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Old 07-09-2008, 12:34 AM   #1
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Default Scouts Inc: Ranking the Top QB's

No surprises when ranking the top QBs in the NFL
By Matt Williamson
Scouts Inc.

The Patriots with Tom Brady and the Colts with Peyton Manning are the obvious choices at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Should the Cowboys with Tony Romo be in the top five? Do the Giants with Eli Manning, who was the Super Bowl MVP, deserve to be in the top 10? The answers may surprise you.

1. New England Patriots
There are only two teams in the running for this honor, and we gave Brady the slight nod over Manning simply because Brady has more Super Bowl rings and surpassed Manning's touchdown record this past season. Both quarterbacks just keep getting better and better as they one-up each other. Brady put together an unheard of 50-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio last season while leading his team to a perfect regular-season record. His production did fall off over the last six games of the regular season, but overall, Brady was simply terrific once again. He is a tremendous competitor without a conscience.

Matt Cassel is Brady's backup, but in a somewhat shocking move, the Patriots used the 94th overall selection in the 2008 draft on Kevin O'Connell from San Diego State, which isn't exactly known as a football factory. The Patriots never do anything on a whim, so this selection warrants watching over the next several years. Cassel had better watch his back.


2. Indianapolis Colts
We all are extremely fortunate to be able to watch both Brady and Manning in the prime of their illustrious careers. Few have done it as well, and it isn't far fetched to think these two future Hall of Famers will go down as the two best players to ever play the most important position on the football field. It is almost criminal to be forced to choose between these two, and finding weaknesses in either Brady's or Manning's overall game is an extremely difficult, cumbersome chore. As great as Brady is, no player in the league means more to his team than Manning.

Jim Sorgi is Manning's backup and has been since 2004. He knows the system and holds a clipboard as well as anyone in recent memory, but if Manning were, for whatever reason, to miss the season, Indianapolis would be lucky to win five games. Fortunately and amazingly, Manning has started every game for this franchise in the past 10 years and has thrown 168 touchdowns over the past five, never dipping below 26 per season since joining the league. Manning is a machine.


3. Pittsburgh Steelers
It is becoming clear that Ben Roethlisberger is the next-best quarterback. Physically, he is the prototype for the position. He gets the most out of his natural gifts with his uncanny ability to buy extra time in the pocket and use his powerful right arm to drive the ball downfield when a play breaks down. He is an excellent deep thrower and is difficult to get on the ground; although he takes too many sacks in an effort to make the big play, he is better than anyone once the script goes out the window. He forces secondaries to cover much longer than they are accustomed to.

As a rookie, he led the Steelers to a 15-1 record. In his second year, he led the Steelers to a win in the Super Bowl. After a motorcycle accident, 2006 was a bit of a wash, but he rebounded in a huge way in 2007 and usually was the best player on the field. Few quarterbacks have accomplished so much so quickly. Backup Charlie Batch cannot be overlooked in this conversation, because he has proved he can lead the Steelers to victory when Roethlisberger is sidelined -- although the Steelers become much more conservative with Batch in the game. With Roethlisberger's aggressive play and the punishment he takes, having a trusted backup is paramount for Pittsburgh.


4. New Orleans Saints
While the Saints' group of weapons and coach Sean Payton get a lot of credit for New Orleans' high-powered offense, QB Drew Brees makes this group look better than it is. For some reason, he usually isn't mentioned among the top signal-callers in the league after Brady and Manning, but that is a massive mistake. He is cerebral and tough and has pinpoint accuracy. Brees doesn't wow you from a physical standpoint, but he understands the game, is in the prime of his career and gets the ball out of his hands on time to a variety of options. He takes very few sacks.

Brees struggled mightily during the first four games of this past season but rebounded in a big way, throwing 27 touchdowns in the last 12 games. Only Brady threw for more yardage than the pass-happy Brees. Behind him, New Orleans has a pair of lefties in veteran Mark Brunell and youngster Tyler Palko. Both are heady and tough but lack big arms, which isn't a major drawback in this offense. Still, Brees is far and away the most indispensable player on New Orleans' roster and a top signal-caller in this league.


5. Cincinnati Bengals
Few players in the league can spin the football like Carson Palmer. He is an elite talent who throws the football as well as any quarterback in recent memory. He has great size and a tremendous arm and is deadly accurate. He is tough and competitive and never has missed a start. While his surrounding circumstances have not been ideal, he also must do a better job of playing within himself and not putting the burden of the entire team on his shoulders. He has dealt with a somewhat dysfunctional situation in Cincinnati, including poor route running, suspect pass protection and lack of a rushing attack, all of which has had a negative effect on the team. Since he has forced throws when he has felt he must do it all himself, he has turned over the ball with too much regularity the past two seasons. Palmer can be as good as anyone on this list but could drop if he doesn't get his team on track.

The addition of TE Ben Utecht could pay heavy dividends because he is capable of being a force over the middle and near the end zone. Defenses were able to focus their attention on the perimeter last year, but this year should be different. Expect a big rebound season from Palmer and for him to exceed 4,000 yards through the air for the third straight year -- unless the wheels fall off this entire organization.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the top backup. He showed flashes while in St. Louis, but he has yet to start a game in a Bengals uniform and clearly would be a massive downgrade from Palmer. Fitzpatrick is smart and could be an adequate caretaker quarterback at best, but the Bengals do not have the rushing attack to make that work and are reliant on Palmer's right arm.

Last edited by CantStop85; 07-09-2008 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: Scouts Inc: Ranking the Top QB's

6. Dallas Cowboys
Romo threw for 4,211 yards this past season and completed 36 touchdown passes. The numbers he put together went more unnoticed than they should have because of what Brady was doing in New England, but Romo lit up the scoreboard. His winning percentage as a starting quarterback is stunning. So why aren't the Cowboys' quarterbacks ranked higher? First off, Romo is surrounded by a lot of talent and has yet to win a playoff game in his two seasons behind center. All of that blame cannot be thrust on Romo alone, but he does need to prove he can elevate the play of his team in crucial situations to be ranked among the top players at this position.

Also, we would like to see a bigger overall body of work. He sees the field very well, is light on his feet in avoiding pressure and doesn't hesitate to push the ball deep downfield. He threw 19 interceptions last year, but eight of those picks came in two games, which shows he still is hit or miss. His pension for fading down the stretch certainly is worrisome, and he faces a brutal schedule in 2008. While Romo is just getting started, backup Brad Johnson's best days are long behind him, and a young signal-caller needs to be groomed.


7. Philadelphia Eagles
Coming off an ACL injury, Donovan McNabb was a shell of himself during the first half of the 2007 season. He was immobile and unable to create plays with his feet or avoid the rush, but he also didn't stride into his throws in the pocket like he had in the past. Clearly, he was not confident in his rebuilt knee. The second half of the season was a different story, though, as his knee healed and he became more trusting of it. Even with his early season struggles, McNabb threw only seven interceptions in Andy Reid's pass-happy attack. Few value the football as well.

Expect McNabb to continue his fine play in 2008, as the Eagles will face an easier schedule and he should have plenty of familiar weapons to distribute the ball to. TE L.J. Smith's return should help in the red zone, which was a major problem area last year. His best running days are behind him, but he has a great understanding of this offense and is an intelligent distributor of the football.

Bolstering the overall rank of the Eagles' quarterbacks is Kevin Kolb, who is waiting for his turn behind McNabb. While it is unclear when Kolb will get his shot at live action, he is a fine prospect who should flourish in this offense. A.J. Feeley also is one of the best No. 3 quarterbacks in the league today. Expect McNabb to perform like a Pro Bowler this upcoming year, but his injury history is concerning, so this quarterback depth is essential.


8. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jack Del Rio made an extremely bold move right before the 2007 season by releasing Byron Leftwich and inserting David Garrard as his starting quarterback -- and wow, did it ever pay off. While he benefits from an excellent ground attack, Garrard has become an ultra-efficient signal-caller who keeps plays alive with his legs while combining good decision-making and accuracy. He missed time with a high ankle sprain but posted respectable numbers as a first-year starter who threw only three interceptions on the season. In fact, based on the 11 full games in which he played, Garrard was on pace to throw for more than 3,500 yards while spreading the ball to many options.

Few realized just how good Garrard was a year ago, and he now is far more than just a caretaker. He could improve on his game-management skills, but remember, he is just a one-year starter and does show good overall poise and intelligence despite the lack of starting experience. He also is clearly the leader of this team and has all the faith of his teammates, his coaches and the front office. A full offseason as the starter, along with a lucrative new contract, will do Garrard a world of good. With new receivers on board, expect the Jaguars to go deep more this season. Cleo Lemon is the backup and a slightly above-average one at that. Jacksonville is well equipped at the position.


9. Seattle Seahawks
This past season, the Seahawks lacked a running game they could rely on, and Mike Holmgren chose to put the offense squarely on Matt Hasselbeck's shoulders. He didn't disappoint, throwing for 3,966 yards while being intercepted only 12 times. Hasselbeck is an excellent decision-maker and can be aggressive without sacrificing accuracy. His toughness often goes overlooked, and he regularly plays with pain. However -- and this doesn't distract from Hasselbeck's ranking on this list -- Seattle's weaponry isn't anywhere near what it was a year ago. And it is questionable whether the running game has been much improved.

Even more stress to perform could be placed on Hasselbeck in 2008, and he will have to find soft spots in the defense and spread the ball around more adeptly than in the past. Seneca Wallace and Charlie Frye are the backups. Wallace is a superb athlete who could see more time at wideout this season if Frye proves capable. Trading for Frye could end up being a shrewd move, because his lack of arm strength would not be a major liability in this offense, and the change of scenery surely will do Frye good.


10. Cleveland Browns
This is a quarterback-friendly offense, but you have to respect what Derek Anderson accomplished in his first year as a starter. However, Brady Quinn still is waiting in the wings, and that makes ranking Cleveland's quarterback tandem difficult.

In Anderson, the Browns have a tall, strong-armed passer who performed very well early in the season by getting the ball out quickly and making sound decisions. But, as the season went along, the true Anderson began to appear, as he rushed his throws and made too many poor choices with the football. Behind an elite offensive line, with a solid running game and outstanding options to throw the ball to, forcing the issue and turning the ball over simply will not do. He is fortunate to throw to such large receivers with fantastic catching radiuses. Overall, he runs too hot and cold, and Browns fans got a taste of both last year. Anderson was at his best when little was expected of him. Plus, he didn't handle the playoff run or poor weather well, which aren't good traits in Cleveland.

Of course, Quinn remains a relative unknown, but he has good mental makeup, poise, strength and athletic ability. If Anderson had played better late in the year, Cleveland would have been in the playoffs. In any case, this is a good situation to have at the most important position on the field, and many teams would do cartwheels to get either Anderson or Quinn right now. Either quarterback might end up posting top numbers in this offense, and both quarterbacks still are very young.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: Scouts Inc: Ranking the Top QB's

isn't it great to think our very own Ben could be considered the best QB in the league in a few years.

I usually don't pay much attention to this lists, but it's nice to see ben getting his recognition around the league. he's earned it
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:03 AM   #4
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Default Re: Scouts Inc: Ranking the Top QB's

Thanks for the read CS85

Thought Palmer might sneek in front of Brees IMO.

Good to see Big Ben climbing up the rankings
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Old 07-09-2008, 04:02 AM   #5
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Its about time he got some respect and climbing up the rankings.
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Old 07-09-2008, 06:04 AM   #6
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Default Re: Scouts Inc: Ranking the Top QB's

Nice read on the backups - that's something you don't hear about every day.

Nice to see Ben #3 too, he'll be number 1 before the season is over.


On another note, Tony Romo will never be a "top QB" for me until he actually proves he can win a playoff game. Until then, he'll be looking in from the outside. He doesn't belong in this group yet.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: Scouts Inc: Ranking the Top QB's

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Duke View Post
isn't it great to think our very own Ben could be considered the best QB in the league in a few years.

I usually don't pay much attention to this lists, but it's nice to see ben getting his recognition around the league. he's earned it
Agreed...I think most of us remember those years that we sat around thinking.."MAN!!..if we only had a franchise QB!!"

......This is a special time to be a Steelers fan!
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:31 AM   #8
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Default Re: Scouts Inc: Ranking the Top QB's

David Garrard? Derek Anderson? Too early to tell with the former, and Anderson is a "one and done" career back-up who had one glory year because of a tremendous OL and nobody having any scouting material on him. Last December his QB rating was lower than Kordell Stewart's "Kordoza line".
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:56 AM   #9
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Default Re: Scouts Inc: Ranking the Top QB's

Big falloff after #6, don't you think? I'd have included McNabb and said "after #7" a couple years ago, but with his current injury situation....

As good as I think the Jags are, QB and Garrard aren't the reason.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: Scouts Inc: Ranking the Top QB's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie_steeler View Post
Thanks for the read CS85

Thought Palmer might sneek in front of Brees IMO.

Good to see Big Ben climbing up the rankings
Eh, I think the Saints got the edge because of their backup QB's.

Mark Brunell > Ryan Fitzpatrick
Tyler Palko > Jordan Palmer

But, yeah after 5 or 6 there's a real big drop-off.
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