NFL Best of the 2000s: Top 20 Quarterbacks

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIJanuary 4, 2011

NFL Best of the 2000s: Top 20 Quarterbacks

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 02:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts gives instructions to his team during NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The 2000s has seen its fair share of great players and moments in the past 10 years. In Part I of this series, I look at the top 20 quarterbacks.

    Just to reiterate, these are not fantasy football rankings. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me explain the criteria and attributes I looked at to rank the field generals.

    Accuracy: Being able to fit the ball into tight windows, hit the receiver in stride, timing, touch and arm strength. Being able to slide and step up in the pocket and still put the ball on the money.

    Leadership: The quarterback position is the most important position in football. When a team faces adversity, can he instill confidence in his teammates to get through the chaos?

    Intelligence: Being able to read the defense pre-snap and after, make the right decisions, audible into the correct play, feel and anticipate the rush.

    It: Competitiveness, toughness, poise in two-minute situations.

20. Michael Vick

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 12:  Quarterback Michael Vick #7 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball during the game against the Cleveland Browns on November 12, 2006 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo By Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Before his demise in the dog fighting saga, Vick was one of the most exciting quarterbacks of the decade. At one point he was the highest paid quarterback in the league.

    His scrambling ability transformed the position.

19. Chad Pennington

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    NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 23:  Chad Pennington #10 of the New York Jets attempts to pass the ball against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 23, 2007 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    He didn’t have the strongest arm, but he simply got the job done with his knowledge and accuracy. Led the Jets and Dolphins to playoff appearances.

18. Trent Green

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    Kansas City Chiefs  quarterback Trent Green sets to pass  against the Indianapolis  Colts inWild Card Playoff action on January 6, 2007 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Chiefs 23 - 8. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    He will always be known as the guy who got hurt in the preseason in 1999. This led to Kurt Warner being named the starting quarterback in St. Louis. We all know what happened afterwards.

    Green had some very respectable seasons with the Chiefs.

17. Brad Johnson

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    SAN FRANCISCO  - OCTOBER 19:  Quarterback Brad Johnson #14 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers on October 19, 2003 at 3Comm Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Nicknamed "Checkdown Charlie" because he consistently played it safe and checked down to get quick completions. He led the Bucs and that fantastic defense to a Super Bowl win in 2002.

16. Carson Palmer

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    CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 26:  Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals 34-20.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    His knee injury in the 2005 Wild Card game against Pittsburgh really seemed to derail his career. He hasn't been the same since.

15. Daunte Culpepper

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 11:  Quarterback Daunte Culpepper #11 of the Minnesota Vikings looks to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 11, 2005 at H.H.H. Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Bucs defeated the Vikings 24-13.  (Photo by
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    How do you rank this guy? With Randy Moss, Culpepper was great; without him, not so much. You still can’t take away his season in 2004: 4,717 yards, 39 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions.

14. Eli Manning

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    GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants walks off the field after the Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizo
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Peyton’s little bro finally silenced some critics with an improbable win over the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

13. Matt Hasselbeck

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks delivers a pass against the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 19, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Seahawks 31-14.  (Photo by Doug Pen
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The former backup to Brett Favre in Green Bay finally got a shot with the Seattle Seahawks in 2001. He led the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL, where they fell short to Pittsburgh.

12. Tony Romo

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    LANDOVER - SEPTEMBER 12:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys passes during the NFL season opener against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins defeated the Cowboys 13-7. (Photo by Larry French/Gett
    Larry French/Getty Images

    This undrafted QB took over for an unpopular Drew Bledsoe in 2006. Since then, Romo has made three Pro Bowls.

    He may always be known by fans as the man who let a wild-card win slip through his fingertips in 2006 against Seattle on a short field goal attempt.

11. Philip Rivers

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    DENVER - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers delivers a pass against the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on January 2, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Chargers defeated the Broncos 33-28.  (Photo by Doug Pensing
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    He's currently one of the best deep ball passers in the league. He was put in a tough spot as the successor to fan favorite Drew Brees in San Diego. He had an NFL-leading 34 touchdown passes in 2008.

10. Jeff Garcia

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 5:  Quarterback Jeff Garcia #5 of the San Fransisco 49ers throws a pass against the New York Giants during the NFC Wild Card game at 3Com Park on January 5, 2003 in San Francisco, California.  The Niners' rally was the biggest in N
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Before anyone chuckles, take a look back and really look at what he did.

    Garcia was one of eight quarterbacks in history to throw for back-to-back 30-touchdown seasons when he was in San Francisco. What he did in Philadelphia in 2006 when Donovan McNabb went down was extraordinary.

9. Ben Roethlisberger

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Arguably had the best rookie season for a quarterback ever. A two-time Super Bowl winner: Super Bowls XL and XLIII.

8. Rich Gannon

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    PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Rich Gannon #12 of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game at Heinz Field on September 12, 2004 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Raiders 24-21. (P
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    He's sort of overlooked by many. He led the Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII, although he threw five picks in that game. Won MVP award in 2002.

7. Steve McNair

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    NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 20:  Quarterback Steve McNair #9 of the Tennessee Titans rolls out against the Jacksonville Jaguars at The Coliseum on November 20, 2005 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Jaguars defeated the Titans 31-28.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Get
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    McNair, McNabb and Vick early on in their careers reinvented the quarterback position with their arm and legs. He was so tough to bring down, no play was ever over when he was scrambling. Co-MVP in 2003.

6. Kurt Warner

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 7:  Quarterback Kurt Warner #13 of the St. Louis Rams throws a pass against the New York Giants during the game at the Giants Stadium on September 7, 2003 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Rams 23-13.
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    You know his story. While it looked like his career was over in St. Louis, Warner went to Arizona and led the Cards to an NFC title in the 2008 season. He had three Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl win.

5. Donovan McNabb

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 13:  Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles drops against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium on December 13, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    I have never seen a quarterback so unfairly criticized ever. While he didn’t win a Super Bowl title, he had one Super Bowl and five NFC Championship Game appearances.

    The infamous image of him shuffling his legs on a run against Washington in the regular season simply shows not only could he throw, but as a youngster he could really scramble with the best of them as well.

4. Brett Favre

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    GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 20:  Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass against the New York Giants during the NFC championship game on January 20, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The “Cal Ripken” of the NFL had many ups and downs during the decade. Arguably he had his best season in his career last season at age 40 with Minnesota.

3. Drew Brees

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 12:  Drew Brees #9  of the New Orleans Saints looks to throw the ball during the game against the St. Louis Rams at the Louisiana Superdome on December 12, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Scouts said he was too small. He started out in San Diego until the Chargers picked Rivers over Brees after the 2005 season. Brees went to New Orleans and still did his thing.

    He finally got his due with a Super Bowl win, although technically it didn’t happen in the previous decade.

2. Tom Brady

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    HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. The Patriots won 332-29 to claim their se
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    The “Joe Montana” of the decade: three Super Bowl titles for the GQ man. So calm and collected under pressure. Don’t give him the ball with under two minutes. Just look at Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. Don’t forget about the infamous “Tuck Rule Game.”

1. Peyton Manning

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 04:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy next to head coach Tony Dungy and is wife, Lauren, and CBS sports broadcaster Jim Nantz after winning the Super
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    What can you say? He’s a coach on the field. The four-time NFL MVP may be the most intelligent and accurate quarterback ever. Some may say Brady; I say Manning.

Notable Mentions and the Future

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    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 26:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers rolls out of the pocket against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field on December 26, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Notable Mentions: Marc Bulger, Jake Delhomme, Drew Bledsoe, Mark Brunell, Brian Griese

    Some Names to Throw Out for Next Decade: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallett, 13-year-old fella committed to USC