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Ranking Every Starting Quarterback In The NFL Today

No position in the NFL is more fetishized than the man under center. If you don't have a franchise quarterback, you get out of the way for teams that do. If you have a great one, the sky's the limit. 5-8 record? 4-9? As long as you have a great quarterback at the helm, playoff hopes stay alive to the last mathematically possible second.

There are enough ‘My Quarterback Can Beat Up Your Quarterback’ debates going on out there, so let's take some time to put things in perspective. Here is a ranking of the best quarterbacks playing the game right now. And before you start jumping down my throat for benching your QB for a kid or a veteran, understand I'm trying to fit the whole picture in here. There are a lot of intangibles out there, especially when you talk about such an iconic and mythical position that is an NFL Quarterback. I want to look at Career Stats, Future potential, Team Leadership, and Big Game Ability.

So without further ado, let’s take some snaps and make some reads on Ranking the Starting Quarterbacks in the NFL Today:

32 32. Robert Griffin III, Cleveland Browns

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If you ask Siri where sadness lives, she will direct you to the address of the stadium of the Cleveland Browns. When your team is named for the color of someone's waste, nobody is expecting championships any time soon. Given, the line is shot and the defense is sub par, but Robert Griffin III doesn't do much to inspire hope in a dejected franchise with a stereotype of the “revolving door at quarterback.” When you have serious conversations about your best Wide Receiver (Terrelle Pryor) converting to your position, you're not doing much to help the team. We wish RG3 a speedy recovery so he can hurt again and the Browns can bring Cody Kessel back into the mix. Until the Browns find a true franchise QB, they'll never improve.

31 31. Bryce Petty, New York Jets

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I'm sorry for doing this to you Jets fans, but I'm pretty sure you feel the same way. When a struggling 15 interception, 18 times sacked in half a season Ryan Fitzpatrick is a better option than this kid, you know that the Jets 4th round pick in 2015 out of Baylor isn't showing a lot of promise to the Jets coaching staff. We haven't seen much out of Petty, but with the Jets season being a complete travesty, the main focus of the front office seems to be grumbling about who is starting under center 2017, his NFL career is showing little promise. He only managed four starts in six games during the 2016 season, where he threw for 809 yards, three touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Not exactly inspiring stuff.

30 30. Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

I'm in a bit of a pickle here, folks. I’m not entirely sure who I am writing this section about. Brock Osweiler was an overnight sensation when he stepped in for the legendary Peyton Manning and held the ship steady to cruise toward a Super Bowl victory. It's good to have a chip on your shoulder and to demand to be paid for your worth. That's what America is all about. But the real key to that is to deliver on it. Brock Osweiler is simply not making his case. Getting benched for Tom Savage, who may not have done better but didn't cost the Texans $72 million, isn't helping his case. Osweiler might be an incredible negotiator, but he doesn't seem to be going anywhere without at Super Bowl caliber Wade Phillips defense.

29 29. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

What the hell happened here? One of the most dynamic and multidimensional quarterbacks of our time seems to have completely evaporated before our eyes. Wasn’t this the guy who drove the 49ers to an NFC Championship and came within a field goal of winning Super Bowl XLVII against a stacked Baltimore Ravens team? From almost 4,000 all purpose yards of total offense in 2014 to 2,241 passing yards and 468 rushing in 2016, Colin Kaepernick has fallen far from grace. Blame it on losing Jim Harbaugh, blame it on Chip Kelly killing offenses every where he goes, blame it on changing stadiums or breaking over a Super Bowl loss. But it is unmistakable that we may never see the Colin Kaepernick that took Alex Smith’s job or is better than Blaine Gabbert again.

28 28. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

We are all waiting around for the ‘Jaguars that were Promised’ and we keep giving them one more year to mesh as a group. Sadly Jacksonville still has not reaped the fruit of all the hype. 2016 was a sharp fall off for Blake Bortles from his steady improvements of last year, dropping from 35 touchdowns and 4,500 yards all the way down to 23 and 3,905. This is not to mention that Bortles established himself as the King of Garbage Time. Much of his yardage this year came in the fourth quarter, when the Jags were already down and out in the game. 35 fantasy points? Let's get a little context behind that. On a team with a small, soft defense, there is a lot of expected out of the quarterback. Blake Bortles has not moved forward this year.

27 27. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

I hate to put the rookie down here, but we have a couple rookies and other young players really making a splash out there today. The NFL is fast and tough. It takes a while to transition. Such a while that Case Keenum was a better option when the Rams tried to impress in their fancy new digs in LA. This did not happen, Jeff Fisher got canned, and the Rams need to take a long hard look at their losing record this season. In four games started, Goff managed only five TDs and 1,089 passing yards. We are going to have to see this kid after a full offseason, but an NFL QB is a tough gig. Not everyone makes it. Even first overall picks.

26 26. Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Still better than Osweiler. I’m sorry. Trevor Siemian’s hardline stats and athletic ability have been nothing to write home about this season: 3,401 passing yards and less than 100 rushing. But for this kid to step up on a Defending Super Bowl Championship team, to game manage in a Kubiak offense, and to keep the team playoff relevant into Week 15 is certainly noteworthy. Osweiler inherited a Jeep and flipped it off-roading. Siemian got the Ferrari, drove it safely around the block, and got it home 15 minutes before curfew. Should Denver be upset it was knocked out of a chance to repeat? Of course. But at least they didn’t crash and burn. Is Siemian the Denver QB of the future? ...Bueler...? Bueler? Bueler?

25 25. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

A quarterback is much more than just a back. The dual threat QB is a lethal weapon in college and on many occasions can win National Championships almost single handedly. The NFL is not college. There was a lot of hype coming up with Tyrod Taylor this year and he did not meet it. Last year was a breakout season with 3,035 passing yards and another 500+ yards rushing. This virtually erased the fact that he was riding the bench in Baltimore for another three seasons. With a disappointing follow up season, we are reminded that he is no youthful surprise. Given, it is difficult to develop a pass game when Sammy Watkins is only going to play three games in 2016, but sometimes you have to play in the rain. I’m not crazy about the Bills firing Rex Ryan, but it is frustrating to see Tyrod’s athletic potential and to see the Bills struggle year after year.

24 24. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

According to Philadelphia, everyone on their team is the best to play the position and they are playoff bound every year. Clearly, this has not been true under Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford. But stories about Carson Wentz have taken on a folktale-like nature. When he was drafted second overall, Wentz was out quail hunting. He gave his offensive lines shotguns for Christmas. He’s best friends with a blue ox named Babe. That last one isn’t true, but you get what I’m trying to say. The Eagles staked a lot on this kid out of North Dakota. Much of their 2017 draft has been shipped out to the Browns for compensation. Some of that value came back to them when they traded away Sam Bradford for a first round pick, but this put Wentz back in the driver seat for 2016. It has not been a stunning performance, but this kid showed a great deal of potential. He’s got a long ball, he’s got gritty running ability, and the team already seems to love him. I disagree when people compare him to Ben Roethlisberger, but the fact remains the comparison is being made. As a Giants fan, I will probably grow to despise the man in seasons to come. We’re all living in Wentzylvania now, get over it.

23 23. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

John Mayer, Jack Johnson, and many other folk singers write about ‘Waiting’. There seems to be a romantic element to this idea of loyalty despite painstaking anticipation. Dolphins fans from the colors out are hugely nostalgic of Dan Marino and Bob Griese, but that is only because of the dismal state of their past several seasons. Tannehill is a good game manager and certainly a talent, but his slow and steady rise in stats season to season fell off this year. This is probably largely due to the injury that is now tragically yet poetically taking him out of the playoffs, but we have not seen a big enough boom to rise up from the dredges under the boot of the New England Tom Bradys. Given, there doesn’t seem to be an excellent team around him, though Jarvis Landry is growing into his own and the defense is getting better all the time. Tannehill is a survivable QB, but not the reason the team is winning (or losing) games.

22 22. Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

What is it that everyone sees in this guy? Given, he can achieve 3,000+ passing yards in a season, which is good, not outstanding. But the real problem is that he hasn’t played a full season since 2012. His best years were on the Rams and they had done nothing more than threaten to get into the playoffs. He was brought onto the Eagles in the midst of a Chip Kelly’s QB controversy and didn’t manage to come out head and shoulders above Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles. But with all that being said, there are teams with a lot more problems at the quarterback position. Bradford came into a desperate Vikings after they lost Teddy Bridgewater, but seems in place to retain that role. Was he worth a first round 2017 draft pick? No. Is he worth $20 million? No. Can he carry a team with a sick defense but O-line injuries? No. Would I take him if my QB’s knee exploded and he was available? I guess.

21 21. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The poor Bears are crumbling. For fear of Forte becoming too old, he was shipped out to the Jets and the best of the defense has all retired. The defense is a shadow of itself and the offense has become inert. The Bears rode high and held onto the past too long. One relic still remains: Jay Cutler. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is solid. A team can be built around him, but he can’t make a team good by himself. Cutler is just too streaky to be reliable. Brandon Marshall is gone, Alshon Jeffery isn’t the stud he has been, and the kids haven’t proven their worth yet. In Cutler’s defense, he did play very limited games this year. Brian Hoyer looked good, but probably isn’t a long term solution and Matt Barkley looked like a backup. The Bears probably owe the veteran another year, but they’re setting their sights on a change. Probably wouldn’t hurt to free up some cap space.

20 20. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

The kid from Oregon has already had a strong opening. In two seasons in the NFL, he’s already racked up a good amount of offense and 45 pass touchdowns. He is one of the multi-faceted option QBs in the league that is actually working out. The problem again seems to lie with the team’s inability to develop players. The Titans have imported DeMarco Murray to take the pressure off the young Mariota, but there are limited weapons in the ranks of Wide Receiver. There is a lot of competition on this list folks, making it hard to get everyone in the top half of these rankings. I feel terrible that the kid is missing the duration of the season with an unfortunate leg break, but frankly, I don’t feel comfortable ranking a quarterback who seems to be stymied by a sub-par Colts season after season. However, next year I do expect to be challenged and rank him much higher.

19 19. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah I said it. Number 19. Why? Well, Dak Prescott is a game manager at the moment, though he's shown the ability to make big plays when the game is on the line. He’s thrown 23 TDs, which is fair at best. What’s made the rookie such a sensation however is the four interceptions in his rookie year. Dak throws a smart ball. He hedges his bets and reads extremely well. Zeke is taking the entire focus of the offense, opening up any pass the Cowboys want to make. All Dak has to do is not blow it. I will give him that he has been exceptionally responsible (which Dallas has been struggling with in recent years with Romo). Is Dak Prescott the reason the Cowboys are having a groundbreaking year? No. But on the other hand, he hasn’t done anything to muck it up, which can be more valuable than not.

18 18. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Famous Jameis has all the talent you want in a quarterback. He came into his rookie year and dropped 4,000 yards and 22 TDs for a team that has been a laughing stock for the previous five. He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s resourceful. But most of all he’s ballsy. The kid is a natural born leader. Now this is great when you need to get the team going, but this is a problem when it is unharnessed. This is what Winston has come to represent: a great player with a burning passion that makes him make stupid decisions. Headbutting down players. Throwing reckless passes. Winston is a nuclear power house. It can be used to bring power to a city, but if he can’t keep that in check and harness that for good, he can level it. Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. 50 touchdowns in two years is great. Not getting 33 interceptions is better.

17 17. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

You like that? The kid from Michigan has worked hard to get this high. When RG3 bursted onto the scene in 2012, we thought we’d talking about higher on this list. But it turns out that some people need to run into a brick wall too many times to figure out it is a bad idea. This gave rise to the gun slingin, rootin tootin, fast shootin styling of Kirk Cousins. After riding bench since 2012, Cousins gets two starting years in a row and rose to the occasion with well over 4,000 yards a piece and a total of 54 TDs. Given, the kid is streaky, but once you let him score, his second isn't far behind. Once the he grows a beard and comes into his own, I think we're going to have to talk a lot more about Captain Kirk in coming seasons.

16 16. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

There is a running joke in the fantasy community known as the “Andy Dalton Line.” That is to say that if you are a better quarterback than Andy Dalton, you are good. If not, not so much. I don’t claim to call his place on this list a definitive marker of Andy Dalton’s quality of performance, but it is certainly worth noting. In his five years in the NFL, he never dipped under 3,200 yards and only has two seasons where he threw for less than 20 TDs. Though he can’t seem to win, this the first year that a Dalton-led Bengals team has missed the playoffs. If there is such a thing as ‘steady-good-but-not-good-enough’, The Red Rifle seems to have that cornered.

15 15. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t mean to criticize quarterbacks for being game managers. In this list, I am trying to favor freakish talent over intelligence and strategy. That being said, Alex Smith is one smart cookie. As far as game managers go - smart throwing, the ability to control the play and the clock - Smith has the most poise out there. Pound for pound this guy is a serious athlete as well. Though this year experienced a dip in his rushing yards, he almost hit 500 in 2015 and 2013, and managed 3 TDs. The Niners are missing him and Andy Reid loves him. Their revenge tour in Kansas City is seeing them into the playoffs and they couldn’t be happier. The stats aren’t spectacular, but Alex Smith is an x factor that many teams are looking for. Who do you want on your team? The guy who gets the job done at the end of the day.

14 14. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

How do you get 4,000+ yards and only 26 touchdowns? Carson Palmer, that’s how. Perennially we can count on Palmer going big. He’s an ideal quarterback for a passing offense. Strong pocket presence, ball distribution, big play potential. Why does he rank on the top of the back half of quarterbacks? It’s a competitive list. He is infamous for missing time in the middle of big seasons. ACLs, concussions, and a litany of other bumps and bruises have cut great seasons short, only playing six games in 2014. For a long career as a top tier QB, he has only made it to the postseason three times, with only one win between them. The window may very well be shut on Carson Palmer being a great quarterback. We can only hope that his millions can comfort him.

13 13. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As a fellow Jerseyan, I am inclined to think highly of Joe Flacco. However, I think this is a fair place to put the Ravens’ franchise QB, drafted and bred. I think the word we have to use for Flacco is dynamic. He extends plays, he squeaks the ball in where it needs to be; dude has grit. He struggled early this season, but bringing the Ravens back into the playoff discussion, Flacco threw for over 4,000 yards this season, which surprisingly is the first time he's done it in his illustrious career. Though he is not the best or the brightest of the bunch, a 10-5 record in the playoffs demonstrates one factor that we are forced to acknowledge: Clutch. You know it when you’ve got it and it’s not easy to find.

12 12. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The man from Alabama with the bolo tie finds himself a little lower on the chart than he probably would have anticipated. We talked earlier in the list about QBs who can’t keep up with speed of the NFL and find themselves at a loss, but Philip Rivers seems extremely comfortable, despite finding himself amidst a team ready to get transfer cities looking for success. To be honest, I can’t explain why the Chargers aren’t good. Blame it on the defense, blame it on the recent success of the Broncos, blame it on San Diego. But Philip Rivers is raking in an average of over 4,000 yards and almost 30 TDs per season. He hasn't missed a start in a decade in the NFL. With little jeopardy to his job, why do we find Rivers so low on this ranking list? Snakebites. River’s best seasons was in 2007 when he got beat in an AFC Championship game against the (at the time) undefeated Patriots. Despite that run, Rivers finds himself 2-4 in his four other trips to the playoffs. I know the QB isn’t the entire team, but he is more or less the face of it. Lack of big game potential leaves this would-be/should-be great out of the top 10.

11 11. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Danger Russ is a hard player to rank because of the variety of things he brings to the table. The guy is 5’11” playing NFL QB, so you know that he has to be a baller to even hang in the sport. The guy manages to stay above 3,000 passing yards per season, but regularly finds himself above 500 rushing. This year is the outlier due to a busted knee and ankle on opposite legs. Normally for a multidimensional QB, this would spell disaster, forcing the player to rely on only one aspect of their game. Not only did Russ bite down and knuckle up after the first missed game of his career, but he played out the rest of the season. Though his run game was forced to dip, he stayed steady on pace and redeveloped himself as a pocket passer and revitalized Jimmy Graham’s career. It’s said that a great player makes other players better. Though there is clear talent on the Seahawks offense, there are a lot of QBs out there who would make them mediocre. Even without a superstar like Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, backed up by the Legion of Boom, find themselves playoff bound every year in his career.

10 10. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Before you start calling for my head, I will acknowledge that this is a little low for the quarterback who is revitalizing a franchise almost by himself. But hear me out. This is only for the sake of such a small sample size. Two almost 4,000 yard seasons for the past two years is fantastic. 28 TDs this year before getting hurt and 32 last? Great. 6 interceptions this year? Wow. The kid is white hot, but please consider: he is still a kid. Given, he’s forced to tangle with the Broncos and Chiefs four games a year, and two from the petulant Chargers, but we really haven’t seen Carr in many big time games with the lights glaring. The last one we’ve seen was to secure a playoff spot against the Chiefs in Arrowhead. The Raiders scored 13 points. That is difficult place to win, so I don’t take that away from the kid. He would have run away with the MVP this year were it not for the tragic injury that is going to force him to miss the playoffs he worked so hard to achieve (side note: He still might get that MVP). But let me see some hair on his chin and a chip on his shoulder before I start hailing him a future Hall of Famer.

9 9. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one thing to have a monkey off your back, it’s a complete other to have a 6’5”, Hall of Fame bound Decepticon. Many discounted Matthew Stafford after Megatron headed off to greener pastures, but Stafford spit in their faces. His numbers are down, but he finds himself in the MVP conversation on the basis that not only is he working with so many different receivers, but he crowned himself king of the fourth quarter comeback this season. The guy isn’t afraid to run or to take a hit. He has taken a Super Bowl-less Lions to the playoffs already twice in his career and is taking them again this year (i.e. his first year without Calvin Johnson). A lot of people think that losing Megatron has relieved him from targeting his big man, but it could just as well be that we are focusing on Matt Stafford as his own man for the first time in his career. And honestly, the outlook is good.

8 8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Stats, stats, and more stats. Matty Ice has been in the league a while, but he had to have been working hard to achieve his 37,701 yards and 240 TDs. Julio Jones is a luxury and the backfield has been able to hold its own throughout his career, but Matt Ryan still remains a centerpiece of this team. The defense is getting better, but they’re still trying their hardest to make Matt Ryan work for his check. His downfall however is in the big game. Matty Ice has trouble playing outside of Atlanta, let alone under playoff lights. He hasn’t been made the postseason since 2012 and won his first playoff game that year after attempts the previous four. When coming down to the wire in this list, all these things are going to be in consideration.

7 7. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Eli is in the top 10 and I’ll go to fisticuffs with anyone who disagrees. Those of you who think Little Brother doesn’t belong here is either an Eagles fan or a straight up hater. I do not deny that Eli has two faces. One is a stone cold killer with lazer eyes and a cannon arm. The other is a pouty pocket passer who forces the ball to the big man. Also remember that Eli is around long enough that he has to go through transformations, just as the league is changing around him. Anyone who calls for his retirement has to wait for him to break 50,000 career yards and possibly (with OBJ) 400 TDs. He’s lead the league three times with interceptions, but you’ve got to break a couple eggs to make an omelet. You are allowed to make mistakes like this when you have a Pro Bowl defense. In order to make great plays, there is risk involved. Ballsy is not a word that we typically associate with a face like Eli’s, but he is not a conventional human being. He’s a two-time Super Bowl MVP NFL quarterback. His doubters are judging Jekell by the sins of Hyde. One cannot exist without the other.

6 6. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Cam is ham. We have to accept that first off. Cam is a natural athlete. We have to accept that secondly. The last thing we need to accept is that Cam is only good at football when he wants to be. If I was writing this article exactly a year ago, he would be in serious competition for a much higher place. The only reason he’s this high is because we may not have seen his best. Just a couple lines into trying to describe what Cam Newton is like as a player, we already see how difficult it is to figure him out. His passing stats are good (except this year, but we’ll let him slide because of the injury) but his rushing stats are the real stand out. There is no QB who is used like a full on back like Cam is. His first two years in the league, he was on the verge of breaking a thousand yards rushing. During this time the Panthers were assembling their smash mouth defense that got them to the Super Bowl last year. Everything came together and everyone stayed, especially with the addition of Kelvin Benjamin who was out all last year with an ACL tear. So what happened this year? I don’t want to blame it on Cam, but I am very tempted to. He is freakishly big, fast, and smart in the option. Perhaps a little too keep-ish on the option, but he really believes that the fate of the team rides on the back of his superhero cape. That only means that the failures of the team are on him as well.

5 5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Let the record show that I do not like Big Ben as a person. That being said, he is a caricature of a quarterback. He’s huge and heavy. He’s got a cannon and he’s impossible to take down. I am a big Eli defender and a fan of Rivers, but Ben is probably the best of that really great QB class from ‘04. He’s been in the big game and he’s done spectacularly. He has the yardage as well as touchdowns. Given, he has been surrounded by talent in his time in the NFL, but even with the lifting of the Steel Curtain defense in Pittsburgh, he continues his strong play year after year. If his gritty play style hadn’t cost him a couple games most years, his statistics would be off the charts. For any given game however, Big Ben is a strong pick under center.

4 4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Luck came to the Colts in a time of great need. How do you replace a national icon like Peyton Manning? How does a team with a cancer stricken head coach succeed? To that I say, how does a team with a horseshoe logo get a kid named Luck? The universe converges in the strangest places. Indianapolis seems to be one. He has struggled to stay healthy the past couple seasons, but this is more a result of poor offensive line choices than his own play. The Neck Beard doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring, but he sports a very nice 3-3 record in the postseason. With a total of two full seasons and two injured, the kid already has thrown 17,000 yards. As a 24 year old, in 2014, he led the league in touchdowns. Peyton Manning carried the franchise for nine years before they coughed up a Super Bowl win against the Bears in 2006. If the busted Colts can ever get their act together, they can put a well deserved ring on this kid’s finger.

3 3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

If a franchise edges out Brett Favre for you, there is a bit of expectation on your shoulders. Aaron Rodgers has proved himself nothing less than a brawler. His numbers are up to snuff, but the intensity and dynamic play he brings at such a high level is unparalleled. I wouldn’t even consider him among the big run threats at QB, but he has no problem running for 300 yards a season when his ankles aren’t busted from staring a sack in the face and dropping a long bomb off to Jordy Nelson. Aaron Rodgers is the reason we play football. He plays on a grass field in the frozen tundra. He loves the game and his teammates, and has a great smile to boot.

2 2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

When the Saints come marching in, Drew Brees is leading the parade. I have been watching football for a long time, folks. Doing research for this article, I suddenly realized how much of a relic Easy Breesy is. He came into the league in 2001 and started the following year. He even brought the Chargers to the playoffs in 2004 (with LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield, but still). We talk about how amazing it is that these kids are putting up 3,000 yards per season, but Drew Brees has been doing it consistently for north of a decade. During his Super Bowl stretch, he was averaging over 5,000 and managed to eclipse that mark again this year. We talk about great players. We talk about great players elevating the impact of players around them. And then we talk about players that have been elevating the impact of players around them for over a decade. It is an honor to watch this man continue to play the game of football.

1 1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

I hate Tom Brady. I hate his stupid face. I hate his Uggs. I hate his wife. I hate that he vacations in the French Riviera. It’s a shame that none of this has had an impact on his football ability. Despite all the hoops I am putting these QBs through, despite how stringent the requirements I’ve had to pull to rank these men 1-32, Tom Brady remains on the top of the pile. Great players elevate the play of those around them. Great quarterbacks play great in big games. Tom Brady creates the big game around himself and invites other greats to challenge his claim. He’s lost, but he’s also won. I hate the fan fair. I hate the hype. Deflate-gate lasted two years too long. But, here he is. He’s only had one 5,000 yard season, but he’s gunning for 500 TDS with his hefty 456. But here’s the thing with that: Tom Brady was drafted in 2000. He played one game that year. Bledsoe got hurt in the second game of the 2001 season. Brady not only won that year, but then continued to win the next 3 out of his first 4 years starting. Throughout his career, Brady is 22-9 in the playoffs. Players don’t have that kind of record in the regular season!

I suppose I’ve had this coming to me. My girlfriend is a diehard Philly fan down the board, as I am a New York fan (It’s tumultuous but we make it work). She hates Derek Jeter. Like the rest of the civilized world, I love Derek Jeter. I ask her why. She’s says “He’s too perfect.” I find this ridiculous of course, because the name ‘Derek Jeter’ has become synonymous with the name and identity of Baseball. And I guess that’s just it, ladies and gents. Tom Brady is Mr. Football. And he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

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