A few weeks ago, Merrill Hodge went on ESPN's SportsCenter and unveiled his list of the top five quarterbacks in the league at this time.
Number one? Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Now I am a die-hard fan and love Big Ben for his on-field abilities, but it is very difficult for me to objectively argue he is better than Tom Brady, a player who has more stats, rings and is just as good at winning in the two-minute drill as Ben.
However I have always argued that I think Ben should be mentioned and considered when looking at No. 2, never falling below five.
In this era of fantasy football and media hype, players such as Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan and Tony Romo always seem to place higher in the "elite" rankings when "experts" write or speak on the issue.
However, ESPN's Scouts Inc. ranked the top 200 players in the NFL this offseason based on current production and performance, further coming up with the list of the 20 best players at each position.
Ben was ranked 8th overall in the NFL, which is higher than some have him in the quarterback discussion, and fifth overall in the quarterback rankings, finishing behind only Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
Is Ben Roethlisberger an elite NFL quarterback?
The scouting report goes on to say what every Steelers fan already knows: quick feet for a big guy, tough and physical, great instincts and can improvise. The only negative is his tendency to gamble with throws.
Over the past five seasons, Ben has thrown for over 3,000 yards, eclipsing 4,000 in 2009 which ranked 7th in the NFL. Far more impressive is that his passer rating (flawed system or not) ranked fifth last season and only twice in his career has he been ranked outside the top 10 in the league.
If not for Brady's miracle 2007 season, Ben would have ranked first in the league at 104.1. His career rating of 92.5 is eighth on the all-time list.
Ben will never make the records that Marino, Manning or Brady had/have, but he will be in the same category of players such as Elway, Montana and Bradshaw—rings and wins.
To much of Steeler nation and now to many "experts," that's more than enough to be considered an elite quarterback.