Year of the Quarterback: Ranking the Projected Starting Field 1 Through 32

Michael NicastroContributor IJune 2, 2011

Year of the Quarterback: Ranking the Projected Starting Field 1 Through 32

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers calls out from under center against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Gett
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Using thorough experimentation and my own calculations, I've answered the burning question: Who is the best starting QB in the NFL

    Through the use a very simple method, the quarterbacks will be given a grade, out of 10, in five fundamental professional categories: arm strength, accuracy, mobility, intangibles (character, moxy) and NFL accomplishments (titles, pro bowls, etc). For example, I would grade Michael Vick a 10 in mobility, while his intangibles may lie at a four or five. Also, this is a current scale. The rankings are handed out based on the player the quarterback is today, not tomorrow, not last year.

    The grades I am supplying are all debatable and are certainly up for scrutiny. Keep in mind just because one individual may be ranked higher than the other does not mean I necessarily feel that he should be. It is based on the terms of my current system in place (although I do not have much of a gripe with how it turned out).

    Don’t forget these are the projected starters for the upcoming season as we stand today. So right now the way I see it, Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb do not qualify for the list!

    So grab some Doritos, pull out your pen and paper and play along. By the time you're done reading this, we'll be that much closer to season's start (hopefully)!

32. John Skelton: Arizona Cardinals

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 25:  Head coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals talks with quarterback John Skelton #19 during the NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 25, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Card
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 4

    Accuracy - 6

    Mobility - 2

    Intangibles - 6

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 18

    Analysis - Skelton, a fifth-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2010, finished last season with a 62.3 rating in four starts, throwing two TDs and interceptions a piece. The Fordham product certainly has the body makeup to be successful at 6'5", 245 lbs, but he is incredibly raw. Did show progress in his few starts last season, but cant see him holding onto this job for much longer, as the Cardinals will look in free agency to address the QB need. Names such as Kevin Kolb, Marc Bulger and Billy Volek have been swirling.

31. John Beck: Washington Redskins

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 27:  Jim Leonhard #36 of the New York Jets sacks John Beck #3 of the Washington Redskins  during their preseason game on August 27, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium  in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 4

    Accuracy - 7

    Mobility - 2

    Intangibles - 6

    NFL achievement - 0

    SCORE: 18

    Analysis - Beck, a four-year starter at BYU, has been well-traveled in his short-lived NFL career, spending short stints with both Baltimore and Miami. Beck is inconsistent, showing flashes of brilliance at times. He certainly has the most upside at the QB position on the Redskins' roster, possessing solid intangibles and excellent field vision. But will that translate to the NFL? It hasn't yet, as he is unproven, which is an automatic deduction of points in all categories. But it looks like Beck will have the chance to take the bull by the horns this year in D.C.

30. Christian Ponder: Minnesota Vikings

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    TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Christian Ponder #7 of the Florida State Seminoles throws for a first down during a game against the Florida Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 2

    Accuracy - 5

    Mobility - 5

    Intangibles - 8

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 20

    Analysis - Many are still pondering the selection of Christian at 12th overall by the Minnesota Vikings, and with good reason. Coming into the draft, many prognosticators had Ponder as a second-round pick due to his relative lack of success at Florida State and the recurring arm injuries throughout his career. But the Vikings jumped at the chance to take Brett Favre's predecessor and were apparently blown away by this guy's intelligence.

    Intangibly, he may be a cut above the rest, graduating in two-and-a-half years with a master's degree in finance from FSU, but does that mean he will be a successful QB in the NFL? Only time will tell if this Seminole turned Viking will seize the opportunity.

    Can't hurt to have Adrian Peterson behind you on the majority of your snaps.

29. Jake Locker: Tennessee Titans

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27:  Quarterback Jake Locker of Washington runs a passing drill during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 3

    Accuracy - 4

    Mobility - 6

    Intangibles - 7

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 20

    Analysis - Did I say Christian ponder was the biggest surprise of the NFL draft? I may have to re-think that, as the titans went ahead and selected Locker with the eighth overall pick.

    By all accounts, Jake would have been the No. 1 pick if he would have declared in the 2009 NFL draft, but decided to come back for his senior campaign, a campaign in which his numbers regressed, completing only 56 percent of his passes on the year, including a 4-20 performance against Nebraska.

    To put it kindly, Locker is a work in progress in all areas. Although he has dual-threat potential, his accuracy is suspect, and his ability to read defenses is not fully formed. But similar to Ponder, Locker is not in the worst situation. He has Chris Johnson, a back two years removed from an offensive player of the year award, as well as a franchise that historically has always been competitive.

28. Alex Smith: San Francisco 49ers

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 02:    Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers runs against the Arizona Cardinals during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on January 2, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 2

    Accuracy - 7

    Mobility - 6

    Intangibles - 6

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 21

    Analysis - Smith is in jeopardy of losing his job for a third time after the 49ers went ahead and selected Nevada dual-threat QB Colin Kapernick in the second round of this year's NFL draft.

    Since being selected first overall in the 2005 NFL draft, Smith has been a major bust, sporting a meek quarterback rating of 72. Smith has the accuracy and mobility to be a first-rate QB in this league, but the question with the former Utah Ute has always been his arm strength, as well as his leadership capabilities. Smith doesn't seem to possess the command in the huddle that fellow first-round draft class QB Aaron Rodgers does. Another classic case of a talented player that just can't seem to find himself once he gets into the league.

    Don't expect Smith to be in a 49ers uniform past this season.

27. Jason Campbell: Oakland Raiders

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Jason Campbell #8 of the Oakland Raiders is sacked by linebacker Jovan Belcher #59 of the Kansas City Chiefs in a game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Gett
    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 3

    Accuracy - 6

    Mobility - 5

    Intangibles - 6

    NFL achievements - 1

    SCORE: 21

    Analysis - Campbell receives a 1 in the NFL achievements category simply because of his seven years of experience and that he is still a starting QB in this league. Not easy to do. High character player, very strong arm, has a baseball player-like delivery and can be a bit wild at times, but finished last year with a respectable rating of 85. Campbell will never be a Pro Bowler, or even a QB that throws 20 touchdowns in a single season, but he has shown that he can win a few ball games if you structure a solid core around him, and that's exactly what the Raiders have been doing.

26. Andy Dalton: Cincinnati Bengals

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20:  Andy Dalton attends the NFL PLAYERS Premiere League Flag Football Game at UCLA on May 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
    Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 3

    Accuracy - 6

    Mobility - 4

    Intangibles - 9

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 22

    Analysis - I know what you're saying, "Why is Dalton this far ahead of both Ponder and Locker?" Well, in my opinion, Dalton has the most potential out of the group, and most of that comes from the success he sustained in college.

    Set single season records at TCU his senior season with a 66.7 completion percentage as well as 27 touchdowns, finishing off the season with a Rose Bowl victory over Big Ten bruisers Wisconsin. Dalton went 42-7 as a starter and has very underrated athleticism, is a fairly mobile QB and has an impeccable presence in the pocket. Although the odds may be stacked against him physically, Dalton has the "it" factor, an indefinable variable. The guy is a winner, and I expect him to move up this list fast in the coming years.

25. Chad Henne: Miami Dolphins

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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Chad Henne #7 of the Miami Dolphins is preasured by Lawrence Jackson #94 of the Detroit Lions at Sun Life Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 7

    Accuracy - 6

    Mobility - 3

    Intangibles - 6

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 22

    Analysis - Henne is another guy who has shown flashes, but did not improve all that much from his first full season as a starter to his second, even with the addition of superstar wideout Brandon Marshall. Many surrounding the dolphins say that the team should not commit to Chad Henne and should seek help at the quarterback position outside of the organization. Good arm strength and decent accuracy, as shown dating back to his time at Michigan, but lacks the charisma needed to run an offense. If he does once again get the chance to start for the Dolphins this year, he must take advantage of it, because it will most likely be his last.

24: Cam Newton: Carolina Panthers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20:  Cam Newton attends the NFL PLAYERS Premiere League Flag Football Game at UCLA on May 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
    Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 9

    Accuracy - 4

    Mobility - 8

    Intangibles - 2

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 23

    Analysis - If you want to talk physical tools, you'd be hard-pressed to find a quarterback with more skillz (with a "z") than the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

    I think we've all read the book on Cam, from no-name to superstar in a year's time, tore up the SEC and won over the hearts of many, scoring 51 total touchdowns and accounting for over 4,000 total yards. But then came the allegations, and the character issues, and eventually the questioning of intelligence and attitude, and that is what will stick with Cam until he proves the doubters wrong.

    We know he is capable at making all of the NFL throws, and we know he will make eye-opening plays with his feet, but can he handle the adjustments and formation designs and disguises needed to succeed against a professional defense? Four things in life are certain: life, death, McDonalds dollar menu and the enormous amount of pressure on Cameron Newton.

    How will he respond? Can he change his intangibles score? You be the judge.

23. Colt McCoy: Cleveland Browns

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    CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball against the Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 3

    Accuracy - 8

    Mobility - 4

    Intangibles - 9

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 24

    Analysis - Two words come to mind when I say Colt McCoy: role model. Not the Paul Rudd or Sean William Scott type, but the character of the former Texas QB who has the chance to change the entire culture of a franchise. Cleveland has been struck with frustration and disappointment over the recent years in all capacities, but may have just caught a bit of lightning in a bottle with Mr. McCoy.

    He may not have the strongest arm, or be the most fleet of foot, but his intangibles are through the roof. Will never be flashy or have great numbers, but will certainly make an impact in the win column in the future.

22. Tim Tebow: Denver Broncos

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    DENVER - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos gets back on his feet after being knocked down against the San Diego Chargers at INVESCO Field at Mile High on January 2, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Image
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 4

    Accuracy - 4

    Mobility - 6

    Intangibles - 10

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 24

    Analysis - Tebow may have a better chance at winning the presidential election than he does at winning over John Elway and becoming the quarterback of the future for the Broncos, but I think he is on the right track. The do no-wrong Tebow quietly put together some solid numbers last season in limited action for Denver, compiling an impressive 82 rating while scoring seven touchdowns (three rushing, four passing). You know he's going to continue to work harder than just about anybody in the league, and with that motivation, coupled with his own icon at the helm in John Elway doing duties the front office, you must agree that Tim has a puncher's chance.

21. David Garrard: Jacksonville Jaguars

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback David Garrard #9 and Mike Thomas #80 of the jacksonville Jaguars celebrate following a touchdown during the game against the Washington Redskins at EverBank Field on December 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 8

    Accuracy - 4

    Mobility - 6

    Intangibles- 6

    NFL achievements - 1

    SCORE: 25

    Analysis - Jacksonville seemingly put an end to the Dave Garrard era when they selected Blaine Gabbert to be the incumbent in this year's NFL draft. But let's not get entirely ahead of ourselves just yet.

    Although Garrard hasn't had the playoff success the Jags are looking for, his regular season numbers are well above average. In five full seasons as starting QB for the Jags, Garrard has yet to post a rating under 80 and had his second best year in 2010 statistically, tossing 23 TDs and accumulating a 91 rating. In case you forgot, in 2007 Garrard finished the year with a 102 rating, only throwing three interceptions.

    Could Blaine Gabbert be the QB in waiting in Jacksonville? Or will this be a case where Garrard feels pressured and steps up like we saw with Drew Brees a number of years ago in San Diego?

20. Ryan Fitzpatrick: Buffalo Bills

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 26: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills fumbles as he is hit by Gary Guyton #59 of the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 6

    Accuracy - 8

    Mobility - 2

    Intangibles - 9

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 25

    Analysis - Don't know about you, but I have Fitzpatrick as moderately underrated. The six-year Harvard man has dealt with perhaps the worst offensive line in football and was still able to account for 23 TDs and 3,000 yards last season. Another positive sign is the fact that Fitzpatrick is improving every year. The Bills had a chance in the recent draft to take Blaine Gabbert and passed on the opportunity to improve their defense, a sign that they too are optimistic about his development.

19. Matthew Hasselbeck: Seattle Seahawks

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to pass against the Chicago Bears in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 4

    Accuracy - 6

    Mobility - 2

    Intangibles - 8

    NFL achievements - 6

    SCORE: 26

    Analysis - Super Bowl run in '04 adds to the legacy of Matt Hasselbeck, but at this point in time it's safe to say he's winding down. Hasselbeck is coming off of his worst year as a pro, having only 12 touchdowns to 17 interceptions last year, and questions are abound in Seattle. Right now it looks like he will be brought back but only because there isn't much experience behind him. Charlie Whitehurst is a candidate to replace him, but not many believe he is the heir apparent.

18. Matthew Stafford: Detroit Lions

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    DETROIT - NOVEMBER 7: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the game against the New York Jets at Ford Field on November 7, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 9

    Accuracy - 7

    Mobility - 3

    Intangibles - 8

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 27

    Analysis - A player certain to make a big leap in these rankings in the future if he can just stay healthy. Injuries have cut both of his seasons short, including an absence in 13 games last year after being knocked out with a shoulder injury. He is still unproven, but has the size, arm strength and intangibles to be a superstar in this league.

    The only real question is durability: Can he get through a full season? The Lions are a team on the rise, and fast, with Stafford being the most important piece of the puzzle.

17. Sam Bradford: St. Louis Rams

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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams signals to his teammates during their game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on January 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 6

    Accuracy - 10

    Mobility - 3

    Intangibles - 9

    NFL achievements - 0

    SCORE: 28

    Analysis - You could make a valid argument that putting the Rams in position to win the division last season should give Bradford at least a 5 in current NFL achievements. But for this young man the best is certainly yet to come.

    Bradford made a seamless transition from college to the NFL, winning Rookie of the Year and improving the Rams' win total drastically from 2009. Sam has adequate height, will also get stronger as his career progresses and just possesses what seems to be a natural feel for the game. I fully expect Bradford to make his first postseason appearance this season, in only his second year.

16. Mark Sanchez: New York Jets

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets runs dow field during their 19 to 24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Ronald Mar
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 7

    Accuracy - 7

    Mobility - 3

    Intangibles - 8

    NFL achievements - 3

    SCORE: 28

    Analysis - The run on young quarterbacks with loads of potential continues as Mark Sanchez comes in at my No. 16 quarterback in the NFL. Sanchez was a mistake or two away from a Super Bowl title opportunity in his second year, as he and the Jets fell at the hands of the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. But it's not hard to be optimistic about the progress Sanchez made in such a short time.

    Although a lot of skeptics remain, saying that he is consistently bailed out by his defense, I beg to differ. Last season the former USC star threw five more TDs and seven less interceptions than he did in 2009. His change in comfort level was also visibly noticeable, as he looked at ease running Brian Schottenheimer's offense. Sanchez is also rumored to be dating Hayden Panettierre, which, in another grading system, would add significant points to his total.

15. Jay Cutler: Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears on the sideline in the third quarter after leaving the game with an injury against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 10

    Accuracy - 8

    Mobility - 2

    Intangibles - 4

    NFL achievements - 4

    SCORE: 28

    Analysis - I feel like I am being very generous here with you, Jay.

    We all have come to drool over his physical makeup, the arm-strength and pinpoint accuracy at times is jaw-dropping. Then there is the "so-what" attitude that was particularly evident during the NFC Championship game Cutler was "knocked" out of. I'm not as much questioning the injury as I am the smug, casual, apathetic face he showed sitting on the sidelines while Caleb Hanie was putting every ounce of willpower into trying to dig the Bears out of the hole Cutler had put them in.

    What am I looking for in Jay Cutler this season? Maturity. The same thing I've been searching for when he entered the league as a raw talent from Vanderbilt. Based on prospective alone, he's one of the best we have in this league, and it would be a shame to not see that potential come to full fruition.

14. Matt Cassel: Kansas City Chiefs

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs is hit as he throws by defensive tackle Tommy Kelly #93 of the Oakland Raiders in a game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim U
    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 8

    Accuracy - 8

    Mobility - 2

    Intangibles - 9

    NFL achievements - 2

    SCORE: 29

    Analysis - Cassel is a humanitarian off the field and a natural on it. Although I'm not sure if he will ever be recognized as one of the upper echelon quarterbacks in the league, his determination and attitude are two qualities that should not be easily discounted. From a backup in college, to a Pro Bowler in the NFL, some would say the sky is the limit for Cassel. I have a hard time believing he can get much better than he is right now, but Matt is still relatively inexperienced, and Kansas City has built a solid foundation around him.

    A problem for Matt is his mobility. He has a difficult time escaping and feeling pressure and is fumble prone. Four years ago, if I would have said Matt Cassel in 2011 would be one of the top 15 QBs in the NFL, you would have said, "I think you mean Matt Casselbeck?"

13. Matt Schaub: Houston Texans

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    NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 19:  Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans appeals to the officials after a being called for a penalty against the Tennessee Titans  at LP Field on December 19, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Texa
    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 8

    Accuracy - 9

    Mobility - 3

    Intangibles - 8

    NFL achievements - 1

    SCORE: 29

    Analysis - Pro Bowler in 2009, Schaub is one of those players that you feel a bit sympathetic for when it comes to outside perceptions of him. It would be easy to say he isn't a winner because he has never competed in a playoff game, but his 92 career QB rating and near two to one touchdown to interception ratio makes that a pretty pathetic argument. Some guys are just less fortunate than others, and I would classify this case as one of those. The Texans had a horrendously bad defense last season, and if not for Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers being in the AFC, Schaub would be a Pro Bowl regular.

12. Joe Flacco: Baltimore Ravens

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens runs with the ball as linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers chases him in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh,
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 9

    Accuracy - 8

    Mobility - 2

    Intangibles - 8

    NFL achievements - 3

    SCORE: 30

    Analysis - Rocket arm, precise accuracy and well liked in the locker room. Flacco—like Stafford, Bradford and Sanchez—will continue climbing the list as seasons go by.

    I think similar to Bradford, and in contrast to Stafford and Sanchez, Flacco has not had the array of weapons offensively to throw to, resulting in stylish statistics. We witnessed a spike in Flacco's numbers with the addition of Anquan Boldin, as he had one of the better under-the-radar years in recent memory: 25 touchdowns, only 10 interceptions and close to 3,700 yards. This was a tough spot for Flacco, as I could easily pronounce him one of the best 10 QBs in the league at this point. I don't put too much stock into mobility because, in many cases, the more mobile quarterback is the quarterback who has less figured out. And in Joe's case that is absolutely true—he's a true pocket passer.

    The Ravens have a great shot to contend for years to come with Joe, meaning his score is likely to rise (which i'm sure is what he's concerned about).

11. Josh Freeman: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is pushed out of bounds by Alex Brown #96 of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on January 2, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Buccaneers defeated th
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 9

    Accuracy - 6

    Mobility - 7

    Intangibles - 8

    NFL achievements - 1

    SCORE: 31

    Analysis - 3,451 yds, 25 TDs, 6 INT, 61.4 Comp percentage and a 95.9 QB rating.

    Those are Josh Freeman's final numbers from his sophomore season. A pretty enormous leap from the sub-60 quarterback rating Josh had in '09. But what is unique about this second year signal caller is his humble maturity. He may only have been a second-year player last year, but he came across as a 12-year NFL vet.

    Freeman's arm strength is top notch, as he had 48 completions of 20 or more yards. He might be a better passer on the run, given the fact that it takes two defenders to take him down. Also, his decision making speaks for itself. Six interceptions was good for fourth in the league behind Tom Brady, Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger, with two of those players in Michael and Ben missing a significant amount of playing time.

    Now most will say, "Let's see him do it again," and that is somewhat hard to protest being that now defenses will adjust to Freeman's style. But I think it's safe to say that this Bucs team has not yet peaked, which means Freeman and all of his weapons will only get better.

10. Tony Romo: Dallas Cowboys

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 25:  Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys leaves the game after a left shoulder injury in the second quarter against the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium on October 25, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martin
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 7

    Accuracy - 8

    Mobility - 6

    Intangibles - 8

    NFL achievements - 2

    SCORE: 31

    Analysis - Oh Romo, oh Romo, where art thou Romo? It's been a while since we've heard from Tony, other than the news that he recently got hitched to the lovely Candice Crawford. He was last seen in a sling after injuring his shoulder in a game against the New York Giants, an injury that derailed the Cowboys' season.

    Romo is no spring chicken, now at the age of 31 he will have to prove to big D that he can stay healthy and finally get the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl. If you're telling me to pick a QB for the future, I'd rather have a Freeman or a Bradford at this point. But for this year, I'd take Romo.

9. Eli Manning: New York Giants

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants passes against the Philadelphia Eagles at New Meadowlands Stadium on December 19, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 5

    Accuracy - 8

    Mobility - 2

    Intangibles - 9

    NFL achievements - 8

    SCORE: 32

    Analysis - Super Bowl-winning QB Eli Manning regressed a bit last year, throwing 11 more interceptions than he did in 2009. Lack of a running game and a poor pass defense at times  factored into that margin, I'm sure. Eli has never been the most outspoken player, nor is he the most physically gifted, but he is a leader by example. As he continues to develop a rapport with youngsters Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks, the Giants, and Eli Manning, will be a daunting task for any opposing defense in their way.

8. Matt Ryan: Atlanta Falcons

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons warms up against the Green Bay Packers during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 9

    Accuracy - 9

    Mobility - 2

    Intangibles - 10

    NFL achievements - 3

    SCORE: 33

    Analysis - A guy born to play the quarterback position. Ryan has an electric arm and isn't necessarily agile but throws extremely well on the run. Also a student of the game, I wouldn't want to play this guy in tic-tac-toe as he's all about X's and O's.

    I actually think he's underrated at this point in his career, with tons of room to grow, which is a scary proposition for the rest of the NFC South. Ryan has already accomplished a good amount—playing in a Pro Bowl and winning the division—the only thing missing is postseason success. The Falcons made a bold move in trading up for Alabama wideout Julio Jones in the draft, showing their commitment to bolstering the aerial attack. Ryan, I presume, has already taken Jones under his wing and is working on developing an unparalleled chemistry. Coupled with Roddy White, this chemistry could last another decade.

7. Michael Vick: Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris Trotma
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 10

    Accuracy - 5

    Mobility - 10

    Intangibles - 6

    NFL achievements - 3

    SCORE: 34

    Analysis - Michael Vick shows up at No. 7 on the list after a comeback season for the history books. The story has been well documented and really gives new meaning to the words second chance. Most would say, intangibly, this guy is a 2 or a 3, but I would counter that by saying he was a 2 a few years ago. The fact that he took ownership and responsibility for his actions and learning from the repercussions I think has made him not only a more mature person, but a more mature football player. Last year what was most impressive for me was the low interception numbers. Vick threw only six opposed to 21 touchdowns, and for about a nine-week stretch, he was the most dominant player in football.

6. Philip Rivers: San Diego Chargers

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    DENVER, CO - JANUARY 2:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers leads teammates center Scott Mruczkowski #63 and quarterback Billy Volek #7 out of the tunnel before a game against the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on Januar
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 8

    Accuracy - 9

    Mobility - 4

    Intangibles- 9

    NFL achievements - 5

    SCORE: 35

    Analysis - What Philip Rivers was able to accomplish last season is mind-boggling. He threw for almost 5,000 yards, and added 30 touchdowns, with quite possibly the most depleted WR core in the NFL. Llegadu Naanee, Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates all missed considerable time, not to mention rookie Ryan Mathews missing the bulk of the season at RB. In 2011, we will take five Bleacher Report writers and have them play wide receiver for the Chargers. Rivers is also one of the more vocal quarterbacks in the NFL—some would say arrogant, I would choose the word passionate. Philip Rivers could play QB for my team any day.

5. Drew Brees: New Orleans Saints

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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 08:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints gets up after a play against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Image
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 6

    Accuracy - 10

    Mobility - 4

    Intangibles - 10

    NFL achievements - 9

    SCORE: 39

    Analysis - Now we're nitpicking. All of these next five players are interchangeable, and all have a common tag: Super Bowl champions. In Brees' case, maybe the best story of them all, as he helped revive a city and community following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when he played a large role in bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to New Orleans two years ago. Brees is listed at 5'10", which makes him the shortest QB in football, but nobody questions the size of his heart.

    Off the field, Brees is just as hard a worker as on the field.

4. Ben Roethlisberger: Pittsburgh Steelers

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 and head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers look on during the National Anthem during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Im
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 10

    Accuracy - 8

    Mobility - 7

    Intangibles - 5

    NFL achievements - 10

    SCORE: 40

    Analysis - In the words of Beyonce, if you like it, then you should have put a ring on it. Well, that's exactly what Ben did this offseason, proposing to his girlfriend. It's also what the NFL has been doing for Ben Roethlisberger over the course of his career.

    Roethlisberger was about 60 yards short of capturing his third Super Bowl title last season, which would of course tied him for the active lead with Tom Brady. Roethlisberger is unconventional, I don't have to tell you that, but a lot of people outside of Pittsburgh wonder how he is so effective. Does he have eyes in the back of his head? That's a story for another day. The only way to really explain his effectiveness is a feel. A feel for where his teammates are going to be, a feel for how defenses are going to line up and a general feel for the game.

    He also may have made as many plays with his feet last year as Michael Vick. Roethlisberger also overcame legal issues in the past and is now regarded as a more wholesome human being. And by the way, he's 9-2 against the Ravens in his career and hasn't lost to them since 2006. With two wins over the Ravens last season, I think Pittsburgh has forgiven Big Ben.

3. Tom Brady: New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 02:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown by teammate BenJarvis Green-Ellis in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins on January 2, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 9

    Accuracy - 10

    Mobility - 3

    Intangibles - 10

    NFL achievements - 10

    SCORE: 42

    Analysis - One of the more polarizing figures in sports. Some love him, most hate him, few question his abilities. Brady put up legendary statistics last year en route to winning his second MVP award. In terms of his score, once again, mobility is really discounted, because looking at this objectively, that's obviously not Tom's game. We're aware of the Super Bowls, and the records, but what I like to point out when discussing Brady is his fervor. He plays every game like it's his last and that is refreshing. But in this particular instance, he does not best Rodgers or Manning.

    The question is, who is No. 1?

2. Peyton Manning: Indianapolis Colts

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Peyton leaves the field against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 8

    Accuracy - 10

    Mobility - 3

    Intangibles - 12

    NFL achievements - 10

    SCORE: 43

    Analysis - A virtual tie on the score sheet for Manning and Brady, almost impossible to pick one over the other, but this time Peyton wins out.

    No, you aren't crazy, that is a score of 12 beside the intangibles category. I use that because, simply, I don't think we've ever seen a quarterback like Peyton Manning. Similar to a scientist the way he dissects defenses, and quite possibly the most dominant player of his generation, Manning has led Indianapolis to at least 12 wins in nine of his 13 seasons.

    Manning may be 34, but the cautious, yet steady way he plays the game is a sign that he may have another seven or eight years left. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect resume is the number of rings on Manning's hand. He currently has one, which in the eyes of NFL lore, is one or two short from being the best to ever play the position.

    Will this year be the season Peyton captures that elusive second title?

1. Aaron Rodgers: Green Bay Packers

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  MVP Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers holds up The Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Te
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Arm Strength - 9

    Accuracy - 10

    Mobility - 7

    Intangibles - 9

    NFL achievements - 9

    SCORE: 44

    Analysis - Rodgers, the current belt holder, is the complete package, and finishes with the highest score in the rankings.

    Many have said when the Manning-Brady era ends is when the Rodgers era will begin. Breaking news: the Rodgers era has already begun. Athletically, the man is a machine. His sack avoiding quickstep is as unseen as it is unpredictable. He can fit the ball in the most slender of windows, and if you're not careful, he will juke you out of your shoes for a 20-yard scramble. Rodgers career passer rating is 98.4, and although his career is just blossoming, that's good for first all time since the invention of the statistic. The playoff run he just completed, culminating in a Super Bowl championship, was one of the greatest we've ever seen. In the postseason, Rodgers completed 90 of 132 passes, good for a completion percentage of 68.2 percent. He also threw nine touchdowns and only two interceptions.

    I may be living in the moment, but right now the moment belongs to A-Rod. This cheesehead is a cut above the rest and will be the best quarterback this season.