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- Quarterback Rankings: Who's The Best?

Chris Pokorny June 23, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

Tell Chris your opinion.

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A teams offense all begins with the quarterback. It usually takes an established quarterback to lead your team to the playoffs, but we saw otherwise at times last year. Let's take a look at some examples:

Ben Roethlisberger was the third quarterback taken in the draft last season, and he was undefeated as a rookie. Even though it took some luck and outstanding plays from his fellow teammates, Tommy Maddox would not have led the team to the same record. However, I wouldn't have been surprised if Maddox would have performed better in the playoffs.

If anyone said that Drew Brees would have had the type of season that he did before the season began, I'm sure everyone would have gotten a good laugh. Brees still has to prove himself this year, but he showed excellent leadership qualities and the emergence of Antonio Gates helped him a lot.

Byron Leftwich. Ok, maybe he didn't lead his team to the playoffs. Leftwich still did a good job with an offense that didn't have a ton of big name playmakers around him.

This season, who will be the young guys that come out of no where, or quarterbacks that thrive in having one last chance? Here are two guesses that I will make:

J.P. Losman can lead Buffalo's offense as good as Bledsoe did last season. People will be surprised at how well the second year quarterback does in his first season as the teams starter. He also doesn't have to look over his shoulder, because it's already been stated that Kelly Holcomb will only be brought in if Losman gets injured, not due to performance.

Eli Manning will have a drastic turnaround from last season. I'm sure he seeked the advice of his brother Peyton and reviewed game films intently. Manning needs to build a better connection to Shockey, which I'm sure he will do.

Now that the sleeper quarterbacking issues have been resolved, it's time to take a look where the quarterbacks rank compared to each other. This will not be based on all 32 teams combined, but rather on how a quarterback ranks in their division. It's too hard to rank quarterbacks in a certain place out of 32 teams, since that is too difficult to predict. Let's start out with the AFC East, the division that's been owned by the New England Patriots.

AFC East - Game Management Quarterbacks
This division contains quarterbacks that are good at managing games, or teams that expect their quarterback to manage the game.

1. Tom Brady - New England Patriots - Brady has managed his team to three Super Bowls in the past four seasons. Anyone who doubts that Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL is simply biased towards the Patriots team. Brady doesn't need to pile up stats to win and he doesn't throw too many interceptions at Foxboro.

2. Chad Pennington - New York Jets - Not having Laveranues Coles the past two seasons has downsized the performance of Pennington. I thought about ranking Pennington third in the division this season, but with the return of Coles, I think Pennington will be able to have a more reliable target to get the football to.

3. J.P. Losman - Buffalo Bills - As I stated earlier, I think Losman will be a solid quarterback this season and fill his role. He won't be a superstar, but he will get the job done for a Buffalo team that can contend this season.

4. A.J. Feely/Gus Frerotte - Miami Dolphins - Regardless of who is named the starter, I would still rank them at the bottom of the division. With that said, I would choose Frerotte over Feely. Feely didn't do anything spectacular with the team the past two seasons, and I felt that Frerotte performed well as a veteran backup under Culpepper.

AFC North - The Young Tossers
With the exception of the Cleveland Browns, the quarterbacks in this division are very young compared to the rest of the NFL.

1. Carson Palmer - Cincinnati Bengals - At the start of last season, I thought it was a mistake to bench Jon Kitna after the success he had with the team the year before. Heading into this season, the Bengals definitely made the right move. While Palmer struggled at the beginning of last season, he showed a lot of offensive firepower in the last few games. Palmer can sling it the best in the division.

2. Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers - Even though he is undefeated in the regular season and did an amazing job as a rookie last season, I still saw too many mistakes that his team had to clean up for him. Big Ben will be a great leader for his team, but I think he'll come back down to reality in his sophomore season.

3. Trent Dilfer - Cleveland Browns - Dilfer is on the Browns to be a game managing quarterback, which he can do very well. He won't do anything drastic, just what the team expects him to do. It'll be a completely new team for him to work with, but I think he will be comfortable in the system.

4. Kyle Boller - Baltimore Ravens - In his two seasons with the Ravens, I have still seen way too many mistakes by Boller. I think Boller has the potential to do a lot better this season because of receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, but he has to prove it to me first.

AFC South - All About Manning
When you hear about the AFC South, all you can think about is Peyton Manning. Don't forget about the other three guys in the division though.

1. Peyton Manning - Indianapolis Colts - He's the best quarterback in the division and the NFL. All you have to do is watch one game from Manning in the regular season last year to visualize the poetry in motion. The only thing he needs to do still is beat New England's defense.

2. Byron Leftwich - Jacksonville Jaguars - Leftwich was able to compete with a lot of teams last year, even though his defense would always give him a chance when he did struggle. He made a lot of smart decisions and should push the team to a potential wildcard spot.

3. David Carr - Houston Texans - I hope Carr doesn't fall into the same situation that Tim Couch did on an expansion team and be ousted after a few years of hard work. Carr almost got his team to .500 last season. He needs to play better this season, especially with a dangerous receiver like Andre Johnson.

4. Steve McNair - Tennessee Titans - McNair had way too many injuries to compete last season, but he still has it in him. Just two years ago, McNair was a co-MVP along with Manning. What will hurt McNair however, is not having Derrick mason to throw to. The Titans can sometimes run and gun, but it may be too tough this season.

AFC West - Offensive Powerhouses
With the exception of the Denver Broncos, I believe all of the teams in this division can pile up points on the offensive end of the football.

1. Kerry Collins - Oakland Raiders - While I would take Brees and Green over Collins as a quarterback, Collins seems perfectly suited where he is right now. He has two of the NFL's best receivers in Jerry Porter and Randy Moss to throw to, as well as LaMont Jordan to provide a ground game. Collins loves throwing a deep ball and could have tons of connections this season.

2. Trent Green - Kansas City Chiefs - I would love to see what Trent Green can do if he had a go to wide receiver. Green has had success in the past few seasons with throwing the ball to guys like Johnnie Morton and Eddie Kennison. He'll get Freddie Mitchell this year, who underachieved in Philly. Green's main weapons though - Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez - are alive and well.

3. Drew Brees - San Diego Chargers - This is a situation where Brees just happens to be in the wrong division as far as rankings go. In the AFC North, Brees would definitely be the number one guy. Brees found a gem in Antonio Gates and has a handful of receivers he can rely on. If Brees puts together another consistent year, he has a good chance of being the best QB in the division.

4. Jake Plummer - Denver Broncos - How long will the Jake Plummer era last in Denver? Although Denver squeaked into the playoffs last year, Plummer needs to come through with his "A" game more often. There are too many times where he'll throw four touchdowns one day, and then four interceptions the next.

Just by looking at that, I can see how hard it would have been for myself to logically place some quarterbacks in certain areas. Even though Brees was third in his division, I would have probably listed him above the entire AFC North list. Now it's on to the NFC, which features quite a few quarterbacks who like to use their feet. Will it get them listed any higher? Let's find out:

NFC East - One Man Show
For years, the only thing you've seen at the top of the NFC East are the Philadelphia Eagles. So, that must mean McNabb is doing something good, right?

1. Donovan McNabb - Philadelphia Eagles - As stated above, you have to be doing something right to lead your team to the playoffs year after year. While I still believe McNabb needs to step his game up in particular games, he is a threat to take off any time. If you saw that play last year where he scrambled for almost 20 seconds and then heaved a pass, you'd be amazed. Even without Terrell Owens, he was able to perform well.

2. Eli Manning - New York Giants - Manning was my other quarterback that I picked to have a "shock" season, so I have to put him over Bledsoe. Being able to have a full season under his belt, I think Manning will be a quick learner and try to include everyone in the offense. Or, maybe I'm just thinking too much about Peyton Manning.

3. Drew Bledsoe - Dallas Cowboys - Bledsoe came on strong last year for Buffalo after not doing so well in his past few years. I think he will be a dramatic improvement to Dallas than Testaverde. He doesn't have a whole lot of offensive weapons, but he didn't really have too many on Buffalo. Bledsoe likes to get the tight end involved, so I think Jason Witten will have a solid connection with Bledsoe.

4. Patrick Ramsey - Washington Redskins - I've heard a lot of praise about Ramsey, but no results. I gave up on the guy a year or two ago, and I am stunned that he's still the guy leading this team. Washington needs to find someone else. And not a Mark Brunell either.

NFC North - Aged, Changed, Same
Brett Favre and Rex Grossman relate to the old and young age factor, Culpepper will experience a major change, and Harrington is Harrington.

1. Daunte Culpepper - Minnesota Vikings - With or without Randy Moss, Culpepper is a threat when he steps onto the field. He is the NFL's best scrambler besides Vick, but he is a much better passer than Vick. Troy Williamson will be a good enough replacement for Moss, and Culpepper will watch Nate Burleson thrive into a number one quality receiver.

2. Brett Favre - Green Bay Packers - I don't care how old he is, Favre isn't dropping from the number two spot unless Detroit or Chicago get better offenses in a dramatic fashion. Favre finds ways to get the job done even if he plays crazy most of the time. He's always fun to watch, and I hope he doesn't retire after this season(unless he really blows it this year).

3. Joey Harrington - Detroit Lions - As much as I hate Joey Harrington and wanted to put him at the bottom of this division, I cannot do so because of the talent around him. He has three number one receivers to toss the ball to, while Grossman only has Mushin Muhammad. If Harrington doesn't get the Lions to the playoffs this year, cut him. Heck, if he doesn't show hope by game five of the season, bench him and put Jeff Garcia in.

4. Rex Grossman - Chicago Bears - While I think the young guy has hope for his future, he can't really do too much right now. The Bears are not a good offensive team, so I guess Grossman will have to work on being a game managing quarterback and come in the clutch when opportunities arise.

NFC South - Very Close Competition
Please, don't be surprised when I put...

1. Jake Delhomme - Carolina Panthers - as the best quarterback in the division, because I'll get to Vick later. Delhomme is under rated even after he led the Panthers to a Super Bowl two years ago. Last year, did you realize Delhomme threw for nearly 4,000 yards, had 29 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions? No one needs to complain about Muhammad leaving though, because he has Steve Smith back. Let's just hope they have better luck injury wise this season.

2. Michael Vick - Atlanta Falcons - Believe it or not, Vick just barely made the number two slot, as Aaron Brooks almost slipped by him. Vick needs to become a better passing quarterback. If he can throw touchdowns and limit his interceptions, he will be the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL. Until he does, he's an average to below average QB that can simply run like the wind.

3. Aaron Brooks - New Orleans Saints - Brooks almost had a breakthrough last season, as the Saints just barely missed the playoffs. In the last few weeks of the season, the Saints offense played well together. Brooks needs to put together an entire season of consistency(as do the Saints team as a whole) before Brooks can be ranked higher.

4. Brian Griese - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Griese came in and surpassed expectations for the Buccaneers offense last year when it looked like the team was dead. Unfortunately for Griese, it's not known if he's the long term answer for this team, and there's a lot of talent ahead of him in the division.

NFC West - It'll Be Interesting...
With Kurt Warner added into the mix, how will the NFC West be different this year? Let's not forget the constant battles Matt Hasselbeck has to deal with.

1. Marc Bulger - St. Louis Rams - As long as Torry Holt and Issac Bruce are still the go to guys for Bulger, he'll be at the top of the division. While Bulger still has come consistency and interception issues at times, all you have to do is look at a few games where he throws three touchdowns in one quarter to find out what's special about him.

2. Matt Hasselbeck - Seattle Seahawks - If Hasselbeck's wideouts didn't drop so many passes, it'd be interesting to see how good Hasselbeck can really be. He lost Koren Robinson this year, although that may not be a bad thing. Maybe someone else can step up and not drop any passes.

3. Kurt Warner - Arizona Cardinals - I think Warner will have a similar season to what he had last year. He'll have early success in getting the ball to Boldin and Fitzgerald, but then he'll have the games where he simply struggles. However, Warner is an upgrade to Josh McCown and the other guys Dennis Green used last year.

4. Alex Smith/Tim Rattay - San Francisco 49'ers - Alex Smith should be the starter because Rattay is not the future to this team and won't do any better than Smith would. Smith will get some experience under his belt, but the times won't be too pleasant without a lot of help offensively.

And there you have it, all 32 NFL quarterbacks ranked by division. Stayed tuned to Pro Football Critics for rankings on starting running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends in the same type of format. Thanks for reading.

-Chris Pokorny
pokorny@pfcritics.com


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