The 20 Best QBs in the NFL

If anyone recalls, last year at this time I wrote that I’d like to take my two oldest sons (15 and 10) on a road trip to California (from NJ).

It sounds crazy, but I’m doing it. Today.

Our two year old twins are simply too out of control to take on a family vacation this year, and with my oldest closing in on college, this is the time to do something my oldest kids will never forget. This is also about the deadest 2 weeks on the NFL calendar, so this is likely my last post until next week.

Leaving NJ today, we’re stopping off in St. Louis, KC and a Royals game, Denver/Colorado Springs, Grand Canyon, Vegas, and finally, LA for a couple of days. I’m not that crazy, though, since we’ll be flying back from LA next week, not driving.

Vegas will be cool, but the highlight for me most likely will be the Dodger game this Sunday. As a Dodger fan and someone who loves Southern California, that’s as good as it gets. BTW, if anyone reading is going to be at that Dodger game, drop me a line and maybe we can have a beer and a Dodger dog.

I’ve been meaning to rank the best QBs in the league for a while, so I figured this was a good time, since I won’t be posting much NFL content the next 8-9 days. Anyways, here’s my list:

  1. Tom Brady – There are times when Peyton Manning makes a very compelling argument that he should be atop any list like this, but he’s not as clutch and most importantly he’s not as hard to beat as Brady is. Many have beaten Manning in big games; it’s a major accomplishment when you bring Brady down.
  1. Peyton Manning – Manning is as close to perfection at the position that we’ll likely ever see. The only thing he’s lacking compared to Brady is that intangible ability to consistently play well and win big games. He’s won them, of course, but he’s not as hard to beat as Brady.
  1. Carson Palmer – Don’t give me the argument that Ben Roethlisberger should be ranked ahead of Palmer because he’s won a Super Bowl. Palmer’s one of the most talented players to ever play the position, period. I guarantee if you asked 32 NFL GMs who they’d rather have to start their franchise 32 would say Palmer.
  1. Drew Brees – Brees has some issues, but he deserves to be listed this high. That just goes to show how good Brady and Manning are because there’s a big drop-off just going down to #4 on the list. Brees needs everything to go well around him, but when they are he’s an incredibly poised and efficient field general.
  1. Ben Roethlisberger – I really wanted to put Tony Romo here, but Roethlisberger has won a super bowl – and Romo hasn’t done enough to get his team even a playoff win. But if the playmaking Roethlisberger plays as well this year as he did last year, he’ll have proven for sure that his career and his legacy as one of the better QBs to ever play the game is secure.
  1. Tony Romo – Playoff bed-soiling aside, Romo’s a big-time talent and a major playmaker. It is absolutely amazing that he didn’t see the field earlier in his career, but he might be the type of player whose assets aren’t fully on display unless he’s in a real game. His intuitive nature and playground mentality are usually major pluses, and he can make all the throws.
  1. Matt Hasselbeck – I saw the talent in Hasselbeck very early on – I still have some of the hate mail from 2001, when many subscribers (unfortunately) drafted him based on our recommendation – and it eventually came fully to the surface. Hasselbeck plays too fast at times, but he’s settled into the nice groove the last couple of seasons and has become the ultimate system QB.
  1. Marc Bulger – Although I’m a little concerned about the residual affects of last year’s ugliness, Bulger’s still a “professional quarterback” who throws the ball with great timing, anticipation, and accuracy.
  1. Donovan McNabb – He’ll throw balls to his receiver’s ankles until he retires, but McNabb has a cannon and still throws a terrific deep ball, he can still beat you with his legs, and he works well in their system. Had he faced off against anyone other than Brady in the Super Bowl, people would view him much differently because he’d have a ring.
  1. Eli Manning – I’ve been a fan since the early days, and the Super Bowl win was obviously one for the ages. I was very impressed with Manning early in the season, when he was consistently stepping into his throws, staring down the gun barrel, and avoiding the dreaded drift-back. But he started to regress later in the season, and then they put him in game-manager mode. I need to see a little more to move him up higher, but he certainly deserves to crack the top-10.
  1. Kurt Warner – That’s right, Kurt Warner at #11. Warner still throws the ball with excellent timing and accuracy, and he can still get the ball on time to his receivers and effectively lead an offense. Heck, he might deserve to be a few spots higher.
  1. Jay Cutler – He’s bursting with talent, and he’s tough as nails. All he has to do is slow the game down a little more and rein himself in a little more (but not too much) and he’ll be elite.
  1. Matt Schaub – Another “professional quarterback,” Schaub does everything well. He might not be good enough to carry a team on his back, but if everything is going very well around him, and if he has the weapons, he can definitely be lights-out. If he was in such an ideal situation, 35 TD passes are attainable, which makes him intriguing to say the least this year.
  1. Jake Delhomme – You’ll always have to battle between the playmaker and the bonehead, but you have to respect his gunslinger mentality and willingness to throw the ball in dicey situations.
  1. David Garrard – It will be interesting to see if they expand their offense a little more for him this year because he’s really not asked to do too much. But he was incredibly efficient last year. And if the reason he’s been brought along slowly was their poor receiving corps, we could see another large step forward this year.
  1. Philip Rivers – The potential is there because he’s a big quarterback with a nice arm who can make all the throws. If he has protection and if he’s settled down and playing with poise, he can pick you apart. But he has to slow the game down still, and he has to stop sensing pressure when it’s not there.
  1. Derek Anderson – He has flaws, for sure, or else he’d be much higher on the list. Let’s see more touch on his passes, and if he can be less erratic and keep his mechanics in check, you’re left with a playmaking gunslinger with a big arm who can look very poised and be very accurate.
  1. Vince Young – While I’ve mocked the notion that he’s a “winner,” there is some truth to that. He does offer an intangible quality that makes him hard to beat. But until he can show he can throw the ball consistently from the pocket, he cannot be considered anything close to elite.
  1. Jeff Garcia – Sorry, I know he’s a winner, but I can’t give too much credit to a QB who frenetically runs around and then completes a 4-yard pass. It moves the chains often, yes, but it’s too ugly.
  1. Jon Kitna – Kitna likely falls off this list very soon, once we see some things from Aaron Rodgers, but he deserves to make the top-20. He’s somewhat similar to Garcia in that he gets a lot out of his ability, and he’s even tougher than the Buc QB. He’s more of a playmaker, but he’s also much more mistake and turnover-prone

Category: Fantasy Football


23 Responses

  1. Stork says:

    Predictably I’ll disagree with this statement, “I guarantee if you asked 32 NFL GMs who they’d rather have to start their franchise 32 would say Palmer (over Roethlisberger).”

    Here’s why…both QBs had disappointing OL play last year, Roethlisberger (at age 25) had his best season ever with 32 TD passes, 11 INT and a 104.1 QB Rating. Palmer (at age 28) had his worst season since his rookie year 26/20 and 86.7 QB Rating. While Palmer is the better pocket QB, defenses know where to find him and without good OL play he is a sitting duck. Not the case with Ben, his mobility allows him to make plays, even be at his best, when his pocket collapses.

    Throw in age difference, wins/losses/playoff experience and I think the Guru is off on this one.

    Enjoy your vacation John, sounds like a great one!

  2. a005511 says:

    The Grand Canyon view from the village will be the highlight of your trip. Even though Vagas is neat at night nothing compares to the view you will have from the Grand Canyon Village.

  3. JOOCE says:

    Sure Palmer had a bad year, but Ben only had one elite-level season (2007). Prior to that he was pretty much a game-managing QB. I need to see him have another year like 07 and see Palmer have another down year before I would put Ben ahead of an elite talent like Palmer.

  4. jbeau says:

    Enjoy your Vacation John. I always wanted to drive cross country and check out a few games.

    Wouldn’t put Big Ben above Palmer. From 5 – 10, could argue about a few guys spots, but all in all a good list. But since you are talking about the best QBs, and not best fantasy QBs, I think McNabb is better than Romo. I would take Hassleback over Romo too. Romo has to win a playoff game to be in the top 5 for me. Matt and Donovan have been to the big game at least.

  5. Stork says:

    FYI…Carson Palmer hasn’t won a playoff game yet either.

  6. a005511 says:

    Before his surgery I never saw a more accurate passer. He put the ball where only his receivers could catch it On the sideline passes nothing was more beautiful then watching his accuracy. This is a Brown’s fan saying this. I would take Palmer anyday. In fact I have in FF.

  7. Stork says:

    Scouts Inc. had Roethlisberger at 5, Palmer at 6 after the 2008 season. Top four were Brady, Manning, Romo, Favre.

  8. JOOCE says:

    That is what is called the recency effect…

  9. John Hansen says:

    Hey, Mike. I’ll be in town only Sunday morning through Tuesday afternoon, catching the Dodgers on Sunday. Believe it or not, a subscriber read the blog and e-mailed me offering me 3 free tickets to the game, good seats, too. Let me know if you’re able to get to the game; I owe you several beers for the help with those ads.

    Of course, the free tics will pay for the 4-point speeding ticket I got today. By the time this trip ends, I may be glad I’m flying back because I may no longer have a driver’s license.

    Made it well into Ohio today, not bad since I didn’t leave the Jersey shore until like 4:30 pm.

  10. jbeau says:

    Carson may have never won a playoff game, but he also hasn’t had anything remotely close to a defense. Regardless he has better skills than Roth.

  11. bubbadonnie says:

    Big Ben is better than Palmer. Rings & wins are what matter.

    Enjoy your vacation. It’s been 5 years since I’ve been able to use any of the 4 weeks / year that I’ve earned.
    That’s 20 weeks “in the bank”. I’m jealous !

  12. JOOCE says:

    So Trent Dilfer is also better than Palmer.

  13. Stork says:

    Facts are Ben’s and Palmer’s career stats and surrounding offensive talent are very similar. You could even argue that Palmer has had much better WRs to work with. Palmer is a better pocket passer, Ben is better outside of the pocket. Ben is a few years younger than Palmer and just getting into his prime. Palmer is squarely in his prime. Ben was the better QB in 2007 and he has a playoff/Super Bowl pedigree. Palmer has never won a playoff game.

  14. Celsior says:

    Great list, John. As the owner of both Palmer and Bulger in your Subscriber Showcase League, I’m hopeful for better performances from my tandem than their 2007 efforts. In my hometown of St. Louis, be sure to stop by the legendary Ted Drewes Frozen Custard (on Route 66), and Imo’s Pizza!

  15. jbeau says:

    Last I checked, a whole team wins a superbowl not just the QB. I hate that argument. So Marino is a bum too right?

  16. Stork says:

    Marino won some playoff games, actually made it to the Super Bowl as a rookie.

  17. Stork says:

    Boy I can’t let this go…Scouts Inc’s Matt Williamson (former NFL scout) rated Ben just behind Brady and Manning:
    “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.”

    FWIW…Brees was 4, Palmer 5.

  18. John Hansen says:

    That guy’s a subscriber and gave us a testimonial, so maybe we can convince him to change his mind.

    “I work for ESPN/Scouts, Inc. and am really fond on your service. It is extremely impressive.”
    Matt Williamson, ESPN/Scouts, Inc.

    Trip update: I drove 900 miles today mostly through Kansas. I’m apparently insane, but made it to Colorado springs in a little over 2 days. Now, no more car trips longer than 4-5 hours.

  19. PackFan says:

    I’m not one to take a quarterback early, (although that might change this year if I have a crack at Brady) but I think I’d be happy going into the season with any of the top six you have listed here – I could live with that. If none of those 6 are available, I would hope that I drafted wise enough at the WR and RB positions to compensate .. but you never know until you know.

    At any rate, continued good fortune on your trip John … tonight I’ll watch National Lampoon’s “Vacation” in your honor. You might not be going to Wally World, and Aunt Edna might not be in the car with you, but if you’re going to feast on a Dodger Dog or three, it kinda sounds like the same trip.

    If you’re in Colorado Springs it might be kind of fun to drive across the bridge that spans the Royal Gorge … it’s a long-way down! Been out there once myself with an AAU basketball team … very pretty country, but not quite as much oxygen in the air.

    Flying home sounds like a real good draft plan. Enjoy!

  20. John Hansen says:

    Almost died 6 times driving up to the top of Pike’s Peak today in the rain in the muddy road. I can’t believe how steep the roads were. The trip has been good, but I’m insane for doing it, and I can’t believe how barren Kansas/Col/Ari is. After grand canyon tomorrow it’ll be more my speed in Vegas and LA.

  21. bartguy says:

    Hi John, I was back up in Nor Cal for the weekend. I’m back in Santa Monica today (Monday) and Tuesday, but I’ll be working during the day. If Tuesday night works for you guys give me a call. But if it’s too much to deal with, well, no worries. Cell is 415-305-7703

  22. John Hansen says:

    Darn. I stayed in Santa Monica Monday night..then went to see Coldplay at the forum. Left on Tuesday.

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