Here’s my take on the quarterback power rankings of the NFL:
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: Call it a homer pick if you want, but Brees has thrown for over 4,000 yard the last four seasons and he came within 12 yards of beating Dan Marino’s single season yardage record. You can’t say the guy isn’t a winner anymore, either, because he just won the Super Bowl. No one puts up the kind of numbers he does. He doesn’t have win totals that Brady has, but right now I think he is the best quarterback in the league.
2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts: I debated long and hard between him and Brees at #1. Ultimately Brees was on the winning end of the their most recent face off with the highest stakes, and Peyton cost his team with the pick 6 to Tracy Porter – so that was the deciding factor. Still, I think you could find plenty of unbiased observers going with Manning as the league’s best, and he does have a Super Bowl win to show for it.
3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: It’s pretty hard to argue with the three Super Bowl rings that he has, though I do think we’ve seen a ever so slight drop off in his performance lately.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Say what you will about his off the field behavior, the guy has won the Super Bowl twice and he’s gotten better and better every year. The only drawback in his performance is he holds on to the ball too long.
5. Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: He’s consistently putting up impressive numbers and the Chargers are always in the mix in the AFC playoffs. Problem is, between the Patriots and Colts they haven’t been able to get out of the conference alive. Rivers won’t be able to elevate himself until he proves he can win the biggest game.
6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: The guy has all the tools and talent he needs, now he just needs more exposure, seasoning and wins. He’s going to be very good for a long time.
7. Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: We all know he’s coming back, and he’s still a very good quarterback. While he had a fabulous year last year, though, let’s not forget how much he struggled the two years prior. He’s still turnover prone and he’s getting older by the minute. We’ll see if he can come back from that major ankle injury at his age.
8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: He’s a terrific playmaker and when he’s on his game he’s as good as anyone in the league. Many say he’s overrated but I don’t agree.
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: He’s only getting better and he’s everything he’s cracked up to be. Every time the Saints play him I walk away more impressed.
10. Eli Manning, New York Giants: Low ranking for a former Super Bowl champ, you might say, but I’ve always thought Eli was the beneficiary of ridiculous luck and very strong running game/defense. I’m not saying he’s bad at all, I’m saying he’s the 10th best quarterback in the NFL. I just don’t think he’s better than the guys I’ve listed above him.
11. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans: His numbers have been pretty impressive, but his team is still the laughing stock of the league. If they’re ever going to have success they need to hang on to him.
12. Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins: Injuries have really been his worst enemy. McNabb just struggles to stay healthy over a 16 game season, and his style of play is largely responsible for it. He just absorbs too many hits. It will be interesting to see how he plays in his new uniform. No doubt when healthy and on his game he’s better than this ranking. That just hasn’t been happening consistently in recent years.
13. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals: He’s still young enough to turn things around, but Palmer isn’t the quarterback he was four years ago. Palmer was a top five quarterback, and some would argue he was even top 3 for a little while there, but I think he’s regressed severely. I still think he’s capable of bouncing back, but he’ll need to prove he can still perform among the league’s elite before I rank him any higher.
14. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: He’s still not flashy but he’s becoming a better playmaker. His best asset is that he’s a terrific game manager, and as long as he’s surrounded by a good defense and running game, he’ll be very effective.
15. Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos: Like Flacco he’s a solid game manager. He didn’t get a big vote of confidence from his coach, who brought in Brady Quinn and drafted Tim Tebow as the quarterback of the future, but you can’t deny Orton is a fiery competitor that will keep his team in it.
16. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: Another aging star who’s prime is behind him. It remains to be seen how long the Seahawks will stick with him, and this may be his last year as a starter. That said, he’s still capable of lighting teams up and making defenses look very bad.
17. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions: He proved last year in my mind that he’s the real deal. I think Detroit will win games with him this year and I think he has a chance to turn that franchise’s fortunes around. He had no one around him and with better pieces this year I think he’ll show major improvement.
18. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: I’m not ready to write the guy off after one bad season, but I do think he’s been pretty overrated in his career to this point. One thing is for sure, he’ll need to bounce back from last year, because that showing was absolutely miserable. The Bears wanted a guy that could put points up in a hurry, and they got that, but their turnover numbers were the highest in years. Maybe they should have stuck with Orton? I think they would have been a better team last year.
19. Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia Eagles: There were flashes of brilliance last year, and the guy showed he can clearly play. The big question is whether or not he’ll be able to do it on a consistent basis.
20. Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders: Maybe a change of scenery will help him out. He’s alternated between pretty solid and pretty awful, but in his defense the line that played ahead of him in Washington was atrocious enough to make any quarterback look bad.
21. David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars: I just don’t see what the big deal is with this guy. He’s serviceable, sure, and he’s been commended for not turning the ball over too much, but he doesn’t make enough plays.
22. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs: He plugged into the Patriots system pretty well, but shipped over to the Chiefs he showed his limitations. The ridiculous contract he was given will turn out to be a huge mistake in my opinion. Still, he’s very capable.
23. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: This guy didn’t show me much last year. His team was great, top to bottom, and they had lots of success, he did pretty well in a couple playoff games, but he still turned the ball over way too much. To be expected from a rookie, but I still think it remains to be seen if he can break into the top 15. I think he could easily flop into a sophomore slump this year and get replaced at midseason.
24. Vince Young, Tennessee Titans: We’ll see if he can resurrect his career. I think the guy is a ticking time bomb and a disaster waiting to happen. He’s the most gifted quarterback athletically in the league, but he’s a headcase.
25. Matt Moore, Carolina Panthers: Carolina thinks they have their quarterback of the future in this guy. He did play well at the end of last year, but I think they are in for a rude awakening.
26. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: AJ Feeley may start at first, but we all know this is Bradford’s team. I’m starting him at 26 since there are so many unknowns, but I do believe he’ll be a good pro provided he can stay healthy.
27. Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills: He’s capable of occasional moments of bliss, but overall he’s left Bill fans extremely frustrated. That team just hasn’t been able to find a long term quality passer since Jim Kelly.
28. Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins: I think Henne was very mediocre last year, and I’m surprised the Dolphins are going into camp with him as the starter. I know Pennington isn’t the answer, but if healthy he’s way better.
29. Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals: Leinart has been given every chance to win that starting job, and only got it once Kurt Warner retired. If he gets replaced by Derek Anderson at any point, it will prove just how incapable he is of handling the starting job. I just don’t think Leinart has the arm strength to cut it.
30. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers: He’s already proven he’s not good enough to handle this job, but the 49ers are giving him another chance based on the limited promise he showed towards the end of last year. I think that’s a mistake, but based on the money they have committed to him I suppose it’s worth one last shot.
31. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccanneers: He beat the Saints late last year, so I’ll give him credit for that, but overall Freeman was horrible last season. He’ll have to improve dramatically if he wants to stick around.
32. Jake Delhomme, Cleveland Browns: After the way he played last year, I was shocked to see the amount of money he received, and even more shocked to see that he was going to be used as a starter. His play last year was so horrendous I’m not sure he is capable of playing in the NFL anymore. He’s been good in the past, and his track record probably means he deserves a pass, but I just can’t get over how woeful his play was last year. He was in JaMarcus Russell territory with his numbers last year. Maybe he’ll turn things around but I think the more realistic outcome is he’s replaced by week 5.