In the first of a two-part series (the other in which Eli Nachmany ranks his top ten quarterbacks), Derek Brody compiles a countdown of his top NFL signal-callers starting with number ten.
10. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo is one of the most enigmatic and frustrating quarterbacks in the NFL, showing flashes of excellence in the regular season, but never seeing the same success in the postseason.
The question remains: Can you win a Super Bowl with Tony Romo? The answer is a resounding yes, as Romo has shown over the past five years that he is supremely talented. Surrounded by the right pieces, he has the ability to lead a team to the promised land with his superior pocket presence and downfield accuracy.
9. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
By far the most difficult ranking of the list, it is almost impossible to accurately predict Manning’s effectiveness next year. Should we expect Peyton to return to being one of the top quarterbacks in the league, despite his four neck surgeries and his declining stats even before his health problem?
Number nine seems like a reasonable estimate, assuming Manning is able to stay upright and healthy for the whole season.
8. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton submitted the greatest rookie season in NFL history last year, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 21 touchdowns to go along with 700 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.
While many may complain about Newton’s rank because of his second-half regression and 17 interceptions, the Panther belongs on this list. He is one of the most electrifying players in the sport today and has the ability to not only impact the game through the air, but also with his legs.
7. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees not only eclipsed Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season, but totally annihilated it, finishing with 5,476 yards.
However, the turmoil surrounding the Saints following “BountyGate”, as well as Brees’ contract, will hurt the quarterback’s numbers in the upcoming 2012 season, dropping him from top three consideration to number seven.
6. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Rivers is another quarterback who struggled last season, coughing up a league-leading 20 interceptions.
However, the Charger is a supremely talented quarterback who has thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of the past four seasons. With a retooled San Diego offense, including additions Eddie Royal and Robert Meacham, expect Rivers to have somewhat of a comeback season.
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Without a doubt, Ben Roethlisberger is the toughest quarterback in the NFL today. Roethlisberger struggled last season, throwing only 21 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, but some of that can be blamed on a porous offensive line.
With the addition of 1st round pick David DeCastro to the Pittsburgh offensive line, expect Roethlisberger to return to top 5 status.
4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
I’m a believer in Matthew Stafford.
Stafford has the poise, the arm strength, the accuracy, and the pocket presence to be an elite quarterback in this league. In fact, the only question about Stafford is his durability, as last season was the first in which he played a full 16 games. Either way, combined with All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Stafford should continue to show up on lists like these for the next decade.
3. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Coming off his second Super Bowl victory in the past five seasons, Eli Manning has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL today.
Manning is elite in late-game situations and will use the momentum from his Super Bowl run to vault himself into the top tier of quarterbacks.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Last year may have been the most impressive year of Tom Brady’s career, as he led a severely flawed team within minutes of a Super Bowl. Although he is about to turn 35, Brady continues to be fantastic, throwing for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns last season.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Simply stated, Aaron Rodgers is both the best quarterback and the best player in the NFL right now, as evidenced by his almost unanimous selection as NFL MVP in 2011.
Rodgers is just entering his prime, with a Super Bowl title already on his resume, and should remain among the ranks of the elite for the next decade.