Ranking the NFL's Top 10 Quarterbacks: Where Does Eli Manning Land?

Chris Tripodi@christripodiContributor IIIAugust 17, 2011

Ranking the NFL's Top 10 Quarterbacks: Where Does Eli Manning Land?

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    Eli Manning is a solid NFL quarterback and a Super Bowl MVP. Nobody will take that away from him.

    But is Peyton's younger brother an elite quarterback?

    Eli seems to think so, but I'm pretty sure he's the only person outside of Giants fans that feels that way.

    In honor of Manning's boastful comments, I've put together my own personal list of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL right now. Let the debate begin!

10. Eli Manning

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    It didn't take very long to answer the question posed in the title of this article, did it?

    Manning may have a Super Bowl ring but he owns just four career playoff victories—all during the 2007 season—and has never won a postseason game in any other season.

    By comparison, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who doesn't make this list, has four career playoff victories in just two seasons, with two in both 2009 and 2010.

    Manning is also the only quarterback on this list to throw more interceptions than games played. With 113 interceptions in 105 career games and four seasons with at least 17 passes picked off, it's difficult to throw Manning above the names in front of him.

9. Tony Romo

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    Any prideful Giants fan—which is all of them—would scoff at the notion that Romo is a better quarterback than Manning.

    "Romo hasn't won anything."

    "Romo isn't a leader."

    "Romo is a (insert word that rhymes with Romo)."

    But in reality, their career stats tell a serious story.

    Manning—105 games, 80.5 rating, 58 percent completion percentage, 156 touchdowns, 113 interceptions.

    Romo—83 games, 95.5 rating, 64.1 percent completion percentage, 118 touchdowns, 62 interceptions

    Before you tell me that this isn't fantasy football, ask me who I would take to lead my team for the next three seasons. I would take the Cowboys quarterback.

    Romo has three seasons with more than 25 touchdowns, while Manning has two. Romo also has just one season with more than 15 interceptions. Manning has a whopping four!

    Romo is mobile, something that Manning is not. Romo can escape pressure, makes plays happen with his feet and creates something out of nothing. Manning doesn't.

    For as much heat as Romo takes for being turnover prone, he's nowhere near an interception per game for his career.

    The other major knock on Romo is his ability to win big games. He is just 1-4 in five career playoff games, he has won a playoff game in just as many seasons as Manning: One. That's asinine analysis, but it proves a point. Sort of.

8. Matt Ryan

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    Matt Ryan has been in the league for just three seasons, but he has already vaulted his way into the top 10 of NFL quarterbacks.

    Ryan, like Romo, has never won a playoff game (0-2). Therefore, fans of Eli Manning will say that he can't be better than the former Super Bowl MVP.

    But since when did playoff wins become the ONLY stat to compare quarterbacks by? Using an NBA example, is Robert Horry a better forward than Karl Malone?

    The only reason Manning makes the top 10 is because he won a Super Bowl. Otherwise, there are multiple other NFL quarterbacks I would put ahead of him. It's his only claim to elite status, because the stats fail to back up that claim.

    Ryan has increased his touchdown total by six every season, from 16 to 22 to 28 and he threw just nine interceptions this year. He could legitimately reach 30 passing touchdowns this season, something Manning didn't do until last season, his seventh in the league.

    Not to mention he is the leader of a potential NFC front-runner.

7. Michael Vick

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    Vick is arguably the NFL's most talented quarterback, but unfortunately it took a two-year jail stint for him to develop the work ethic to make him elite.

    Yes, that's the first time I've used the word "elite" in this slideshow because I think there are seven quarterbacks who deserve that moniker. Matt Ryan has that potential, but he's not there just yet.

    Many people would argue that Vick deserves to be higher on this list, but it's difficult for me to put a player with such an incomplete body of work in the top five.

    Vick still has time to skyrocket up this list if he continues to work hard. With his talent, the sky truly is the limit. You can't say that about Eli Manning, can you?

6. Philip Rivers

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    The man who was traded for Eli Manning in 2004, Rivers has been the better quarterback in his career.

    After Manning and father Archie whined their way out of a supposedly undesirable situation in San Diego, the Chargers made the playoffs in Rivers' rookie season.

    Drew Brees was the team's quarterback then, but he was let go after the following season because the franchise knew what they had in Rivers.

    The former North Carolina state quarterback is one of the league's most accurate passers and despite a serious lack of mobility, he has an uncanny feel for the pocket and pressure around him.

    Despite a shotput-esque throwing motion, Rivers still manages to succeed throwing the ball down the field. It's only a matter of time before he wins a Super bowl of his own, which is the only thing Manning has on him.

5. Ben Roethlisberger

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    Roethlisberger, like Manning, may not blow you away with mind-numbing statistics. But while Manning has just one successful playoff run in his career, Roethlisberger has won the big game twice.

    Every quarterback in my top five has won a Super Bowl; that's essentially a prerequisite. Roethlisberger has proven his mental and physical toughness throughout his career and knows how to win football games.

    His supporting cast has always been great, particularly on the defensive side, but Roethlisberger is a good enough quarterback to recognize that fact and use it to his advantage.

    He's a big man with a big arm who's difficult to sack, but he rarely tries to do too much. On the other hand, Eli Manning has a tendency to overdo things.

    The Giants would have been a playoff team last season if Manning had just taken care of the ball. The Steelers were a playoff team thanks to their defense, Rashard Mendenhall and Roethlisberger's ability to limit turnovers (just five interceptions in 12 regular season games)

    He's an easy guy to dislike thanks to last season's sexual assault allegations, but it's hard to hate on what he does between the lines.

4. Drew Brees

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    For me, this is where the list truly gets tight. Brees could easily be third on this list and some would argue that he shouldn't be above Roethlisberger and his two Super Bowl rings.

    While Big Ben relies on his defense and running game to help win, Brees lacks a stud running back or one of the league's top defenses.

    But year in and year out, Brees delivers. He's arguably the most accurate quarterback in the league and it doesn't seem to matter who he's throwing to. Brees spreads the ball to multiple receivers better than anybody else.

3. Aaron Rodgers

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    I've always been a big fan of Aaron Rodgers, but it was difficult to put him above Brees and Roethlisberger without a Super Bowl ring.

    But last year changed all of that. Rodgers took an injury-ridden Green Bay squad to the promised land and in the process, ran about as far away from Brett Favre's shadow as he could have.

    Rodgers gets the nod over Brees because I still think he can get better. Rodgers is one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the league, has one of the strongest arms and always seems to hit his receivers in stride.

    I would not be surprised if Rodgers added one or more Super Bowl rings to his collection, starting this season. If he could lead the Packers to victory last season with stars like Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant on injured reserve, imagine what he can do after getting those players back.

2. Peyton Manning

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    Is it blasphemous to say that Peyton Manning is slowing down?

    At age 35, this is the first preseason where I haven't felt Manning was the top quarterback in the league. Manning hadn't thrown more than 14 interceptions in any season since 2002 but he has 16 and 17, respectively, over the past two seasons.

    Manning also had offseason neck surgery that will keep him out of preseason action and potentially a regular season game or two. He will inevitably be rusty when he gets back out on the field.

    Manning was always my top choice because he's essentially his team's offensive coordinator, as well as a superior talent. You can definitely still make an argument for him at No. 1, but that throne now belongs to somebody else.

1. Tom Brady

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    Many have said Tom Brady was the league's best quarterback for years now, but I was always in Peyton Manning's corner. The level of talent was always a close race, but Manning's prowess at the line of scrimmage gave him the edge, even over Brady's three rings.

    That is no longer the case, however, not after a season that saw Brady throw 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions. And that was after the team traded Randy Moss, his top target entering the season.

    Brady is 34 years old, just one year behind Manning, which will lead many to say that he won't continue at his current level of play. In two or three seasons, it seems likely that Aaron Rodgers will take over the top spot in these rankings.

    But it's still 2011, which means Brady is still the best the game has to offer. He's accurate, possesses a strong arm and just refuses to make big mistakes. Eli Manning can't hold a candle to Brady, especially if his older brother can't

    Brady has never thrown more than 14 interceptions in any season during his career. Plus, his wife is really, really hot.