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NFL Ranking: The 32 Starting Quarterbacks in the League Today

David ArreolaSenior Analyst IFebruary 9, 2011

NFL Ranking: The 32 Starting Quarterbacks in the League Today

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    In a time where the passing game is becoming more and more dominant in the league, the importance and reverence of a good quarterback has risen with each passing season. Quarterbacks are paid considerably more than any other position, and in most cases, a team builds around a good quarterback.

    This past 2010 season saw incredible performances for both veteran quarterbacks and young quarterbacks beginning to make their name in the league.

    The following is how I rank the projected starting quarterbacks in the NFL right now. Of course many of these names will not be starters next year, due to unforeseeable events. Therefore I have included a Job Security Rating for each quarterback, in terms of their likeliness of starting next season. The scale is from 1-10. 1 being extremely high chance of losing job, 10 being certainty of starting.

    I hope you enjoy, and above all, criticize, my rankings of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL today.

     

32. Jimmy Clausen

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 4

    Much of the blame for the Panthers struggles was placed on the owner, who has spent very cheaply, and the lack of depth and talent at wide receiver.

    If the above facts are true, putting the rookie Jimmy Clausen in this past season was throwing the young quarterback to the dogs. The result? A 58.4 passer rating.

    Since his days at Notre Dame, Clausen has been beaten badly in the backfield. Taking hits and sacks that no quarterback can take to be successful. Over time these hits get in the head of a quarterback, and effect his overall production.


    If Clausen is to be successful at all, he needs some kind of protection.

    No accolades

31. Tavaris Jackson

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 5

    With the departure of Brett Favre the Vikings have a massive hole at quarterback.

    Jackson has yet to truly prove he can be an effective starting quarterback, and also has proven to be very injury prone. Two things that nobody can expect to do, while also being a starting quarterback.

    His future is uncertain after new head coach Leslie Frazier declared that the Vikings needed a franchise quarterback. Probably meaning that he doesn't think they had one right now.

    Next year will surely be a make or break season for Jackson.

    No accolades

30. Colt McCoy

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 2

    One of the more pleasant stories this NFL season saw the winningest quarterback in NCAA FBS history emerge as a hero for a franchise that has had their fair share of suffering. In his eight starts for the Browns, Colt McCoy pieced together a decent season that surpassed the expectations of draft experts.

    Despite the incredible victories against New Orleans and New England, McCoy went 2-6 on the season as a starter and posted rather unimpressive passing statistics.

    With a new coach in town, it will be interesting to see what McCoy's role will be. Will be take the starting job permanently from Jake Delhomme, or will he be a case of not enough production in practice?

    No accolades

29. Derek Anderson

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 1

    Ever since his incredible season with the Cleveland Browns, Anderson has struggled to find the same production. His infamous post game explosion in which he declared "nothing is funny" to him, Derek Anderson now stares the possibility of being a journeyman backup the rest of his career.

    A poor season which saw him throw only seven touchdowns and suffer injuries needs to be quickly forgotten for the aging Anderson. It is likely the Cardinals will bring in competition for the job, hopefully to spark a fire in Anderson that will return him to the talent we all thought he had back in 2007.

    No accolades

28. Chad Henne

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 4

    The former Michigan talisman finds himself in a very odd situation in 2011.

    After being drafted essentially as a project in 2008, the big arm quarterback won the starting job from Chad Pennington a year later and was being hailed as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league.

    Now he is coming off a below average season and there are rumors swirling that Miami will be looking to bring in a veteran quarterback to shore up the position. With the arrival of a new head coach, Henne's role with the team is in question.

    His physical talent is obvious, but his lack of outstanding production and the questions all around the Dolphins organization, Henne will have to show real talent and work in the off-season if this is the job he wants.

    No accolades

27. Vince Young

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 2

    In the moments after his herculean game against USC in the 2004 National Championship game, professional scouts were probably beginning their dissection of just what it would take to make Vince Young the best quarterback they could.

    The talent and utter play making ability of Young is undeniable, but he has still failed to really raise his game to the next level.

    Early success in his career seems to have had negative effects on the maturation of Vince Young, as he probably decided that his athleticism and natural gifts would carry him through his career. In the NFL, that is not the case. There is no substitute for hard work and studying. Two things Young has been accused of not being able to do.

    Young may have a new team next year, but wherever he goes, nothing short than a complete 180 degree turn in his overall production will suffice in saving his career.

    Accolades:

    2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year

    2006 NFL Rookie of the Year

26. Alex Smith

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 5

    Since being drafted number one overall back in 2005, Alex Smith has been given all the opportunities to succeed.

    Now the blame for the 49ers lack of passing prowess can be passed all around. Smith has had many different offensive coordinators, and even a few different head coaches.

    Deion Sanders believes that at some point "It comes down to the quarterback."

    Many can't disagree.

    However, Smith has shown improvements over the past two seasons and it is likely he will be allowed to start this next season simply because there are no better options at the moment. I believe better protection can help Alex Smith solidify his hold as starter of the 49ers.

    No accolades

25. Ryan Fitzpatrick

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 4

    The first Buffalo quarterback to have any kind of success since Doug Flutie, Ryan Fitzpatrick has gathered a lot of praise from football experts who believe he is the long term answer for the Buffalo.

    A tall order considering the Bills have been searching for a franchise quarterback since Jim Kelly retired over a decade ago.

    Fitzpatrick exhibits good instincts, and has a good arm for the swirling Buffalo wind.

    Personally, I will be interested in what the Bills decide to do with Fitzpatrick. He has made his case to be the starter, and over the off-season I'm sure the former Harvard quarterback will continue to press his case.

    Will the Bills decide to stick with Fitzpatrick? Or bring in other quarterbacks for competition?

    No accolades

24. Matthew Stafford

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    Playing quarterback for the Lions has it's fair share of trials.

    Nobody knows this better than Stafford, and maybe the half dozen quarterbacks who have had to stand behind that atrocious offensive line over the last few seasons.

    Stafford has a huge arm, and a lot of upside. With a huge receiving target like Calvin Johnson Jr. and a slowly improving overall team, the pieces are finally beginning to fall together for the Lions.

    The injury prone Stafford has his job secure right now, but if he doesn't at least show moderate improvement this next season, he is in danger of testing the patience of the new Lions front office.

    No accolades

23. Matt Hasselbeck

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 6

    His heroic four touchdown effort against New Orleans in the playoffs might prove to be Hasselbeck's Seattle swan song.

    His 2010 season was filled with injury and mediocre play.

    While Pete Carrol has stood behind his veteran quarterback, it is obvious that his best days are behind him and if Carrol wants to improve a 7-9 team, he will need to begin to look at other options at quarterback.

    I believe Hasselbeck has another year or two of good production.

    The question is, where will he play?

    Accolades

    2005 NFC Champion

22. Mark Sanchez

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    The case of Mark Sanchez is absolutely mystifying.

    He suffers from a serious case of mediocrity during the regular season. Drawing criticism from all corners of the media.

    But, when January rolls around, so does Sanchez's good football.

    4-2 in the playoffs, all four victories considered incredible upsets for the 2nd year quarterback.

    Rex Ryan is fully behind Sanchez, who shows signs of greatness, but other times shows real growing pains.

    Next season will be his third season in the NFL, about the time a quarterback who wants to make his mark (pun intended) on his team's history should show he is ready to move to the next level.

    I think he is ready.

    No accolades

21. Sam Bradford

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    The young record breaker from Oklahoma took every snap for the Rams this past season, and has as much upside as any quarterback in the league.

    The Rams offense was oriented around Steven Jackson so long, the emergence of Sam Bradford opens some doors for the Rams to take control of the NFC West.

    A couple good receivers for Bradford, maybe shore up the offensive line, and the kid who has unanimous support from the Rams organization could be the franchise quarterback they've been looking for.

    Personally, I think this guy is the next big thing.

    Accolades:

    2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year

20. Jason Campbell

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    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 7

    Campbell's 2010 season was much better than most probably expected, and he seems to have a good grip on the Oakland starting job, especially with an offense that finished 6th in scoring.

    Campbell's passer rating has hovered around 85.0 his entire career, which is not a bad rating, but certainly a rating most coaches would like to see improved.

    For the young quarterback to taste success in an Oakland Raiders uniform is impressive. Considering the quarterback of the Raiders over the past decade has been seen as one of the worst quarterbacking jobs in the league.

    He is entering a critical stage in his career, at 29 years old, his years left in the league are numbered.

    No accolades

19. Eli Manning

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 8

    The once Super Bowl hero and hero of the Giants turned 30 this past season.

    Manning has managed to put together a good enough career to keep his job, but has also contributed to huge late season meltdowns the past two seasons that have led many to question his maturity as a quarterback.

    His overall body of work is more impressive than his most recent outings, but with his recent entry into the "over 30 club of quarterbacks" how much improvement are we really expecting to see from Eli Manning?

    I, for one, believe that Manning will have to get some serious help, and the Giants some new blood around him, for him to raise his game to the level we all thought he would have reached by now.

    Accolades:

    2008 Super Bowl Champion (SB 42)

    2008 Super Bowl MVP (SB 42)

18. David Garrard

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    job Security Rating: 7

    A much needed productive season from David Garrard has the Jacksonville job back in his hands...for now at least.

    Jack Del Rio appears to be safe for another season, meaning Garrard will most likely keep his job, although don't be surprised if the Jaguars bring in some competition for the veteran signal caller.

    Two late season meltdowns the last two years and the atmosphere around Jacksonville is probably pretty damp. Drastic moves usually come with that atmosphere. Especially at important positions like quarterback.

    In summary, David Garrard stated a case, and will most likely have a few weeks of uncertainly before learning he is still the man.

    No accolades

17. Donovan McNabb

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 5

    The move to Washington D.C. is turning out to be one of the worst moves by a quarterback in recent memory.

    His coach called out his cardiovascular endurance, gave him a super contract extension, benched him in favor of Rex Grossman.

    Where exactly does Donovan McNabb stand in the Redskins organization? Only Mike Shanahan knows.

    As far as McNabb is concerned, his skills have certainly shown some wear and tear, but his arm is still great, and has a few good years left in him.

    This past season may have been an anomaly for McNabb, as his seasons before that were excellent.

    Accolades:

    2004 NFC Offensive Player of the Year

    2004 NFC Champion

16. Kyle Orton

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 5

    A season that saw Orton come out of the gates first in passing yards quickly turned into a season filled with missed time, which opened the door for Tim Tebow to put his name into the mix for the Denver starting job.

    Orton has had a very steady and productive career, and he is more than capable of keeping his job in Denver, or anywhere his career may find him next.

    Still only 28 years old, Orton has a lot of upside, and if he can find a team willing to commit to him being their starter, I don't doubt that he can be a franchise quarterback.

    No accolades

15. Matt Cassel

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 9

    A breakout year for Cassel has hopes high in Kansas City with such a young team with great potential all round.

    Much of the success the Chiefs have had, and will have, will depend upon Cassel's ability to stay consistent.

    A season like 2010 will put the Chiefs in the playoffs regularly, but seasons like 2009 and he could have a questionable future.

    For now Todd Haley likes Cassel, but will the departure of Charlie Weis hurt the progress of this underrated quarterback?

    No accolades

14. Josh Freeman

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 9

    The former Kansas State Wildcat almost led the youngest team in the NFL to the playoffs this past season, which would have really made some noise in the league.

    Despite the Buccaneers falling short in the win column, Freeman put his name on the map with a season that exceeded all expectations. A 95.9 quarterback rating is a far cry from his 58.8 rating during his rookie season.

    Raheem Morris is a coach that is confident in his staff and his young players. Look for them to put in some major work this off-season, as both Morris and Freeman try to capitalize on this unexpected chemistry.

    No accolades

13. Carson Palmer

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 8

    Once called an elite quarterback in the realm of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning by Ron Jaworski of ESPN, Carson Palmer has fallen from grace quicker than the experts threw him up there.

    Palmer once again started every single game for the Bengals, but was unable to lead the team to winning, or respectable record. His twenty interceptions was third most in the league, however he did throw 26 touchdowns, ninth best in the league.

    At the age of 31 Palmer's prime seems to have passed him, but with the natural talent he has it wouldn't be surprising to see him stage a comeback.

    Accolades:

    FedEx Air Player of the Year (2005)

12. Matt Schaub

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 7

    Once the best back up in the league.

    Turned fantasy superstar.

    Turned franchise quarterback?

    That's where the Texans find themselves right now with Matt Schaub. His production speaks for itself, but so has his inability to take the team anywhere.He has a few signature wins under his belt, but has yet to reach the elusive playoffs.

    With the emergance of Arian Foster the Houston Texans offense certainly has opened up to help Schaub's passing game, so the big question heading into next year is; can he be the franchise quarterback the Texans need him to be?

    No Accolades

11. Jay Cutler

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    The gunslinger from Vanderbilt seems to have found a home in Chicago, and is benefitting from the expertise of Mike Martz as he continues to grow as a quarterback. His incredible arm, now strongest in the NFL, means that he has the potential to truly be a great quarterback in this league.

    After his best season as a pro, and leading the Bears to the NFC Championship game, the 27 year old Cutler is on the horizon of finally making good on the promise he held coming into the league.

    If he can cut down on his costly interceptions and become less prone to mistakes, there is no stopping this former SEC quarterback from taking the NFL by storm.

    No accolades

10. Tony Romo

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    What will a year removed from football do for the young Dallas star?

    That's the real concern in Cowboys camp this offseason. He spent most of the 2010 season on the IR list, but had a rating of 94.9 before having his season cut short by injury.

    His quick release and good quarterback instincts sets Romo apart from a lot of his peers, which is what has made him such a polarizing figure in Dallas.

    His overall career rating of 95.5 speaks for itself, as does his ability to make big plays by moving around in the pocket.

    No accolades

9. Joe Flacco

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 9

    With new receivers brought in at the beginning of the 2010 season, Joe Flacco shined during the regular season to possibly solidify him as the franchise quarterback many believed he could be.

    An impressive 93.6 rating, and above all his ability to finish close games has placed Flacco at the forefront of the rocket arm quarterbacks (with the exception to perhaps Aaron Rodgers).

    Next year it is likely Flacco will continue this success, however his 4-3 record in the playoffs is in part due to his ineffectiveness against some of the league's best defenses.

    Accolades

    2008 NFL Rookie of the Year

8. Matt Ryan

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    2010 was Matt Ryan's breakout year, it put him on the map and in the conversation as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. At least, that's what Falcons fans will tell you. The reality is that Matt Ryan had a great season, but still has yet to take that leap to make him an elite quarterback.

    Many blame the young quarterback for the Falcons horrid playoff performance against Green Bay, but it wasn't Matt Ryan who let Aaron Rodgers complete thirty one passes. That was a complete team failure, and Ryan was a part of it.

    Looking ahead the future is bright for Ryan and his offense. Roddy White seems to have emerged as one of the most productive receivers in the league and another year of experience can do wonders for a quarterback.

    Accolades

    AP Offensive Rookie of the Year (2008)

7. Michael Vick

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 9

    At one point in the season Ron Jaworski said "I don't know how you stop this guy."

    The Packers Dom Capers figured it out, it was the same recipe to stop any of the most lethal quarterbacks in the game. It was the same plan New Orleans used to stop Brett Favre in 2009, the plan the Giants used to beat Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLII. Bring the blitz, and bring the pressure, all four quarters.

    However, there are few defenses capable to performing the tasks necessary from keeping Vick from completely taking over a game. He is the best player in the NFL, and without a doubt the most deadly in the backfield.

    It is likely he will remain with Philadelphia as their starter next season, which will give teams the opportunity to game plan for him properly, meaning he will have to continue to elevate his passing game which has already taken considerable leaps and bounds to becoming more complete.

    The Eagles have their quarterback for the next few seasons, now they have to help him out.

    Accolades:

    2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year

6. Philip Rivers

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    He is often overlooked, and for those who don't overlook him, probably overrate him.

    One thing is certain, Philip Rivers has statistically amassed a career that is very impressive. The last three seasons he has posted a passer rating of over 100, and has passed for over 4,000 yards, an incredible feat that should be recognized more than it is.

    As a playoff quarterback he had his days both good and bad. The Chargers need to stop struggling early in the season so they don't have to rely on late season comebacks to make the playoffs. Sometimes the teams in front don't falter, as was the case with Kansas City this year.

    Philip Rivers and the Chargers understand that 2010 was a failure, no matter what the stats say.

    No accolades

5. Peyton Manning

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    Another AFC South crown, another disappointing bouncing from the playoffs.

    It seems inevitable now that Peyton Manning will always be known as the quarterback who didn't get it done when it mattered most. But, this does not change just how good of a quarterback Manning is.

    Despite a stretch of three games in which Manning threw eleven interceptions, Manning played at a high level most of the season. He put up 33 touchdowns and a passer rating of 91.9

    At the age of 34 it seems more and more likely that Manning's best days are behind him, but he has yet to show consistent signs of ageing and wear.

    Look for another 4,000, 30 TD performance from Manning next year. Anything short of that and I might rescind my previous statement

    Accolades

    2004 Offensive Player of the Year

    First team All-Pro (2003-2005, 2008-2009)

    NFL MVP (2003-2004, 2008-2009)

    2006 Super Bowl Champion (41)

    Super Bowl MVP (41)

4. Aaron Rodgers

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    Following Sunday's incredible Super Bowl performance it can finally be said that Aaron Rodgers has stepped out of the very long shadow of Brett Favre.

    Rodgers can now shake the monkey off his back, although he will always have to live with comparisons, and get to work on his already impressive career.

    The 27 year old quarterback has a young batch of receivers and a rising defense with young stars as well. He is the heart and soul of this Packers team and the sky is the limit for him. I won't make any predictions for young Rodgers, but I will say this: The NFL has taken notice, Green Bay is here to stay.

    Accolades

    FedEx Air Player of the Year (2010)

    2010 Super Bowl Champion (45)

    Super Bowl MVP (45)

3. Drew Brees

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    Last year I hailed Brees as the best quarterback in the NFL, this year he falls a few spots not for what he didn't do, but mostly for what others have done.

    Drew Brees put together another fabulous season for the Saints, and it was cut short by the mind blowing run of Marshawn Lynch in the NFC Wild Card playoffs.

    The Saints are still offensively one of the deadliest teams in the league, and Drew Brees is still in the middle of his prime. Another Super Bowl run next year is likely, and I expect another thirty touchdown performance from the king of New Orleans.

    Accolades

    NFL Comeback Player of the Yeaer (2004)

    First team All-Pro (2006, 2008-2009)

    NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2008)

    2009 Super Bowl Champion (44)

    Super Bowl MVP (44)

2. Ben Roethlisberger

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    Job Security Rating: 10

    Despite missing four games due to suspension, Ben Roethlisberger was able to come back into the season and lead his Steelers to another Super Bowl appearance. Unfortunately for them, they weren't able to come out on top this time.

    This doesn't really change my opinion on Roethlisberger because he took over during the playoffs. His play is what charged the comeback to beat the Ravens in the divisional playoffs, and his heroic performance against the Jets was the difference maker.

    Still a young quarterback, Ben has 3 Super Bowl appearances and is one of the deadliest play makers in the game. To rank him any lower than 2nd is an injustice.

    Accolades

    AP Offensive Rookie of the Year (2004)

    NFL Rookie of the Year (2004)

    2010 AFC Champion

    2005 Super Bowl Champion (40)

    2008 Super Bowl Champion (43)

1. Tom Brady

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Job Security Rating: 10

    Following one of the most spectacular seasons Brady has ever had, the three-time Super Bowl champion is undeniably the best quarterback in the NFL.

    Nobody is more effective than Brady, he is accurate and careful with the football, and he knows how to use each and every one of his offensive weapons.He took rookie tight ends and turned them into deadly short-yardage receivers.He helped revitalize Deion Branch's career when many had written him off.

    Tom Brady has put together a resume' that surpasses all the quarterbacks behind him on this list. A tough playoff loss this season certainly is a detriment to Brady's fabulous season, but in the bigger picture, he is still top gun.

    Accolades

    First team All-Pro (2007, 2010)

    NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2009)

    AP Offensive Player of the Year (2007, 2010)

    NFL MVP (2007, 2010)

    AFC Champion (2007)

    2001 Super Bowl Champion (36)

    2003 Super Bowl Champion (38)

    2004 Super Bowl Champion (39)

    Super Bowl MVP (36, 38)

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