day can be.
He plays with a certain level of comfort and smoothness that is enjoyable to watch, but with the Raiders, he might be doing a little more jumping around and running for his life.
Jay Cutler has amazing arm strength to go with an array of other talents, but something went wrong in 2009. That problem was that he forced the ball way too frequently.
It is one thing to take an occasional risk—that's what makes a quarterback great—but there's a point where you can take it to far. Let's just say that Cutler needs to take a big step back from that point this season.
Matt Ryan is a solid quarterback and will be for many years, but he lacks the "IT" factor to become one of the elite NFL quarterbacks.
He failed to repeat the performance of his first season, but was still a solid quarterback and is immune to those pesky quarterback slumps like the one Jake Delhomme is going through right now.
He should take a step back and rethink the way he played in 2009, because he was not nearly as accurate last year.
Kyle Orton turned out to be a very pleasant surprise for Denver fans in 2009. When they traded away Jay Cutler for Orton and two first-round picks, they had no idea that they were not only stocking up on picks, but they also got the better quarterback in the trade.
Orton has less arm strength than Cutler, but he makes up for it with leadership and consistency.
At this point in his career, Hasselbeck is just making a push for the Hall of Fame, and that is not a longshot.
He not only puts up the numbers, but he rubs off on all of his teammates. He is a great leader with tons of experience.
Physically, he has hit a wall where he will soon begin to decline. But mentally, he is getting stronger and the Seahawks will need that if they are to make a comeback this year.
David Garrard is not a field-stretcher or a thread-the-needle type of guy. He is just a quarterback who has the skills, the determination, and the brains to manage a team.
Like many quarterbacks, he enjoyed early success, but he can no longer slip under the radar.
You will not see much fluctuation in his stats for the rest of his career, but what you will notice is that a solid quarterback makes it easier to build up a team and that is why he is so valuable to the Jags.
Eli Manning has already reached the pinnacle of his career in New York. He now can only reach his personal goals.
Last season, he played great, tossing 27 touchdowns and generally throwing very accurately. There were some ups and downs though. After a 5-0 start, the Giants fell to 8-8 and were destroyed in their final two games, but Eli did not play particularly bad in those two games.
Donovan McNabb had one of the best seasons of his career in 2009. He played well by following his instincts and trusting his arm. He had extremely talented receivers, which made it easier on him, but he will be thrust into a totally different situation in Washington.
Santana Moss is the best they have and there are no Desean Jacksons or Jeremy Maclins on the roster.
Tony Romo might be lower on this list than many might expect because of his stellar stats, but this is based on skills also and Romo is the biggest overachiever of any quarterback in the NFL.
He improvises all the time and relies on luck a little too often. This has bitten him in the behind in the past during clutch situations, because luck does not scare your opponents.
Unlike Romo, Flacco relies on his skills to perform consistently. He might just have the most power of any quarterback in the league and has adequate accuracy to go with it. He is also a very smart guy and his height allows him to scan the field effortlessly.
Carson Palmer has struggled with injuries for his entire career. Had he not been so injury prone, Palmer could be in the elite status of quarterbacks right now. He is a strong-armed, accurate, and a smart signal-caller who has yet to reach his potential, despite being 30 years of age.
Matt Schaub has come a long way from who he was two seasons ago. His skills have drastically improved and he turned the Texans franchise around. He and Andre Johnson are forming a fantastic duo and they are both young and full of enthusiasm.
Schaub's mechanics are sound, so he just needs to concentrate on digging deeper into the game of football and being consistent. If he does this, he will become a prolific passer.
Ben Roethlisberger is a big-armed quarterback and big-headed guy. Off of the field, Big Ben has experienced some issues. This leads some to question his responsibility and his future with the classy Steelers organization.
Now, I don't question his football skills, and he still has room to grow, but I do question his ability to balance two lifestyles.
What is there to say about Brett Favre? He is the least consistent quarterback at the top of this list by a large margin.
He had the best season of his career last season and the aging process seems to be working in reverse for him. But it can't last forever and Favre will hit the wall at some point.
For the Viking's sake, let's hope it won't be this season, although I have a gut feeling that it is.
Phillip Rivers is the most underrated quarterback in the league. He has incredible accuracy and he's only 28 years old.
The Chargers are the most pass-reliant team in the league, but this year, with a new, young running back in town, we might see less big games out of Rivers.
But when it comes down to the wire, you can trust in the name Rivers.
Like Rivers, Rodgers has come from under the radar to among the league's best within a matter of two seasons. Rodgers' ability to step in for Brett Favre has been seriously under-appreciated.
If he continues his current pace, he will destroy Favre's numbers, especially in terms of QB rating.
Tom Brady fell out of the limelight this season, despite having an above-average year. When you say that Tom Brady had an above-average season, shouldn't you expect a Super Bowl-contending Pats team?
Well, the answer is no. By no fault of his own, the Pats are falling out of contention. I would not be surprised if Brady is out of New England within the coming years.
Drew Brees and former teammate Phillip Rivers are the class of the NFL in terms of accuracy. If you have not seen the "Sport Science" video of Drew Brees, you need to check it out because it is a perfect example of what accuracy can do for a team in the NFL. He brought New Orleans what they needed, but with a lack of offseason improvement, the Saints could have a down year in 2010.
Peyton Manning is the smartest quarterback to ever play the game of football. He picks apart a defense play after play and changes the game plan on the fly.
It is disappointing that Peyton did not win another ring, but the Colts are loaded and starting off fresh and healthy in 2010.
Look for Manning to get some revenge for that loss and have a fantastic 2010-2011 campaign.
In the end, Manning stole the #1 spot from Brees, but let's take a closer look at the ratings that determined this list.
Highest - Manning
Lowest - Vince Young
Highest - Brees, Rivers
Lowest - Derek Anderson
Highest - Brett Favre
Lowest - Tom Brady
Highest - Drew Brees
Lowest - Jamarcus Russell
Highest - Joe Flacco, Jamarcus Russell
Lowest - Chad Pennington
Highest - Vince Young, Michael Vick, Josh Johnson
Lowest - Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins
Highest - Tom Brady
Lowest - Derek Anderson
Highest - Peyton Manning
Lowest - Derek Anderson
Highest - Brett Favre
Lowest - Charlie Whitehurst (among non-rookies)
Highest - Peyton Manning
Lowest - Josh Johnson
Thanks for checking out my rankings and look for RB rankings, coming out soon!